Most parents love to write about and to post pictures of their children on Twitter and Facebook. According to a study conducted by AVG last fall, 92% of U.S. toddlers have an online presence by the time they reach the age of 2. If parents are already writing about their kids online, is writing as their kids the next trend?
Gary Shirley, a dad featured on MTV’s reality show Teen Mom, is one parent jumping on this trend. On Tuesday he created a Twitter page for his 2-year-old daughter, Leah, and began tweeting in “her” voice. Shirley immediately received harsh feedback, forcing him to tweet again: “You guys, it should be obvious that Leah has no contact w Twitter. This is just a fun concept that will in no way affect Leah herself.”
Keeping up with your own social media sites can be time-consuming enough, so should you be making accounts for your kids? Judging from the negative comments Shirley has received, the answer is “no.” Most people who responded to Shirley thought that pretending to be your child is creepy, not cute. Still, more than 5,000 people seem to think otherwise — because that’s the amount of followers little Leah has amassed in just a few days.
Would you make a Twitter or Facebook account for your child?
Can your little cutie be a little meanie in disguise? If your toddler pushes, hits, or hurts another kid, is he a bully and will he grow up to be one?
TODAY Moms has a fascinating article about whether pre-K kids should be labeled as bullies if they show aggression toward others. According to Dr. Heather Wittenberg, a child pyschologist and parenting expert for Parents who was quoted in the article, it’s typical for toddlers to be more aggressive, but they’re still too young to hurt someone deliberately, with premeditation. It’s not until age 6 when kids start to understand the concepts of power and right vs. wrong. Other experts disagree, saying toddlers understand the concept of bullying at age 4 — and it only gets worse from there.
Take our poll and share what you think in the Comments area — do toddlers understand what it means to bully?
As more parents worry about how their growing toddlers will survive the educational system once they enter school, they’re enrolling kids in after-school tutoring and learning centers such as Kumon. The New York Times recently wrote an in-depth profile on how Kumon is becoming parents’ defense against a changing educational landscape that focuses more on studying, memorizing, and taking standardized tests for reading, writing, and math.
Originally started in Japan during the 1950s for school-age kids, Kumon has expanded in the U.S. since 1974, where it grew in popularity among mostly Asian students. Now, kids of all ages and ethnicities enroll in Kumon to help them get a leg up on school work and studies. In recent years, a Junior Kumon program was created to enroll children ages 3 to 5, though toddlers as young as 2 are welcome. Junior Kumon lessons cost about $200-300 per month, and toddlers and preschoolers are tutored twice a week for one hour each.
Some parents see Kumon as a necessary means to building their children’s self-confidence and academic skills; a way to give them the means necessary to advance later in life. (In addition to starting them in sports classes or having them read chapter books.) Others, particularly child experts and educators, aren’t convinced programs like Kumon are enriching experiences that will help kids become innovative, vibrant, curious thinkers; instead, it only stresses memorization, repetition, and a linear way of thinking.
When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I remember weekend afternoons at my local Kumon, huddled around tables working on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and long division on numerous worksheets. I remember storing my worksheets and multiplication charts in plastic pouches Kumon provided us. At that time, Kumon only focused on math, not reading. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t enjoy working on endless math sheets. And ironically, despite all the math lessons, I grew up to work in a field that focuses just on reading and writing.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t intrinsic value in enrolling kids in Kumon, though 2 years old may be a bit too young. There are still other ways to teach kids how to achieve their truest potential, as the Tiger Mother debate has illustrated. But, then again, who knows where I would be now if I had enrolled at 2 years old?
Would you enroll your kid in enrichment programs like Kumon? Are toddlers ready for the pressure to succeed?
ABCNews.com recently wrote about a new trend in ”toddler” apps, educational apps targeted to kids between 4 months to 3 year old, to help them learn earlier and faster. One mom’s son started playing with an iPad at 9 months old, and now 5 months later, he recognizes letters and uses 75 apps. Plus, since more toddlers are learning how to handle an iPhone and iPad, even Toys “R” Us is selling iPads and a kindergarten class in Maine will be getting their own iPads when school starts again.
Ever see a child in a sitting in a stroller and think, “He’s way too old for that stroller”? (I sure did, last weekend.) In a funny coincidence, ABC News recently featured a story about kids too big to still be using a stroller. The story highlights a photo blog started two years ago that posts pictures of kids too big (because of their age) for strollers. Titled “Walk,” the blog can be found at TooBigForStroller.com.
Started as an inside joke, the blog’s rising popularity has lead the blogger, Laura Miller, to be berated by defensive parents who see Miller’s blog as a cruel critique on the difficulties of parenthood. While some parents still find it convenient to put kids in strollers, most experts agree kids should start transitioning out of strollers around age 3.
By 4 or 5 years old, kids should showcase their self-reliance and confidence by walking on their own. Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and advisor for Parents, shared with ABC News: ”By this age, kids should be able to follow directions, listen to you and hold hands when you’re crossing the street,” she says. “In this day and age when our children are becoming more sedentary, you’re sending the wrong message by chauffeuring them around.”
However, strollers can still be beneficial when parents are in crowded, public places and need a way to keep tabs on their kids. While the American Academy of Pediatrics does not have specific guidelines for when kids should stop sitting in strollers, there are benefits to getting kids out of strollers sooner than later: kids will learn how to exercise, develop motor skills, and be more independent.
A new study published in the journal Developmental Science reveals that speech fillers such as “um” and “uh,” also known as language disfluencies, may actually help toddlers’ language development.
The research was conducted at the University of Rochester and studied three groups of children, ages 18 to 30 months, who each sat in front of a monitor that tracked the children’s gazes. Two images were shown on screen, one image of a familiar object and one image of a made-up object. While a recorded voice said short, fluid sentences about the familiar item first, most infants looked at both images equally.
When the recorded voice then said, “Look at the, uh…,” most 2 1/2-year-old toddlers recognized the word stumble and looked at the made-up object, expecting to learn something new. Kids 2 and under rarely picked up on the word stumble.
Researchers aren’t certain how kids understand these disfluencies–whether they realize “um” and “uh” signify a pause in speech to recall the next word or a pause in speech to introduce new words.
Celeste Kidd, the lead researcher quoted on ScienceDaily.com, noted “We’re not advocating that parents add disfluencies to their speech, but I think it’s nice for them to know that using these verbal pauses is OK — the “uh’s” and “um’s” are informative.”
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego lead the study and created the checklist for pediatricians in the San Diego area to use during babies’ 1-year well-visit checkups. 137 pediatricians participated in the study and used the checklist to screen 10,479 babies. 184 infants who failed the screening were then further evaluated every 6 months until age 3. The checklist was able to diagnose 75% of the infants with specific problems — 32 infants with autism, 52 with language delays, and 9 with development delays.
Until now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged autism screening for toddlers 18 to 24 months, though most kids aren’t diagnosed until they’re older. According to ABCNews.com, Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks (which co-funded the research) said, “This study is very encouraging in showing that a quick questionnaire given to parents during a well-baby visit has potential for identifying infants at risk for autism, as well as other developmental delays, at 12 months of age.”
MyFox Orlando reported hat Beard saw the child dangling from the balcony and ran to a location underneath the child before she fell. The toddler struck the third floor balcony before being caught by Beard. The child still slipped through Beard’s arms and landed on the ground, but didn’t suffer any injuries. The local hospital determined the child to be in good health and the sheriff’s captain deemed Jah-Nea’s rescue to be miraculous.
When taking a trip with your child, Parents suggests calling the hotel beforehand to ask questions and determine if it’s kid-friendly location. Ask about renting a crib or stroller, the hotel’s crib safety requirements, and any available child-friendly activities, pools, and playgrounds. Most hotels also offer free childproofing kits or will childproof the room for you upon request. Just make sure to ask. Once you’re at the hotel, look for any possible dangers such as open balconies, stairs, and railings, uncovered outlets, sharp furniture, fragile objects, loose curtain or electrical cords, and unlocked cabinets. Above all, keep your child safe no matter where you stay.