The brain starts development from about 2 weeks in the fetus. Yep that’s right your child started developing their brain while in your uterus. By about 7 weeks your baby’s nervous system is laid down and the foundations of learning and development are set.
At birth however your baby still does not have a fully developed brain. In fact while the brain undergoes rapid development in your baby’s first years of life it isn’t until early adolescence that your child will have complete ‘control’ of their thinking, emotions and decision making capabilities. In fact I even wonder if many adults have this capability.
So what is happening in the years from birth to adulthood?
Often experts in the field of babies talk about milestones. There is a lot to your baby learning basic coordination, voluntary movement skills and other cognitive development and some of it will be to do with their brain development. The most fascinating thing I have seen in my time as a yoga instructor and baby massage therapist is the results from mindfulness and massage not only in babies but also in older children.
I have worked with children from the age of 5 up to the teen years for over a decade, in both teaching martial arts and yoga. More recently I have been working with babies. But one thing that I have observed with those 5 years – teens group has been the expression of how they feel or in some cases how they don’t understand how they feel.
Children definitely express their emotions differently than adults. They experience the world different and they feel on a completely different level to the average adult. This is mostly due to the way that brain development.
The brain of a child as previously stated is not yet fully developed. The cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision making, ration thinking, judgement, focus and concentration and independent thinking is still being strengthened. The limbic brain, the most primal part of our brain and the one most responsible for our emotional control is more predominantly used pre-adolescent.
The good news is that the brain can be trained. This is why we see most babies with normal brain development learning quickly and reaching many milestones within the first 2 -3 years of life. Of course I am not an expert in all things developmental in babies or children but I have been fortunate enough to observe how quickly babies and children can learn to develop motor skills, cognitive skills, increased focus and an understanding of their emotions through baby massage and yoga.
It is even possible to teach children mindfulness techniques that enhance brain development. There is many techniques that I use in my funky monkey yoga classes is help support children’s brain development. But what gets me all excited is when the parents are able to role model mindfulness practice.
Call me a little kookoo (and I am) but I love it when a parent attends a class and participates with their child or when one of my parents joins a yoga class just for them.
Role models have such an important part in society and influencing the behaviours of the children of the world. Parents are the most important role model in a child’s life so when a mother or father comes to me wanting their child to learn yoga for whatever reason I always ask what sort of practice they have.
Are they practicing yoga?
Do they meditate?
What the interaction is with regards modelling calming behaviour like at home?
What other activities do the family participate in?
Yep I might seem a bit nosey but to me forming great foundations for mindfulness at home ensures success in the child’s practice. I want the child to succeed in the yoga practice. I want the parent to feel like the child is succeeding in being more calm or being able to balance or for whatever reason they have come along to class.
I am sure you have heard the saying “monkey see – monkey do”? Well with success in mindfulness (and any social activity really) children will look towards their role models.
So if you are considering enrolling your little funky monkey into yoga classes then please consider what mindfulness activities are you role modelling at home. And please do not be afraid to ask to join in a class with me if you have never participated in yoga or meditation before. I would be chuffed to have you either join the kids class occasionally or come along to an adults class.
Contact me for more information on Mindfulness for children and adults.