Child Development Conference Aims to Educate

April 10, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
The Child Development and Community Conference on Apr. 14-15 focuses on child development issues in today's fast-paced world. (

A two-day conference dedicated to speeches by experts, Q&As, and discussions on parenting in Toronto this weekend aims to explore the challenges of modern-day child development and give parents and educators a better understanding of the issues.

The 2012 Child Development and Community Conference (CDCC) presented by the KMT Learning Group will feature talks by professionals in the field of child development—physician Dr. Gabor Maté, psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld, author Jennifer Kolari, and other contributors.

Based in Vancouver, Maté and Neufeld are experts in child development and psychology.

Maté has published four Canadian bestsellers on child development and is recognized for his unique perspectives on addiction and ADD. Neufeld, who currently heads the Neufeld Institute for developmental psychology, will share his insights from 40 years of practice in the field.

The two co-wrote the popular book “Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.”

Maté, who has studied the development of the human brain, run a family practice, and published many books on the importance of healthy child development, has had a lifelong passion and interest in human behaviour.

“Child development is the key dynamic in shaping people’s life experiences,” he says.

Gabor Maté
Author and physician Dr. Gabor Maté is one of the child-development experts taking part in the Child Development and Community Conference held Apr. 14-15. (Courtesy Gabor Maté)

Recent research on brain development has shed light on how experiences in early childhood can influence and even predict the kind of experiences an individual will have later on in life.

“If you get the first years right, you can do so much to prepare for a healthy life,” says Maté, keynote speaker at the conference.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not surprising that the questions parents most often ask Maté have to do with balancing and maintaining a connection with their children amidst the stresses of life.

For Maté, both the problem and solution are clear. “The child’s physiology is directly affected by the parents’ emotional state, and in a time of toxic stress, children are stressed.”

Some of the issues that children suffer from, such as ADHD, stress, and other mental problems, can be explained by the “emotionally toxic” environment children are raised in.

“It’s a hostile environment for children right now,” he says, noting, for example, that children with stressed parents are more likely to have asthma.

Confusion, Lack of Understanding

Maté’s role at the conference will be to help educate parents on child development, covering what some of the problems parents face and their contributing causes, so that parents and professionals can assess their own situations and make informed decisions in raising children.

“I think a lot of people are very much in the same situation—under a lot of stress, with little control and little understanding. The confusion is pretty prevalent right now,” he says.

“If the parents understood the children, the children wouldn’t behave the way they do. The problem is the understanding and the connection of the behaviour.”

The event will be hosted by Erika Ehm, founder of parenting magazine YummyMommyClub.

“Parents are always looking for new ways to help their children develop well,” says Ehm, who has been leading the YummyMummyClub online magazine for over six years.

“You’re going to be in an audience of like-minded parents who are interested in doing the best for their kids and are proactive in their parenting,” Ehm says of the conference.

Ehm was inspired to start her magazine after she had two kids of her own. She found that there weren’t that many resources that helped parents to share and support each other.

“Motherhood felt very isolating,” she says, adding that raising children felt like being in a “vacuum” and much different before the emergence of online support groups, forums, and large conferences like the CDCC.

The conference provides an opportunity for social workers, psychologists, doctors, teachers and parents to share their ideas and start a dialogue.

“People really want to have a place to collaborate,” says KMT founder and CEO Karen Thornton.

“With so many things influencing our kids … people are looking for direction to know that they have people out there who are willing to support them and who are willing to provide advice.”

The 2012 Child Development and Community Conference (CDCC) will be held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre on April 13 and 14. Tickets can be reserved on KMT’s website,