What is an addiction and how do we explain it?

Previously deemed a moral failure, scientists and researchers are now delving deeper into understanding and explaining the trap of addiction and its withdrawal effects.

An alarmingly high percentage of people are at the mercy of addictions such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, sex, etc.,.  And there are an increasing number seemingly more innocuous, addictions also under debate – from obsessive gaming, mobile phone usage, social media interaction, to the simple buzz of one’s daily caffeine intake.

So what exactly is an addiction? Well it’s best explained as the brain’s neural paths being hijacked by the pursuit of intense desires and by the brain’s ‘desire directors’ becoming ‘super-charged’ by an artificial booster such as drugs, alcohol, caffeine, etc. These desire directors are dopamine and are needed to help us function on a daily basis.

So what is dopamine?‎ Dopamine is a neuro-transmitter: a chemical released by nerve cells (neurons) to signal to other nerve cells. One of these dopamine pathways has a major role to play in our reward-motivated behaviours. It’s like a ‘pleasure magnet’ that helps us to gravitate towards certain activities.‎ As humans we are primed to be ‘pleasure seekers’ and our brains evolved with dopamine-based reward systems to help us to survive.

Many of our lives are fuelled by natural ‘highs’ when the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals are released i.e. during exercise or pain and laughing (endorphins); when we are sharing enjoyable moments with family (dopamine) or falling in love (oxytocin) – all these little pleasure magnets keep us going through life. Our everyday activities are steeped with dopamine ‘injections’ that keep us wanting to repeat them i.e. enjoying food so that we continue feeding ourselves; having fun in relationships to keep us collaborating, making sex enjoyable so that we reproduce ourselves, etc.,.

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When the pleasure ‘circuit’ becomes artificially overwhelmed with certain drugs and our dopamine levels are amplified and tampered with, the system is deviated to a point of distraction and elevated to levels that seem incredibly appealing. It’s becomes too hard for the system to compete with the new stimuli.  One can see why the brain will alter its circuit to craving this new super-dose of dopamine or pleasure. This could explain why a football player or rock star, having experienced the rush of a stadium full of fan’s adulation, may end up taking drugs to recreate the levels of highs experienced on the pitch or the stage and become ‘hooked’ in order to keep that momentous high going. These ‘highs’ may seem nigh on impossible to compete with.

Many addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity and alcohol acts as stimulant to the brain, again increasing dopamine in the reward pathways. For some this will explain why they ‘can’t wait to get home to that glass of wine after a hard days work’.

So addictions change the chemistry and paths of the brain as if changing the cells GPS systems, their signals and synapses. The reward schemata is hijacked to one that demands these new highs and that are dependent on the drug at the expense of what would have been the usual healthy reward system.

It’s like replacing all the typical daily magnets with one enormous ‘super-magnet’ that overpowers all others. The drug of choice begins to replace what used to be the usual priorities of simple family pleasures, going on a lovely holiday, feeling satisfied with our accomplishments at work and enjoying a delicious meal. The new, growing addiction quickly leads the user down a virtual one-way street or cul- de-sac: replacing, overriding and eliminating everything previously deemed of value.

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The pre-frontal cortex is also affected. The rational, consequential brain that is more aware and helps with self-control is impaired too. Again, if the reward pathways are affected and our capacity to think is consequentially limited, this creates a very potent mix for the brain to be increasingly hooked.

The plasticity of a human brain – the genius masterstroke of evolution that enables us to be flexible – with an ability to heal and be malleable, can also contribute to our downfall. This plasticity makes us ‘hyper-vulnerable’ to deviation and allows the pull of the giant magnet to draw us deeper and deeper into the addiction and derail us onto a treacherous path of self-destruction.

This giant ‘super-magnet’ confuses our reward systems. As with all addiction‎s, we soon cannot live without it. Its draw is so powerful and intense that without it being present at all times, we are ‘in withdrawal’ and feel utterly miserable. Being dependent on a very demanding magnet minimises our lives and becomes dangerous. We lose our sense of living in a healthy way. Some lose their jobs, their families; some even lose the will to sustain and feed themselves and the situation may become very critical indeed.

If your relationships or family life has been impacted by addiction it’s time to find a way to escape from this enormous magnet! Seek advice from your GP or other health professional. The brain is malleable and capable of healing itself in cases of addictions.  The plasticity of the brain can be incredibly helpful for recovery. Retraining the brain and abstaining has worked in numerous cases and there appear to be some extraordinary success stories using the latest Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. This treatment is still on trial now but looks promising.

How does this work? Well, by using the brains own ‘engineering’ and stimulating the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that is in charge of long-term decision making. Using the brain’s plasticity and stimulating the pre-frontal cortex offers the brain better options: a better chance to arm itself in battle against the addictions. This can reverse what the drug of choice does and reduce it’s appeal as if re-activating a healthy thoroughfare full of alternative stimuli that, once formerly shut down, can now compete with the giant magnet.


Depression: stuck in an old deep-sea diving suit gasping for air?

Almost 1 in 4 are being diagnosed with a mental health illness in the UK today,  of which the most common diagnosis is Depression. That’s nearly a quarter of the population who have or will experience depression at some point in their lives.

Depression is the fastest growing ‘silent’ illness with many people suffering in silence and abject misery, feeling too ‘ashamed’ or embarrassed to seek any kind of help. Some become so fearful of being tagged with a mental health label, they increasingly isolate themselves, hiding in the shadows and remaining undiagnosed.

Some may have been advised to ‘get over it’ or told ‘you’ll be fine’ and believe they need to maintain a ‘stiff upper lip and all that’.  Either way, depression is still a subject and issue that is hard to bring to the surface and talk about openly. By nature of the effects, most sufferers of depression find it extremely hard to reach out and ask for help.

Working with people who have suffered various levels of depression, I would liken the symptoms to the feeling of being stuck in an old deep-sea diving suit in the deepest, darkest seas, far from land. Incapacitated, as if wearing lead-filled boots that keep you stuck at the bottom, with your neck and head weighed down by heavy metal helmet, you’re hoping that your only access to oxygen – through a plastic tube – does not fail. Land, people and society seem so far away and all sound is muffled by the crashing waves and turbulence of dark sea.  Ocean creatures seem all the more menacing.  You feel ‘cast away’ from the delights of what seems to be the happening in outside world, on safe land or from those even enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of the sea.

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Sufferers can have numerous physical symptoms too such as constant tiredness, insomnia, loss of appetite and libido, lack of motivation as well as other physical aches and pains.  Emotional symptoms range from lows to extreme lows with frequent peaks of anxiety.  When feeling in ‘low’ spirits, many feel overwhelmed, crying frequently, experiencing extreme lethargy and finding it hard to concentrate.  When ‘in extreme lows’ one can feel useless, like a burden on others, perhaps not being able to get out of bed, struggling to function at work or socially, with possible persistent suicidal thoughts.

If the above sounds familiar, please don’t suffer in silence – seek help. There is a tendency for people to leave it at crisis point, believing it will pass. If you are unsure why not carry out a self-assessment by visiting the NHS link: ‎http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/depression.aspx

If you are feeling particularly alone and unsupported during Separation or Divorce please visit Separation S.O.S. http://www.kidscomefirstuk.co.uk/separation-s-o-s/ or consider Kids Come First Separated Parent Support Workshops.  Many single, separated parents feel unable to parent their children, feeling stuck in their own kind of diving suit. So if you are still feeling depressed or recognise the above symptoms after a couple of years of separation then please do seek specialist support.


Mama and Papa Bear: Parent Protectiveness Over Babies in Separation

Having a child brings out the Mama and Papa Bear in all parents. It’s not only mother’s protective instincts that become apparent – fathers fall in love with their newborn child too! Even before the birth, fathers are affected by hormonal changes during the pregnancy. Their testosterone levels drops, making them less aggressive and more attentive.  And so, the parenting journey starts for both parents before the birth.

We are primed to become protective and hyper-vigilant over our children. Children and parents alike need constant contact with each other, and even the smallest activity becomes deeply appreciated – thus creating very strong attachments. Children are stimulated by both parents and therefore need both.

Sadly when separation happens, contact with both parents is affected. Interaction with both parents can be interrupted. Infants and toddlers can be the most adversely affected by separation as the need to have safe and constant contact and attachment with both parents is vital for a baby.

 

It is not uncommon for a parent to become a stranger to their child. Father’s role can be diminished as mother’s level of trust drops to ‘suspicious’ level. As the ‘other’ parent is assigned an increasingly negative profile, contact can become highly stressful and perhaps even avoided, with the view that it’s best to ‘leave it alone’.  Children then become the victims of parental loss, with one or both parents resenting the other so much it blinds their reasoning to what is needed in their interests.

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Research on early attachment demonstrates that children do need evenings and overnights with both parents. Every day activities, such as meals, tucking into bed, bath times, playing, and morning cuddles with each parent is vital. This helps to strengthen and build on the precious parental bonds that are vital for a healthy and happy child.

Breastfeeding can be a contentious issue between separated parents of an infant. There can be a resistance for overnight or full day access.  Whilst breastfeeding is also a building block for attachment it should not be used as reasoning to diminish father’s involvement.  Fathers, in turn, should also be flexible to modifying schedules to cater for breastfeeding routines.  Both parents need to appreciate their individual roles and respect that both are equally critical to their child’s welfare.

The loss of a parent in the early years can create anxiety and depression in a young child. Infants don’t have the cognitive or emotional ability to process the loss of such an important caregiver. The stronger and more secure the relationship is with both parents, the stronger the child becomes and more readily able to adapt to changes and transitions. Babies, who are less anxious or preoccupied, are less needy, more creative in play, more curious about the world, and adaptable.

The nurturing love of a parent is incomparable and forms the building blocks for a healthy and happy child. Having two loving parents magnifies and strengthens the potential and possibilities for every child.


Anxious/depressed children & teenagers: riding the cortisol roller coaster and then running out of steam?

Concerned about your child who seems fatigued, frazzled and lacking in motivation? This could be linked to their cortisol levels and over exposure to stress when they were younger.

Research has discovered a link between child behavioural issues, high cortisol levels and poor performance at school. Cortisol is the steroid hormone produced by the cortex of the adrenal gland that helps in responding to and coping with stress, trauma and environmental extremes. It regulates our blood glucose, the immune system and helps to increase energy and metabolism and regulate blood pressure. But when cortisol is over-secreted during our ‘fight or flight’ response, it can cause physical and mental health issues and over time can become ‘blunted’.‎

It would seem that the body adapts to long-term exposure to stress by diluting or shutting down the cortisol system – which affects our overall health if not functioning well and helping regulate our hormonal responses

 

Children demonstrating either ‘internalising’ behaviours, such as depression and anxiety or ‘externalising’ behaviours, such as aggression or attention deficit are on the cortisol ‘roller coaster’. Over time, too much internalising or externalising can create a blunting affect to cortisol levels.  It’s like shaking up a cola bottle. The bottle once containing a normal amount of bubbles, becomes so full of energetic bubbles that it either explodes or erupts in short, sharp bursts until there is virtually no fizz left or it’s all gone flat.

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Teenagers who deal with prolonged stress issues become disengaged and less reactive to normal stresses. They often don’t step up academically or get busy studying for exams as quickly as their peers.  A frazzled seemingly ‘not bothered’ attitude can become the norm.  Fatigue can ensue and this impaired stress response can lead to further anxiety and depression.

Mood disorders, as well as ongoing anxiety and depression can manifest and lead to physical changes in the brain. The brain shifts into less functional patterns, altering mood and affecting short-term memory function.

So what are contributory factors to high cortisol levels? Over-worked at school; separated or divorced parents and exposure to their conflict; bullying; long-term friendship issues; poverty; family loss and abandonment are just a few indicators.

How can we tackle the issue? By seeking help from nutritionists and therapists; trying to avoid stressful situations and keeping the channels of communication open. Following a healthy diet, regular exercise, reducing caffeine, ensuring more rest and better care of oneself is key.  Don’t let it get to a state of crisis. If young children are showing signs of stress then seek help as soon as possible.


KIDS COME FIRST Separated Parent Support Workshops

As the name clearly indicates, this support workshop helps you to prioritise your children and to re-focus on them with other like-minded parents who also have been through separation/divorce.

Losing one’s focus and confidence as a parent is pretty easy under any circumstances. But even more so when you experience a momentous and explosive separation. Loss of control, indecision and feelings of uncertainty will seem to be the norm and anxiety levels run high.‎ When it’s hard to know what is right anymore you feel unsure about what your child needs and you may have lost your parenting ‘compass’.

Especially if you’re in  Family Court, where negative profiling of your former partner and playing the ‘blame game’ feels like adding more fuel to the fire and leaves you even more worried about how to bring up your children.

It becomes even harder to really know what your children want, especially as they will be trying to please you both. Stuck in the middle, children often behave like little diplomats, making it almost impossible to know how to support them.

We can help you analyse what is normal behaviour for children of any age i.e. is your 3-year old having tantrums because they feel sad about your separation or are their volcanic eruptions due to too many changes in their week? Is it normal for teenagers to take control of parenting arrangements and avoid going to see the other parent?

We support you to manage the usual and the unusual, as a parent and particularly as a separated parent. We look at what works best to strengthen your individual parenting skills and enable you to support your child without blaming each other.

We strive to get parents to focus on their future as co-parents. So if you are ready to bury the hatchet, set aside your judgements of your former partner and really knuckle down to work together without blaming each other then this course is for you.

You can book a workshop (2 x 2hr sessions) either:

1) together as parents

OR

2) separately to meet other parents who also would like to share their experiences.

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Our next group workshops will be held on:

  • Tuesday 28th February from 6pm to 8pm (Session 1)
  • Tuesday 14th March from 6pm to 8pm (Session 2)

 

  • Tuesday 28th March‎ from 6pm to 8pm (Session 1)
  • Tuesday ‎4th April from 6pm to 8pm (Session 2)

Please get in touch with us at: kidscomefirstuk@mail.com

Or call Steph on 07880 798 070 Nicola on 07789 497 275.

Visit our website at: www.kidscomefirstuk.co.uk for more information.‎


Separation S.O.S.: A 5-step Mentoring Program To Help You Recover From Separation

Feeling adrift or drowning since your separation? With all the New Year pressures, is your ‘new life’ proving a tough challenge when your thinking is all a bit foggy and hesitant about the uncertain future? ‘Breaking up is hard to do’, as the song goes

Perhaps you were not the one who decided on the separation so it may constantly feel like you’re on the back-foot, vulnerable, exposed, not in control and wearing ‘L-plates’ to life? Perhaps you are feeling unsure about whether you should have separated and are daunted by all the complexities of how to separate? You are not alone!

Just to reassure you – 50% of all relationships currently end in separation. And in the first instance, it is perfectly normal to blame  your former partner. However, getting stuck in the ‘blame game’ and negative patterns of behaviour can really detour your recovery and you are more likely to stagnate in passive loathing.

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Of course, there is a genuine need to lick your wounds and honour how you are feeling and thinking. It will be hard to concentrate at work and you will have lost your mojo and your sense of self, which had previously been interwoven into your relationship with your ex.

You are, or have been, in a state of shock and denial and so overwhelmed that you are naturally very apprehensive about the future. Does this all sound very familiar? Whilst all these emotions are normal, you may not even want to face telling family or friends about the separation yes desperately need a space to offload all these feelings? The need to find an impartial support framework and a safe space in which to recover and move on is not a luxury but a basic necessity. Only then you can recover your balance and rebuild your self-confidence again.

Start by taking the first step on the Separation S.O.S. mentoring program that can help you to move on and make positive changes. It will take some self-care and time out for you to achieve your goals but by taking charge and seeking the right support, you will start to feel more in control. We can help you to mourn the loss of the relationship but also to rediscover yourself and create an action plan that is realistic and of your own making. You will regain all your self worth and begin to believe in YOU again.

Contact either Steph on 07880 798 070 or Nicola on 07789 497 275 to take the first step forward.


How the ‘Blame Game’ Undermines and Affects Separated Parenting

As a parent, playing the ‘blame game’ may be fairly satisfying in the short term but will actually begin to surreptitiously undermine oneself eventually, whilst negating and eroding the other parent in the process. Sadly this can be typical behaviour I observe when parents separate. The need to blame is very much a part of the initial stages of grief and fury. It can feel really good to blame the other parent and thereby absolve ourselves of guilt – another painful emotion.   And of course there are only so many terrible feelings one can cope with when breaking up. It can feel so horrendous.

But, by finding oneself constantly in a blaming matrix and frequently blaming the other person, the longer we maintain our ‘fixed’ position, the longer we remain ‘stuck’ and avoiding necessary change. “It’s all his/her fault”, we say in adopting this ‘easier’ stance, where no shift or compromise or healthy self-analysis can take place.

If we are unable to be really honest about assessing our own roles, looking within ourselves and examining our own behaviour, in order to determine how one can change and learn from past incidents, then the situation may only become further ‘inflamed’ to a point that disables us like a paralysis. Entrenched and stuck in a rut, no progress or forward motion can be made.

When parents blame each other they are actually negating their own parenting prowess, robbing themselves of all their strengths and qualities as parents.  By spending a lot of energy focusing on one another’s mistakes, an impasse is reached. It is often at this point that their children will feel lost or overlooked. We end up with two negated parents, erased by their continuous blaming of one another and this can create an emotional deficit for the children. Particularly at a time when children need to observe their parents being stronger than ever.  Both parents need all the energy for themselves so that they can bring up their children.  An even more difficult task than usual!

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Taking stock of oneself and taking control of our actions & reactions is far more rewarding and the results more tangible. One can see the progress from within.

Negative profiling, viewing the other parent with an ever-critical eye, ‘plotting’ their demise and obsessing over what they are doing with ‘your child’, ultimately only takes away from YOU as a parent.

The amount of time and effort wasted obsessing and generating negative energy and blame results in loss of time spent enjoying your child/ren. In building on the foundation of their childhood and creating lovely moments, we make wonderful memories for them.

Of course, it takes time to recover from a separation experience (especially if you are embroiled in family court legalities) so if you find yourself on this negative trajectory after more than a couple of years, then maybe it’s time to explore alternative options and other kinds of support.

Try to have more fun with your children. Stop looking at those court papers or taking note of all times the other parent is late for weekend pick ups, or making a case for your solicitor to present in court about ‘what an awful parent they are’. ‎It’s time to enjoy yourself and your child and to take healthy control, to reap the rewards of your decisive actions, to move forward and seek a fruitful future.


Suffering from Anxiety and Stress? We need more Cheerleaders!

Modern living and separation feels incredibly stressful and one issue I have noticed is how we can all give ourselves a hard time and worry too much. We are the descendants of finely tuned anxious people and needed to be so in order to survive. In order for the modern form of humans to have survived 200,000 years we have needed to be ready for action depending on what we were faced with. Our amygdala (the alarm system that warns us of danger) is still very reactive in us today.‎ We are descendants of people who had a very finely tuned and responsive alarm.

Modern living, is less predatory, however, we still have a lot of triggers and pressures, particularly when separated. We may see our former partner as an enemy due to the split, conflict and possibly court experience. We may have categorised our ex as a threat. As a society we are known to react at the slightest flair up (only need to look at twitter, Facebook and courts). Our brain is in fact trained to be alert to negatives, as these could pose a threat and kills us. Yet we needn’t react in quite the same manner as we would under great attack.

The amygdala, the alarm system in our brain that alerts us of great danger can be fired up in a nano second of receiving an email or text from our ex.  Based on responses to prehistoric times which can be brilliant when under grave danger these can be now over stimulated at the slightest touch. We need to be more selective and buffer this alarm otherwise as it can be debilitating to be frequently on high pitch alert and causes us to respond to communication in a very rash and impulsive way.

When separated the one common feeling that is noticed is anxiety or anger. Anxiety is the most frightening ailment and can eat away at our self-esteem, making us incredibly incapacitated. When stressed or scared, we view a world full of dangerous triggers and pitfalls. In turn we are not in control. We can have a tendency to chastise ourselves as being frail and vulnerable and therefore over-compensate and fight back with all our arsenal. This can be exhausting and over-reactive.

Separated parents activate each other’s flight or fight brain and this can manifest itself in relentless conflict that can extend into court. By ‘looping’ into each other’s anxious brain, they replicate a reactive figure of eight. This figure of eight repeatedly activates the alarmed mechanism of each parent to a high pitch state and creates a vicious circle.

So how can we help ourselves?

Finding equilibrium is key and we can do this by training our brains to create more cheer leaders in our own minds. We all have a tendency to put ourselves down and call ourselves, ‘stupid’ or an ‘idiot’ very easily. We can get into a negative stance with others and get into a negative spiral.

What could help separated parents? Both parents can assuage and comfort their own reactive brains long enough for them to activate their pre-frontal cortex (the rational brain and forward thinking brain). Once calm is established then collaboration can proceed.

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So why not re-train our brains to have cheer leaders or a good backing band?

  • Soften our self-recriminations and criticism of others.
  • Talk to ourselves in a kindly manner. This will help to avoid negative profiling of ourselves and the other parent.
  • Use different turns of phrases, instead of a ‘problem’ being in the way, think of a worthy ‘challenge’ that can be faced.
  • Notice when we put ourselves down and don’t give ourselves a hard time about it. But stay observant to it and keep an open mind as to why it happened then.
  • If suffering from anxiety and insomnia, seeking professional support will alleviate the stress and enable ourselves to feel stronger and believe in ourselves again.

Suffering in silence will only exacerbate the alarm system to tripwire and default perpetually on siren mode. This will increase cortisol levels (a steroid hormone which is released in response to stress). This can cause harm to our health and can increase insomnia, makes us feel more depressed, frazzled and depletes our immune system.

Please take action and have an emotional MOT, give yourself a soothing brain massage by seeking professional help.

Or try yoga, meditation, exercise and mindfulness. This will keep you on track and create happy chemicals called endorphins and also makes you sleep better. Please don’t suffer in silence,


Why Difference is Good for Co-Parenting?

Why is it once you separate from your ex-spouse or partner that you may seem to disagree on everything you believe is good for your child?

When you’re no longer in love, a part of that compromising ‘glue’ that helped you reach mutual decisions has apparently dissolved.  In fact, that one part of the brain that often makes us see the other person through ‘rose-tinted glasses’ no longer operates the same way. And  so you may be more inclined to want to ‘stand your ground’ with  more individualistic views of how you want to bring up your child.

Parents can often end up fighting in Court over their differences that seem so despairingly contrasting. But difference in parenting styles can be a good thing. Of course, it’s important that you both find some common ground and agree on basic beliefs as to how you want to co-parent and to create a ‘safe roof effect’, one which protects and reassures your children.

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But difference is key too as it will offer many more opportunities for any child and cover many more bases and enable and provide more skills for your child. You may be the more fun-loving parent while your former partner is more academic. You may love reading and have a passion for art and crafts and the other parent loves sports, adventure and travel.

These are all amazing qualities and interests which make for  a more rounded upbringing for a child. As their role-model, you will want to give them the ‘good stuff’ that’s been passed down by your parents and this will apply to the other parent too.

So enjoy the difference and let each parent celebrate your differences via your child. Your child will ultimately thank you for the double legacy you both have to offer.


Babies First Year Development in Right and Left Brain Hemisphere

The right hemisphere of the brain has a considerable growth spurt in the first year. It is in charge of recognising faces, experiencing and coding emotions, colour recognition, images and more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective thinking. As mentioned previously the amygdala is linked to the visual-affective interactions in basic proto-conversations (basic ace and eye contact) and is reliant on pleasant eye to eye contact. If the amygdala is, so to speak, stroked with frequent and gentle interactions the right hemisphere flourishes. High levels of opiods are involved and the orbi-frontal cortex which is linked to the eyes and envelops the brain start to filter different emotions‎. It is believed that the child is using mother’s outward manifestations of her own right cortex. This is as a brain blueprint and can be seen as the backbone of the babies emotional world.

Therefore visual stimulation that is not too intense or infrequent helps to stimulate the infant brain, which helps better receptivity and internalising capacities to transform into solid psychic structures. This helps with the capacity for attachment, bonding and healthy adhesiveness in relationships.

The Left brain is very interdependent with the right hemisphere, in fact the right hemisphere brain needs to be structurally well built and have solid foundations for maximisation of left brain growth. The Left brain which is charge of sequential and verbal processing is the second part of the baby brain puzzle and takes part after the first year. Before baby can learn new words or for the orchestra to work there needs to be good links amongst the musicians. Parents start to notice that their baby is able to relate feelings to words and have more evolved verbal capacities.

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Words which frequently punctuate mother’s communication make more sense, there is a more elaborative communication. From smiling at 6 weeks, which seduces mother to respond, this helps with gurgling and babbling at 6 months, to better formed words that are noted at around 9 months with the words ‘mama’ or ‘dada’. Baby starts crawling giving satisfaction and promotes parent involvement and encourage skills.

Having had a good experience will expand joint attention capacities of attention (where baby can look at mother and then toy). It is at around one when babies are starting to walk that they show more complex mimicking and have more developed speech patterns, connecting sounds with meaning, interweaving what they have heard, re-mimicking them, attempting to speak them, stringing them into sentences – this is when left hemisphere is visibly developing.

Parents are continually rewarded by their child’s achievements and the milestones reached, with the resulting effects of parents being enthused and enjoying their time with their baby