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Conversation and Childhood Brain Development

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Mom having a conversation with young daughter
Here are 5 ways to help you create an environment of healthy dialogue with your kids.

Most parents want their children to succeed — in school, in work, in their various extracurricular activities. And there’s an overwhelming number of tips and products available to help parents toward that goal. But we often overlook one of the most effective tools for enhancing childhood brain development. It’s simple, inexpensive, and even enjoyable. And you have this tool at your disposal right now. That tool is conversation.

Conversation and Childhood Brain Development

We’ve long known that speaking to your children is good for them developmentally. The more words a child hears, the better his or her brain development and language skills will be, which contributes to success in many areas of life. But there’s more to this story: Recent research from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania shows that a child’s brain develops best through regular, back-and-forth exchanges of ideas. In the study, children who engaged in regular conversations with parents showed significant enhancement in the language processing areas of their brains.

Our culture of endless distractions and demands can make regular, two-way conversations difficult. But your kids’ healthy development may very well depend on your ability to minimize such distractions, switch off the screens, and connect with your children.

Navigate family life with grace and love!

Daniel P. Huerta, Focus on the Family's Vice President of Parenting, presents a collection of seven powerful character traits designed to help parents grow and thrive while raising Godly children.

Five Ways You Can Have a Conversation With Your Kids

Here are five ways to help you nurture an environment of conversation with your kids:

1. Time

Be intentional by scheduling one-on-one time, especially if you have multiple kids. But remember that many of the best conversations happen in the margins of life. Use every opportunity to chat: in the car, at the dinner table, at bedtime. Walks, bike rides, and standing in line at the store are all good times for conversations.

2. Discovery

Learn about your children’s interests and help them learn more about you. Give the “quiet” kids opportunities to be known. Sometimes they become more talkative when they feel someone is truly interested in what they have to say. Encourage them to talk about things they like or things that relate to what they’re learning in school.

3. Listen

This takes effort and intentionality. I’m not always the best at listening, so when my thoughts begin to wander, I need to visualize myself pressing a mental pause button in order to enter their world.

4. Question

While too many questions can feel like an interrogation, authentic interaction when asking those questions conveys genuine interest, as do eye contact and other nonverbal cues.

5. Remember

Children feel valued when you remember things they’ve said, and they’ll start to see conversations with you as memorable and enjoyable. And that’s a gift with lasting impact.

Employing these five strategies to having conversations with your kids will significantly help in their brain development and shows intentionality as a parent. Intentionality is one of the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. How much of an intentional parent are you? Take the FREE parenting assessment to find out.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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