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Mar 16, 2019
Spanking babies: Is it okay to spank an infant?
No, spanking babies is a bad idea. Our forager ancestors rejected it, and so should we. Here’s why spanking is counterproductive – and damaging.
Continue reading "Spanking babies: Is it okay to spank an infant?"
Mar 08, 2019
Infant potty training: An alternative to elimination communication
Looking for an alternative method of infant potty training? This method, tested by researchers, is safe for babies who can sit up unassisted.
Continue reading "Infant potty training: An alternative to elimination communication"
Feb 28, 2019
Bullying in school: An evidence-based guide to interventions that work
How can we stop bullying in school? Studies favor school programs that feature teacher training, positive discipline, playground monitoring, and zero tolerance.
Continue reading "Bullying in school: An evidence-based guide to interventions that work"
Feb 21, 2019
When do babies crawl, and how does crawling develop? (illustrated)
When do babies crawl? Most babies start between 6-11 months, but it’s perfectly normal for infants to skip crawling, and favor other ways of getting around.
Continue reading "When do babies crawl, and how does crawling develop? (illustrated)"
Feb 14, 2019
Stricter gun regulations can save children's lives
One year after the Parkland shooting, polls show a waning public interest in gun control legislation. Yet the threat hasn't changed, and neither have the facts. When governments enforce stricter gun regulations, fewer kids die.
Continue reading "Stricter gun regulations can save children's lives"
Feb 08, 2019
Breastfeeding on demand: Benefits, questions, and evidence-based tips
Breastfeeding on demand is the ideal way to keep milk production in sync with a baby's needs. It helps ensure that babies get enough milk, and it might benefit emotional and cognitive development. Learn about hunger cues and the need for maternal helpers. Tips for coping.
Continue reading "Breastfeeding on demand: Benefits, questions, and evidence-based tips"
Jan 31, 2019
What's wrong with classroom behavior charts: Why shaming backfires
What's wrong with classroom behavior charts? Shaming induces toxic stress, and it can make kids behave worse, not better. Read what experiments on children have to teach us about inducing shame -- and finding better, more constructive ways to shape behavior.
Continue reading "What's wrong with classroom behavior charts: Why shaming backfires"
Jan 24, 2019
When children are really difficult
Is it your fault if your kid throws angry tantrums, lashes out at others, destroys property?
Society is quick to point the finger at caregivers, but some children are much harder to parent than others.
Here's a reminder that you shouldn't take it personally. You've got a tougher job -- and research can help you find ways to cope.
Continue reading "When children are really difficult"
Jan 17, 2019
Postpartum depression symptoms: When is it more than the "baby blues"?
An updated and expanded look at postpartum depression. When is it more than "baby blues"? When will it get better? And who's at risk for the most severe, longlasting symptoms?
Continue reading "Postpartum depression symptoms: When is it more than the "baby blues"?"
Jan 11, 2019
Hear Gwen discuss baby signing on NPR radio
I recently discussed the phenomenon of baby signing with Jeremy Hobson, on NPR's radio program, "Here and Now."
You can listen to the podcast here.
Continue reading "Hear Gwen discuss baby signing on NPR radio"
Jan 08, 2019
Can babies sign before they can speak?
Can babies sign before they can speak? To date, studies have failed to find compelling evidence in favor of the idea. And there's reason for doubt: Research confirms that babies start practicing spoken language at an early age.
Continue reading "Can babies sign before they can speak?"
Jan 01, 2019
How to start babies on solid food: An evidence-based guide
When to start solids depends on your baby’s developmental skills, and on whether or not you want to offer your baby finger foods. These evidence-based tips explain how to start babies on solid food, what to expect, and how to cope with a baby’s negative reactions.
Continue reading "How to start babies on solid food: An evidence-based guide "
Dec 18, 2018
Baby sign language: A guide for the science-minded parent
What is baby sign language? Should we teach our babies to sign? There’s no compelling evidence that baby signing programs yield long-term developmental benefits. But there is good reason to think that our everyday, spontaneous, pantomime-like gestures help babies learn.
Continue reading "Baby sign language: A guide for the science-minded parent"
Dec 13, 2018
Sensitive, responsive parenting: What are the health benefits?
Does sensitive, responsive parenting help protect kids from a lifetime of bad health? It seems likely. Studies suggest that parents can act as a buffer against harmful, chronic stress.
Continue reading "Sensitive, responsive parenting: What are the health benefits?"
Dec 06, 2018
Dinosaur replay: Getting kids hooked on science
Just in time for the holidays, here is a reminder: How to turn your child's love for dinosaurs into something even bigger.
Continue reading "Dinosaur replay: Getting kids hooked on science"
Nov 29, 2018
Parenting stress: 10 tips for coping
At this time of year, it's good to remember these tips for handling stress
Continue reading "Parenting stress: 10 tips for coping"
Nov 23, 2018
STEM books for kids (and other resources too)
How can we boost a child's interest in physics, computer science, evolution, or mathematics? Here are some recommended resources.
Continue reading "STEM books for kids (and other resources too)"
Nov 14, 2018
Tangrams for kids: Educational tips and a printable template
Working on tangram puzzles may boost a child's spatial skills, and even enhance a child's math performance.
How do we help kids get started? Here are some evidence-based tips about tangrams for kids, and a printable tangram template.
Continue reading "Tangrams for kids: Educational tips and a printable template"
Nov 08, 2018
What happens when adults lie to children?
When adults lie to children, does it set a bad example? Research suggests the effects depend on a child's age. But overall, the effects are negative. When kids discover we'd lied to them, they become less trusting and less truthful in their dealings with us.
Continue reading "What happens when adults lie to children?"
Nov 01, 2018
What is colic? An evidence-based guide to excessive infant crying
What is colic? Colicky babies cry excessively and inconsolably, and may suffer from underlying medical conditions. Learn what's normal, what's not, and why you should talk to your doctor if you observe signs of colic.
Continue reading "What is colic? An evidence-based guide to excessive infant crying"
Oct 25, 2018
Why kids rebel: What kids believe about the legitimacy of authority
They aren’t anarchists; nor are they scheming to run the world. On the contrary, kids – even teenagers – are ready to be cooperative. But they recognize limits to our power, and when we overreach those limits, kids regard reject our authority as illegitimate.
Continue reading "Why kids rebel: What kids believe about the legitimacy of authority"
Oct 19, 2018
Vote for a better future
We must hold our politicians accountable, because our kids cannot. Vote for representatives who respect facts and democratic norms. People who reject science must not control our children’s future.
Continue reading "Vote for a better future"
Oct 11, 2018
Compassionate deception: Do children tell lies to be kind?
Do children tell prosocial lies – lies intended to protect another person from harm? Fascinating experiments indicate that many kids are capable of this by the age of 7, and some children show the capacity even earlier.
Continue reading "Compassionate deception: Do children tell lies to be kind?"
Oct 04, 2018
Punitive environments encourage children to tell lies
It's not unusual for kids to tell lies, but their readiness to deceive depends on the social environment. When adults attempt to control children through threats and punishments, kids are more likely to cover-up their transgressions. What can we do about it?
Continue reading "Punitive environments encourage children to tell lies"
Sep 28, 2018
At what age do children begin to tell lies?
When do children start telling lies? Some begin before they are two and a half. Others take longer. But by the age of four, most kids lie at least sometimes, and no, it isn’t moral failing. Children begin to experiment with lying as they develop new cognitive skills.
Continue reading "At what age do children begin to tell lies?"
Sep 19, 2018
Marshmallow test: Delayed gratification isn't just about willpower
The marshmallow test is supposed to measure a child's willingness to delay gratification. But delayed gratification isn’t always a matter of willpower. When adults appear unreliable – or downright untrustworthy – kids choose instant rewards over future benefits.
Continue reading "Marshmallow test: Delayed gratification isn't just about willpower "
Sep 12, 2018
Growth mindset: Can a theory of intelligence really boost achievement?
What you believe about cognitive performance -- the theory of intelligence that you adopt -- can have brain-altering effects, and enhance your ability to learn. Yet programs designed to instill the right, "growth mindset" in students haven't always worked. Why not?
Continue reading "Growth mindset: Can a theory of intelligence really boost achievement?"
Sep 05, 2018
Student-teacher relationships: Why emotional support matters
Supportive student-teacher relationships improve motivation, inspire achievement, and protect children from toxic stress. But many kids don't get the chance to form such bonds. Teacher burnout, counter-productive disciplinary practices, and racial biases get in the way.
Continue reading "Student-teacher relationships: Why emotional support matters"
Aug 29, 2018
The authoritarian parenting style: What does it look like?
Experts recommend against the authoritarian parenting style. It’s linked with inferior outcomes for kids. But what’s the difference between firm and authoritarian? How can you tell if you’ve crossed the line? Learn how researchers identify authoritarian parenting.
Continue reading "The authoritarian parenting style: What does it look like?"
Aug 22, 2018
Spatial intelligence: What is it, and how can we enhance it?
Spatial intelligence is crucial for success in many fields, ranging from science and engineering to construction and graphic design. Can we improve spatial skills? Experiments say yes. Learn what you can do to stimulate spatial awareness in both children and adults.
Continue reading "Spatial intelligence: What is it, and how can we enhance it?"
Aug 15, 2018
The benefits of toy blocks: The science of construction play
Playing with toy blocks helps kids develop better motor and spatial skills. It may also boost creativity, focus, and mathematical ability. But to unleash these benefits, kids need to do more than move blocks around. Learn how to make block play more stimulating and engaging.
Continue reading "The benefits of toy blocks: The science of construction play"
Aug 08, 2018
How video games affect school performance
Frequent play can cause problems – if kids play so much that they neglect their school work or lose sleep.
But certain video games can boost spatial skills, and there is evidence that moderate usage of video games could actually enhance school performance.
Continue reading "How video games affect school performance"
Aug 01, 2018
Positive parenting tips
Positive parenting is more effective than punitive discipline, and it helps buffer kids from toxic stress. How can you make it work? Check out these positive parenting tips.
Continue reading "Positive parenting tips"
Jul 27, 2018
Can babies tell when parents are fighting?
Lots of angry arguments at home? Studies suggest that babies can tell when parents are fighting -- and this early life stress may alter an infant's brain. How can we protect infants from this toxic stress?
Continue reading "Can babies tell when parents are fighting?"
Jul 19, 2018
Can babies sense our stress?
Yes! And in fact babies don't just detect our tension. They are affected by it. Stress is contagious.
It's one more reason to look after your own well-being -- and to calm down before interacting with your child.
Continue reading "Can babies sense our stress?"
Jul 11, 2018
Emotion coaching: Helping kids cope with negative feelings
Kids do better in life when they have parents who provide them with emotion coaching.
But what is "emotion coaching?" How do we know it works? And how can we become more effective coaches?
Continue reading "Emotion coaching: Helping kids cope with negative feelings"
Jul 05, 2018
Fun activities to help kids communicate, negotiate, and connect
How can we teach kids to get along with others?
Communicate, negotiate, read minds, make friends?
These research-inspired social skills activities can help. Tips for babies, children, and teens.
Continue reading "Fun activities to help kids communicate, negotiate, and connect"
Jul 02, 2018
Help children separated at the border from their parents by the US government
Dear U.S. readers:
More than 2,000 children are still separated from their parents. Every day that goes by is another day of anguish for these families, and the long-term risks increase.
The government failed to put an effective system in place that would allow for tracking children and connecting them with their parents.
Where the government is failing, however, attorneys and nonprofit organizations can help. They work on behalf of specific families, and help parents navigate the bureaucracy to find their children.
So we can help by donating money to organizations doing this work (for a list of them, see the charity donations page on the ActBlue link below).
We can also help by pressuring politicians to make ending family separations top priority.
Continue reading "Help children separated at the border from their parents by the US government"
Jun 27, 2018
15 Evidence-based baby sleep tips
Whether it's the crazy-making, nocturnal schedule of the newborn, or an older baby who won't get settled, the results are the same: A parent who is sleep-deprived and desperate for relief.
What's a parent to do? Learning about the science of infant sleep can help. Once you understand how, why, and when babies sleep, it will be easier for you to decide on the best sleep strategies for your family. It may also bring you peace of mind.
Continue reading "15 Evidence-based baby sleep tips"
Jun 22, 2018
Thousands of immigrant children still separated and needing our help
Don't be misled: Thousands of immigrant children in the U.S. are still separated from their parents. They need to be reunited with their parents as soon as possible. We can help them by keeping the pressure on politicians.
Continue reading "Thousands of immigrant children still separated and needing our help"