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The Developing Brain

It is easy to take for granted our brains since we all have one! This is a mistake that we make to our peril, especially in regards to our children.

Researchers have focused their attention on all aspects of the brain in recent years and have made startling discoveries about its structure, function, and health. We are wise if we consider the results of what they have learned to help our children.

The brain is like any other part of our body, it starts weak and immature and grows to full maturity. Research indicates that this does not occur until well after students graduate from high school, so our job is to carefully nurture our children’s brains while they are in our care. Some categories of nurture are:

Physical care. It is vital to protect the head from sharp blows by using proper safety equipment and recommended procedures to minimize danger. There are risks all around us, and the body is designed to protect the brain, so we do not need to live in fear. Yet, if there are steps we can take to offer protection we should take them. If there has already been a concussion parents should be especially careful.

Neural development. Young brains are full of neurons that are constantly creating new pathways. Eventually, these opportunities go away, and the brain does not regain them. The best example of this is how quickly children learn other languages in comparison to adults. Therefore, giving children lots of opportunities to hear music, play sports, learn languages, etc. are valuable even if the skills are not fully developed until later in life.

Spiritual protection. Those who wrote Scripture did not know about brain science. The God who created the body was divinely inspiring them, so they were always accurate when speaking about people. This is certainly confirmed by Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Parents have this unique time of life when they can influence the rest of their children’s lives. Children need the guiding hand of parents to help shape their thinking, so the Bible counsels to “not withhold discipline from a child.” This is the most critical responsibility a parent has because it affects a child not just for a lifetime, but for eternity.

My brief comments here are only designed to stir your interest and consideration. There have been many books written on the brain, and I encourage you to read on the subject. I have one titled, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Before 25) that offers helpful insights, but there are many others.

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