Published on 26 September 2013
When it comes to understanding child behaviour, University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor of Education Michael Nagel suggests teachers and parents need look no further than the brain.
Dr Nagel, who specialises in the neurological development of children, says there are many misconceptions about what is considered “bad behaviour”.
Dr Nagel will deliver a free, special presentation covering these issues called “Blame their brain: why our children do what they do!” at USC from 6-8pm on Thursday 10 October.
He will outline how the brain develops from birth through adolescence and discuss recent neurological research, which has shown how technology and stress may impact on brain development in children and as a result, their behaviour.
“Research has shown that children as young as 4 or 5 are experiencing extreme levels of stress and anxiety, which can have a dangerous impact on their not-fully-formed brains,” he said.
“Stress is a child’s worst enemy. It releases chemicals their brains are not mature enough to cope with. We have to ask ourselves why children at such a young age are experiencing stress at all?
“This can largely be put down to exposing children at too-young-an-age to excessive amounts of extracurricular activity, along with some educational practices including homework and standardised testing.
“Parents and educators need to keep in mind that university doesn’t start in kindergarten. Trying to hyper-stimulate a child’s brain, can drastically affect behaviour.”
Dr Nagel has delivered more than 200 international and national seminars for parents and teachers, with his previous USC seminar filled to capacity.
He said teachers and parents needed to understand that when children behave in certain ways it can be largely linked to physiological causes.
“For instance, toddler’s brains work well when there are boundaries that are consistent, predictable and stable, which means saying ‘no’ is a good thing. It can assist with achieving delayed gratification and help children to control their impulses,” he said.
“Parents need to relax, try to understand what drives and influences their kids and support them. If they know what’s going on in their child’s head then they have won half the battle.”
For more information and to book your seat, visit www.usc.edu.au/blame-their-brain or contact USC’s External Relations on 5456 5000.
— Jessica Halls