HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

Inside the preschooler's brain

What insights can neuroscience offer parents about the mind of a preschooler?

By Hank Pellissier

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Be gentle

Children need to feel safe and confident. Stanford University research indicates that traumatic stress and fear can release toxic levels of the hormone cortisol, which can destroy neurons in the hippocampus, a region that supports factual and episodic memory.  You can minimize stress by giving your child positive, loving, sensitive, and encouraging feedback. Keep reprimands and threats to a minimum, avoid unnecessary power struggles, and shouting or spanking in discipline. Also, be patient about bedwetting, be sympathetic about fear of nightmares, the dark, and thunder-and-lighting storms, and allow your child to have a security object like a cozy blanket or a stuffed toy.

Photo credit: Jenniferschwalm

Hank Pellissier is a freelance writer whose fiction and essays have been been widely published and anthologized. A former columnist for Salon and SF Gate, he is a regular contributor to h+ Magazine.