Belgrade, October 1, 2021 – The second webinar titled “How your baby’s brain develops” was held on Thursday, September 30, at the Cultural Center Belgrade, which is a continuation of UNICEF’s online school of parenting. The school consists of a series of webinars and online conversations with parents on key topics relating to parenting and growing up.
Topics discussed by the webinar participants included how the environment shapes a child’s brain development, how the parent-child relations leave a long-lasting mark and why is play a great ally in facilitating child’s brain development especially when their the child’s development evolves differently to others, etc.
The participants also gave their opinions and reviews on how to build and maintain parental strength, i.e. how can each parent give their best in completing this most important task in life.
Speaking about the beginning of the child’s development and supporting the child’s development even in utero, Dr Nenad Rudić, a child psychiatrist, said that the development of a baby largely begins in the womb.
„The development begins even before we are in a position to get closer to parenthood. It exists in a slightly dormant form, but it exists as such and is actualized the moment we find out about the pregnancy, i.e. when the mother finds out that she is pregnant and the father that a new life has started. At that moment, an existing possibility comes alive. We can say that the formation of a baby in the psychological space begins in utero. Research has been done about this and there is scientific evidence that proves it. However, it is also a lot about parents’ perspective that live their reality in the subjective space,” said Dr Rudić.
The mother of three-and-a-half-year-old Vuk and the creator the Instagram blog called Vukova Zvončica, Gordana Vukićević, recalled the most beautiful moments when she really connected with her son, and said that play and stimulation through play have been her great ally in parenting.
“Every parent should be informed at the very beginning. It made a lot of sense to me to stimulate the child. I connected with parents with similar experiences and I received support from everyone. They all supported me in stimulating my child and reassured me that everything would be just fine. It takes a lot of patience and every parent should know that they should not give up. Sometimes I worked around the clock with Vuk and I didn’t see results. And then, when I least expect them, there they were. He didn’t learn, he realized. Parents just need to know that they should not give up, every kind of stimulation is good,” Gordana explained.
Dr Mirjana Đorđević, associate professor at the Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, University of Belgrade, talked about parenting, learning how to do it and who should provide parents with support in order for them to feel that they are not alone. She also underlined that people often forget that early development is also a period of great sensitivity.
“The literature shows that children who encounter a source of toxic stress early on, i.e. in the first three or five years of their life, that stress affects their brain development and the connections between neurons needed for learning. Deprivation of contacts, interactions and stimulation is very detrimental in that period because then the brain is really sensitive. The brain is sensitive to receiving reactions and experiences. If we provide the child with bad experiences or deny that the child has experiences, it negatively reflects on their development,“ said Dr Đorđević.
You can watch the entire webinar on the official YouTube channel of UNICEF Serbia.
More details on the topics covered at the webinar can be found on the UNICEF website: https://www.unicef.org/serbia/ in the Parents’ Corner section. The next webinar is scheduled for October 28, with the topic “Being a Dad“.
The Parenting School has been initiated and supported by the Supporting Incentive-based Parenting through Play programme, which is implemented by UNICEF in Serbia in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, and with the support of the LEGO Foundation.
One of the basic starting points of this programme is that only an empowered and supported parent is ready and skilful to fulfil all the prerequisites for stimulating parenting. In order to respond to the emerging priorities in our country, this programme focuses on interventions and care for the mental health and emotional well-being of parents, with special emphasis on the power of play, strengthening parental responsiveness and the ability to best respond to children’s needs and creating opportunities for the realization of developmental potentials of the child.