Fostering A Love For ReadingJul 02, 2022
Can I tell you the single most useful thing for being a parent?
If you understand this concept, it’s going to solve half your parenting problems so please do empty your brain of all else and try to focus on what I’m about to tell you.
I’m going to start at the start because I want to be 100% sure anyone reading this will understand what I’m talking about.
Our brain has neurons in it. Hundreds and thousands of them. They’re these wire looking things that “talk” to each other. That’s how information is transferred within your brain and the body and the brain.
The spot at which they “talk” to each other is called a “synapse”. For two neurons to talk to each other, they have to have a synapse- otherwise they can’t talk and the connection breaks.
With me so far? If not, go back and read the last two paragraphs.
Alright, moving forward.
Every time something happens in our life, neurons talk to each other to give us memories and experiences. If it’s a new thing we experience, a new synapse is formed, if it’s an old thing we’re experiencing again, the old synapse is strengthened. The more we use the same synapse again and again, the more we strengthen that particular “path”. If we stop having a certain experience, that synapse eventually dies and disappears forever.
Now let’s put this all in real life context.
Let’s say you read to your child every night (or almost every night). The neurons related to reading are activated. Now she loves spending time with you. Plus reading delays her bed time so she’s really happy. What two neurons are being “fired” together to make a new synapse? Reading + happiness.
Day in and day out when you read with her, this synapse is strengthened. So much so that as she gets older, even when you stop reading with her, reading STILL makes her happy. Because.. yes, you guessed it, neurons that FIRE together WIRE together. You helped make sure that reading will always be a source of joy for her.
So far so good. Right?
But what if the opposite happens?
What if, you really really want your son to play soccer but he hates it?
“I signed you up for it.. so you gotta stick to it. Giving up on stuff is not ok!” You tell him.
He has no choice but to go to soccer practice but which two neurons are firing together? What synapse is being strengthened? Soccer+Unhappiness+Anger+Frustration.
You can bet all your cash that he will grow up hating soccer and will most likely hate it all his life.
Point being- whenever we force our kids to do stuff they really don’t want to do, we reinforce negative feelings. We literally WRITE a code in their brain to REJECT that particular thing forever!!!
And by making something fun and interesting- we create neural connections (synapses) that will benefit them forever:) (For example, taking your kids to the mosque and turning it into a joyful experience will reinforce the habit of going to the mosque to pray). So that’s lesson one.
Lesson 2: Once we’ve powered and strengthens a synapse, can we never undo it? What if we want to make a change? Yes, you CAN rewire the synapse. Yes you CAN break a synapse and start over. That’ll be part two:)
Can you think of examples from your own childhood of unfavorable synapse-formation?