The Brain is amazing

In the first year of life the brain doubles in size and for the first three years of life the child’s brain is growing faster than at any other time in their life, reaching two-thirds of adult size by the age of five. If babies grew in height the same way, they would be four feet tall by their first birthday.

The most important thing that happens for children in the first five years of life is warm, consistent, and sensitive relationships with key adults close to them.

Prof Peter Fonagy, who works at the Anna Freud centre for children and families tells us how important children’s brain development is. He says:

“Brain building begins just two weeks after conception. After conception, we all have two core needs: stable, caring relationships and enriching experiences. These two core needs are critical elements of the environment in which we develop, and they are just as important for positive development as food and safety”

Five to Thrive, developed by Kate Cairns and KCA associates, identifies a sequence of activities, based on neuroscience, that happens when one person meets an attachment need for another. The five key activities or building blocks which actively maintain brain function through mindful co-regulation and co-learning represent a sequence of activities that start with respond and can happen in our interactions with others.

  • RESPOND - Responding and assessing needs
  • ENGAGE - Connecting and engaging
  • RELAX - Self-regulating or co-regulating stress
  • PLAY - Being playful: activating the right brain
  • TALK - Creating a narrative: activating the left brain

When applied mindfully the model can help maintain healthy brain function, support recovery from trauma, and build resilience in our children and practitioners.

We recognise that some children show behaviours that indicate they need more support and by applying the five to thrive approach we can start to meet their needs and support recovery from trauma. Whilst, not a replacement for the intensive support that some people need if woven into everyday activities the five to thrive model can provide support for all through a process of co-regulation, guidance, and support.

Remember: People need people

For more information about Five to Thrive please visit the KCA Five to Thrive webpage.

We will be offering regular, free training webinars – please see the flyer below for details.