Parenting with the Brain in Mind

International Association for Neurodevelopmental Education

Gerry Leisman

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience & Research Fellow University of Haifa and Professor of Restorative Neurology,

University of the Medical Sciences of Havana, Cuba

An understudied but profoundly important aspect of child and adolescent development is the process of inhibition or rather the control mechanisms necessary to “not do something”. When the infant cries in the middle of the night parents run to sooth and feed the infant. We all know that there is little inhibition possible of the infant’s movements, or for that matter most aspects of behavior – they are pretty much helpless. After the first year of life , however, and the disappearance of the primitive reflexes, toddlers learn the word “no”. They have suddenly found the capacity to limit their behavior or not. The ability to learn when to switch behavior on and off is brain-based and is a direct result of effective parenting. We are continually telling our children what to do or not – but not necessarily most effectively. For example, telling our pre-school child to clean up his room will result in very little, not because of the child but rather due to the parent ineffectively breaking down the instructions not to achieve a global result at first, (“cleaning the room”) but rather to request, “Please pick up everything that is on the floor of your room and put it on the bed”. Then the parent can deal with the secondary step later until all of the steps of cleaning the room are integrated. Teenagers are not immune from this kind of processing either. They too need rules to develop inhibitions that their still developing frontal lobes will not allow them to generate effective decisions.

The course will overview the nature of the child’s brain development with application to effective parenting within the context of  neuroeducation principles for both the neurotypical and special needs child.