Serve and return 

When you respond to a child’s invitation to interact with you, you are literally building their brains through establishing neural connections. It could be a hug, soothing sounds or words, or even simply eye contact and a smile, all appropriate responses contribute to the shaping of your child’s brain architecture.  

Sharing attention in everyday activities, taking turns in conversation and play, and returning a child’s ‘serve’ shows them that their thoughts and feelings matter, and that they are important to you. Responding to these ‘serves’ such as any noise a child makes, their touch or gestures made, solidifies your connection. 

Similarly, the lack of these interactions can be detrimental to a child’s development.  

If a child is deprived of positive interactions the brain does not receive the constructive stimulation it needs for optimal development, and this can also activate the body’s stress responses that in turn may have sustained effects on a child’s future physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing.  

The Harvard Center on the Developing Child has laid out five easy steps to help you build your serve and return interactions with your child every day.  

Learn more here: