No matter how many books you read, pieces of advice that you welcome, and websites you browse, parenthood is still full of unanticipated surprises. Despite all the preparation in the world, very few people are adequately prepared for what it means to become a parent.
At one point or another, most parents have looked at their child and wondered, "How is that human a product of me?" or "How are my two children, who were essentially raised the same, so very different?"
Understanding child development has been a topic that has been widely researched, discussed, and analyzed. Most people would agree that childhood experiences have a significant impact on who we become as adults. However, very few of us truly understand how these experiences shape our lives. That is, until now.
French filmmaker and senior reporter, Stéphanie Brillant, has created a captivating documentary film that has parents raving. A mother of two herself, Brillant has always been interested in human potential and how the brain works. BRAINIOUS delves into the fascinating topic of neuroscience, explaining how childhood experiences shape our brain. In collaboration with several childhood experts, Brillant has created a parenting masterpiece.
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As parents and educators, we strive to help facilitate happy and fulfilling lives for our children. But what is the best way to accomplish that? And how do we help our children thrive in the face of challenges and adversity? According to BRAINIOUS, the answers lie in understanding how the human brain works.
The film opens with world-renowned psychologist and researcher Dr. Allan Schore explaining the anatomy of the brain, or two brains, as he shares. Schore describes how the right and left hemispheres of the brain develop, and the role that each region plays in our development.
What we learn in BRAINIOUS is that childrens' brains are malleable and possess an enormous amount of elasticity. In fact, the human brain weighs approximately 400 grams at birth, and rapidly expands to 1,000 grams by one year of age. While the childhood brain is resilient, it is also extremely fragile.
When a caregiver smiles at a baby or makes silly noises, this nonverbal communication is shaping the circuits of the baby's brain. According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, interpersonal neurobiologist, the sharing of energy and information between a parent and a child shapes the development of a child.
"When you drive energy through a relationship in how you communicate, you are actually driving energy through the senses of the child," explains Siegel. "Those streams of energy are going through the nervous system, creating neuronal firing. With repeated experiences, neural firing becomes neural wiring."
BRAINIOUS illustrates that all children have tremendous potential. The wiring of the brain is not genetically encoded. Instead, repeated experiences over time help the brain to develop. When the brain is appropriately nourished at a young age with positive, safe, and predictable experiences, it can flourish.
Related: Study Shows Bilingual Babies Develop Sharper Brains
The key to helping children navigate their world is having a strong sense of self-awareness as an adult. The research indicates that the best predictor of how a child will turn out is not what happened to a parent, but how the parent interprets what happened to them. According to the film, modeling mindfulness to our children is perhaps one of the best things that we can do for them.
The film BRAINIOUS helps parents and educators truly understand what experiences made an imprint on their own brains in childhood. The film touches on themes of attachment, mindset, and the way that the brain learns, topics that are rarely taught to parents, or any adults for that matter.
A year and a half in the making, BRAINIOUS was a labor of love for Brillant. She hopes that her film will help to enhance the true potential of children everywhere.
"Once I started to understand my own brain as a child, it was enlightening! It helped me to realize that understanding the brain was crucial to become the real master of our lives, and then, to become a valuable educator," Brillant told Mothering.
BRAINIOUS is getting people talking. In fact, it was recently preselected to be shown at the 2018 Washington International Film Festival. The film will have its international premiere in France in February.
Brillant hopes that her film will spark conversations among parents, educators, and community members. As one of the best parenting films I've seen, I'm certain it will.