LivingMental flexibility: what it is and how to enhance...

Mental flexibility: what it is and how to enhance it in the little ones

Most children, like adults, are constantly adapting to changes in their environment , as well as the demands and demands of it. They change their behavior depending on what surrounds them, and they adjust it so that it is more adaptive.

However, not all children adapt equally to changes; This has to do with a very important cognitive ability , which is mental flexibility. But what else do we know about this ability? How can we enhance it in the little ones and why is it so beneficial for them?

Mental flexibility: what is it?

Mental flexibility, or cognitive flexibility, is a cognitive ability, just like language, attention, or motor skills. This ability has its own development and maturation at the brain level.

We have to bear in mind that this maturation is completed around 20 years of age ; However, mental flexibility, like other cognitive skills, can be trained from a very young age with small daily actions, exercises, etc. But what exactly is this ability?

It could be defined as ” the ability of our brain to adapt our behavior and our thoughts to situations in the environment, these being new, unexpected or changing “.

This ability helps us to identify those behaviors that no longer work for us , or that are no longer adaptive, to change them for more functional ones. And this is extrapolated to thoughts (the act of changing your mind).

Thanks to mental flexibility, children can readjust their behavior according to the demands and demands of the environment, which favors their autonomy and their ability to adapt. But how do we enhance this flexibility?

How to enhance mental flexibility in the little ones?

We leave you five ideas to work on mental flexibility in the little ones, which are actions that we can include in the day to day in a more or less simple way.

Encourage them to get out of their comfort zone

The fact of leaving the comfort zone can help the little ones to enhance their mental flexibility. Why? Because it leads them to challenges , to new situations that they will have to face …

And all this provides us with an ideal environment to start working on mental flexibility. How can we do it? Some ideas: offering them new activities , challenges, different family plans, an escape room for children …

Stimulates reading and / or writing

Reading and writing are two ideal tools to enhance the imagination. And imagination is both a cause and a consequence of mental flexibility.

That is, the more we work on being imaginative, the more capacity we will have to make the mind more flexible, and vice versa; in general, the more flexibility, the more imagination .

Therefore, promote this habit with your children: that of reading and / or writing. They can help you stories or books that are of interest to you, resources to create stories, games, etc.

An object that is used for other things

In this case we bring you an exercise, or a little game, which consists of the following: we will select X objects from the classroom, from the room, from the school backpack (wherever we want). And of each object, in turn, we will have to say some ideas about: what we could use that object for (different from its daily uses).

For example, what can we use a ball for if not to play? One idea would be “to do arm massages”. What we do with this game is to work on the mental flexibility of the little ones, their originality , since we invite them to go “beyond” the visible, the traditional, what they already know …

Change things around

Move things around at home; It is a simple action that can help our children, especially if they are young, to develop mental flexibility.

We talk about things that are not essential to be in a certain place; for example, a game, a chair in your room, a book, a decorative element …

The fact that they have to look for things elsewhere, added to the fact that they see the environment differently , can help them develop this skill.

Seek different points of view

Faced with a situation, a problem, a task … Be it a conflict at home (for example, a fight with a brother), a problem with homework, etc., you can “play” to find different solutions to that situation or trouble.

You can propose it to your child as a game and “brainstorm” ideas, write them down, modify them … For example: there is a conflict with the remote control, because the two brothers want it at all times.

What alternatives do we propose? That each one can decide the channel at a certain time, that one has it on even days of the week and the other on odd days, etc.

Benefits of enhancing mental flexibility

What are the benefits of enhancing mental flexibility in the little ones? Why is mental flexibility useful? Some reasons to enhance this ability in our children are …

  • It helps them adapt to changes or developments in their environment.
  • It allows them to capture different dimensions of the same reality, that is, to observe it from different points of view, to relativize …
  • It helps them adjust their behavior, attitude and thoughts to each situation.
  • It helps them foster tolerance for changes that arise in problem solving.
  • It allows them to generate novel and original alternatives to problems.
  • It helps them establish relationships, or associations , between things.
  • It allows them to find different solutions to the same problem.
  • It helps them better tolerate mistakes, changes of plans …
  • Stimulate your imagination.
  • Build their empathy; It helps them to reach common agreements more easily.

As you can see, enhancing the flexibility of the little ones is beneficial for their development, not only on a cognitive level, but also on a social, affective level (enhances their empathy), adaptive, relational …

And we can work on this skill on a day-to-day basis , not only with exercises intended for it (for example, cognitive stimulation exercises, such as cards, activities, resources …), but through daily actions that we can implement in a way. of challenges, games, etc.

Photos | Cover (pexels), Image 1 (pexels), Image 3 (pexels), Image 4 (pexels)

Babies and more | Seven cognitive stimulation exercises for children from 3 to 6 years old that will help them improve attention and memory, How to enhance exploration in children and why does it benefit them?

The 10 Big Mistakes Parents Make When Trying to Apply Positive Parenting to Their...

Positive Discipline is an educational model that is gaining more and more popularity among families who want to educate their children in a respectful way, without yelling or punishment. There are hundreds of articles on positive parenting that we can find on the Internet and social networks, and some include tips and tools to apply it in our day to day.

"Don't talk to strangers": how to get this message across to kids without scaring...

There are children who are very sociable and who talk to everyone. Others who do not fear anything, or who are more innocent... which can also lead them to talk to anyone who approaches them.

The FOMO effect or "fear of missing out" in adolescence: this is how your...

The FOMO effect (Fear Of Missing Out) is defined as "the fear of missing something". And although it is a concept that has become relevant in recent years, it is nothing new. In the late 1990s, Dr. Dan Herman coined this term.

When your children pay more attention to Alexa than to you and you decide...

We live surrounded by technology and it is inevitable that this will be incorporated as one more tool in parenting. In addition to apps that help with things ranging from designing your baby's room to managing the calendar of children with separated parents, devices such as tablets, mobile phones or smart speakers are here to stay. Proof of this is the growing use of Alexa as a timer that children obey without question (or at least without protesting as much as their mother).

"You don't understand me": how to help adolescent children to be less dramatic and...

When they enter the stage of adolescence, there are many boys and girls who can become dramatic in situations that, for parents, do not have the same degree of importance. Thus, in day-to-day situations, they feel that the world is ending, or they live everything with great intensity.