When a penalty’s called in a hockey game, a player ends up off the ice for a few minutes. This creates an imbalance of players (one team has five, the other four) and a window of opportunity, called a power play, for the unpenalized team to score a goal.
For parents of preschoolers, a window of opportunity also exists. And if parents can score during this power play, their kids will develop bigger brain capacity and have a better shot at reaching their life goals, according to a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.
In a study setting, the researchers observed and rated moms completing an assigned task while dealing with their small ones. Some moms displayed composure and sympathy (maternal support), and some were dismissive or harsh with their children as they went about their tasks. Then, using magnetic resonance brain imaging, researchers measured the development of the hippocampus in all the kids (137) over several years and found “hippocampal volume increased faster for those with higher levels of preschool maternal support.” The hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with learning, memory and regulating emotions.
So next time your child interrupts you (Dad, this applies to you, too!) while you’re reading your email, making dinner or changing a light bulb, take a deep breath and explain politely that you’re busy but interested and will give him/her your full attention in a minute or two. Then do it -- and enjoy the winning results.
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.