In the age of the brain, scientists are becoming increasingly concerned that we may be raising kids that can’t use theirs. Of the many potential casualties related to today’s high technology, convenient food, fast paced world, the inability of tomorrow’s children to think may be at the top of the list.
Research has revealed to us that thought and behavior in children and the relative size and weight of their brain is not something they’re simply born with, but something that’s created or developed after birth. There’s an intriguing term called neuroplasticity which essentially means that our brain’s neurological tissues are like formable plastic being molded, grown, and developed from birth through old age. This makes an allotment for two different scenarios:
1. You can develop a small, light, inefficient brain or
2. You can build a huge, heavy, super smart one.
The power of neuroplasticity even goes for the elderly concerned with or suffering from Alzheimer’s. There’s always something that can be done to change or improve brain function –for better or worse.
In the war between Nature and Nurture, the Nurture side has been winning more and more battles. We’re presently aware of the fact that genetics don’t necessarily determine outcomes; Epigenetics do. That the physical, mental, and emotional environment we’re exposed to have more to say about how smart, happy, and healthy we are our then DNA we are simply given from our grandparents.
Change what a child does with their brain and you change the brain physically, functionally, and impact the child’s future one way or another. Our current culture has been leading more and more in the direction of kid’s technologies. Technology does not allow for social interaction, often does not require strategy, and does much of the work for you – leading more in the direction of Light Brain Development.
IQs are growing due to more exposure to information, but building a larger, more functional brain in kids isn’t just about a larger IQ either. It’s also about EQ: developing fully functioning, emotional intelligence kids that can think and perform well in society. This includes things like self-control, motivation, every day problem solving, self-awareness, reflection, spiritual qualities, how information is synthesized, problem solving, and independent thinking.
Businesses look for self-starters and not just those who need a checklist. High IQ scores don’t translate well into the real world. Planning, organization, follow through, express themselves accurately, and use the facts that they have absorbed –nonintellectual intelligence.
KEYS TO BUILDING A BIG BRAIN: A diet low in refined carbohydrates with adequate nutrients, extreme caution in the use of medication, adult companionship, the stimulation of active play, toys, books, and games, limiting toxic foods and drinks. PARENTS: Talk, listen, pay attention, show them how to work through problems. EXPERIENCE AND ADVENTURE -music, dance, walks in nature, caring for pets, and reading stories.
Brain development is also closely tied to motor systems and spinal health. Sometimes recess, playing kickball, climbing on the jungle gym, or a trip to the chiropractor does more for intellectual development than another page of math or history. It should be noted that well functioning spine, music, dance, and creative play should not to be cut in lieu of yet another physics calculation.
KEYS TO A LIGHT BRAIN: Subluxation, academic insensitivity: spinal or cranial injuries, medications, toxins, poor models from T.V., movies, and video games.
Technology devices act as non-human surrogates and take time away from the most important needs children have for learning, social interaction, real life experience, and creativity.
Kids being forced to be attentive a grind out another physics lesson while experiencing little time for activities may kick back with inattentiveness. This is normal and not a disorder of any kind. As doctors, we’re concerned with video addiction to toddlers and babies, the effect of stress and violent games on brain chemicals, subluxation, and the fact that although society stresses the importance of mental function, it continues to feed it’s children toxic substances and nearly half of all children are so out of shape that they already have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Eventually, a society gets the children it deserves. Let’s work together to deserve the best.
Go for the impossible,
Dr. Ben Lerner
2X New York Times Best-Selling author and former Olympic Team Chiropractor, nutritionist, and strength and conditioning trainer.
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