In this article, you will learn the basics on how the brain develops. This is important knowledge to have for parents to communicate more effectively with their children and to set realistic expectations. This understanding will also be beneficial for those who wish to build healthy relationships across the lifespan. You will also discover how essential oils can be a holistic tool that aids all brains, no matter what age.
The Developing Brain
Transformation of the body is evident throughout the years, though the physical manifestations are much more obvious early on. Underneath the perceivable changes from infancy into adulthood, the brain is also busy organizing and maturing. (source, source, source, source, source, source)
From in utero, critical periods of development are “programmed” for the central nervous system and its functioning. (source, source) Furthermore, experiences, environmental exposures (including stress and stimuli), epigenetics, and brain plasticity continue to impact cognitive development through the ages. (source, source, source)
The rapid physical maturation and growth spurts are also genetically controlled in early childhood and adolescence. Parents could easily make the assumption that this transformation of their little boys and girls into physically developed young adults is simultaneously keeping pace with their cognitive and psychological processes. Yet, this is not the case.
According to the article “Experience and the Developing Prefrontal Cortex,” brain connections begin rapidly in childhood; however, the refinement of psyche is ongoing into the third decade. Experiences during this time span have a profound impact on how the individual processes information and forms decisions.
Parents are often not schooled in this neurological development. They may not be aware their little one’s gray matter (brain cells) peaks during preadolescence and that their white matter continues to expand throughout life. This means that at the very ages where physical growth is highest, children’s brains are programmed to be the most pliable to the pulls of social and environmental influences. Furthermore, their “executive functioning,” via the prefrontal cortex, is not even finished developing until they celebrate their 30th birthday. (source, source)
It is not until about 25-30 years old that one can evaluate choices from a “mature perspective.” Prior, the brain hasn’t had ample time to collect all the data of the world to fully evaluate it from all angles. For parents with children or teens with ADHD, this understanding of the prefrontal cortex development is especially relevant, as these kids are even more challenged in this developmental area.
For this reason, teens and young adults may do seemingly “senseless” or “stupid” things. Yet, it is these experiences that shape the complex process of shifting neural connections, hormones, neurotransmitters and cognition.
How This Translates at Home
Without understanding these processes, many parents expect their children to behave as if they are “little adults.” This can cause many parents and children to “butt heads” and make for ineffective communication and expectations. Parents believe that their child should “know better.” However, they honestly don’t. This could alienate their offspring and, rather than turn to their caretakers as guides for behavioral patterns, they may view their peers, without fully functioning prefrontal cortices themselves, as people to emulate.
How Essential Oils Support Our Brain’s Executive Functioning and Better Relationships
When properly applied, the many facets of essential oils make them a holistic intervention for benefiting the mind and body simultaneously of both parents and their children, especially during developmental transitions.
Associations with particular smells, along with the powerful biological constituents of essential oils, can quickly move an “anxious or angry brain” stuck in “fight or flight” into a more focused, calm state. This allows for blood flow to return to the prefrontal cortex to allow for more nurturing responses over potentially harmful reactions.
Heated discussions between parents and children can quickly shift when a bottle of gratitude or the smell of hope is being diffused into the environment. Furthermore, tranquility can be restored by a blend for heart synergy or grounding.
In the next post, I will get into more details on how to be a guide for your kid’s prefrontal cortex. In this way, parents can build up their children’s nurturing behaviors during this malleable time, rather than unintentionally push them away.
Also coming up, I’ll release another exclusive post to my E-subscribers that goes into more specific product suggestions for children embarking into new learning. These oils are specifically formulated for children, but there is one specific blend that is especially effective for balancing the brain of all ages.
Make sure to either signup or stay tuned if you are already in my virtual community!
*Safety reminder: For safety and medical information, please be sure to visit my essential oils database. This includes a full category on how to use essential oils safely and potential drug interactions that can occur.
Please be extra sure to check with your doctor if you have a seizure disorder. The Epilepsy Society of the UK lists certain essential oils implicated for their antiseizure effect as well as those that have stimulating properties.
If you and/or your physician are interested in consulting with me to assist with supporting the integration of essential oils safely into a therapeutic protocol, essential oils consultations are available.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.