Developing children's brains - The role of parents

Parentree-editors 2008-08-15 04:57:51

You have probably come to this article find the magic mantra that will make your child very intelligent. Well you already have it. It is called common sense. Millions of years of evolution and the billions of mothers and fathers before you have learned from their experiences and passed them to you.

Before reading this article, we suggest you read about how your child's brain grows

Here are some critical areas that Indian parents should focus on to help develop their children's brains and thus let their intelligence, confidence and creativity flower.

  • Give unconditional love, care and comfort to your child. Again, evolution has built into parents (and most if not all adults) a great love of infants and children. Let this work naturally. Grandparents can also be a huge help here. Respond to your child's feeling and emotions. If they need support or care, offer it quickly. By developing truly caring relationships, the child learns the importance of social interactions.
  • The child must feel safe.  Unnecessary stress on the child (abuse, repeated beatings, threats) has a highly detrimental effect on the child's perspectives on relationships1.
  • Talk with your child constantly. Have a conversation with them even if they are only speaking babytalk. Respond to them. This cannot be stressed enough. Research has shown that children's language-related capabilities are directly related to how the people around them talk to them2. Regular, everyday conversation is all that is needed.
  • Give children a wide variety of experiences. These can be as simple as rolling a ball, reading a book together, colouring a picture, looking at rain fall, listening to music, dancing with their parents, playing with blocks, taking a walk, travelling etc. It is important that physical and outdoor activities be part of this mix. Be prepared to repeat an experience many times. For example, my older child wanted me to sing the same nursery rhymes every night at bedtime.
  • However, do not overstimulate the child. This applies particularly to television. It tends to monopolise a child's activities and can result in negative long term effects.
  • Nutrition is also important. Breastfeeding is the best food for a baby. It contains fatty acids like DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and AHA or AA (arachidonic acid) which are believed to be good for the brain3. As the child moves beyond breastfeeding, give him a good healthy diet. 
  • In the first two years of a baby's life, a process called myelination takes place. Myelination helps increase the speed of communication between brain cells. Children are born with little myelin. This explains the sometimes slow reaction of little children. However, myelination happens at a fast pace in the first two years. Myelination is helped by the good fats in children's diets. In fact, in the first two years, it is good for a child to get half their calories from the good fats (yoghurt, cheese, ghee, whole milk but after 1 year etc.) in their diet (besides from breast milk).
  • Since brain development takes place during pregnancy also, pregnant women should also follow common sense to promote this process. Good nutrition for the mother is very important. The mother should also stay away from alcohol and cigarette smoke. Infections are also a risk to the child's brain development in the womb.
  • The market is flooded with parental aids (music, videos etc.,) that claim to make your baby smarter. Very little scientific evidence exists to show that these products can help.

As we have seen, a child's brain development, intelligence, confidence and creativity are greatly influenced by their early experiences. As parents, there is no need for us to get stressed about this. We should "just be parents". By using our inherent love, common sense, and everyday objects and activities to nurture our children, we will set them on the path for a happy and full life. It comes naturally!



1. Rima Shore, Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development, 1997 Family & Work Institute, New York, NY, USA

2. Sandra Blakeslee "Studies Show Talking With Infants Shapes Basis of Ability to Think", New York Times, April 17 1997

3. Meherban Singh, "Nutrition, Brain and Environment: How to have Smarter Babies?", Indian Pediatrics 2003; 40:213-220

Also see

"How Are the Children? Report on Early Childhood Development and Learning - September 1999", US Department of Education

"Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Early Brain Development - 2001", Child Welfare Information Gateway, US Department of Health and Human Services


2013-09-04 21:24:13


Hi Amit, you can try out the ETL books ... they are wonderful way of feeding your child brain food in a fun way... your child will love playing with the ETL pad, magnetic and as a side effect will also learn a lot... i am using it for my 2.5 yr old daughter... and it has worked wonders...

2013-03-05 11:32:59


Hi, Nice article. On similar lines, I was looking for something that would give a lot of stimulation to my 2 year old daughter. And wanted her to enjoy while she learns and I got a perfect education kit. It comprises of knowledge books that make sounds/sing rhymes/read out, also there is an English time with awesome characters, Maths with a magnetic board and values with very nice story books supplemented with CDs and finger puppets. Its a complete library for my 2 year old and she simply dots on it. -Apsara

2012-12-06 22:50:32


my baby is 11 months old and love to watching rhymes in my desktop. and keep standing until unless i close the rhymes video. is this harmful to my baby ?

2011-12-06 09:34:48


Very nice article :)

2011-06-03 09:35:22


Nicely written blog and technically well articulated..:)

2011-05-26 21:42:14


Intelligence is only one factor of children’s success at school and, later on, in life. It is necessary to develop certain character traits of the child, so that the intellect would fully come to the fore. Parents are building the foundation on which will depend the child’s self-confidence, independence and desire for research and learning. The most important features that the child needs to develop are the sense of responsibility, sense of self-confidence and independence. Again, let me give a positive example of my friends and their boy 5 and half years old. I wrote about them in the article Tiddly-winks. Their son is involved in all family affairs. No matter if they dye eggs, stick tiles in the bathroom or paint walls, there is always a small part of the task that he can to do, independently or with the help of his parents. So he meets with things and develops skills and gains confidence. Recently, he described to us the procedure for fixing tiles: "First you take 2 or 3 tiles, depends on how many is broken, you clean the floor, put the glue, than ...(I do not remember everything.) Then you look, and if it is not good you fix it!“ It appears that the gluing did not go smoothly, but he learned to accept a mistake and correct it. Not only that they include their son in all activities, his parents involve him in decisions affecting him. Recently, during the Science Festival, he saw robots that will participate in this year's competition. He was very interested. As the family had other obligations, they let him decide whether to go to watch the competition or go to the countryside. He decided to go to the countryside. I wish them a good time and good weather, but if by chance it rains, the next time, he will ask for weather for the weekend before deciding. That is how the experience and responsibility for decisions are acquired. It is necessary to invest much time and effort to enable a child to live independently. We all love our children, and love is work.

2011-04-18 11:01:55


Very Nice Blog...Very HElpful!!!

2011-04-16 23:18:52



2011-03-31 10:46:13


Thanks for this. I have a 14 month old who is a bundle of energy!Fortunately, I began reading to him when he was about 10 months old and now he seems to enjoy his books and even has his favourites!

2010-06-23 17:52:53


Good post, really helps a lot to all young mothers.. Thanks

2010-06-03 17:00:12


this article on Developing children's brains - The role of parents has really opened my eyes and have taught me how to react with stubborn children that is love, even if you are impatient, with love u really can break a child's stubbornness.. this is my personal experience as i have only one child and pampered and tends to be very stubborn, when i have got angry or hit her or shouted at her, it was worst.. but when i used my good words made her understand that this is not good and u may get hurt which makes me cry then she does what i say and feels happy to see me happy.. and then i learn a lesson to be a good mother, friend etc..

2010-04-21 11:21:23


Great post! very realistic and sensible cheers :)

2010-04-14 11:30:54


Very useful article for the parents to know about their Childrens' brain development. Thanks...


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