What Factors Affect Brain Development in Childhood?

Andrew Kirmayer

Childhood development is generally guided by how the brain responds to stimuli. Brain development in childhood involves the forming of complex connections between nerve cells. Normal brain development is typically dependent on genetic factors as well as outside influences such as how parents respond to the needs of a child or even a baby. Diet, physical activity, interpersonal relationships, as well as mental stimulation can also be important. Stress can have long lasting, detrimental affects on the brain, especially during early childhood development.

Activities like painting often help to stimulate brain development in children.
Activities like painting often help to stimulate brain development in children.

The factors that affect brain development can take effect from birth on. By responding to signals that babies and young children show, parents not only satisfy their momentary needs, but can help their brains develop healthily. Timing of attention and showing affection generally reduce unnecessary stress. High levels of stress can stimulate chemical substances that inhibit the growth of nerve cells and their connections in the brain.

Young children develop many cognitive and intellectual abilities by playing.
Young children develop many cognitive and intellectual abilities by playing.

Experiences that involve all of the senses also help the brain to develop properly. Activities such as rolling a ball around or listening to a story are often beneficial. When children hear the same stories and songs, this can help to wire the brain so that it is more structured for learning. Singing, reading, and verbal exercises in general are not only fun, but can have a positive physical effect on the brain. Activities like painting and drawing often help stimulate brain development in childhood and develop cognitive abilities.

Whether a young child has sufficient nutrition can play a large role in her cognitive development.
Whether a young child has sufficient nutrition can play a large role in her cognitive development.

Abnormal brain development can occur if a child does not receive the proper attention, is abused, or is not taught basic skills at the right time. Inhibitors to brain development in children often include a lack of nutrition. Kids should generally have enough protein, sugars, and carbohydrates that help the brain function. Vegetables, fruits, and dairy are often beneficial as well. It is usually beneficial for children to drink a lot of water so that their energy is sufficient for learning throughout the day.

Outside attention and stimulation from the start are generally the best ways to foster healthy brain development in childhood.
Outside attention and stimulation from the start are generally the best ways to foster healthy brain development in childhood.

If healthy brain development in childhood isn’t promoted early on, then sometimes it can have negative effects on late childhood development. Most of the neural growth in the brain happens in the first few years of life, but in some cases a lack of stimulation early on can be made up for with intense exercises. Language and motor skills can often catch up even during such training after age 10. Outside attention and stimulation from the start are generally the most suitable ways to foster healthy brain development in childhood.

Brain development involves a complex series of interactions between nerve cells.
Brain development involves a complex series of interactions between nerve cells.

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