Mirror neurons and children: the importance of care

Who I am
Marie-Ange Demory
@marie-angedemory
Author and references

Fonte: shutterstock

What are mirror neurons?

Becoming a parent means taking two to walk on a new path where a life is conceived and at the same time, in each member of the couple, a new dimension is generated. Being a mom, being a dad.





Surely there is no "handbook of the perfect parent" and from time to time it is good to stop, contextualize and evaluate new educational strategies, without being afraid to question oneself and aware of the great responsibility of raising a child.

The key to trying to be a successful parent is found in the deepest feelings of love and affection for their children, and it is demonstrated simply through understanding, listening to the child's needs and setting a good example.

But there's more ...

One of the greatest discoveries in contemporary neuroscience of recent decades has introduced us to the mirror neurons and the strong influence that is reflected in the development of the individual, especially in the first three years of life. In the famous first thousand days.

What are mirror neurons

Mirror neurons document the existence of a neurobiological predisposition of the human individual to intersubjectivity. They are a network of interacting neurons, distributed in various brain areas, which have the extraordinary property of allowing the subject to reproduce motor patterns, behavioral and emotional states observed in other subjects.

Hence, mirror neurons have enormous relevance in all learning processes:

  • psychomotor,
  • cognitive,
  • behavioral
  • and emotional.

The child spontaneously grasps, without being aware of them, the small gestures of the parent or caregiver and repeats them. His intention, even mental, is continuously communicated and mirror neurons create the affective tuning necessary for a functional development of the child.


Listen to the podcast on mirror neurons

Read also: First thousand days and epigenetics

Child learning

Does the child learn through a mirroring system?

Absolutely yes!



Learn through an imitative system. So action is thought. It is meaning. The meaning does not come after, but at the same time. The child learns by imitating the behavior and emotions of the other. If you enter the territory of emotions, we know that there is a mirroring system similar to that for actions.

When a certain state of mind is experienced and we observe it in the expression of the other, the same areas are activated.

The empathic relationships between parents and children play a fundamental role in the development of the child's cognitive systems, connected to the regulation of emotions and reflexive capacity.

In conditions of stress for the child, the parent adequately tuned to his affective states is able to re-establish a state of optimal physiological activation, through physical and affective presence.

In childhood, a child is able to build a secure attachment with his caregivers when he develops the ability to obtain closeness and receive care, to be reassured and comforted by the parent.

How can we foster the emotional experience

Through nurturing, the child develops optimal circuits for modulating emotions and, through experience, he learns to trust and be comforted, as well as to comfort himself. His basic sense of security and trust strengthens him as he begins to drift away from his parents and explore the world. On the contrary, when the parent has an insecure or unresolved attachment, therefore with inappropriate, contradictory and inconstant behavior, the child does not have the possibility to develop the suitable self-regulation circuits.


Relationships allow the child to learn to think, and emotions are the internal architects and organizers of our minds. The ability to understand the other's feelings and to care about how the other feels can only come from the experience of a nurturing interaction. Emotional and intellectual development both depend on deep and rich caring relationships in the early years of a child's life.                                                                                                                                                             

What if the baby goes to the nursery?

When the family entrusts the little one to the nursery, it creates a bridge with the new social reality, an important continuation of what it has started for some time, which becomes a natural source of comparison and growth.

The nursery operators, together with the family, will become a safe container for the child in which to experience the establishment of relationships through an exclusive emotional contact and a magical aggregation.

How to enhance children's skills?

Starting from the fundamental concept that every child has innate skills and potential, it will be the care of the nursery operators to observe and extrapolate them to welcome and enhance them, responding with care to their needs.

Psychomotor development is significantly influenced by the relationship that the child establishes with the adults who work inside the nursery.

The presence of caregivers in the nursery, therefore, serves to widen the opportunities for sharing, to bring out the child's personality, to build a useful element of comparison with the methods of interaction with parents and to encourage meaningful exchanges.

The nest to experiment!

The nursery is designed to favor the balanced psychophysical development of children and its purpose is to contribute to the structuring of identity, the development of knowledge, socialization and their autonomy, enhancing and integrating the solicitations that each child receives in the family environment.

The very first years of a child's life are like the first days of existence of the grain of wheat: it is in this phase that the characteristics of the plant are established and it is always in this phase that the child's soul takes shape and consistency.

The care, the sensations, the feelings and the teachings that the child experiences in the nursery will carry them with him forever and will be able to transmit them in the same way he received them.

The metaphor of the grain of wheat represents the method of simplicity and naturalness.

There is nothing simpler and more natural than a grain of wheat that sprouts a plant which then grows and becomes big and strong.

We give the child a model of care where he can be mirrored and mirrored: the lantern that indicates a positive future projection.

We start from care to become people capable of looking after ourselves and others.

To look after the baby. The community.

Following an intense, simple, absolute path, which takes you elsewhere ...

in the wonder of the child's development.

In the family and at the nursery!

About the author

Silvia Ferretti, pedagogist, trainer, owner of a Center for the Infancy 12/36 months and operator trained in the Brazelton Touchpoints Approach. I like to sow beauty in the hearts of children 

TAG:
  • behavior
  • learning
  • nursery
  • podcast
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