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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.
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.
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.
What happens when you ask a kid to tell the truth? The answer depends on how you talk to her.
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.
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.
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.
A new study suggests how to improve early childhood education: More self-direction and more time for classroom make-believe.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some thoughts on a trend: The over-regulation of recess
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.
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.
Research suggests that the fat stored on women's hips, thighs, and buttocks becomes crucial brain "baby food" during pregnancy and lactation.
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?
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.
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.
The Buddha thought it was clear that babies find birth painful, and modern science would seem to back him up.
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.
A new study bolsters the idea that babies learn language faster when we assume their vocalizations are meaningful -- and we respond appropriately.
Being able to read nonverbal cues is a crucial skill. Are today's kids getting enough practice? Maybe not.
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.
A new study suggests that many new mothers are still dangerously sleepy after 4 months postpartum.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
A new study suggests that coordinated dance moves might make babies like us more.
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.
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.
"Talking up" to kids -- using sophisticated vocabulary -- is helpful. But what about babies? Researchers think they have indirect evidence that babies benefit too.
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.
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.
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?