Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baby's Naps Foster Learning



If you have been a parent for any length of time, you know that naps are a beautiful thing--for your child...and you. Daytime naps are great for helping keep your baby or toddler in a good mood. We all know how edgy a non-napping baby or toddler can become. New research is also showing us how naps are important for babies' memory and learning.

In this new study, 6-12 month-old babies were taught a new skill (i.e. using a hand puppet). Then some of the infants napped for at least 30 minutes and the other group did not nap. Later, the babies were given the opportunity to replicate the new skill on their own. As you might expect, the babies who napped after learning the new skill were much better at remembering how to do the skill. Babies who did not nap, showed little evidence of remembering the new skill.

Interestingly, even after a 24-hour delay, the babies who napped where much more likely to show that they remembered the new skill compared to the non-napping babies.

The authors of the study suggest that the time period just before baby goes down for a nap (or night sleep) might be an especially good time for learning. It seems likely that the information learned right before sleep is easily organized and put into memory in the brain while the baby sleeps. This process may even work for adults. If you have ever studied for a test at night and then gone to sleep, you have probably experienced this memory burst the next day.

I have noticed with my little ones, that they are often most verbal and attentive first thing after waking up from sleep. Especially when they are first learning words, you can almost see their little brains "waking up" with an explosion of new words after sleeping. To me, this is first-hand evidence of the important role sleep plays in the helping solidify new memories and learning.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
ResearchBlogging.orgSeehagen S, Konrad C, Herbert JS, & Schneider S (2015). Timely sleep facilitates declarative memory consolidation in infants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112 (5), 1625-9 PMID: 25583469



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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Let Every Day be Valentine's Day: Model Good Relationship Habits for Your Children

By: Dyan Eybergen RN


As a parenting couple, you have a unique responsibility to model what a healthy relationship looks like for your children. Stand united in the way you raise your family through mutual respect and support. Take measures to show your children how to effectively communicate with one another: how to argue in fairness, and treat each other with mutual understanding for having your needs met. These communicated messages will have a huge influence on your kid's future success in the relationships they choose to have. 

This Valentine's day make a special effort to model good relationship habits for your children. Make a vow to make every day Valentine's day for you and your spouse. 


Here are five tips for how to model healthy relationship habits:

  1. Demonstrate the art of forgiveness. Learning how to resolve conflict without the cruelty of punishing each other with long silences and revenge tactics is paramount in teaching your kids a better way to resolving conflict and restoring order and peace within a relationship.
  2. Have mutual respect. In your relationship, it is important to show love in the manner that meets the needs of your partner; find ways to speak a love language your partner understands. The 5 Love Languages, a book written by Gary Chapman, details a proven approach to showing and receiving love through language that is in synch with your partner’s understanding and definition of what love is.
  3. Have each other's back. Especially in parenting—present as a united front and don't say or do things to undermine each other. 
  4. Support one another's dreams. Encourage through words and actions that support one another's pursuits. Help each other to find balance and happiness.
  5. Spend time together. Nurture your relationship; take the time necessary to stay connected. Show your children that the most important relationship you have, other than being their parent, is the relationship you have with each other. Date your spouse on a regular basis. There is no better time to start than this Valentine’s Day!


   

Monday, February 9, 2015

Kids and Chores


When hearing the story of Little Red Riding Hood going through the woods all by herself in order to take a batch of freshly baked cookies to her grandmother, we are usually too much involved in the story to notice specific details, especially when the storyteller sprinkles it with tidbits of their own imagination. Hardly anyone will linger on the fact that Little Red Riding Hood was, in fact, on an errand imposed on her by her mother.

What's the Point of Chores?

What about errands and chores? Should kids be required to do chores around the house at all, and if so, why? 

When families require their kids to do chores they may do so for the following reasons:
  1. Participating in a family chore schedule says to a child: you are part of this family and your contribution matters. In this household the work is shared fairly.
  2. It stimulates kids to become receptive to the needs of other people and of the group they are a part of. It takes them out of their own little world and literally imposes a broader perspective on them from which to view their own life.
  3. Doing a variety of chores around the house enhances their skills and thus prepares them for life on their own or with a partner once they leave the nest.
Needless to say, I am a fervent proponent of house chores for kids, say from the age of six or eight, all the way through high school. The way parents handle a chore schedule determines whether or not the above benefits will actually be realized. Here are some pointers to help you should you decide to incorporate chores into your family life:

Choices

No one likes being presented with a dead end street. It's much more empowering if you have a choice, even if it is between two things you don't particularly fancy doing. The fact that you have a choice, puts you at the steering wheel. In our family there were always a bit more suitable chore choices than the number of kids. They could choose and my husband and I would take the ones left over. Each month the chores were split up anew, with each child in turn given the first choice.

Suitability

Make sure the chores you present are age appropriate. A sixteen-year-old can be expected, with a little help, to handle washing the car, while a six-year-old cannot. For that age sweeping the kitchen floor would be a more fitting task. When introducing a new task to the child, take your time showing them the ropes. This may take more than once. It is vital that you are in a positive mood when you do, and that you show you have the patience of a saint, even if you don't.

Parental Involvement

Stay involved. By that I do not mean that you should control and supervise each activity. What I mean is that as a rule, you, the parent, are present physically and mentally when the chores are being done. It is much easier for a child to focus on a task when they see their mom or dad involved in another task themselves at the same time. This also puts you in a position to sense how the child is getting along and you will be able to lend a helping hand when needed. This will strengthen your bond.

Clarity

Make sure that for each period of a month or a few weeks you have a list of chores with names and dates. Put it up in a central spot so kids can put crosses next to each item as soon as they have completed it. That will give them a sense of accomplishment and will allow you to keep track of who has done what and when.

Praise

It is vital to praise your children whenever there is the slightest reason to do so. Don't go over the top, though, and exaggerate. A genuine smile with a simple 'Thank you, Peter, for doing the toilet bowls. Now we're all set for the next few days,' will adequately communicate your appreciation for their having taken responsibility.

Chores and Allowance

Families differ when it comes to linking a weekly allowance to doing chores. In some families chores are part of being in the family and no money is involved. In other families the quantity and quality of chores is in direct relationship to payment. There is something to say for each of these two approaches. In our family chores and allowance were only linked in the calendar. My kids had a week to complete their task. If on Saturday night the task had not been done, no allowance was given. - Okay, Sunday or Monday were catch-up day :-)

     I'm sure that if Little Red Riding Hood's mother had followed these steps the little girl would not have been swallowed whole by a wolf. The mother would have given her a choice between more age-appropriate tasks and she would have stayed involved. But then, the fairy tale with its delightful twists wouldn't have come down to us through the ages the way it has.



Pictures by author's children
Image of doing the dishes courtesy of Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net








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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Teach Morals to Young Children

Teaching moral lessons to young children can often be a difficult thing to do. With the recent celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. day last week, and yesterday's (01/27/2015) 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, my wife and I were struggling to find an appropriate way to help our children understand why some people hate others. We also wanted to point out how silly it can be to hate others based on the way they look or what they believe. Thankfully, Dr. Seuss came to the rescue. In fact, one Dr. Seuss book contains four stories that each teach a very different, but important moral. In great Dr. Seuss fashion, The Sneetches and Other Stories, teaches very clearly a variety of different morals in such a way that keeps a young child's attention. After reading the story about The Sneetches to our children, they were able to see that sometimes people are judged by how they look, even though in most other aspects there is no difference.

This experience with my own children got me wondering about what other morals or lessons are hidden in plain sight within Dr. Seuss books. While, teaching morals in a fun, engaging way is not exclusive to Dr. Seuss, because his books are so readily available, I have listed below the various books and morals taught in them for others to use:

  • The Sneetches  - Discrimination
  • The Zax  - Hard-headedness
  • Too Many Daves - Think before you act
  • What was I Scared of? - Get to know others before judging
  • The Lorax - Be kind to the environment
  • Happy Birthday to You - You don't always get what you want
  • Yertle the Turtle - We all have our own strengths
  • Bartholomew and the Oobleck - Stand up for what's right
  • Gustav, the Goldfish - Follow instructions
  • Horton Hears a Who - Do what is right, despite persecution
  • The Bippolo Seed - The problem of greed
  • Hunches in Bunches - Making choices
  • Hurray for Diffendoofer Day - Be different
  • I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew - Push through hard things
  • Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him! - Be kind to others
I'm sure there are many others, what books or stories have you used to teach lessons or morals to your children? 




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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bedwetting, how parents and caregivers can help a child


Before I get too into this subject, I need to apologize to my son, who I am sure at some point in his life will see this and be embarrassed that I am sharing this experience with the public.

I had a dream once that I was playing and splashing around in warm water, and then suddenly a storm came in and dumped cold rain, leaving me feeling chilled and damp. When I awoke, I was indeed damp and chilled. My four year old son had come into my room for cuddles and wet the bed.

He’s been day-time potty trained for some time now, but is still adjusting to waking up and going to the bathroom. Since he wakes up knowing something isn’t right, he comes and seeks comfort. Many times he is so sneaky coming into my room that I have no idea he is there until I awake, which sometimes is too late to avoid his bedwetting accident.

I have found though that there are preventative tips can help a child who is struggling with bed wetting.
  • First and foremost, do not embarrass or shame your child. The experience is uncomfortable enough with having to change pajamas and sheets, that pointing it out more with anger will just add to the discomfort. Simply acknowledge with empathy that accidents happen. If you as a child struggled with bedwetting, be brave and share.
  • Limit, not eliminate, fluids after dinner. Eliminating fluids is trying to avoid the problem; as with all things, avoiding the problem does not fix the problem. Limiting fluid intake is risk reduction.
  • Take your child to the bathroom at the beginning of their bedtime routine and at the end of it, just before hopping into bed.
  • When you go to bed, if you haven’t already fallen asleep putting your child to sleep, take your child to the bathroom.
  • If there seems to be a consistent time when your child is waking up after wetting the bed, take them to the bathroom prior to that time. For example say there is a theme of a 3 a.m. bedwetting, wake them up at 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom.
These are all preventative measures. If these problems persist with your child for a prolonged period of time, consider taking them to the doctor to rule out anything medical.

As for me in my house, it has been about two weeks since I have had a cold dump of rain alter my dreams.

By Josh Lockhart, MC, CCC, PHEc
Learn more at: lockingheartstogether.blogspot.com


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Am I addicted to my phone?


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

What do you Want for your Child?

by: Dyan Eybergen RN


Parents need to decide what they want for their child and develop a parenting plan accordingly.
If you want your children to give and have respect, you have to give it them in order to earn it. Respect begets respect; it does not emerge from fear. There is no other way to know respect, or how to show it if it is not modeled to you first.
If you want your children to have healthy relationships, model what that looks like for them. Treat people with respect and kindness and set a known standard that you expect to be treated in the same way. Every interaction you have with your child should preserve their integrity. Instill in them a sense of worthiness so they too will only surround themselves with people who are kind and respectful.
If you want your children to be honest and kind, then appeal to your children’s sense of fairness and sensitivity. Help them to understand the impact of their actions on their environment. Teach empathy for how others are feeling and have them make amends to those they have offended. Teach tolerance for diversity and acceptance for other people’s opinions and beliefs even if they are different from their own.

If you want your children to succeed tap into their natural strengths and find ways to manage their weaknesses. Give merit to their honest attempts to do well, and offer support and guidance when your child is struggling to achieve. Boost their confidence through honouring their natural abilities and celebrating their accomplishments. Offer them opportunities to be with like-minded people who share common interests and goals where they can nurture their talents.
If you want your children to know right from wrong give life to that learning. Teach them what they CAN do instead of just chastising them for what they have done wrong. Children need alternative behaviours to misbehavior and will only learn this by parents giving them suggestions for what they can do to replace the misbehaviour. Simply telling a child DON’T, STOP, QUIT, ENOUGH doesn’t teach them what to do instead the next time. Positively reinforce the behaviour you want to see.

Technoference: How Technology Impacts Your Relationships



Have you ever sat down to dinner with your partner or spouse and his/her phone keeps beeping for a text message or other notification?

Have you ever been trying to talk to your partner/spouse and he/she can't seem to keep his/her eyes off the phone?

If these scenarios have ever happened to you, you are probably not alone. As technology has expanded into almost every part of our lives, it has begun to affect our personal relationships as well. New research into this topic is just beginning, but it is telling us what we were probably already feeling---how our loved ones interact with technology may influence our relationships and feelings.



This scenario describes what researchers call "technoference." This term includes any interruption due to technology in personal relationships (couples in this case). Technoference can occur in the context of various forms of technology---cellphones, smartphones, TV, computers, or tablets.

Of course, we know that technology does not always play a negative role in relationships. Many couples call or text one another during the day to stay "connected" to each other. Others may use technology to video chat across long distances when one person is traveling. On the other end of the spectrum, some individuals are so hooked on their technological devices that it has become an outright addiction. What this new study considers is the more typical situation in which technology sometimes interrupts personal relationships, but not to the level of addiction.

Let's take a look at this new study to understand how technoference may influence personal relationships and feelings. The study examines a multi-stage theory of technoference.
  • The authors hypothesize that greater levels of technoference in a romantic relationship will be associated with more conflict over technology within the relationship.
  • This conflict over technology, they believe, will predict less happiness in the relationship (i.e., lower relationship quality)
  • This unhappiness in the relationship will influence lower feelings of life satisfaction and higher levels of depressive symptoms

When you think this through, it all makes a lot of sense. If technology is interfering with your relationship, then you are probably having more conflict which makes you overall less happy and satisfied with life.

Before moving on to the major results of the study, here are a few striking statistics:

- around 70% of individuals in the study said that technology (e.g., cellphone, TV, computer) interfered with their relationship at least sometimes 

- 62% of couples said that technology interfered with their couple leisure time at least once a day

Ok, so it is clear that technoference is not a rare occurrence.

Overall, the results showed substantial support for the idea that technoference is related to unhappy outcomes. Individuals who reported more technoference were less satisfied with their relationships and were more likely to show depressive symptoms and overall lower life satisfaction.

Although we cannot presume too much from one study, this work does shed light on the role of technoference in our everyday lives. It seems those brief interruptions due to technology may end up having a substantial impact on our personal well-being.

This study focused on adult relationships, but you can see how some of the same issues could affect parent-child relationships. Something to ponder as we interact with our kids on a daily basis.  I'm sure research in this area is not far away in the future.


ResearchBlogging.orgMcDaniel, B., & Coyne, S. (2014). “Technoference”: The Interference of Technology in Couple Relationships and Implications for Women’s Personal and Relational Well-Being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture DOI: 10.1037/ppm0000065
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