We are learning so much about the brain and childhood and my goodness, how influential can you be on the future lives of the children you come into contact with!!!
This impact is unleashed in conditions of relaxation, wellbeing and appropriate levels of challenge. It grows in an environment of love, care and compassion.It is nurtured over time and space and by those in a position of power who are able to relinquish this, who are able to empower and to feed the growth though intention and understanding and care.
Stress in children releases neurone inhibiting chemicals into the brain, cortisol. It suppresses the development of emotions and empathy. Physical Survival becomes the number one unconscious consideration for the child, who becomes self motivated to remain alive and this is a primeval need. The secondary need for love or to love and care for others and the environment is secondary to the survival of self. Thus the need for the emotional centres in the brain are not required, and the chemicals inhibit them from growing. What a disaster for personality traits such as love, care, compassion and empathy.
Therefore it is reasonable to deduce that the reduction in childhood trauma, childhood abuse including emotional, sexual and physical will minimise the cortisol levels in the brain and as such enable and the increase the ability for neurological development.
Oxytocin is the chemical released in the brain as the child experiences close and nurturing relationship with mother as well as others. This Oxytocin is an essential chemical in the brain to grow emotional, empathy and social interaction, respect and a sense of self and place.
The ability for the child to develop these attributes is a right for children to experience, and as such we have a duty of care to enable this attachment to take place in all that we do
Become the Empathy Farmers for the next generation, sow the seeds, tend, nurture, fertilise, support, protect, and love the children who are entrusted to your care. This takes time, it can not happen in a day or a week or six weeks. A farmer cannot grow a crop in a month, it takes different seasons and conditions for the seed to reach its potential
Children are NO different. Time and Place and Space and Opportunity and Intention.
Provide opportunities through your Forest Schools Programmes to develop attachment, opportunity, relationship, self worth, environmental relationship.
Empathy is a potentiality that is centred in the brain, this genetic part of the DNA is awaiting the environmental conditions to encourage its growth; if a child is given the support to develop through experience and continual exposure to the concepts, opportunities to develop in this area, as children grow into adults, there will be a shift in the way that these adults relate tho themselves, to others and to the world.
Peaceful Citizenship, a movement away from self inflicted harm, violence to self and others and the environment increase momentum towards ensuring of a Positive Environmental Identity and a further Sustainability can be achieved through the children who attend the programmes that you offer when you are clear about your ethos, about your relationship, about how you wish to develop your own understanding of the future.
As leaders you have to ability to nurture, to plant the seeds of change in the children, but this takes commitment and intention to do so. It means that your programmes will be long term as intended, there can not be an unleashing of the empathy gene or a hard wiring of neurones to sustain its long term development over the course of a 6 week programme. Neurology does not work that way.