The Parenting Science News Feed

The Parenting Science news feed alerts you to updates on the Parenting Science website and to new blog posts or articles written by Gwen Dewar about parenting and child development topics.

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Dec 18, 2014

Holiday stress: Tips for the frazzled parent

Do you really need to spend more money to make the holidays special? Are you making time for the experiences that matter the most?

My thoughts, written for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Holiday stress: Tips for the frazzled parent"

Dec 17, 2014

How parents can unlock a child's genetic potential

Are behavior problems caused by "bad" genes? Research suggests the answer is no. What matters is how our genes interact with our environment -- and the sort of parenting we receive.

Continue reading "How parents can unlock a child's genetic potential"

Dec 16, 2014

The many virtues of toy blocks

Looking for a holiday gift? Whether you've got a toddler or a tween, construction toys offer a variety of educational benefits to kids. Here is my updated review of the evidence.

Continue reading "The many virtues of toy blocks"

Dec 10, 2014

Study: Encourage honesty with sensitive talk, not punishment

What happens when you ask a kid to tell the truth? The answer depends on how you talk to her.

Continue reading "Study: Encourage honesty with sensitive talk, not punishment"

Dec 01, 2014

Study: Most babies are sleeping with hazardous bedding

It's not just a question of keeping things off a baby's face. It's also important that babies don't sleep on top of soft materials, like quilts, blankets, and cushions.

Continue reading "Study: Most babies are sleeping with hazardous bedding"

Nov 26, 2014

Sensitive, loving support boosts babies' learning

People interested in helping their babies learn have good reason to pay attention to emotions. If want to give kids a head start, our best bet is to create an emotional environment that encourages babies to explore, focus, communicate, persist, and enjoy the psychological rewards of learning something new.

Continue reading "Sensitive, loving support boosts babies' learning"

Nov 20, 2014

Lessons from the past: Why parents need helpers who really care

Parents have always needed support. But nowadays many parents are disconnected from the social networks that used to help our ancestors. What's the cost, and what's the remedy? See my article for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Lessons from the past: Why parents need helpers who really care"

Nov 19, 2014

Kids who plan and pretend together learn more in school

A new study suggests how to improve early childhood education: More self-direction and more time for classroom make-believe.

Continue reading "Kids who plan and pretend together learn more in school"

Nov 12, 2014

How love protects your baby's brain

If you hug your child, or offer comforting words, is it like pressing a button? A magic button that relieves pain, bolsters courage, and defuses stress?

Continue reading "How love protects your baby's brain"

Nov 05, 2014

Encouraging curiosity steers kids toward academic success

Curiosity turns the brain into an information sponge, and people who retain a strong sense of curiosity perform better in school. But from an early age, many children are getting the message that curiosity is something to hide. How often do we unwittingly stifle exploration and independent thought?

Continue reading "Encouraging curiosity steers kids toward academic success"

Nov 03, 2014

Family reading time with young children: What should it look like?

We often hear that we should read aloud to young children. But why exactly is it beneficial? Here is an evidence-based overview that I wrote for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Family reading time with young children: What should it look like?"

Oct 29, 2014

Happiness before and after kids: Are only dads and older parents better off?

Why are birth rates falling in many places around the world? A new study suggests its because parenting doesn’t make young people feel happier...and it might even make them feel worse.

Continue reading "Happiness before and after kids: Are only dads and older parents better off?"

Oct 22, 2014

Does pregnancy shrink your brain, or make you smarter?

Studies suggest that some women experience small, subtle deficits in certain cognitive tasks, and brain scan research indicates that the brain might even shrink.

But the effects are temporary, and might be counterbalanced by gains in other areas. In fact, experiments on rodents suggest that motherhood can make you smarter.

Continue reading "Does pregnancy shrink your brain, or make you smarter?"

Oct 21, 2014

Witnessing verbal aggression harms kids too -- perhaps as much as witnessing physical violence

Many people who would never characterize their family life as violent are nonetheless presenting a toxic environment to their children. Read about the effects of witnessing verbal domestic battles in my article for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Witnessing verbal aggression harms kids too -- perhaps as much as witnessing physical violence"

Oct 20, 2014

Growing up in the shadow of domestic violence

Domestic violence doesn't just hurt the person who gets hit. It can also have profound physical and emotional effects on the young children who witness it. But the good news is we can help kids recover. See my overview for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Growing up in the shadow of domestic violence"

Oct 15, 2014

Ruining recess: Can adults stop interfering with free play?

Some thoughts on a trend: The over-regulation of recess

Continue reading "Ruining recess: Can adults stop interfering with free play?"

Oct 08, 2014

Gender stereotypes: Should we avoid telling kids they are "girls" and "boys" ?

Some Swedish preschools avoid calling kids "he" or "she." Will this tactic help children develop more egalitarian ideas about gender? Some thoughts on gender references in language, and a study with surprising answers.

Continue reading "Gender stereotypes: Should we avoid telling kids they are "girls" and "boys" ?"

Oct 06, 2014

5 tips for handling aggression in toddlers

Some kids are more aggressive than others, but that doesn't mean it's all "in their genes" and there is little we can do about it.

On the contrary, research suggests that kids with aggressive tendencies are often especially responsive to the effects of smart, sensitive parenting.

See my evidence-based article for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "5 tips for handling aggression in toddlers"

Oct 01, 2014

Does maternal body fat boost babies' brains?

Research suggests that the fat stored on women's hips, thighs, and buttocks becomes crucial brain "baby food" during pregnancy and lactation.

Continue reading "Does maternal body fat boost babies' brains?"

Sep 24, 2014

What's wrong with time-outs?

Time-outs are often used on young children, kids who haven’t yet learned how to analyze why things went wrong, or talk themselves into a better attitude. Can we come up with an approach that does a better job of teaching them to improve?

Continue reading "What's wrong with time-outs?"

Sep 18, 2014

Temperamental toddlers: How to help young children through difficult behavior

Some kids seem to shy to socialize. Others too aggressive to get along. But either way, parents can help them develop good social skills. See my summary for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Temperamental toddlers: How to help young children through difficult behavior"

Sep 17, 2014

Academic success linked with a diet rich in omega-3s

How important is it to eat fish? A recent study adds weight to the case that omega-3 fatty acids -- found in many seafoods -- play an important role in a child's cognitive development.

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Sep 10, 2014

Is birth painful for babies?

The Buddha thought it was clear that babies find birth painful, and modern science would seem to back him up.

Continue reading "Is birth painful for babies?"

Sep 03, 2014

What's wrong with classroom behavior charts?

How does your child's teacher handle misbehavior? One old-fashioned approach -- making public examples of the kids who don't measure up -- might do more harm than good. If your young child has recently started school, this is a good time to revisit my post about classroom behavior charts.

Continue reading "What's wrong with classroom behavior charts?"

Sep 01, 2014

Talking back to babbling babies may help them learn

A new study bolsters the idea that babies learn language faster when we assume their vocalizations are meaningful -- and we respond appropriately.

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Aug 27, 2014

Can 5 days without screens improve kids' ability to read the emotions of others?

Being able to read nonverbal cues is a crucial skill. Are today's kids getting enough practice? Maybe not.

Continue reading "Can 5 days without screens improve kids' ability to read the emotions of others?"

Aug 20, 2014

Kids more likely to achieve when parents believe

When we hear about developmental markers that predict success, we should take researchers' warnings to heart. No single factor determines a child’s future, and our optimism makes a difference.

Continue reading "Kids more likely to achieve when parents believe"

Aug 13, 2014

Are short maternity leaves sending zombie-parents back to work?

A new study suggests that many new mothers are still dangerously sleepy after 4 months postpartum.

Continue reading "Are short maternity leaves sending zombie-parents back to work?"

Aug 06, 2014

Study: Marital tensions alter your parenting

When you are having strife or tension with a partner, and the bad mood infects your interactions with your kids, that's called spillover. And spillover isn't a good thing.

Continue reading "Study: Marital tensions alter your parenting"

Jul 30, 2014

Is self-soothing a bunch of hooey?

By some accounts, soothing your baby to sleep is a bad thing–a tactic that will lead to sleep problems later on. But it depends on your priorities, and even then, the research makes me wonder. The negative effects may be very small, and we have to ask: Are babies reaping brain benefits?

Continue reading "Is self-soothing a bunch of hooey?"

Jul 15, 2014

Talking to babies: Why do they look so serious?

New experiments suggest that even very young babies are hard at work trying to figure out the trick – what you're doing with your mouth, tongue, lips, and larynx to make all those sounds.

Continue reading "Talking to babies: Why do they look so serious?"

Jul 10, 2014

Study: Interrupted sleep can be as exhausting as no sleep

You're not crazy, parents. Living with nighttime interruptions really does make a huge difference, one that goes beyond the sheer number of hours you spend asleep.

Continue reading "Study: Interrupted sleep can be as exhausting as no sleep"

Jul 10, 2014

QWERTY keyboards have a weird effect on the baby names we choose

Recent studies suggests that keyboards have a bizarre effect on our preferences for baby names.

Such research reminds us: Our preferences aren’t as stable or as rational as we suppose. How many other aspects of parenting are influenced by unconscious and irrelevant cultural biases?

Continue reading "QWERTY keyboards have a weird effect on the baby names we choose"

Jul 02, 2014

How baby dancing may enhance your cool and boost infant development

A new study suggests that coordinated dance moves might make babies like us more.

Continue reading "How baby dancing may enhance your cool and boost infant development"

Jun 25, 2014

Vacations that teach and inspire: The secret ingredient

Creating a great educational experience isn’t just a question of shuttling kids to an interesting destination. It also depends on our ability to share and explore ideas.

Continue reading "Vacations that teach and inspire: The secret ingredient"

Jun 23, 2014

Preschool science experimentation? The simplest approach is probably the best.

Melting ice cubes in the sun? Letting kids explore and make discoveries on their own?

It's an old-fashioned approach, but research suggests it may be the best -- if you want to encourage young children to think for themselves.

Continue reading "Preschool science experimentation? The simplest approach is probably the best."

Jun 18, 2014

What fathers can teach us about talking to babies

"Talking up" to kids -- using sophisticated vocabulary -- is helpful. But what about babies? Researchers think they have indirect evidence that babies benefit too.

Continue reading "What fathers can teach us about talking to babies"

Jun 12, 2014

Is being a "cool" kid good or bad?

When being popular is the primary goal, kids may focus on learning to impress rather than learning to connect, and that doesn’t bode well for their long-term health or happiness.

Continue reading "Is being a "cool" kid good or bad?"

Jun 04, 2014

Too much stuff distracts kids from learning

Kids benefit when homes and classrooms have lots of books and educational materials. But when it's time to focus and study, a hyper-stimulating environment with lots of visual distraction is not the best place to be.

See my blog post about the virtues of a simplicity.

Continue reading "Too much stuff distracts kids from learning"

May 28, 2014

Study: Pregnant women respond more intensely to music

New research suggests that pregnancy makes your autonomic nervous system respond more powerfully to music. Do such changes help unborn babies learn about the musical world?

Continue reading "Study: Pregnant women respond more intensely to music"



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