Friday, November 2, 2012

Giving Feels Very Good!

By Deborah McNelis, Owner, Brain Insights

5 Activities for helping kids learn that Giving Benefits the Brain

It is holiday time already! (Believe it or not!)
How wonderful that is... because the holidays turn our attention to friends, family and lots of activity. This time of year gives us a chance to enjoy more together time and also to give to families in need. 

A focus on giving, can create happier holidays for EVERYONE! 

The brain benefits by activating the reward centers when we give to others. Research has demonstrated when giving, the brain releases dopamine which is responsible for the feelings of euphoria. Additionally, it has been shown that the hormone oxytocin was released in study participants. This increases levels of trust and cooperation.

Isn't it wonderful to realize that the pleasure areas of the brain respond to not only what is good for ourselves but also to what is good for other people?!!!!

Helping kids learn that Giving Benefits the Brain

To help develop this important aspect of development, following are some activities to do with children that will also helps others:
Helping kids learn that Giving Benefits the Brain

One For You 
Give  the child the opportunity to have an item and give an item to someone else. For example:

Say, “Here is a book for you. Can you give the other book to (name of another child)?”

Note: Toddlers do share, but the brain isn’t ready to completely understand sharing at very young ages.  At this age giving something to someone when they have the same thing will be the best way to practice.

Doing Nice Things Makes “Cents” 
Provide a “giving jar” and a supply of pennies. Every time someone does something nice or thoughtful for someone else, a penny can be added to the jar. At the end of the month use the money to donate to a cause or individual you want to support or help. 

Write or Draw for Someone
Set time aside regularly (once a week or once a month) to have children write a letter or draw a picture to send to someone.  This could be sent to a relative or friend, someone that is sick or hospitalized, a deployed military person, etc. 

Celebration Give Away (for parents)
At each holiday or birthday, give the child an extra gift to give away. Your child’s brain reward center will benefit most when involved in deciding who should receive the gift. 


Donating Decisions (for parents)

While at the grocery store, help a child choose an item to donate to a local food pantry. It works best if you provide two options and let the child pick the one they would like to provide to others.


Giving Benefits the Brain


It is a a REAL pleasure to be a part of this collaborative blog! Thank you to every one of you who reads and shares the valuable information from each of the contributing authors. It is through ALL of us caring about kids that remarkable and positive results occur!

I so enjoy connecting with those that care about children! I welcome you to visit my blog and website or sign up for my newsletter! It would also be wonderful to be invited to speak in in your area!  I look forward to meeting those of you that will be attending NAEYC next week. My session is Wednesday morning. Stop by and say, "Hi"!

 Have fun and enjoy this wonderful season
 of being thankful for.... and caring of others!

Brain Insights owner and author of the Brain Development Series,
As an Early Brain Development Specialist and owner of Brain Insights, Deborah is the award winning author of, The Brain Development Series in English and Spanish. She has been seen in several publications, heard on numerous radio shows, and receives rave reviews for her enlightening and engaging presentations. Deborah is overjoyed with the response to all that her company is achieving due to her passion to create awareness of the critical importance of the early years. In addition to the brain series she has also created the, Love Your Baby App, and a brain packet called, Naturally Developing Young Brains. Deborah has additionally created a valuable newsletter, the Early Childhood Brain Insights blog, and the BRAIN Initiative. Her goal through this work is for everyone to gain an understanding of early brain development, it’s impact, and the ways we can all easily make a REAL difference.  She is making a dramatic difference in the medical field, early childhood care and education, parenting and also with influential companies and organizations.  In only 4 years , Deborah had grown Brain Insights to be a company that is having a very real influence in contributing to healthy brain development worldwide.

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