Monday, November 22, 2010

LITTLE MEGAMINDS

Just sharing this article, from The Star - Sunday November 14, 2010

Little megaminds

POSITIVE PARENTING
By ELAINE YONG



Building your little one’s brain – the importance of a child’s mental development.
DO you know that your three-year-old child’s brain is actually two times more active than your brain?
Although most brain cells are formed before birth, cell growth mostly occur during infancy and the toddler years. A child’s brain is not only influenced by his genetics or what he eats, but also by the environment. As parents, you can encourage the development of his brain through many ways.
How soon can your child see?
Newborns are able to see at distances of about 8 to 10 inches, which means they can see your face from a nursing position. Vision improves and at three months old, a child can recognise an outline of a person as they step into the room.
At just four to five months, your little one can start to recognise facial features, and by the time she is eight months old, her vision is almost as perfect as an adult.
When they are around two to three years old, children are able to differentiate colours and can name them if asked. Your child would also be able to recognise the differences in sizes and textures and can tell the difference between large and small, short and tall, or soft and hard.
At just four to five months, a baby can start to recognise facial features, and by the time she is eight months old, her vision is almost as perfect as an adult. – Reuters
Making themselves heard
During the last two to three months in the womb, your unborn child can already start to hear sounds, which is why parents are encouraged to talk to their child even before they are born.
A newborn usually has no trouble recognising her mother’s voice and sometimes even her father’s voice!
For many months after they are born, babies will cry as their primary means of communicating with you.
At about two months old, babies often start to make sounds along the lines of “ah-ah” or “ooh-ooh” and these continue with a variety of other sounds. They often look to you for responses and how you respond would be good encouragement for them to further develop their language skills.
By the time your child is between two and three years old, she will be able to make short sentences and have a vocabulary of up to 50 words. She will even be able to tell you her name when asked.
Getting places
Soon after birth, babies display certain reflexes, such as sucking and grasping. When they are about four to seven months old, they may be able to roll over and start reaching out for things to grasp.
Between eight and 12 months old, your child can start to crawl, and at the age of 13 to 17 months, children are already able to sit up and even walk with one hand held.
Between two and three years old, they can run, though their movements might be a bit stiff and mechanical, jump with both feet together, as well as hold “fat” crayons and scribble on paper. Some are also able to ride a tricycle at this point!
Is your child jealous?
As your child reaches the age of six months, she can show basic emotions such as fear, sadness, surprise, and even jealousy! A research carried out showed that when mothers “cared for” life-like dolls instead of them, their babies reacted negatively. They kicked out, yelled, or screamed, and turned in their chairs trying to get their mothers’ attention.
Young children become rather self-conscious, showing shamefulness and guilt as they reach one year of age and may even start to throw temper tantrums at age two.
Stimulating your child
As parents, you can help encourage your child to further learn and develop through many ways.
·When she starts to “talk” ... your child also looks to you for response, as she loves to hear the different sounds your voice produces. Respond to your child’s sounds and smiles enthusiastically, talk to her, and name familiar objects that you touch or that your child plays with.
You can also talk to her in her own “language” and see if she repeats the same sounds again.
In addition, reading to your child helps her learn the importance of speech, before she can even understand or repeat the words.
·When she starts to take an interest in what she sees ... your child becomes curious about the things that surround her.
You can encourage her curiosity and help stimulate her thinking and learning by giving her simple toys to play with, such as blocks that are in different shapes and colours. Engage her with pictures of various animals, fruits, vegetables, or vehicles. You can also describe the different things as you come across them day by day.
·When she starts to move around ... you can help to encourage your child’s sense of touch by providing objects or toys that have different textures, sizes, and shapes. You can also hang a mobile over baby’s cot to help develop her motor skills by encouraging movement of her arms and legs as she tries to touch the objects.
As she reaches a certain age (13 to 17 months), you can start holding her hand and walk her along as she explores her surroundings. Give her free reign to do so on her own as well, but make sure that the environment is safe and childproof.
·When she starts realising what she feels ... you should be there for her and let her understand she can always trust you. When your child reaches eight to 12 months of age, she may feel stranger anxiety or separation anxiety.
Your child may cling to you and avoid others, i.e. uncles or aunts, in fear of being separated from you.
It is important that you do not ignore these feelings. Instead, hold her close and try to soothe her feelings of discomfort before letting others hold her. Be affectionate, hold, hug, and cuddle your child to develop a sense of trust and closeness and to avoid other feelings of jealousy or the need to get your attention.
Is your child different?
In some cases, a child may develop at a slower rate compared with an average child. This may be due to several reasons such as being born prematurely, poor nutrition, or exposure to drugs prior to birth, or even if she grows up in an environment she does not feel secure in.
Other disorders may also play a role, such as autism and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). If your child fails to imitate speech, is unable to make eye contact, and is not interested in things around her such as birds, butterflies, or flowers, you may want to refer to a paediatrician for further information about your child’s development progress.
Providing for your child
Good nutrition is always helpful in building healthy and capable brains in young children.
·Phospholipids, omega 3 and 6, DHA, AA – essential nutrients in the development of brain structure. You can get these from soy, eggs, breast milk, oily fish (tuna, sardines), and walnuts.
·Taurine, choline, iron – important for the network of connections between brain cells. You can get these from legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, broccoli, egg yolks, and red meat.
·Antioxidants (lutein, selenium, vitamins A, C and E) and zinc – protects brain cells. You can get these from prunes, raisins, blueberries, kidney beans, and pecans.

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