Giving Children Vacations Instead of Toys Can Lead to Advanced Brain Development, Experts Suggest


If you as a parent find yourself surrounded by your children’s toys, maybe you should stop buying them too much. Instead, take advice from several experts which claim that experiences and vacations are great ways to boost your children’s brain development.

Child psychotherapist Dr. Margot Sunderland suggests that by giving your child several experiences during their childhood, you invest in their development. In an article, she wrote: “This is because on a family holiday you are exercising two genetically ingrained systems deep in the brain’s limbic area, which can all too easily be “unexercised” in the home. These are the PLAY system and the SEEKING system.”

As Sunderland continued to explain, she states:

“The brain’s PLAY system is exercised every time you bury your child’s feet in the sand, tickle them on the pool lounger, or take them for a ride on your back. The brain’s SEEKING system is exercised each time you go exploring together: the forest, the beach, a hidden gem of a village.”

The frontal lobe of the brain can be stimulated by a child’s PLAY and SEEKING systems. The frontal lobe is responsible for cognitive functioning, problem-solving, memory, language, emotional expression, and judgment. The more often we use some of this part of the brain, the stronger it becomes.

When visiting a new place, especially if it is your children’s first time, they will explore every corner and receive dozens of information. Therefore, the seeing system is activated. Spending time outside of your house and far from your problems can open many opportunities for playing and spending quality time with your loved ones.

Despite stimulating your child’s brain development, visiting a new place and exercising their SEEKING and PLAY systems strengthens their well-being and general happiness. The brain releases neurochemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and opioids when the systems are activated. These neurotransmitters are making us feel good, happy, close in relationships, and help relieve stress levels.

A study from 2017 suggests that time well spent with close ones makes us feel wanted and loved. It was published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Researchers asked 495 women and men between the ages of 18 and 93 to fill a questionnaire that could evaluate what makes us most loved. The questionnaire contained 60 questions all starting with the same part; “Most people feel loved when…”. And the researchers weren’t surprised when they found out people didn’t feel most loved when being gifted, rather when being with another loved human. One of the researchers, Dr. Zita Oravecz said in a statement:  “Our research found that micro-moments of positivity, like a kind word, cuddling with a child, or receiving compassion make people feel most loved.”

Therefore, family vacations are filled with laughter, love, and an awesome time, as your family is distant forms everyday responsibilities.

Accordingly, the next birthday or holiday should be an “excuse” to travel somewhere with your family. And instead of buying toys, spend your money on a good vacation. You can also ask your relatives to contribute to your vacation budget instead of spending that money on a gift. The experience that your child will get to know will certainly last longer than their interested in toys he will forget for a year or so.


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