Building Better Brains with “Serve and Return” Interactions

Brains aren’t just born.  They are also built.  If traumatic experiences can harm the architecture of our brains, how can we create experiences that help our kids’ brains become strong, healthy, and resilient?   The best ways we know how to build better brains include engaged and attentive interactions with other people.  Since 1975, the Hanen Center has been teaching us about following our child’s lead.  During the 1990’s, Stanley Greenspan called healthy reciprocal interactions “Circles of Communication.” Gerald Mahoney started using the term “Responsive Teaching” in the early 2000’s.  The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University calls them “Serve and Return” interactions.   All these tools not only help children learn to communicate and talk, they are powerful ways to connect with young children, wiring circuits in their brain for better thinking, learning, relating, and responding to stress.


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