Why silence is golden for our little ones

Wednesday, 30 August 2017, 12:09:37 AM. IN OUR fast-paced, screen-dominated world, parents can too easily fall into the trap of trying to constantly stimulate their children instead of embracing quiet, parenting experts say.

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Parenting experts agree that silence is an important part of a child's healthy development, which Giuliana Scala is always trying to find for her son, Rio, 3. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

One of Australia’s leading parenting experts Dr Justin Coulson is among a chorus of professionals shouting about the benefits of silence.

“One of the most common misconceptions parents have is that their children need constant stimulation because that’s how they’ll develop their brains to help them be early-developers, to be ahead of the curve and to do well throughout the rest of their lives,” he said.

“And while it’s true that children do need stimulation, we don’t need to go and invite it into their lives.”

Dr Coulson pointed to research released earlier this year from scientists at America’s Duke University.

They found silence is one of the most productive stimuli for the brain.

“What scientists have discovered is that silence allows an area of the brain, called the hippocampus, to do what it does best,” Dr Coulson said.

“And since the hippocampus is where our memories are stored and where we process our emotions ... it is critical to learning.

“Silence gives this really important part of the brain the opportunity to process, consolidate and strengthen itself.”

He said two hours of silence a day was golden.

Centacare parent educator Clare Bowyer said children could find silence in simple ways.

“Cloud watching, fishing, looking at the night sky, bird watching, or sitting in a tree house or a space to be in solitude are all simple ways children can find quiet,” she said.

“Silence gives children more focus rather than their mind being scattered.”

Adelaide mother-of-two Giuliana Scala, 38, said she tried to give her children Rio, 3 and Sachi, 1, moments of quiet and mindfulness.

“I am conscious of having home days and having them enjoy their own company rather than dragging the kids around to activities and filling up their days,” she said.
And as the co-owner of innovative kids’ play space Kid and Hub, she said she had witnessed how children thrived when given plenty of time for free play, without interruption or adult stimulation.

Originally published as Why silence is golden for our little ones

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