Early Childhood Brain Development
By the time a child is 3-years-old, their brain is 80 percent developed; by 5-years the brain is 90 percent developed. Brain development in early childhood plays a crucial role in your child’s behavior. Those are large numbers considering that in the United Stated the drinking age is set at 21 because the brain is still slowly developing before then.
Children’s brains are extremely malleable, much more than the adult brain. Part of development is due to genetics but the majority of development stems from the environment and experiences. The way the brain develops in the early years of life, impacts a person’s ability to manage emotions as an adult. Your brain learns what to expect and how to respond.
Frontal Lobe & Executive Function
Our executive function is the mental processes that allows us to control our strong emotions, ability to make-decisions, focus, ability to adapt, and many other useful skills we use daily.
You may have heard of the professional football player, Aaron Hernandez. He committed a murder and also ended up taking his own life. Researchers suggest that he committed these crimes because he damaged his frontal lobe while playing football. Scientists call this damage CTE.
You might ask why I am talking about Hernandez when talking about early childhood brain development…
The autopsy of Hernandez showed damage to his frontal lobe and executive function. Although your child has not damaged their brain (hopefully), they have not fully developed the executive function skills that Hernandez had damaged, which are located in the frontal lobe. Executive Function skills are responsible for:
- Impulse Control
- Problem solving
- Addictive behaviors
Do any of these executive functions remind you of your toddler or preschooler? Young children are not born with these skills, but they are born with the ability to learn them. Children who are most likely to thrive have been shown to have a strong executive function. Developing your child’s executive function can help reduce temper tantrums, enhance their independence, have increased academic success and numerous other benefits.
As a parent (or educator) you can help grow and develop executive function skills by enhancing:
Cognitive flexibility: being able to look at things in a different way and come up with other ideas.
Working memory: how we process and remember information on a daily basis.
Inhibitory control: allows us to focus on the important stimuli, and to suppress the irrelevant stimuli.
Our educated and experienced Child Behavior Specialists have helped families come up with activities and ideas to stimulate and develop the executive function in their child. Activities are encouraged to be used as part of your everyday life to encourage your child to have healthy emotion regulation for the duration of their childhood and adult life. Submit your email below to receive a free e-book filled with more information on Executive Function as well as numerous activities and ideas to help develop those skills.