Barnardo's Family Centre logo - long - colour

Your child’s brain is amazing!

Research shows that a positive relationship between you and your child supports their healthy brain development through all the different stages of their childhood.

Understanding brain development can be difficult. Barnardo’s have therefore teamed up with Kate Cairns Associates (KCA) who are experts in the field.

KCA has taken all of the complex evidence and research about healthy brain development and created a simple and effective approach called Five to Thrive.

We have trained all of our workers in the Five to Thrive approach and are delighted to share it with you here.

Kate Cairns Associates’ Five to Thrive approach

This is based on a set of five key activities that are the building blocks of healthy communication and brain development: Respond, Cuddle, Relax, Play, Talk

The Five to Thrive 5 key activities are:

Building blocks with the 5 to thrive concepts on them

Respond – Responding and assessing needs.

Cuddle / Engage – Connecting and engaging.

Relax – Self-regulating stress.

Play – Being playful/ activating the right side of the brain.

Talk – Creating a narrative/ activating the left side of the brain.

For young people and adults the “Cuddle” activity becomes “Engage”.

When your child - whether they are an infant, child or emerging adult - enjoys these five simple activities every day it helps them to grow and be content in their own skin, to make and sustain friendships, and to have positive connections with their caregivers and other people in their family.

The Five to Thrive activities build baby and toddler brains AND maintain healthy brains for:

  • Pre-school children.
  • School age children.
  • Young people
  • Adults

The Five to Thrive activities are important at all ages and stages of your child’s life. You can find out more by looking at the other pages in this section or by downloading one of the different guides at the bottom of this page.

It is amazing that by enjoying five key activities every day with your child, you are helping your child’s brain to grow and supporting their healthy development.

KCA logo