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What is Your Child's Brain Age?

Jul 17, 2013 11:14AM ● By tina

Parents Dare to Dream about Better Behavior

Sponsored by Brain Balance Achievement Center

Written by C. Powell and K. Milam 

At Brain Balance, our objective is to become a resource for parents looking for solutions to behavioral, social and academic issues. Over the past few years, parents have asked us for more help with their children’s behavior, and we have listened. This summer, we have explored how to set boundaries, positive versus negative reinforcement and hidden messages found in a child’s difficult behavior.  Now we want to pull it all together and provide you with ideas to not only allow you to dream about better behavior but also help put together an action plan.

Two of our favorite sayings around the office are “if you want change, you have to change” and “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Let’s start with a recap of what a brain imbalance is and what it’s not. Kids with an immaturity in their right- or left-brain hemisphere present behavior challenges beyond typical adolescent behaviors.  Neurobehavioral disorders make it more difficult, but not impossible, to find the missing piece of the puzzle.

Children are often held accountable for their chronological age.  For example, an 8-year-old boy entering the third grade is expected to understand right from wrong, be able to focus for one hour at a time, identify more content than letters and words while reading and have the ability to pay attention at both school and home. However, the developmental brain age does not always match the chronological age.   

When a child’s brain age is behind, chances are their behavior will be inappropriate and more in line with their brain age rather than actual age. This means our imagined 8-year-old boy with a developmental brain age of 6 will not have age-appropriate behavior. This is why it is so critical to get to the root of the problem and in the meantime set realistic expectations to help him down the developmental path of success. We have found that parents are remarkably able to guess their child’s brain age without the use of all the high-tech equipment we have in our office. Simply ask yourself — if you didn’t know how old your child was — how old do they act? What age kids are they most comfortable playing with? These two answers will typically give a good guess as to what a child’s brain age is.

Understanding a child’s brain age makes it easier for parents to set behavioral expectations and boundaries.  Below is a chart that gives an idea of the difference between a right-underdeveloped brain and a left-underdeveloped brain. It lists examples of some common symptoms that stem from a developmental immaturity. 

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Action Plan

It is necessary to make a plan and stick to the plan. You cannot implement these suggestions for a day or two and give up and say “that didn’t work” and move on to the next idea. Anything worth doing is worth sticking to! So give it the time it needs to work. Yes, the plan will need to be revised occasionally as the brain age improves, but an action plan will put you steps ahead.  Below we have listed four essential areas to review and determine the correct plan of action.   

1.  Diet

2.  Level of Activity

3.  Age Appropriate Positive Motivation Chart - Neurologically proven to be most effective if your child’s left brain is weaker. These kids will be very blasé about take-a-ways but will really respond to rewards and being caught being “good”.

4.  Age Appropriate Negative Consequence Plan:   For a child whose right brain is immature, negative reinforcement works best.  Use the fear of loss as the motivator.  If you don’t _______, then this will be the consequence. 

For more information on implementing this action plan, visit Brain Balance.