Did you know there are over 700 new synapses formed per second in babies brains?

Interactions in the early years of parenting literally shape the architecture of the human brain as these synapses are forming.

(Just a few tidbits from another early childhood development class I’m taking online that is so good. And oh, I have so much more to share!)

But isn’t that thought about all those synapses forming so powerful?

And also daunting?

I mean, that puts a lot of responsibility on us as mothers.

Luckily there are other people in our “villages” who can help with that positive interaction in development.

Like sisters:

(and brothers and aunts and uncles and friends, you name it, they can all help with brain-building in a positive way)

In general there are universal things we want for our children:

  • connection
  • security
  • self-confidence*** (this one is taking a major beating these days!)
  • education/cognitive development
  • success
  • strong relationships
  • to be able to problem-solve
  • impulse control

And there are some crucial, sometimes-almost-so-simple-that-we-don’t-even-realize-their-importance ways to help them achieve those things (as those synapses are taking shape) that make such a huge difference in the early years of their lives:

  • eye contact
  • play
  • “serve & return” (so much more to say about this some day but click HERE for more for now)
  • welcome response (one of my favorite things to think about, and what Claire is doing for Lucy in that picture above)
  • awareness (smile, touch, focus)
  • love, unconditional


Those little sometimes seemingly insignificant things are so incredibly important.

Early experiences literally shape our biology, create a strong or weak foundation for health, learning and behavior that follow for a lifetime.” –Jack Shonkoff

Lots more to come on each of these things and how to engage in them more fully coming up in the next few weeks.

For now, I’m challenging us all to put away the computer or phone (like I’m going to do right now!) and go ask your child a sincere question about their day. Or focus for a little while on the same thing your baby is focusing on. Or hug your teenager for at least eight seconds (because although the plasticity of the brain isn’t as pliable for teenagers, oh boy, I think all this stuff is so incredibly important for them too!).

I think this stuff not only creates a hugely positive impact on children, but on the mama too!

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  1. Love this Shawni! I am an educator and child therapist, and I wanted to share (in respond to what you said at the end of this about teens) that there’s been newer research that shows that the ages of 12-24 is actually the SECOND largest growth spurt in the brain (after of course those 0-5 years you are talking about). Their brains are more plastic during the ages of 12-24 than they will be any time after, so you’re totally right! So important for those teens and young adults as well!!! Thank you so much for sharing your learnings with us always!

    1. Love this, KS. I so agree. Everything I study makes me think, “hmmm, this is so important for teenagers too!” I think it’s more difficult to share the same kind of love with teenagers as we do with toddlers because they can be so much more prickly and eye-rolly trying to figure themselves out, but I think that’s whey they need the love the most! Thank you for sharing, keep it coming from your perspective because I think it’s so important!

  2. I love this! My son was born 10 weeks early and suffered a stage 4 brain hemorrhage 2 weeks after he was born. He is missing about 1/3 of the left side of his brain. But thanks to the fact that he was so little and young and his Brian was still wiring (and a lot early intervention), he is a full functioning, energetic, 5 year old boy. Who we just found out is graduating from his special ed classes into gen ed next year! I just love those tiny little brains and how miraculous they are! They do amazing things! They say the size of his hemorrhage would have killed an adult brain…

    1. Oh Robin, I celebrate with you on his development, so happy he is going to gen ed. That is a miracle. So happy for your mama heart and for him that he is growing and thriving. The power of the human brain is incredible!

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