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Use the Holidays to Develop a Critical Part of Your Child's Brain

Use the Holidays to Develop a Critical Part of Your Child's Brain

iStock_000017348857_LargeThe holidays provide a great opportunity for developing an important part of your child's brain. And, no, we're not talking about filling winter break with hours of extra homework. Between family gatherings, meals, shopping, gift wrapping, scheduling, and everything else, the last thing you want to do is carve aside time for extra math or reading-and the good news is that you don't have to! In fact, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is the very thing you can use to help develop the frontal lobe of your child's brain.

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that thinks, plans, makes decisions, controls emotions, pays attention and gets things done. And the more opportunity your child has to exercise that area of the brain, the stronger and more efficient those skills become. You can give your child these kinds of opportunities by involving him or her in tasks like planning meals, creating and following a gift-giving budget, prioritizing holiday tasks, following a recipe, writing the family holiday newsletter, or planning a dinner party.

Holidays offer another brain benefit, and it has to do with all the socializing that often takes place. Studies show that social interaction improves brain functioning, so encourage your child to put down that smartphone and interact with family friends and relatives during gatherings. What might help? Prepare your child with interesting questions he can ask an eccentric aunt, or give her a list of little known facts and tell her to discover which fact goes with which relative.

So the next time things get crazy and you've got a million things to do, delegate some of the fun to your kids. You will be developing their frontal lobes and possibly giving them stronger social skills, as well. At the very least, you'll benefit from the extra helping hands.