20 Tips to Boost Your Kid's Brainpower
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20 Tips to Boost Your Kid's Brainpower
If you've read The Power of Your Child's Imagination you know the story of the
eight-year-old girl who was panicked about returning to school because her
brain had rotted over the summer. Her math and spelling areas were black from
non-use, but by imagining washing them with white foam she transformed her
brain into a beautiful flower ready and able to learn. iVillage recently
consulted with me for about half of the 20 tips in their new article, Boosting
Your Child's Brain Power. I especially appreciate their balancing
educational/psychological insights and research with nutrition and exercise
ideas. Here are some to start you off before you go directly to their site. Let
me know which are your favorites.
Guest article by Stacey Colino for iVillage
Help Your Kid's Become a Better Learner
At the start of a new school year, you may feel like a spectator who's simply
cheering your child on. After all, his brainpower is largely out of your hands,
right? Wrong. The truth is there's a lot you can do to boost your kid's ability
to learn and reach his potential. "Children are born with their brains
hardwired in a certain way, but parents have a tremendous influence on the
development and shaping of their child's brain and the connections that are
being made inside," says child educational psychologist Charlotte Reznick,
Ph.D., an associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA and author of
The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety
into Joy and Success. The key is to give your child's brain the TLC it needs
and deserves. Here are 20 ways to do that.
Sign Up Your Kid For the Breakfast Club
Your mama was right: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - so make
it nonnegotiable for your kids. Researchers at Ulm University in Germany found
that high school students who ate breakfast had better visual-spatial memory
and were more alert than those who skipped the morning meal. Likewise, a study
from the U.K. found that a breakfast rich in complex carbohydrates helps kids
maintain mental performance - particularly in the areas of attention and memory
- throughout the morning. "A healthy breakfast with whole grains, fruit, low-
or non-fat milk or yogurt and a protein-rich food - such as nuts, eggs or
peanut butter - provides the body with key nutrients as well as with glucose,
which is the main source of fuel needed by the brain and provides steady blood
sugar levels, which can help a child focus," explains Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D.,
author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
You know how your kids love to ask you why? Well, turn the tables on them and
crank up their brainpower in the process. Ask them why they like certain
friends as much as they do, or why they think certain rules exist, or what's
the best vacation they've ever taken and why it was the best. "Such questions
will encourage your child to come up with novel ideas, which in turn will help
to create new neural connections in her brain," explains Reznick. Try to
involve your kid's senses in your questions - by asking what the ideal vacation
spot looks like, sounds like and smells like - and you'll engage and stimulate
her brain even more.
Be Warm and Fuzzy - But Firm
"Research suggests that a warm, emotionally stable home, in which children's
decisions are monitored and age-appropriate rules and goals are set, is
important for the development of executive cognitive function - skills
involving planning, abstract reasoning, working memory and emotional
regulation," notes Nathanial Riggs, Ph.D., an assistant professor of preventive
medicine at the University of Southern California. "Conversely, kids with
punitive or harsh parents are at risk for problems with these skills during
childhood." The take-home message: Provide your child with rules and limits and
guide him through decision-making processes - with love and compassion - so he
can learn to anticipate the long-term consequences of his choices.
Make Sleep a Priority
If your child doesn't snooze enough, he or she may lose precious brainpower.
"Sleep impacts every aspect of a child's cognitive functioning, including
attention, memory, problem-solving and decision making." says psychologist Jodi
Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's
Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Take Charge of Your Child's Sleep.
"Studies have shown that children who don't get sufficient sleep are more
likely to do poorly in school and be identified as having learning difficulties
and/or attention problems." Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time for your
child, enforce an electronic curfew (no TV, computer or other device) two hours
before bedtime and create a relaxing bedtime routine to set your child up for
enough good quality shut-eye every night.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium found a
U-shaped curve in people's ability to multitask throughout their lifespan: At
the ages of 9 and 11, kids struggled to perform a task that required naming
items in certain categories while walking; young and middle-age adults did much
better. There's a reason for this: While kid's brains are undergoing
full-throttle development, it's easier and more efficient for them to focus on
a single task rather than try to juggle several. "The research shows that when
kids multitask, many do everything worse," explains Reznick. Make a
no-TV-while-doing-homework rule, and encourage your child to focus his
attention on the task at hand before moving on to another one.
Put Omega Power on Your Side
Whether it's because of their anti-inflammatory or anti-clotting effects, or
the way they improve signaling between nerve cells, this much is certain:
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the brain. Research at the University of
Cincinnati College of Medicine found that when healthy boys ages 8 to 10 took
daily doses of 400 or 1,200 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - the
primary omega-3 fatty acid in gray matter - they experienced changes in the
activation of areas of the brain that could potentially promotie improvements
in attention, memory and other aspects of cognition, says the study's lead
author Robert McNamara, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. "It's critical that children get
DHA in their diets to support brain development. Supplementation with fish oil
(1 gram of EPA + DHA daily) is one option, and several foods are now fortified
with DHA." Incorporate them into your child's diet regularly.
Get Your Kid Off the Coach
Regular physical activity is beneficial for every aspect of a child's health -
and brain function is no exception. A recent study at the Medical College of
Georgia in Augusta found that when sedentary, overweight kids ages 7 to 11 put
in 20 or 40 minutes of exercise a day, after 13 weeks they experienced
improvements in executive function and ability to do math; what's more, MRIs
revealed that important areas of their brains became increasingly activated.
(Their sedentary counterparts experienced no such increases.) Meanwhile.
research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that kids who
are more aerobically fit perform more accurately on cognitive tasks requiring
attention and control in response selection. Sign up your kid for the sport of
her choice, make playground trips a regular part of the day, schedule family
bike rides on weekends - anything to keep her active.
Play Stimulating Games Together
Whether you play "I Spay" or "Geography" on a long car trip, do challenging
puzzles at home, or play card games involving memory or board games requiring
strategy or abstract reasoning skills, you'll be doing your child's brain a
favor. "Playing is how kids learn early on," Reznick says, and all of these
games will help your child's brain forge new neuronal connections. A hidden
perk. Playing them together will help you appreciate different aspects of your
child's intelligence you may not have noticed.
Read the rest of the tips listed below in iVillage.com here.
Hit The Off Button
Crack Open a Good Book
Offer Nutritious Noshes
Don't Be a Superhero Parent
Tap Your Kids Inner Mozart
Organize a Homework Routine
Harness the Power of Produce
Help Your Child Conquer Stress
Turn Down The Volume
Give Your Child Healthy Doses of Nature
Cut Household Chaos
Encourage Kids to Name Their Feelings*
Check out the cool photos that go with the helpful tips in iVillage.com
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About Dr. Charlotte Reznick
Charlotte Reznick PhD specializes in helping children and adolescents develop
the emotional skills necessary for a happy and successful life. She is a
licensed educational psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of
Psychology at UCLA. Dr. Charlotte is the creator of Imagery For Kids^TM:
Breakthrough for Learning, Creativity, and Empowerment and is the author/
producer of several therapeutic CDs for children, teens, and parents. An
international workshop leader on the healing power of children's imagination,
she maintains a private practice in Los Angeles, California. Visit
THE POWER OF YOUR CHILD'S IMAGINATION
Go here to join in.....
Workshop at School
Westchester Parents Nursery School
7:00 - 9:00 pm
(Link to School)
Workshop at Conference
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium
Creating a New Wisdom
Omni Shoreham Hotel
(Link to conference)
Workshop at Conference
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Altogether Now: Diverse Faces of Mental Health
The San Diego Marriott Mission Valley
San Diego, CA
(Link to Conference)
I'm passionate about helping kids develop self-love and learn self-healing
techniques for life's challenges.
I'd be delighted to come to your school or organization - anywhere in the
world. Let me share how Nine Imagination Tools can transform stress and anxiety
into joy and succes for the lives of the children and teens you care about.
Write me directly and tell me your needs at
Dr. Reznick can help; call (310) 889-7859 for more information.
Imagery For Kids | 11911 San Vicente Blvd. | Suite 240 - Brentwood | Los
Angeles, CA 90049
Counseling Services, Guided Imagery, and Meditation Training offered to clients
living in: Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Beverly Hills,
Beverly Glen, Culver City, Brentwood, Westwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista,
Encino, Sherman Oaks, Topanga Beach and Topanga Canyon, Ocean Park, Hancock
Park, West Hollywood.
Consultation, Workshops, Trainings and Speaking Offered Worldwide: U.S.,
Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, Africa.
All Content Copyright ©2010 Charlotte Reznick PhD, All rights reserved.
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