What do children remember most?
Memory: At what age can children remember things?
Babies also accumulate knowledge
Still, a lot happens in baby's brain beforehand. Even the smallest ones show memory skills. A newborn baby recognizes the heartbeat of its mother, which it heard in the stomach. "From birth, babies collect knowledge about themselves and the world, they store processes and learn," explains psychologist Kolling. However, the psychologist does not speak of remembering in the true sense of the word in this context. Rather, these services can be assigned to so-called procedural memory. This includes skills, processes or skills that are automated and can be called up without conscious memory, such as cycling.
In contrast, scientists define declarative memory. Here, on the one hand, people store their knowledge of the world, for example that cows give milk or that Madrid is the capital of Spain. On the other hand, the events that we call memories also rest here. "We recorded these with their accompanying circumstances, that is, in their space-time context," says Kolling. The three-year-old saved the fact that grandma bought him the ice cream as a reward when he went on a trip to the museum with her and he was allowed to put on his new sandals for the first time. Odors often also leave special traces in the brain.
The brain works differently in the first few years
But why don't we usually remember episodes from our first three years of life? "We now know that storage in the brain does not yet work that way," explains Manfred Spitzer. The reason: Baby's brain has to mature first. Initially, only simple areas that are directly connected to the outside world work. This means that the little one can, for example, hear or see and feel when it is caressed. Deeper processing, such as thinking about something or associating, does not yet take place. The connection between the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex, which develops over time, plays an important role in this.
Something else is very crucial: "Events dig themselves more deeply into the brain when they are then communicated verbally," says Spitzer. This was shown, among other things, by intercultural studies: Researchers found that Europeans remember earlier childhood events better than Asians. The reason, the scientists suspect, is that speaking about one's own history is more pronounced in Western cultures, since the individual is more in the center.
Talk about experiences
It is therefore important to talk to the youngsters about their experiences. It also depends on the way parents talk to their children. "Open questions such as 'What do you mean and how things went next?' Provoke children to think," says Spitzer. "In addition, one should withdraw and, above all, let the child talk for themselves."
What still helps memories and is usually a lot of fun for children: looking at photos or videos with mom and dad, on which the little ones can be seen. Here, too, it is important to talk to each other about what there is to see. "Otherwise at some point the child will only have the experience as a transfer in their head," explains Manfred Spitzer. "But memories should be part of the personality."
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