The Parenting Science News Feed

The Parenting Science news feed alerts you to new postings on the Parenting Science website. It also features commentaries about recent events or discoveries in anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and the popular culture.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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"

May 20, 2014

Study: Tiger mothers and their critics are both right

Are Tiger Mothers doing kids a favor or a disservice? Is parental pressure a good thing or a bad thing?

New research confirms what many cultural psychologists have suspected for a long time: It depends on how a child feels about his parent.

Continue reading "Study: Tiger mothers and their critics are both right"

May 15, 2014

Are your child's beliefs about intelligence holding him back?

An updated look at how a child's theory of intelligence can change the way she learns.

Continue reading "Are your child's beliefs about intelligence holding him back?"

May 14, 2014

Does childhood autonomy foster flexible thinking and greater social success?

We already know that people learn useful lessons from play. Should we be surprised if kids learn special psychological lessons when they are left to work things out for themselves?

Continue reading "Does childhood autonomy foster flexible thinking and greater social success?"

May 07, 2014

Babies can sense your stress

Stress is contagious in adults. Can we doubt that the same is true for babies? New research confirms what some parents have argued all along. Babies can sense stress, and stand to benefit when adults make an effort to unwind and calm down.

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May 02, 2014

Cooperative board games

Recent research suggests that young children are developmentally unready for competitive games. But cooperative board games are another matter...and an opportunity to teach children about rules and tactical thinking.

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Apr 30, 2014

One word can make kids more helpful

Believe it or not, your child's willingness to help may depend, in part, on whether you use verbs or nouns to describe good work.

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Apr 24, 2014

Permissive...about what?

Ever since psychologists first proposed parenting style categories, permissive parents have been considered the misguided layabouts of the childcare world. But is permissiveness really all that bad? I think it depends on what exactly you permit, and how your child handles it.

Here is an updated look at permissive parenting.

Continue reading "Permissive...about what?"

Apr 21, 2014

Earth day: How free, outdoor play can change kids' lives

How do we teach kids to conserve the earth's resources? Maybe the most crucial factor is getting kids to play outside.

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Apr 16, 2014

What do kids stand to gain from music lessons?

In recent months, headlines announced that music lessons do not have an effect on the way kids think and learn.

But the study in question didn't test the effects of learning to play a musical instrument. Instead, it tested the effects of 6 weeks of music-oriented preschool activities on young children.

What, then, do we know about the effects of serious, sustained musical training? It's clear that such training causes changes in the brain, and there is reason to think that many of the skills musicians acquire could be relevant for academic achievement.

The best reason to enroll kids in music lessons remains the obvious one: Learning to play music, and understand it, is intrinsically rewarding. But kids may also benefit in other ways.

For an updated review of the evidence, see my article, "Music and intelligence."

Continue reading "What do kids stand to gain from music lessons?"

Apr 14, 2014

Genetic study: Does family instability age kids before their time?

Some thoughts about a new study suggesting that early life adversity shortens a child's telomeres, and, therefore, hastens the aging process.

Continue reading "Genetic study: Does family instability age kids before their time?"

Apr 09, 2014

Babies get smarter after naps

New evidence that a nap helps babies figure out the rules that govern language.

Continue reading "Babies get smarter after naps"

Apr 07, 2014

Evidence-based education

How is school serving your child? Here is my updated round-up of the many articles and blog posts I've written about schooling: A review of the best-available evidence about educating our kids.

Continue reading "Evidence-based education"

Apr 03, 2014

Why the traditional, high-starch food pyramid may be steering kids towards obesity and disease

An updated look at what hunter-gatherers have to teach us about healthy diets.

Continue reading "Why the traditional, high-starch food pyramid may be steering kids towards obesity and disease"

Apr 02, 2014

Are some kids born to be slim...or plump?

New research suggests that the parents of very young children are making headway in the battle against obesity. But there is evidence that many children have genetic risk factors. What can we do about it?

Continue reading "Are some kids born to be slim...or plump?"

Mar 27, 2014

What we don't know about our kids

Babies and children can be hard to figure out. Here are five things that researchers say many parents don't realize.

Continue reading "What we don't know about our kids"

Mar 19, 2014

Why are so many babies being spanked?

A new study of more than 2700 American families found that 30% of one-year-olds had been spanked. What's going on?

Continue reading "Why are so many babies being spanked?"

Mar 12, 2014

Why young children beat adults at figuring out gadgets

When it comes to coping with the new and unexpected, young children may have an advantage.

Continue reading "Why young children beat adults at figuring out gadgets"

Mar 10, 2014

Critical thinking in children: Are we training our kids to act dumb?

In the wake of new study reporting that preschoolers were better than college students at figuring out a strange, new device, we ought to re-examine the messages we are sending to children.

Do years of education train kids to stop thinking in innovative ways? See my updated argument about the media, popular, culture, and schooling.

Continue reading "Critical thinking in children: Are we training our kids to act dumb?"

Mar 05, 2014

Sensitive parenting explains why breastfed babies are smarter

For years we've heard about links between breastfeeding and cognitive development. New research helps pinpoint what's responsible for the link, and it doesn't seem to be the milk. It's a package of parenting practices that breastfeeding mothers tend to follow.

Continue reading "Sensitive parenting explains why breastfed babies are smarter"

Mar 03, 2014

Baby sleep deprivation

Babies deprive parents of sleep. But do babies themselves ever suffer from insomnia?

Continue reading "Baby sleep deprivation"

Feb 26, 2014

Study: Babies didn't learn to read, despite parents' beliefs

Literacy experts conducted a long-term, experimental study, and the results are in: Diligent, daily lessons did NOT teach babes how to read.

Continue reading "Study: Babies didn't learn to read, despite parents' beliefs"

Feb 24, 2014

Empathy and the brain

Exciting new research suggests that our ability to understand other people is rooted in very real, very concrete physiological phenomena. And yet empathy isn't just a matter of neurons. Read my updated article about empathy and the brain.

Continue reading "Empathy and the brain"



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