Jan 25, 2019
"The neuroscience is saying that when kids
miss these developmental milestones, their brains aren't as
interconnected as they would have been had they been actively
participating in a wide variety of activities. They need a full
sensory upbringing, not doing too much of any one thing."
-Jenifer Joy Madden
In Episode 71, I'm chatting with Jenifer Joy Madden about the latest research on brain development and ways we can help our children grow healthy and "durable" brains.
Jenifer Joy Madden is an award-winning health communicator, author, and educator. She founded DurableHuman.com to encourage all people to cherish and maximize the curiosity, creativity, compassion, and so much else they alone possess as human beings.
Audrey: "There are all these basic needs that our kids have and to get this really bushy broccoli brain; a big part of it is the social connection. Talking face to face and making eye contact--all that great stuff--I think of that as making a bushier brain.”
Jenifer: "A lot of our functions are being taken over by robots and AI, so we have to do what we do best as human beings. That is to be thoughtful, curious, and skilled. We need to use the senses we have and they don't. Compassion and intuition are special human functions."
Jenifer: "Human beings that are young need to have that attachment. They need continuous eye contact with others and to have others listen to them."
Audrey: "Giving kids chores is such a simple thing yet many people don't realize just how important. We know that while kids are contributing and having a purpose in your home or at camp, they are also learning really important skills."
Audrey: "When you think about kids growing up and their brains, whether it's language development, or curiosity and those skills automatic it has all happened from practice. So you need that 3D experience that you describe for those neurons to fire together and create all that great, bushy, full brainpower.
Jenifer: "I tell parents: Guilt be gone! Start to realize how attachment and developing boundaries around your technology can make a difference going forward."
Audrey: “I think parents are so worried about what they’re doing wrong. No one is going to get everything right but you can make little course corrections along the way. If you’re noticing something with your family its never too late to do a reset. If you need to do more chores or have less screen time, those are all doable things. We all go through phases when we need to sometimes reset."
Jenifer: "Numbers of autism diagnoses have skyrocketed in the last 25 years: 1 in 40 kids. The implication is that some of those kids have been affected by environmental factors. If can identify and at least try to mitigate them, we could at least see how the child responds. Having them not watch TV and removing them from screens is healthy for them so why not?"
Audrey: "Instead of focusing on what not to do, let's think of things that we can do: going outside for an evening walk, going to the park, reading books together, playing cards or games. Try to find fun things to do instead of being on screens. That's an easier way to introduce more time away from the screens that kids can get excited about."
Jenifer: "You've got to slow down, keep your eyes open and keep observing your children so you don't miss those vital cues from your kids."
American Academy of Pediatrics Family Media Plan/Media Time Calculator: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx
Ted Talk, "Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together" by Dr. Joe Dispenza on YouTube.
Article on virtual autism study in France/Romania: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201706/there-is-new-link-between-screen-time-and-autism
If you liked this episode, listen to episode 30, my interview with Jennifer on her book How to Be a Durable Human.