Social Behavior in Kindergarten May Predict Adult Success

KindergartenersYou may joke with your friends that your daughter acts like she’s five going on 25, but your child’s social behavior at that age may predict her future more than you think. A study recently published online in the American Journal of Public Health found that prosocial behavior at age 5 can predict success in adulthood.

The study collected data from 700 individuals, who were part of the Fast Track Project, over the course of almost 20 years. In kindergarten, teachers answered questions about how their students interacted with other children in social situations. When the individuals reached their 20s, researchers from Penn State then followed up to determine how well they were managing. Researchers looked at education level, employment, use of public assistance, criminal activity, substance abuse, and mental health.

It turns out that individuals who had shown more prosocial skills in kindergarten were more likely to have graduated from college, be consistently employed, and less likely to have been arrested than those who had demonstrated less prosocial behavior at the same age.

According to the study’s press release, for each one-point increase in a student’s social competency score, he or she was twice as likely to graduate from college and 46 percent more likely to be employed full-time job by age 25.

“The good news is that social and emotional skills can improve,” said senior research associate Damon Jones, “and this shows that we can inexpensively and efficiently measure these competencies at an early age.”

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years
The Lasting Impact of the Early Childhood Years

Image: Kindergarteners via Shutterstock

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Tags: | Categories: Education, New Research, Parents News Now

The Way You Talk to Your Baby Could Impact Her Social Skills

Mom talking to babyWhen it comes to baby talk, there are some ways to communicate with your little one that are better than others. New research from the University of York shows that how moms talk to their babies can actually influence their kids’ understanding of others’ emotions when they grow up.

The study, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, examined 40 mother/baby pairs at four different points—when the babies were 10, 12, 16 and 20 months old. During each visit, psychologists recorded maternal language while mom and baby played for a total of 10 minutes. The psychologists noted whenever a mother made a comment about her child’s thought processes, which researchers called “mind-mindedness.” For example, verbally acknowledging when your baby may be feeling frustrated.

The mom/baby pairs were revisited, when the kids were 5 or 6 years old, to have the kids’ socio-cognitive ability assessed to decipher how well children understood another person’s thoughts.

Researchers found that children were able to relate better to others at the age of 5 if their mothers had frequently used mind-mindedness comments or phrases.

“These findings show how a mother’s ability to tune-in to her baby’s thoughts and feelings early on helps her child to learn to empathize with the mental lives of other people,” said lead author Elizabeth Kirk, M.D. in a press release. “This has important consequences for the child’s social development, equipping children to understand what other people might be thinking or feeling.”

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Signs Your Baby Is Learning to Talk (8-12 months)
Signs Your Baby Is Learning to Talk (8-12 months)
Signs Your Baby Is Learning to Talk (8-12 months)

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Study Links Preemies With These Personality Traits

Premature birth has been previously linked to multiple long-term complications, such as behavioral issues and learning disabilities. However, a new study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal & Neonatal Edition) has also found that certain personality traits are more commonly found among adults who were born preterm.

A team of researchers from England compared a group of 200 individuals who were born at a very low birth weight (less than about 3 lb 5 oz) or less than 32 weeks old with 197 individuals who were born at term and at a normal birth weight. All people surveyed were 26 years old at the time of the study, and the study looked at their personality traits, likelihood of risk-taking, and broad autism phenotype.

It was found that people born prematurely or with low birth weight were less socially engaged, more easily worried, and poor communicators. This group also scored lower on risk-taking and agreeableness when compared to the group who was born at a healthy, full-term weight.

Of course, personality is also influenced by the environment one grows up in, childhood life experiences as well as genetics. Researchers acknowledged that premature birth accounted for approximately 11 percent of the study’s personality assessment.

The authors concluded that these findings could help explain the higher rate of social difficulties for adults who fall into the very premature or very low birth weight group.

“If identified early, parents could be provided with techniques to foster their child’s social skills to help compensate for socially withdrawn personality characteristics,” adds lead author Prof. Dieter Wolke of the University of Warwick in a press release.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies

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Are You Getting Conflicting (Confusing!) Baby-Care Advice?

Baby careWhen it comes to caring for a baby, parents receive a great deal of advice from plenty of sources—but how much of the advice is accurate? A new study published online in the journal of Pediatrics further proves you can’t believe everything you hear.

More than 1,000 U.S. mothers of infants aged 2- to 6-months were surveyed about advice they had been given on various parenting topics—vaccines, breastfeeding, pacifiers, and infant sleep (position and location)—as well as who gave it to them (medical professional, the media, and family members).

The study concluded that although moms get the majority of their advice from doctors, this guidance is often contradictory to what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends. Specifically, 10 to 15 percent of advice from doctors about breastfeeding and pacifier-use did not align with the AAP. Advice about sleeping positions (26 percent) and safe sleep locations (29 percent) also differed. Perhaps most disturbingly, 50 percent of new mothers reported receiving no counseling at all from doctors about sleep location or pacifier-use and about 20 percent did not get advice on breastfeeding or sleep position.

Related: Most Doctors Are Delaying Vaccines Because of Parents’ Request, Study Says

“I’m not so sure most parents realize how much recommendations differ from doctor to doctor and nurse to nurse, or that many of us give medical information that is just plain wrong,” stated pediatrician Clay Jones, M.D., who was not involved in the study.

Guidance that was passed along by family members (sorry grandma!) or the media was also frequently inconsistent with AAP recommendations. The bottom line? Stick to reputable sources—lead author Staci Eisenberg, M.D. recommends the AAP and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—when you’re looking for medical information online.

Related: Many Parents Are Still Confused About Antibiotics

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor
Baby Care Basics: Choosing the Right Doctor

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Are Babies in the NICU Getting Too Many Unnecessary Tests and Treatments?

NewbornInfant mortality rates are on the decline, which is excellent news. But when it comes to newborn health, there’s still room for improvement—and new Choosing Wisely recommendations developed by neonatologists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center focus on improving the care of infants treated in neonatal intensive care units by avoiding unnecessary tests and treatments. The guidelines, which were published online in Pediatrics, were developed from a survey of more than 1,000 pediatricians, neonatologists, and pediatric medical and surgical specialists.

Of course, “advanced tests and treatments have been important factors in [the decline in infant mortality rates], but we need to use them more wisely,” senior author of the recommendations, DeWayne Pursley, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., Chair of the Department of Neonatology and Pediatrician-in-Chief at BIDMC, said in a news release.

An expert panel identified five of the most important guidelines, which include:

  • Avoid routine use of anti-reflux medications for treatment of symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or for treatment of apnea and desaturation in preterm infants.
  • Avoid use of antibiotics for longer than 48 hours in absence of bacterial infection.
  • Avoid routine use of pneumograms for pre-discharge assessment of ongoing and/or prolonged apneas of prematurity.
  • Avoid routine daily chest radiographs without an indication for intubated infants.
  • Avoid routine screening term-equivalent or discharge brain MRIs in pre-term infants.

“In general, newborn care providers do a good job communicating with families about the care of their babies, but there is always room to do better,” added author Timmy Ho, M.D., FAAP, a neonatologist at BIDMC. “Our hope is that caregivers and families will use this list as a starting point in discussions about tests and treatments and whether or not they add value to a baby’s care.”

Related: 5 Essential Health Screenings Your Baby Needs

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies
Baby Care Basics: Concerns for Premature Babies

Image: Newborn via Shutterstock

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