Did you know that humans are born without fully developed brains? The rest of our organs, though small, are fully developed. And even though most of the development occurs between birth and age ten, the brain doesn’t fully mature until our early twenties!
Do you know what that means? It means that the brain’s critical part of decision-making, problem solving, and reasoning (a.k.a. the prefrontal cortex) usually develops by age 25. Yet in our society, at the age of 18, one is considered an adult and given privileges and responsibilities, such as voting or enlisting in the army. Statistics say that because an adolescent’s prefrontal cortex is only partway through the process of being fully developed, the ability to plan and organize can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for a typical 18-year-old.
Here’s an interesting fact: babies are born with one billion neurons in their brain. Talk about fascinating! If you think about it, that is probably as many stars as there are in the Milky Way. And because neurons are not yet connected at birth, brain development is all about growing connections or circuits between neurons. How neurons get connected and how strong the circuits get “wired” has to do with emotions. By age three, the weakest connections start to dissipate, while a connection that is used repeatedly in the early years remains permanent.
For instance, if a child is experiencing a continuous, positive experience with playing a family board game, the neuron connection with that will remain permanent. The same goes for a negative experience of the child witnessing her parents arguing all the time. Statistics state that when young children are exposed to continuous stress, negative parenting, an unhealthy diet and various other environmental issues, it can have adverse long-term effects on health and emotional wellness as an adult.
One solution for moving through negative experiences is to introduce preventative actions, learn these preventative tools and continuous skills for every stage of development, learning these two aspects helps build a strong connection between the parent and the child.