November 5, 2013

Love, Play, Reflect; Passion, Gratitude, and Grit: Parenting for Success and Happiness across the Lifespan

Love, play, reflect; passion, gratitude, and grit; a blog by Dona MatthewsChildhood giftedness is a great start, but it doesn’t predict happiness, success, or fulfillment across the life span. What does the research say about parents’ roles in helping their kids become happily productive adults?

  1. 1.       Love:

The single most important ingredient in the early days, weeks, and months of life is the security of a home environment characterized by loving warmth. Infants who develop an early attachment to a caregiver—usually a mother—do a lot better over the life span than those who don’t.  Parenting characteristics of a secure and loving environment include emotional attunement, reassurance and comfort, holding and snuggling, and listening and responding to children’s needs.

Kids do best whose early home experience includes warmth, acceptance, sensitivity, stimulation, and engaged conversation. That means limiting electronic (and other) distractions when you’re spending time with your kids. Device-focused parents don’t look their kids in the eye as often, hear what they have to say, pick up on their feelings, or transmit that sparkle in the eye that makes children (and adults) feel valued. Continue reading

September 30, 2013

Giving All Kids a Head Start in Life: Tackling the Parenting Gap

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Parents spend a lot of time worrying about their kids’ schools. Yes, school matters, but what happens at home matters more. According to Parenting, Politics, and Social Mobility, a new report by the Brookings Institute (a Washington think tank), we’re not paying enough attention to the ‘the parenting gap.’ The parenting gap is even more powerful than the school-based reasons for the academic learning gap between kids growing up in families with more and fewer advantages.

Some recommendations that emerge from Parenting, Politics, and Social Mobility:

  • Time spent with kids matters. Parents who spend more time with their children, especially in the preschool years, give their kids a big advantage in learning and subsequent achievement.
  • The quality of the time spent with kids matters. Kids respond well when they grow up in a home characterized by warmth, acceptance, sensitivity, stimulation, and engaged conversation. 

Continue reading

September 5, 2013

Seven Ideas for Encouraging Your Child’s Productive Creativity

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Creativity is more accessible (and more effortful) than most people realize.  Most parents want their kids to experience the joy and fulfillment that come from productive creativity–the kind of creativity that makes a difference.

Here are seven ideas for parents who want to support their children’s productive creativity:

1. Curiosity. All kids are born curious. They want to understand more about the world around them. Support your child’s curiosity, and you’re taking the first and probably most important step toward him discovering the joys of productive creativity.

2. Passion. Support your child in finding out what she wants to learn more about. Whether it’s musical, artistic, athletic, intellectual, domestic, scientific or something else, follow her curiosities, and help her think about possibilities for further exploration. A passionate desire to go farther is at the heart of productive creativity.

3. Opportunities for learning. Productive creativity is built on knowledge and understanding. Your child needs something with which to be creative. Help him find opportunities to learn and to experience challenge in his areas of keen interest. Productive creativity happens in all domains–a scientist or a chef can be as productively creative as a musician–so help him feel free to follow his interests wherever they take him. Continue reading

September 1, 2013

Parenting and Multi-Tasking in the Digital Age

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Tracy Dennis is both a mother and an eminent developmental psychologist who is interested in the impact of digital media on human development across the life span. She’s written several posts on this topic on her Psyche’s Circuitry blog. One of my personal favourites is the one where she writes about two ideas for parents to keep in mind when they are using digital media to multi-task while taking care of their kids.

Dr Dennis does not think that digital multi-tasking around children damages them, but does think it’s important to keep it in perspective, and keep it to a minimum.  Continue reading

August 30, 2013

Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Media violence has been a controversial topic for decades. There are contradictory findings from a variety of studies, some showing no effect on people’s real-world aggression, and some showing a significant connection.

On balance, it makes sense to me that what we consume and are exposed to–whether it’s unhealthy food, environmental contaminants, poisoned relationships, or violent images–make a difference to our health, well-being, and behaviour. If this is true for adults, how much truer must it be for children? And the younger the child, the more true it will be.

In this article, the authors–three renowned forensic psychiatrists–summarize the findings to date. They conclude that yes, media violence does have a connection to the real thing: ‘Exposure to violent imagery does not preordain violence, but it is a risk factor.’ Short-term effects of exposure to media violence are moderate to large; longer-term effects are small-to-moderate. Watching more than 2 hours of violent TV each weekday leads to antisocial behaviour in early adulthood.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/opinion/sunday/does-media-violence-lead-to-the-real-thing.html

August 30, 2013

The Best and Worst Learning Strategies

hand math2If you want to remember what you’re learning, highlighting (or underlining) and re-reading are 2 of the worst strategies to use.

Two strategies that are far more effective are spreading out your learning periods–aiming for the study equivalent of short, regular exercise periods, rather than monthly marathons–and engaging in practice testing. These were the two approaches that emerged as most effective of the ten most frequently used approaches to learning, in a recent study of the effectiveness of different learning strategies.

Strategies in the middle range–rated ‘low utility’ by the researchers–included mental imagery, mnemonics, elaborative interrogation, and self-explanation.

In this blog, Annie Murphy Paul discusses why highlighting and re-reading don’t work very well, and why spreading out your learning and engaging in practice tests help people learn and remember better:

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bc04df008d4705e4e77c2eb35&id=a6bd89d124&e=59fae2173a

 

July 30, 2013

The Challenge of Giftedness/LD: Frustration, Creativity, and Resilience

gifted/LDThe most frustrated kids I know fit the giftedness/LD profile. They have exceptionally advanced abilities in some areas (aka, ‘giftedness’) and problems in other areas (aka, ‘learning disabled,’ or ‘LD’).

It can take a long time before parents and teachers figure out the giftedness/LD situation, if they ever do. By then, too often, the child hates school, and is deeply unhappy. Her self-esteem is non-existent, she’s having trouble making friends, she feels like nothing’s good in her life. She’s on track for leaving school as quickly as she can, and she may or may not find career fulfilment. Continue reading

July 25, 2013

The Four Faces of ‘No’: Finding the Just-Right Sweet Spot of Parenting

4 Faces of No‘No’ is a tricky word for parents. It can be overused—either by saying it too often and then ignoring its violation, or enforcing it too rigidly. ‘No’ can also be used too seldom, so kids feel there’s no structure—and no security—in their lives. It’s not easy to find the just-right sweet spot of parenting, where kids get enough limits and boundaries, without feeling controlled and restricted. Continue reading

July 7, 2013

Children’s Boredom: Opportunity for Self-Discovery, or Mask for Chronic Problems

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Most of the time, parents should welcome their children’s boredom as an opportunity for them to discover their interests, activate their imaginations, and explore their enthusiasms. Chronic boredom, however, can be a call for help. Continue reading

July 5, 2013

Boredom Busters: How to Handle Your Child’s Boredom

boredom bustersA bored child is usually ripe for self-discovery, someone waiting to find where her interests and enthusiasms might lie. In this posting to Parents Space, I describe 100 good responses to a child’s saying, ‘I’m bored!’ (Sometimes, however, boredom can be a mask for serious problems—sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, insecurity, or other troubling concerns. I discuss that situation elsewhere.) For 100 great boredom busters: http://www.parents-space.com/100-great-boredom-busters-what-to-do-when-your-child-says-im-bored/

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