Do you as a parent pay enough attention to your children’s brain health? If you want them to optimize their brain function, make sure that you start your efforts at the soonest possible time.
There are things you can do even while they’re in the womb to support their brain health. When they come out, you can also do much to enhance child cognitive and motor skills.
Healthy food for children obviously plays a huge role. There are nutrients that are necessary for their cognitive development. The first years are a time of rapid learning, thus you must hit all the brain essentials on a daily basis. Iron, fatty acids, and the B vitamins are just some that should figure prominently into their diet.
Healthy Brain Habits
To boost your children’s brain health, proper nutrition should go hand in hand with healthy habits. There are things you can do to ensure that your children will move forward with life habits that protect and promote brain health.
Don’t take your chances. Start them out young on the following brain-friendly habits.
1. Get 11 hours of sleep.
Sleep may refer to a state of unconsciousness, but the brain actually remains active, even if it’s in ways that are different from when you’re awake.
There are two stages of sleep: the rapid eye movement phase (REM) and the non-REM phase. Both are important, but REM sleep has direct relation to memory formation. Babies spend many hours in REM sleep to support active brain growth and the huge amount of learning they do in the early years.
Children past infancy may not require as many hours of sleep, but it’s still important that they get enough to let the body accomplish its many sleep-related functions. Toddlers still need 10 to 12 hours each day, while children four years old and above are typically required eight to 10 hours. The recommendation, however, is that kids go beyond these numbers.
From toddlers to teens, at least 11 hours is the goal. This is about the ideal duration for their brains to develop and sort things out, doing everything from storing information to replacing chemicals, to solving problems.
2. Put in an hour of exercise.
There have been studies linking exercise to children’s cognitive development and academic achievement. Physical activity apparently is necessary to give young brains the boost that will help them learn better and perform well in academic environments.
Exercise is said to help enhance the functions of memory and thinking, including adopting appropriate behavior and making quick and logical decisions. Active kids have also been deemed to have longer attention spans and better concentration.
The same principle applies to children with special needs such as those with ADHD or ASD. Physical activity helps them stay focused to complete tasks.
3. Limit recreational screen time to less than two hours.
Studies have shown that too much screen time is causing sleep deprivation, behavioral problems, a hyper aroused nervous system, and social isolation. There are research findings indicating that 80 percent of kids thought to be suffering from ADHD, depression, and anxiety do not actually have these disorders. Their behavior is simply a result of excessive screen time.
As bad as having kids who are perpetually bored, surly, and “wired and tired,” it’s even more disturbing to realize how screen time is affecting their brains. There are studies showing that too much screen time is retarding children’s frontal lobe development. This refers to the part of the brain responsible for attention span, emotional control, and empathy.
Vigilance Is Imperative
The strains of modern living have never been as worrisome as they are now. The way they affect today’s children is particularly heartbreaking. All this technological progress is messing with their health and development.
To avoid this tragedy that is befalling young people, parents need to make a firm stand on establishing good habits and setting limitations. One of the most important ways to do this, of course, is to lead by example.