Brain science is not just for neuroscientists! How can it help parents and caregivers?
Educating yourself and your kids about brain science helps deepen your understanding of behavior and emotions. Everything—from the way humans learn, to the way we engage with each other, to our capacity for thinking, feeling, learning, and problem-solving — all functions through billions of neurons and connections in our brains. Understanding the basics of how the brain works helps demystify human emotions and behavior and gives us some agency in self-regulation and problem-solving.
Kids love learning about their brains! They can become scientists of their own mind, expanding their understanding of their own behaviors and emotions. Here are a few resources to get started.
Help Your Kids Learn Brain Basics
There are lots of engaging resources for kids to learn about their brains:
- These videos from Curious Kids Psychology and Learn Bright.
- The book Your Fantastic Elastic Brain is also a great place to start learning about how brains work and the beauty of normalizing that making mistakes helps us learn.
- Check out these handouts about brain basics, and these interactive puzzles and flash cards to test your knowledge of the brain.
Learning the scientific names for brain functions equips kids with anatomy basics while strengthening their understanding of their bodies and brains.
Normalize Big Emotions with Brain Science
When our kids are struggling with managing their emotions, it can be easy for them to feel defeated and internalize shame with negative self-talk. Learning about the science behind emotional regulation can be extremely empowering and hopeful for young people struggling with emotional regulation.
- This article from PBS has some excellent talking points and activities to explore with your child about brain elasticity, empathy, and neuroscience.
Sometimes their emotions are so big, kids can feel out of control, leaving them feeling powerless. Knowledge of our brain’s role in our emotions helps our kids better understand why they feel big emotions and how to calm them down.
- This article from Hey Sigmund outlines ways parents can talk with their kids about big emotions, and provides helpful art-based ways to process the information.
Brain Science = Help for Parents & Caregivers
Parenting is very rewarding AND stressful. Having a baseline understanding of brain science not only helps kids understand their brains, but also helps parents and caregivers build empathy and understanding for the big emotions of parents and kids alike. Tantrums may feel less like a personal attack on your parenting when paired with an understanding of brain science and child development.
- This article on child development is a useful resource for parents to learn more.
Learn about brain science along with your kids and you’ll have information to help you and your child understand the normal things that are going on in their brain and lots of strategies for diffusing frustration when big emotions inevitably bubble up. Remember to have fun while learning alongside your child!