In my recent post, I discussed how children are born with specific windows of opportunity for learning and language. And, how your presence as the parent is especially critical during those early years of optimal learning. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work, especially when you have no choice.

However, if you choose to be away from your child, do so with the full understanding that there are risks you take. For even the best daycares and nannies do not always understand the developmental needs of a child, and thus can’t deliberately or attentively guide the transition from one developmental stage to the next.

Timing is everything. In order to unlock your child’s gifted potential, these patterns must be stimulated and guided during optimal windows of growth. If you are not present to take advantage of these windows, you risk leaving your child’s development to chance.

Therefore, when you must leave your child with another, be sure to compensate for the time your child loses with you. This includes compensating for lost developmental time as well as overriding the stress he experiences while waiting to be reunited with you.

The bottom line is that if these critical times for synaptic learning are missed, they will never be recovered. For example, if your child has a hearing problem in the first few years of life that goes unrecognized or untreated, then he is tracking sound, rhythm, grammar, phonemes, and language usage incorrectly.

Perhaps sounds are muffled or he’s missing the rhythm and intonation of your particular language. Although your child’s hearing may be corrected if caught in time, he will still retain the incorrect rhythm or intonation in his speech-because it was set while his hearing was compromised. However, a speech pathologist may be able to remediate the speech disorder if your child gets the attention he needs early enough.

The cumulative effects of positive parental involvement in your baby’s early life will extend way beyond the borders of childhood. Even brilliant and gifted children can’t reach the full potential of their innate abilities without the special attention of parents. Regardless of anecdotal evidence that “geniuses are born, not made,” research tells us that the influence of parents can make all the difference in the world. The main factor, proven again and again, are that parents who give their children support, encouragement, and the opportunity to develop their gifts and self-confidence are those who excel in school and in life.

Parental involvement simply is central to aptitude and development. Only by knowing and paying attention to your child, and recognizing and acknowledging his passions, talents, and abilities, can you create a home conducive to cultivating positive experiences and exploration. And if you miss the opportunity to influence those critical moments of development, you may miss your chance.

Educational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Bloom and author of Developing Talent in Young People, has pointed out that children reach half of their I.Q. by the age of four. This means time is of the essence and there really is no time to lose. You and your child are on a challenging journey together. And you, the parent, have the power to recognize your child’s full endowments and direct them.

Not only does important learning take place in those critical early years, but this is when the actual architecture of your child’s brain develops and takes shape. And it is that architecture that will influence your child’s language, cognitive, social, and emotional abilities, from now through adulthood. You really are your child’s first and most influential teacher, and who and what she becomes is completely up to you.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.