By the time a child is five years old, they will have developed nearly 85% of their core brain structure. Let’s take a moment to digest that amazing statement and you’ll understand why little people’s brains are often compared to sponges. Childhood is an astonishing time for brain development. In fact, a baby is born with more brain cells than an adult and in its early years will constantly shape trillions of new connections (synapses). Indeed, a little brain grows faster – in particular from 0-8 years – than it ever will, continuously creating fresh pathways based on new experiences and ideas.
That’s why introducing children to mindfulness activities like positive affirmations from an early age is such a powerful tool in their development. By the time we become adults, our brains are often hardwired with old thoughts, bad encounters or habits that can prove difficult to shift. Neurological research shows that the experiences we have in our earliest years, from the bonds we have with our parents to the things we hear and learn, can have a long-lasting effect on our emotional, physical and social well-being.
“The absorbent mind is one of the most important ideas in early childhood education. The absorbent mind makes our adult lives possible.” Maria Montessori, the founder of the Montessori method of early schooling, said more than a century ago. This ‘absorbent mind’ again relates to the sponge-like capacity of childrens’ brains, making the formative years and beyond the best time to develop the most healthy, positive foundations.
You can begin using positive affirmations with children even before they can read. Repeat the affirmation to them and then say it together three times, louder and with more confidence each time. Repeating the words will help affirm the belief. Once a child can read, they might like to choose a little affirmation that resonates with them each day, and again, repeat this to themselves three or more times.
In today’s world of screen time, social media and mixed messages, there has never been a more important time to sit down with your little ones and share the power of positive affirmations. Self-belief that is developed early on is much more likely to stay with them throughout their life, creating more positive pathways that won’t need as much rewiring when they are older.