It’s Never Too Early To Create A Lasting Impact For Your Kids

There is perhaps nothing more important than the experiences we share with our children.

They serve to solidify our values and our family bonds, and the special memories from our children’s character and view of the world.

But there is something parents can keep in mind when planning special experiences for our kids that will create an even greater – and lasting — impact.

Many believe that small children do not retain many memories prior to the age of three or four.

In fact, experts have determined that kids under this age have what they refer to as “childhood amnesia,” that is, they are not yet developed enough to retain memories of everything that happens to them — they identify experiences with feelings more than actually remembering them.

If you want to help your young child keep those early memories of special times, there are a few ways to help the process, like associating an experience with how it made them feel. reported:

Adults might think of memory in terms like, “Remember that great restaurant we went to on our honeymoon?” or “Did I forget our anniversary?” But according to Nora Newcombe, Professor Of Psychology at Temple University and Co-Director of their Infant & Child Laboratory, memory is more than a mental picture.

Explicit Memory requires conscious recall and is generally associated with a time and a place — the autobiographical version of memory you’re used to.  Implicit Memory [is] not about specific events, but instead is more of an unconscious, emotional recollection.  Your kids remembering the pancakes you made for them on Saturdays? Explicit. The warm, fuzzy feelings whenever they pass an IHOP? Implicit.

One important example of an early memory you would like for your child to hold on to is perhaps a grandparent or other loved one who may have passed away when your child was small.

They may not have a memory of specific times they shared but may remember how happy and safe they felt when they were with that person.

Or you may have had the opportunity to take an amazing trip or go to a special event like a family member’s wedding.  While the kids may not remember all the details, you can help them form a perception of the memory by holding on to the feelings they associate with the event.

Talk to your little ones about a cherished loved one or other important memory from the time they are young and continue the process until they fully understand the experiences or memory you want them to hold on to.

Repetition is an important factor in retaining memories.  If you experienced a special event with your children, talk about it often and ask them about the feelings they have when you discuss it.

Is there a special trip you have taken, but the kids were too young to remember?  Of course, photos are vital to memory – even for adults who may not remember every detail of a special time.

Stories are also building blocks of memory.  In fact, storytelling was once the only way that cultures passed on their history.  To this day, stories are a valuable way to build and share memories.

Sharing cherished stories with your child about special places you have been or things you have done together is a fun way to cement the memories of your traditions and experiences.

And as they get older, these stories will be part of their personal history, helping to form their sense of identity and the values that you hold as a family. They will then pass these stories on to their children as special memories that were the foundation of their childhood. reported that young kids are way more likely to remember events that their parents continue to tell them about. Turns out, remembering a story is way easier than remembering a person, place, or thing. So if you want your child to continue to remember an event long after it happens, the key might be telling them about it in narrative form, or even better, asking them to tell you a story about it.

Our family values are also closely tied with our shared experiences.  And because repetition is so important to memory, repeating these shared experiences builds the ability for the brain to retain memory.

And repeated experiences are often those that are the fondest memories of childhood – the same annual camping spot, family picnics in the park under a favorite tree, or a weekly dinner tradition all build the foundation for lasting positive memories.

It may go without saying, but holding on to special keepsakes like baby books, photo albums, a favorite teddy bear, or vacation souvenirs will help a young child connect their memories together as they get older.

We often wait to take a special trip or start traditions because we feel our children are “too young to remember, so why bother?”  But every experience and the feelings associated with it are the building blocks to the permanent memories that will form by age five or six – and beyond.

Family traditions, especially, are important because they are the framework for the values and beliefs we want our children to continue as they become adults.  It is never too early to help our little ones remember.

What are some ways that you encourage your young child’s memory of special moments?  Do you have a particular event or cherished person that you want your children to always remember?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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