‘Cognition’ is defined as the act or process of knowing. Cognitive skills are therefore those skills which make it possible for us to know. In 1952, French Psychologist Jean Piaget published a theory which placed great importance on the cognitive development and behavior management of children.
Cognitive behavior management and development is the construction of thought processes, including memory, problem-solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. Cognitive abilities are brain-based skills that we need as individuals to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex.
Behavior Management and Cognition’s Relationship
Behaviorism also known as behavior psychology, is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Thereby, proving that even intelligent behavior can be conditioned through cognitive training exercises. John B. Watson, who is regarded as the father of behaviorism and behavior management strongly believed that behaviors are the result of experience.
It is possible to enhance these experiences by enriching it with cognitive stimuli. If we try to understand this correctly we will learn that Cognitive development and behavior management is closely linked. Cognitive development covers areas of Information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development and memory.
This development helps an individual gain an understanding of the world around him through the interaction of genetic factors and learned factors. Historically, the cognitive development and behavior management of children has been studied through IQ tests developed by Psychologists Stanford Binet and Lewis Terman. Thereby highlighting the importance of intelligence shaping the overall development of a child.
The Importance of Jean Piaget’s Theory on Behavior Management
Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory and behavior management proposed that a child’s knowledge is composed of basic units of knowledge, that understand past experiences and learn new ones. In Piaget’s theory, an important process in cognition is the ability to taken in new information and relate to it something they already know. He termed this process as assimilation.
Simultaneously, another complementary process in behavior management also known as accommodation takes place when basic units of knowledge change to accommodate new knowledge. Piaget says an ongoing to attempt to achieve equilibrium between these two is when cognitive development is achieved.
The 4 stages where cognitive development is linked to behavior management:
1) Sensory-motor stage for Behavior Management
During the sensory motor stage knowledge is developing through physical interactions with the world using their senses and it is through these experiences that the child learns physical mobility, develops memory, language and behavior management skills.
2) Pre-operational stage for Behavior Management
During the pre-operational stage intelligence is demonstrated through the use of symbols, language use develops along with memory and imagination. Behavior Management thinking is done in a non-logical, non-reversible manner.
3) Concrete operational stage for Behavior Management
During the concrete operational stage, intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols related to concrete objects. Operational thinking develops behavior management. Egocentric thought diminishes.
4) Formal Operational stage for Behavior Management
During the formal operational stage, intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts and egocentric thought returns for behavior management.
How Do You Train Your Child’s Brain for Behavior Management?
While tracking a child’s developmental milestones, it is important to understand that each child has their own pace in reaching a milestone. It is only when a milestone is significantly delayed that a doctor should be consulted. Cognition and behavior management are invariably linked it is beneficial for parents to intentionally mold a child’s cognitive behavior management by providing a stimulative. Learning environment that would help channelize a child’s aptitudes, skills and interests into more productive outcomes.
A child may brain train by doing the following for Behavior Management:
Studies have proven that regular exercise, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. It also stimulates thinking, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and the survival of new brain cells.
Furthermore, it has also proved that the prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex have greater volume in people who exercise than people who don’t. Indirectly, physical exercise is a method of cognitive training and behavior management and any problems in this area lead to cognitive impairment.
The Anatomy of Sleep
Several structures of the brain are involved with sleep: The Hypothalamus, the thalamus, the pineal gland, the basal forebrain and the amygdala. These structures help regulate circadian rhythms with the light-dark cycle, helps relax muscles related to limb movement, controls REM sleep, increases the production of melatonin. Sleep needs vary based on age. An average child would need 9.5 hours of sleep a day.
We all go through the various stages of REM and non-REM sleep and memory consolidation in the brain requires both REM and non-REM stages. Regular sleeping habits help prevent dementia over time, helps the brains restore information, enhance language skills and hand-eye coordination, helps re-establish order and keeps emotions in check. Sleep is vital to keeping the brain healthy and preventing mental disorders for behavior management. Sleep impairment can lead to mood disorders and chronic illnesses.
The Cognitive Reserve
The cognitive or brain reserve hypothesis states that it is possible to build up the brains resilience to neuronal damage and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Research has shown that brain reserve increases when the participation in mentally stimulating activities is more frequent. It has been hypothesized that brain activity/ exercise, in general, helps increase brain reserve.
In clinical practice for behavior management, brain training is common practice to help patients recover from brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders. Rigorous brain training helps enhance memory, attention, confidence, competence, reasoning skills and even reduce anxiety. A good brain train exercise requires a challenge, variety, novelty which fosters learning and sometimes change.
- Novelty – trying new things stimulates various parts of the brain when we set new cognitive challenges. This would involve stepping out of your comfort zone to meet new people, trying a different skill, exposing oneself to a fresh experience or developing a new hobby or reinstating an old one. Examples are traveling to a place you’ve never been to before, try an unfamiliar ethnic cuisine, trying a hobby that is out of character
- Challenge – Increasing your standards or raising the bar for an activity already learned is another way to stimulate the brain. Examples are setting stricter time limits, choosing a more challenging partner or reducing errors.
- Variety – Introducing variety/ versatility into your activity for the day provides for a more stimulating and wider learning experience. This includes social interactions, physical activities and experimenting with various skills.
Neurobics for Behavior Management
Studies show that in order for an activity to be a good brain exercise, it should be both novel and complex. This reduces stress, anxiety, improves vision and hearing, enhances intelligence, creativity and mental flexibility, boosts motivation and productivity, increases focus and concentration and encourages a positive attitude.
Dr. Lawerence Katz, a neurobiologist coined the phrase ‘neurobics’ which he used to describe brain exercise that improves performance by using all five senses in novel ways. Some interesting exercises that Dr. Katz proposed about behavior management were:
- Switch hands i.e. using your left hand to write
- Eat with chopsticks
- Do chores with your eyes closed
- Do things upside down or backwards
- Read books aloud
- Take new routes
- Simultaneously use all five senses.
- Try new things
- Challenge yourself with mastery
- Do things the hard way
- Connect with different people
- Start meditation
- Start exercise
- Develop a creative hobby.
In 2008, a groundbreaking study proved for the first time that intelligence can be enhanced. It proved that cognitive potential can be improved with the right stimulus, the more you train, the more you gain, anyone can improve their cognitive abilities and cognitive enhancement in one area can improve unrelated skills.
Technology: The Brain Treadmill?
Technology has played a major role in affecting children’s behavior management in an adverse manner by impairing social skills, increasing brain fog and reducing variation in daily activity.
However, there are a variety of online brain training programs like NeeuroFIT Brain Training can that provide a well-rounded platform with enhanced and novel brain training exercises for various age groups. There are also various apps like TED, Khan Academy, etc. that are geared towards mental stimulation and behavior management. Using technology for brain train is optional and not an absolute.
Improve Behavior Management through Proper Brain Training Today!
Cognitive training provides for a happier and healthier brain leading to a more fulfilled, productive life. This helps reduce behavioral problems like stress, anxiety, depression, suicide, social withdrawal, prevents ADHD, helps prevent the onset of diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Nurturing Intelligence and cognitive development molds a child into a more creative individual with a vivid imagination. It also encourages curiosity and the enthusiasm to learn in a child. Children become fascinated with new, complex ideas and develop unique methods of expression. It also improves their social skills and enhances interpersonal relationships. Their self-esteem grows leading to a more confident, productive and happy child both in the school and home environment.