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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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May 05, 2016

Fight for your children's right to move and play - and raise smarter, healthier kids

Is your child stuck in a rut -- perhaps even a school system -- that leaves little time for exercise? When adults create environments that prevent kids from being active, we aren't only undermining their health. We're also making it harder for kids to succeed in school. Here's an updated look at what parents and policymakers need to know.

Continue reading "Fight for your children's right to move and play - and raise smarter, healthier kids"

Feb 17, 2016

Disruptive behavior problems: Evidence-based tips

Some kids are more prone to aggression, disruption, or acting out. How can we improve their behavior?

Continue reading "Disruptive behavior problems: Evidence-based tips"

Jan 27, 2016

Taming aggression in children: 5 crucial strategies for effective parenting

Good news from researchers who study aggression in children: By changing our mental habits, we can stop aggression before it erupts.

Continue reading "Taming aggression in children: 5 crucial strategies for effective parenting"

Jan 06, 2016

New year, new opportunities to improve your child's experiences at school

Here's a worthy new year's resolution: Help kids develop secure, supportive student-teacher relationships.

An updated look at the remarkable impact of positive personal connections.

Continue reading "New year, new opportunities to improve your child's experiences at school"

Dec 16, 2015

How construction play boosts creativity, language skills (and STEM skills too)

They might not be as flashy as electronic toys. But building blocks and bricks don't just entertain. Studies suggest they promote language development, social skills, spatial skills, and creativity -- especially when adults provide the right contexts.

Continue reading "How construction play boosts creativity, language skills (and STEM skills too)"

Dec 11, 2015

Toys for the brain: Raising young scientists, engineers, and architects

How to raise kids with STEM skills? The evidence continues to accumulate: Clues point to the power of Lego and construction play.

Continue reading "Toys for the brain: Raising young scientists, engineers, and architects"

Dec 07, 2015

Spatial intelligence: Making kids smarter through practice and play

Spatial skills crucial for success in many fields. Yet spatial training is often neglected at school. Can we help kids develop spatial intelligence? Experiments say "yes."

Continue reading "Spatial intelligence: Making kids smarter through practice and play"

Nov 30, 2015

Educational toys and games: An evidence-based guide

Parents hear a lot about the educational benefits of various games and toys. Which claims are backed up by science?

Continue reading "Educational toys and games: An evidence-based guide"

Nov 19, 2015

Can we teach self control?

Self-control is the key to social harmony and life success. But how do we foster self-discipline in children? Recent studies illustrate the benefits of timely reminders, games, and coaching.

Continue reading "Can we teach self control?"

Nov 05, 2015

Social skills activities

We want our children to succeed in the social world--to learn how to cooperate, make friends, and negotiate conflicts. We want them to develop strong perspective-taking skills, and treat other people with fairness and compassion.

How can we help them do it? See these evidence-based tips.

Continue reading "Social skills activities"

Oct 30, 2015

Infant crying: What can we do to stop it?

Singing to babies is more effective than talking? Read about this and other evidence-based observations in my updated look at why infants cry.

Continue reading "Infant crying: What can we do to stop it?"

Oct 22, 2015

The health benefits of religion: Are secular parents short-changing their kids

Despite sweeping claims about the health benefits of religion, there is little evidence to support the idea that religion is uniquely protective of health or happiness. What's more likely is that people benefit from the friendship, social support, and sense of belonging that religions provide.

Continue reading "The health benefits of religion: Are secular parents short-changing their kids"

Oct 16, 2015

Cognitive development before kindergarten: Are kids smarter than they seem?

Folk wisdom and classic research paints the same dim picture of early cognitive development: Young children are illogical and incapable of reason. But in recent years, scientists are piecing together a very different view.

Continue reading "Cognitive development before kindergarten: Are kids smarter than they seem?"

Oct 09, 2015

Baby talk

All around the world, people use a special register when they speak to the very young. Some think it's cute, others may find it annoying. But babies love it, and research suggests it helps babies learn to talk. Here's the latest news about a very ancient practice.

Continue reading "Baby talk"

Oct 02, 2015

The social abilities of newborns: Why babies are born ready to learn from our sensitive, loving interactions

In times past, some people believed that newborns were effectively mindless -- tiny survival machines that depended on us for food and shelter. But the studies cited here confirm that newborn babies are fundamentally social creatures. They seem designed to listen to speech, to seek out and differentiate faces, and to expect responsive social partners.

Here's an up-to-date look at the remarkable abilities of newborns -- and their readiness to learn.

Continue reading "The social abilities of newborns: Why babies are born ready to learn from our sensitive, loving interactions"

Oct 01, 2015

Parenting Science website renovations under way

If you haven't noticed any changes in the look of this website, you probably will soon. Currently, Ezoic is testing a variety of different layouts with readers, so you may see more than one look if you visit the website on different occasions.

Meanwhile, the content is the same: Fully-referenced, evidence information for the science-minded.

Jul 20, 2015

What happens when parents are overtaxed and stressed out?

The evidence is clear: Attending to your own well-being isn't a selfish luxury. It's important for your personal relationships and your child's development.

Continue reading "What happens when parents are overtaxed and stressed out?"

Jul 13, 2015

Know any young adults who haven't reproduced yet? Ask them if they want to participate in online research about parenting.

Researchers at the University of Queensland are seeking online volunteers between the ages of 18-25.

Continue reading "Know any young adults who haven't reproduced yet? Ask them if they want to participate in online research about parenting."

Jul 09, 2015

Parenting Stress: 10 evidence-based tips for improving your health and well-being

What can parents do to get relief? A fresh look the research points to common traps, and how to beat them. And some insights might be especially helpful to the most sensitive parents. Is empathy stressing you out?

Continue reading "Parenting Stress: 10 evidence-based tips for improving your health and well-being"

Jun 26, 2015

The crucial idea that turns children into better learners

An updated look at the power of our beliefs about the mind. Kids who think of the brain as a muscle -- something that gets stronger with exercise -- have a distinct learning advantage.

Continue reading "The crucial idea that turns children into better learners"

May 20, 2015

6 tips for boosting your baby's language skills

“Talk to your baby."

“Respond to your infant’s cues."

We get this advice all the time, but what does it actually mean?

Read my practical, evidence-based suggestions for the Urban Child Institute. Published with full references. Hooray!

Continue reading "6 tips for boosting your baby's language skills"

May 06, 2015

Stress in babies: : How to keep babies happy, calm, and emotionally healthy

By making smart, sensitive choices, parents can avoid unnecessary strain and protect babies from toxic stress.

Continue reading "Stress in babies: : How to keep babies happy, calm, and emotionally healthy"

Apr 23, 2015

Turning the tables: Why kids learn better when we ask them to teach

Adults often learn better when they explain what they know to others. But does this trick work for kids too? Research suggests it does.

Continue reading "Turning the tables: Why kids learn better when we ask them to teach"

Apr 16, 2015

Six tips for replacing screen time with "unplugged" play

According to recent surveys, American preschoolers spend an average of four hours each day watching TV.

It represents a dramatic shift from the childhood of our ancestors. What are the consequences, and how can parents help kids learn how to entertain themselves without electronics? Here are my tips for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Six tips for replacing screen time with "unplugged" play"

Apr 08, 2015

Physically fit kids are smarter kids

Time to get the kids outside to play. An updated look at the cognitive benefits of aerobic exercise.

Continue reading "Physically fit kids are smarter kids"

Mar 25, 2015

5 tips for conversing with babies

Why should you talk with your baby?

Kids need to hear a language in order to learn it. Everybody knows that. But if it were just a case of listening to the spoken word, your baby might learn just as easily from eavesdropping or watching television.

And we know there is more going on.

Continue reading "5 tips for conversing with babies"

Mar 18, 2015

Why conversations matter more than television

An updated look at the effects of TV on language. It isn't that TV makes kids dumb. Rather, TV time displaces crucial conversation time with parents. And there's a lot of evidence that one-on-one conversation is what really gives babies a learning boost.

Continue reading "Why conversations matter more than television"

Mar 04, 2015

Bedtime problems?

An updated look at why kids don't go to sleep...and what we can do to help.

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Mar 04, 2015

Bedtime problems?

An updated look at why kids don't go to sleep...and what we can do to help.

Continue reading "Bedtime problems?"

Feb 18, 2015

Why do kids need to connect with their caregivers?

Good childcare depends on more than nice classrooms and low child-to-caregiver ratios. See my new article for The Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Why do kids need to connect with their caregivers?"

Feb 11, 2015

Zero to three: Milestones of empathy and kindness

Do babies experience empathy? Indeed they do. Here is an overview of important developmental milestones during the first three years -- an article of mine for the Urban Child Institute.

Continue reading "Zero to three: Milestones of empathy and kindness"

Jan 28, 2015

Kids losing sleep due to schedules, homework, technology?

Some thoughts on the latest sleep poll by the National Sleep Foundation.

Continue reading "Kids losing sleep due to schedules, homework, technology?"

Jan 21, 2015

Parents with music training are better at figuring out babies' cries

Those old piano lessons you took may have a surprising side benefit.

Continue reading "Parents with music training are better at figuring out babies' cries"

Jan 14, 2015

Study: Babies learn best just before sleep?

For the first time, we have evidence that babies get a powerful boost from well-timed sleep. In fact, the results of the latest study may leave us wondering if sleep makes a crucial difference in what our babies learn.

Continue reading "Study: Babies learn best just before sleep?"

Jan 05, 2015

Raising smarter kids: The most important take-home lessons of 2014

All of us want to help our kids learn and achieve, so as we head into the New Year, let’s take some time to review.

What were the most important science news stories about learning in 2014? Here are my top five.

Continue reading "Raising smarter kids: The most important take-home lessons of 2014"

Dec 31, 2014

The five most empowering parenting science news stories of 2014

This year, some stories stood out for their importance to parents' health and well-being. There were studies suggesting we should stop feeling defensive about our parenting choices; research revealing the power of money to undermine our satisfaction with family life; and scientific confirmation about our crazy-making sleep schedules.

Here are my nominees for the five most empowering parenting science news stories of 2014 – the stories that should inspire us, reassure us, and remind us that we’re normal after all.

Continue reading "The five most empowering parenting science news stories of 2014"

Dec 29, 2014

Why do we want to bite cute things -- like babies?

I consider a variety of explanations, all compatible, for Scientific American's "Ask the Brain" column.

Continue reading "Why do we want to bite cute things -- like babies?"

Dec 23, 2014

What kids' drawings can reveal about life at home

When asked to "make a family drawing," some kids produce cheerful images. Others create something more somber or disturbing. What do these differences tell us?

Continue reading "What kids' drawings can reveal about life at home"

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"