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5 Reasons Your Ambition Is Good For Your Kids’ Brain


As working moms, we often find ourselves in a sea of mom guilt. The problem is mom guilt is not a plan. It is not a proactive approach to ensuring the development of our kids’ brains. Instead, it’s reactive and tends to lead to less mindful decisions. 

It’s time that ambitious women stop apologizing for being ambitious and instead realize the positive impact it can have on their kids’ brain development. The key, when working through the fear of failing our kids or our worry about failing at raising our kids, is to make sure our approach is mindfully based on the science of the brain.

I was able to chat with Dr. Sarah Levin Allen, a Pediatric Neuropsychologist and Applied Brain Science Coach about what our ambition might be doing to our children’s brains. Dr. Allen has spent over 15 years studying neuroscience, and is the international best selling author of the award winning book Raising Brains.

“When we create a plan that includes brain based goals, a growth mindset approach that embraces–not disgraces–failure, and we model healthy brain habits, our brains grow and our kids’ brains grow,” says Dr. Allen. “We create a family team that moves forward together. This reduces our mom guilt, increases our confidence, and allows us to embrace exactly who we are as individuals and as parents. When you’re looking at the brain science, ambition is actually good for your kids’ brains!”

Here are five reasons Dr. Allen says our ambition is good for our kids.

1. Brains Model Behavior

“Our kids learn by watching and listening to us. Our show of ambition promotes the development of determination and hard work. We want our kids to have these traits,” notes Dr. Allen. “When we can talk out the processes we use to juggle our work and home life or show our hard work by talking about our work day, our kids’ learn to value dedication. They also learn critical problem solving skills that will promote advanced brain development.”

Be open and transparent with your kiddos about your work life. What responsibilities you have, how you manage them and what you’re working on. It’s good for their brain.

2. Independence

Our kids’ brains need to be able to do things for themselves. “Yes we model determination and hard work, but we also expect it in our kids and give them the space and support they need to do things themselves,” explains Dr. Allen. “Want a sandwich? Here’s the bread, peanut butter and jelly. Want to start a lemonade stand? Here’s the lemonade and the youtube video that teaches you how (and of course make sure you watch your profit margins and keep up your customer service). The strength of an ambitious woman is that she supports her child in learning the steps THEY need to be successful. They don’t do things for their kids. When kids learn by doing, their brains grow in a more advanced way and their neuronal pathways become interconnected.”

3. You Don’t Have Time For The “Shoulds”

“You “should” limit access to electronics, you “should” go gluten free, you “should” read a story every night before bed. When you’re ambitious, you don’t have time for the shoulds. There is just what you ‘can’ do and what your child’s brain needs. You can focus on being interested in the growth of your kid, not the growth of your status as parents. This actually allows us to target social and emotional growth in our kids and focus less on the minutia at the root of our mom guilt,” says Dr. Allen.

4. Daycare Is Good For Their Brains

“Brains LOVE socialization. They connect more than we do. We even know that socialization is preventative for dementing conditions. That’s how important it is to our brain. When kids are around other kids, especially pre-school age, they learn how to manage emotions, work with others, communicate, and wait,” explains Dr. Allen. “They learn how to control their bodies and their minds long enough to learn (we call these school readiness skills). It’s not about the academics here. It’s about understanding how people think and feel and learning to connect and grow. Your child’s brain gets a head start by being around other kids and adults who can focus on shaping their connectedness.” 

5. You have good communication skills

“Have you ever heard your kids say, ‘I hear what you’re saying about my room, and that’s a great point, but what if we considered going to the park first instead?’ That’s your influence right there!” notes Dr. Allen. “Ambitious women know how to communicate and they use those strategies with their kids. Our brains thrive on connection and fluidity, but these are learned traits. Good communication skills involve abstract language development, social and emotional understanding, and abstract thinking. As a working mom, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds, however you’re actually growing your kids’ brain pathways when you use the strategies you developed by being ambitious.”



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