PARENTING: Free up Kids’ Brain | Great Health Guide
PARENTING: Free up Kids’ Brain

PARENTING: Free up Kids’ Brain

“Free Up Kids’ Brains” written by Dr Ash Nayate published in Great Health Guide (March 2017). Minimalism is a way of reducing the overload on kids’ brains, thus improving their overall function of life. Read more on how reducing clutter & stress can help your kids feel smarter. 
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PARENTING: Free Up Kids’ Brains

written by Ash Nayate

Minimalism is the new black. Minimalism is a concept that combined with specific actions, allows you to find freedom of the mind. It’s not just about owning less, of course – but about what owning less actually brings to our lives. More peace, more fulfillment, bigger bank accounts and more free time.

Turns out, that it’s not just adults who benefit. Our kids benefit from minimalism too. In fact, they benefit even more than adults. Their younger brains mean that most cognitive tasks are more challenging for them, than for adults. Kids often have a hard time with complex activities like organising their belongings, keeping track of homework, or thinking through the consequences of their actions.

Kids get overwhelmed far more quickly than adults and just like us, being overwhelm leads to stress. And when kids are stressed, they are more prone to irritability, grumpiness, meltdowns and tantrums. Minimalism is a way of reducing the overload on kids’ brains, thus improving their functioning in almost all facets of life. Here are three ways in which minimalism can help your kids feel smarter:

1. BETTER CONCENTRATION.

 

Believe it or not, concentration is a skill. It’s one that serves us well and allows us to follow conversations, understand movies, read books, think deeply about complex ideas and complete tasks quickly.

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And in today’s fast-paced technological world, we don’t get much practice in concentrating. From text messaging to app notifications, our kids are getting used to focusing in very short bursts of time. It’s all too easy to get distracted from, say, reading a textbook by the variety of interesting things happening in the world around them (real and virtual).

Of course, distractions aren’t new. We all grew up with them, whether it was TV or comic books. But the sheer volume of distractions in today’s world is unprecedented. Our comic books didn’t ping at us constantly, reminding us of the world going on inside our phones.

OUR KIDS ARE GETTING USED TO FOCUSING IN VERY SHORT BURSTS OF TIME.

Navigating distractions is like running an obstacle course. The fewer distractions in our kids’ lives, the fewer obstacles they need to overcome in order to concentrate. And distractions come in many forms, whether it’s visual distraction from a messy desk, or virtual clutter from the myriad of files stored haphazardly in the virtual cloud, or even internal clutter from the mental juggling of extracurricular activities, homework and social events.

Reducing clutter means fewer distractions, which means more focus for longer periods of time. And this means – faster and more efficient learning, better memory and quicker homework times.

CLUTTER & REDUCING STRESS, KIDS CAN THINK THROUGH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS.

2. BETTER JUDGEMENT.

When our kids are chronically overwhelmed and distracted by clutter, they can struggle to think with clarity and logic. A stressed, distracted, overloaded mind is more prone to impulsive decisions, focusing on short term pleasure rather than long term benefit and underestimating (or totally disregarding) the risks of certain behaviours.

By reducing clutter and reducing stress, kids are better able to tap into their cognitive capabilities – such as, thinking through the consequences of their actions, mentally weighing up the pros and cons of different options and making appropriate decisions. All of these capabilities are crucial to ‘good’ decision making.

3. MORE CREATIVITY.

Have you ever noticed that your best ideas occur to you during the most unusual times, like when you’re showering or driving? The reason this happens is that these tasks are so menial and automatic, that our mind has time to rest. Our brains effectively go on ‘autopilot’ which means that we have space to think about other things. And creativity happens in that space. Think of Newton watching an apple fall from the tree, or Archimedes and his bathtub. The problem is when our kids’ schedules are so hectic that they don’t have much opportunity for down time. Between school, music lessons, sport, homework and social events, it is rare that kids just have time to just ponder. It might not necessarily be while sitting still, it might be while perfecting their tennis serve or idly scribbling on a piece of paper.

WITH MENTAL SPACE TO PONDER AND REFLECT, KIDS CAN UNLEASH THE FULL POWER OF THEIR CREATIVE BRILLIANCE.

When we minimise our kids’ schedules, by removing the unnecessary commitments, they have more opportunities for free time. Although we may view ‘free’ time as wasteful and unproductive, it is anything but. When our kids have the mental space to ponder and reflect, they can unleash the full power of their creative brilliance.

Author of this article:
Dr. Ash Nayate is a clinical neuropsychologist, which means that she specialises in brain function and how this impacts on our behaviour. She has almost 15 years’ experience working with children and families, supporting them to feel happier, more confident and more resilient. To contact Ash please visit her website.

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