Category Archives: Cognitive

How music impacts your child’s socioemotional development PART 2

In Part 1 of this article we said that exposing your child to music from an early age has a positive effect on his social and emotional abilities in the future.

Findings of a study point out how children respond to music with joy and how this facilitates their expression and learning. Listening and singing about feelings also help toddlers identify the words that correspond to certain emotions. Clapping and singing to the song “If you’re happy and you know it” evokes feelings, even when there are no lyrics to the music. Studies examining 3-9 months babies show that, even at that age, babies can discriminate between happy and sad music and how this fosters social and communicative development. As music enables different emotions, it also provides the opportunity for children to be in touch with their feelings and, later, with the feelings of others.

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How music impacts your child’s socioemotional development PART 1

During their first years of life, babies develop an attachment to their parents. Building this bond depends on the quality of the interactions you have with your little one. This includes all non-verbal communication and responding to your baby’s movements, gestures, and sounds. How you enable your child to feel secure will impact on how he interacts, communicates, and builds relationships throughout his life.

During his early years, the kind of emotional and physical care that you provide to your baby will lay a foundation for his future cognitive and socioemotional development. A positive, caring, and stimulating environment promotes a secure attachment between you and your little one. That means that the emotional bond between you two makes him feel safe and promotes an optimal development of his nervous system. It provides him with a healthy self-awareness and foundation to trust others. An insecure attachment fails to provide safety for the child and can result in confusion of their own identity and difficulty building relationships with others.

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How music helps your premature baby

Did you know that 1 of every 10 babies around the world is born preterm?

Researchers around the world dedicate their lives to find non-pharmacological early intervention methods, such as kangaroo care and music therapy, with the single goal of helping early development and minimize the adverse short- and long-term consequences of prematurity.

Music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy that provides positive health benefits. Several studies have shown the effects music has on mental health. It reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, it’s even been found more effective than prescription drugs in reducing the anxiety of patients before surgery. Furthermore, researchers found that listening to or playing music increases the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells. This type of cells attacks invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness.

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Music to your child’s brain

Is listening to music going to make your child smarter? Not exactly, but researchers suggest it will create new pathways and connections inside her brain. Every day, with the help of new technology, researchers are gaining more insight into what promotes early development. During the first years, your baby’s brain rapidly builds complex networks of structure and function that are necessary for mature thought processes to take place. These connections multiply through the stimulating experiences your little one has. Whether they’re good or bad, these experiences will have a decisive impact on the architecture of her brain and extent of future skills. In a process called neural pruning your daughter’s brain begins an adjustment and will eliminate all the unnecessary associations to concentrate on maintaining the strong ones. This is why your little one’s environment and experiences are crucial for her future learning development.

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Teaching my child number concepts

Mathematic concepts in young children emerge from the play experiences they have every day. At first, as your baby learns to dance to a song’s beat, you can introduce numbers in songs and rhymes. You can also start by counting small sets of numbers and repeat them to her: “How many balls are there? One, two. We have two balls”.

Around her second birthday, your daughter will start learning about the different body parts and their functions. This will be the perfect opportunity to introduce numbers. “How many hands do you have?”, “Do we have one or two ears?”. At first, she might assign “two” to any collection of objects such as two fingers in each hand or two noses. With practice she’ll expand her understanding and assign the correct language label to objects. She’ll start identifying the difference between one, two, and many.

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Teaching my child how to solve problems on his own

Whether it is a homework assignment, a toy related problem, a sibling argument, or friend trouble; children all ages face problems. Something as simple as not having his favorite color playdough can become a challenge for your little one. Since it’s impossible for you to always solve your child’s troubles, he needs to learn how to do it himself; luckily, he has the best teacher!

As you begin teaching your child how to solve problems on his own, think that you have four roles: observer, supporter, facilitator, and model. Observe his way of playing and approaching a challenge before intervening. Provide verbal support and validation. Facilitate specific actions encouraging him to think of different solutions. Model by example how you approach problems as well.

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How to play with your little one

It’s well known that play is crucial for the development of babies and toddlers. It’s how they explore and learn new things about the world, acquire new skills, practice their creativity, and experience social interactions. Here are a few tips for you to get the most out of this time of the day!

Follow your little one’s lead when playing. Don’t worry if he doesn’t use a certain toy the way it’s supposed to be used, let him explore and teach you new ways to have fun.

Be patient. Show your little one how the toys work, but let him have his time handling them. Provide just enough help, but don’t do everything for him, even if it takes him more time to complete challenges.

Pay attention to your little one’s cues. Because he’s still developing language skills and self-control, he might not always know how to say what he wants or how to react when he’s frustrated. But if you pay attention and read his signals, you could jump in before he gets overly upset. These signals could be anything from sounds to facial expressions and gestures. Continue reading

Children’s theory of mind

As adults, we understand that others have their own thoughts, beliefs, and desires; that is, they have their own way of thinking. But we’ve not always been aware of this. To be able to make accurate deductions about others’ intentions and beliefs, children need to develop a theory of mind. To illustrate this with an example let’s tell a brief story. “A little girl places all her toy blocks in one container and then leaves the room. Meanwhile, someone comes in and rearranges the room, changing the blocks to a different box. Later, the little girl returns and wants to build a block tower. Where would she look for the blocks?”. As different studies have shown, younger kids will probably answer that she would open the box where the blocks actually are, and it’s not until about 4 or 5 years of age that children understand that what the little girl believes is not necessarily what is real, thus they will be able to answer that she would look in the original container where she placed the blocks.

Having a theory of mind has a huge impact on children, as it transforms the way they are able to see others and make sense of their actions. Basically, the theory of mind serves children in two major developmental areas: social and cognitive. Continue reading

When will my little one collaborate?

If collaborating with another person is not always an easy task for us, imagine what it’s like for your little one!

Collaborating means that two or more individuals work together to reach a common goal, each of them has an individual role during the process, and, in the end, the reward is shared accordingly among them. Besides, collaborating involves advanced cognitive and social skills that allow children to understand that when you agree to do something, there is a cultural expectation for people to comply. For example, if a kid says to him “Let’s build a tower” and he answers “Okay!”, he has agreed to collaborate, and a mutual obligation has been created between the two of them. So, is cooperating really that complicated for your child? Absolutely not! Your little one might surprise you with how smart he is. Of course, development is a gradual process and it all depends on what stage your little one is in. Some studies have found interesting results that show children’s ability to collaborate at different stages.

Although babies as young as 6 months can show interest in other babies, at this stage interactions between them are rare. Sometimes they can cooperate with adults at simple games and may understand other people’s intentions and goals by reading their behavior. However, this is not enough for them to assimilate their own purpose with that of a peer and work together to achieve a goal. Thus, coordinated activity between two babies this age will be uncommon and will most likely be due to coincidence rather than cooperation, as they are not yet able to take their peer’s actions into account, even when these could help them achieve their own goals.

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The magic behind routines

We’ve already talked about how important routines are for our babies and kids and that they provide a sense of safety and predictability. But how exactly do routines help our children and why are they so helpful for them?

1) They foster the development of self-control
Knowing what comes next gives children security and emotional stability, making them feel more in control. For example, knowing that every day dinner-time comes after playing, will allow your little one to play, explore, and learn without worrying, and when it’s time for dinner she’ll be expecting it.

2) They promote positive behavior
Routines are like a set of steps that guide children towards certain goals. This can help to ensure children’s safety and help them learn responsible behaviors. For example, to always hold your hand when walking in the street or to say “please” when asking for something she wants.
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