“Do your homework, son.”
“No! I wanna play catch first”.
“Mom, I don’t want Elsa in my room. I want Luke Skywalker. He’s way cooler!”
“Dad… I think I broke your old record player up in the attic.”
“What were you doing up there?!”
These are some of the things your kids say and do that might make you lose your cool.
It’s an endless excuse to continue playing and rough-housing.
Change of one obsession to another so lightning-fast it makes your head spin.
The seemingly innocuous affinity to break the things you most treasure.
The list is endless.
But, watch out!
You might want to take a breather first before you say or do something you might regret later.
At least, master your inner strength to come up with elegant responses.
These behaviors can actually contribute to your kids’ cognitive development and memory retention.
Here are 3 of those behaviors that you should put up with and the reasons why.
1. Constantly Moving and Running Around
Exercise increases blood flow and grows new blood vessels in your body and your brain. These include the hippocampus, the brain component responsible for memory.
Like building new roads to access more rural areas, the hippocampus gets more access to oxygen and food from the new blood vessels. This results in improved memory formation and retention.
In his book Brain Rules, John Medina explained that exercise also stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) inside those hippocampal cells. It repairs brain cells and establishes new neural pathways for cognitive development.
This ‘brain fertilizer’ is known to prevent major depression and age-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Your kids can definitely take advantage of these upon reaching adulthood.
So, the next time your kids ditch study time to go out and play, don’t stop them. Let them carry on with their favorite physical activities.
When they hit the books later, they would gain better focus, understanding and memory retention of their reading.
In fact, strike a deal with them. Let them play outside for 30 minutes. Then, they can come inside to do their homework or study for 45 minutes every day. Now, that’s a sweet deal!
2. Changing One Interest After Another
This week, your kid can be so invested in all things Sofia the First. She talks about her throughout bedtime, asks you to buy the doll, and sleeps with the doll. She even insists to have a spot on the dinner table for the purple-dressed royalty.
Come the following week, everything changes. She now wants to collect all the dinosaur figurines from the Cretaceous period. She won’t call it a day unless she completes watching the Jurassic World movies, and have you watch along with her.
You might worry that your child can’t stick with any hobby for long and wonder whether this will carry on until adulthood.
Fret not! This shows she has a heightened sense of curiosity. Everything around her fascinates her, so she keeps on exploring from one thing to the next.
This should not be mistaken with her lack of focus or discipline.
You as a parent should support and ‘play along’ with every change of interest. Buy the books she wants, help her decorate her room with the fitting theme, Google with her to find out more about it (with Parental Controls on, of course!).
By ‘playing along’, you boost their sense of curiosity and make them become lifelong learners. Those are useful traits to stay relevant and innovative once they enter the grown-ups world.
You’d be doing them a disservice if you discourage or ignore them when they start to get interested in new things.
3. Breaking Rules and Misbehaving
Okay, let’s face it: If you continue to let things slide every time your kids neglect their homework and refuse to do chores, you are likely to raise spoiled brats.
On the flip side, if you keep on scolding them at every wrong turn, this will result in a lasting negative impact. And I’m not just talking about the parent-child relationship.
You see, humans can only tolerate short burst of stress. With small infrequent doses, they prime your body for action and help you cope with them.
Just like working against a tight deadline with constant nagging from your boss, you deal with it anyway so you can get ahead in your career. This characterizes our stress responses.
It’s a different game when these stressful situations continue with such severity. They will affect the hippocampus, the memory fortress of our brain. Stress affects memory and harms learning process.
John Medina further stated that people who face prolonged or severe stress do bad in math, process language less efficiently and have poor memory.
I saw firsthand the devastating effect when I accidentally yelled at my son over spilled milk on the kitchen floor after I got home from work.
He is an eloquent boy and has no problems in expressing what’s on his mind. But this time, he simply tripped over his words when trying to explain himself.
Ever heard of a person who’s not able to recount a traumatic incident despite being seen at the crime scene?
Elevated stress hormones are at work here. Stress hormones seem to have a particular affinity with the hippocampus.
Remember the ‘brain fertilizer’, BDNF? The BDNF forces work in the hippocampus to protect it from the stress hormones. But, they too can be overwhelmed if there are too much stress hormones (from the extended stressful situations).
So, the BDNF forces lose the battle. The stress hormones take over and stop the gene responsible for making BDNF. In turn, they inflict long-lasting damage to our brain and natural defenses.
It’s still fine to be strict with your kids once in a while as the brain works better in short burst of stress, just be sure to not overdo it.
Why So Serious?
So, there you have it! These habits, though seemingly irritating and self-serving, should be taken with a pinch of salt.
They help kids to become well-rounded, have improved memory and perform better in school.
Try to get involved in their current interest and play with them. Listen to them instead of outright punishing them if they break the rules.
And with your continuous support and encouragement, they will grow up to become intellectual, confident, and engaging adults!
The quarantine period due to Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise as parents have managed to get reacquainted with their children.
From routine activities like cooking and spring-cleaning to the more Gen-Z ones like baking artisanal desserts or doing TikTok challenges, both kids and parents seem to have a blast.
As the saying goes, there is no better time than now!