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Brain Plasticity

Brain Plasticity

Our brains are not muscles, but they can and do act like one. One of the most important parts of brain development for our children is their brain's’ plasticity. Young people’s brains are able to be shaped and molded by their experiences and actions. Even negatives can be of benefit to the children.

Yes, that is right; failure is a good part of children’s experience. You see, when children face adversity their brains and the parts of the brain that deal with memory, are on high alert. They develop coping mechanisms. They have to learn to weed out the unnecessary and difficult to find their own path.

We were working with a high school quarterback. His coach was getting frustrated so we took a shot at it. Seems the quarterback lacked self confidence. We had to work with him to relax and focus all at the same time. We did a very simple thing with him. We did breathing exercises. We had him breathe very slowly but deeply with his eyes closed. He then started to relax. We then said the word “BOO” or banged on desk. Each time he flinched to our stimulus, we tried again. After a while the unexpected did not bother him as much and he was able to play much better.

Working with another student we found his lack of motivation to do well in school have more to do with the subject matter than his aptitude. How could we get him more interested in learning? My father used to say, the yearn to learn. What we did in this case was focus on something to get him motivated that interested him. We found out his negative experiences were clouding his confidence. He was getting frustrated because he felt he could not do well. We asked him what his favorite sport was. Then we had him write a letter to his favorite athlete. Next he got up and moved around. Slowly but surely, his performance in the classroom improved.

Lots of people will put athletes and students in places where they can be successful and I agree with that. But, we must also do is continue to put positive stress situations on these children. Give them small little self realization tests.  Children have an inner desire to explore and take risks. They need to experiment and let their natural curiosity take them places that are not always comfortable. Their brains benefit from this journey immensely. We keep saying how smart kids are these days, so let’s give them a chance to show it!

Written by : Jennifer