Early youth is a time of fast advancement in the brain. In truth, 90% of a kid’s brain development takes place prior to the age of 5 — and a huge part of it depends on their language environment.
That’s why regular, abundant “serve-and-return” interactions are important for brain and social advancement. Nurturing activities — talking, smiling, pointing, reacting, singing, telling your day — aid kids establish 2 important sets of abilities: Cognitive abilities (e.g., reading, memory, language) and non-cognitive (or “soft”) abilities (e.g., grit, strength).
As a pediatric cosmetic surgeon who studies youth brain advancement, I’ve observed that a great deal of moms and dads do not do almost enough of this, which is why I’ve invested the majority of my profession establishing evidence-based programs to assist moms and dads develop an abundant language environment for their kids.
At the heart of all of our programs is the “3Ts strategy,” a three-step method that effective moms and dads utilize to make significant connections with their kids and construct their brains: Tune in. Talk more. Take turns.
How to carry out the 3Ts technique
Step 1: Tune in
Tuning in motivates moms and dads to make a mindful effort to see what their child or kid is concentrated on, and after that to discuss it with them.
Let’s state you’re sitting at the table with your kid consuming a treat, and you see them watching out the window. Try to follow their line of vision and tune in to what they’re concentrating on. Then, inquire a concern that triggers them to discuss it: “Are you watching that bird outside? Look how colorful it is!”
Pay attention to the sights and sounds recording your kid’s attention in the minute. They wonder little beings, so their focus and attention are constantly altering! Your objective is to match the discussion with whatever is remarkable them in the minute.
Step 2: Talk more
After you have actually tuned into what your kid has an interest in, follow their lead: Get on their level and talk more, utilizing an abundant range of language.
Talking more includes words to the piggy bank in a kid’s brain — a bank that makes substance interest. The more words took into the bank, the more brain connections a kid constructs and the larger their vocabulary ends up being.
Going back to our example, now that you understand your kid is concentrated on the bird outside, continue to engage them in discussion about it utilizing varied language that motivates focus and engagement: “We can watch the bird while we have a snack! Let’s see how long he stays.”
Step 3: Take turns
The finest discussions occur when you’re both similarly engaged. No matter your kid’s age, you can take turns and have a discussion — little child babbles, pointing and gestures likewise count as discussion.
Engage in back-and-forth discussion patterns by asking concerns that motivate your kid to explain the world around them or how they’re feeling.
Add your own observations and feelings to motivate a sensation of shared exchange: “I see blue and brown and gray feathers. What colors do you see on the bird? Do you like him? I think he’s the prettiest bird I’ve ever seen.”
What’s also great about the 3Ts is that it helps parents stay connected with their children as they grow into adolescence and beyond. I still use this strategy with my first-born, who recently graduated from college.
The 3Ts don’t require fancy gadgets or a specialized degree. They can be used while reading or playing or in every day moments, such as laundry, taking the bus or playing.
And they remind parents that they are their children’s first and most powerful teachers, and their loving, serve-and-return interactions build a healthy foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Dr. Dana Suskind is a professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center and founder and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago. She is the author of “Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise.” Follow her on Twitter @DrDanaSuskind.
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