GIVE me the child until the age of seven, and I will give you the man — Jesuit proverb
As a new parent, it’s scary to realise that 90 per cent of the brain’s growth happens in the first five years of your child’s life.
“Over these crucial years, millions of brain connections are being formed,” writes Margot Sunderland in The Science of Parenting. By age seven the foundations for their adult brain function (and ability to handle tricky emotions) are pretty much set. And no, nothing will have more influence on your child’s life than you, their primary caregiver.
Overwhelming? Yes. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity to create routines which “wire” your child’s developing brain for a happy life (and develop healthy responses to the inevitable setbacks and frustrations).
First, the obvious: the most important thing you can give your child is unconditional love. Not having to ‘earn’ your love by being good won’t create spoiled kids; you can still enforce boundaries while loving unconditionally.