Positive Reinforcement Helps Kids' Brains Grow Bigger

Health & Wellness on 02.03.12
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Photo: Sami Grover

Oh dear. Between questioning the emphasis on obedience in parenting and railing against politicians scapegoating parents, it seems I am in danger of painting myself as the stereotypical liberal, wishy-washy dad here. But I confess that I spend a lot more time congratulating my daughter for just about everything she does than I do enforcing discipline.

"Good job!", "Awesome!", "You are sooooo smart."

These phrases are so over used in our household, I sometimes worry whether they'll lose their meaning. But maybe I shouldn't worry. Blythe Bernhard of the St. Louis Post Dispatch/MomClick reports on research that suggests that positive reinforcement doesn't just improve behavior, it actually encourages brain growth:

Brain scans show that school-age children of nurturing mothers have a 10 percent larger hippocampus - the region of the brain that plays a role in memory, learning and stress response - compared to the brains of children whose mothers were deemed less supportive. The take-home message for working and stay-at-home parents is to praise children more than you scold them, the researchers said.

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