Archive for the ‘ Parenting News ’ Category

Sensitive Caregiving Can Make Your Child a Successful Adult

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Mother and daughter paintingIt’s no secret that interactions between a parent and child are essential for growth and development, but just how important is a sensitive approach?

According to a new study, parents should strongly focus on sensitive caregiving during the first three years of their child’s life. The study’s findings, which appear in the journal Child Development, correlate sensitive caregiving with an individual’s long-term social and academic success. Researchers define sensitive caregiving as, “the extent to which a parent responds to a child’s signals appropriately and promptly, is positively involved during interactions with the child, and provides a secure base for the child’s exploration of the environment,” reports Science Daily.

For the study 243 mothers in their third trimester were recruited. All the mothers were living below the poverty line and represented various ethnic backgrounds and races. The mothers and their children were observed four times within each child’s first three years and then multiple times until the child reached age 32. During childhood and adolescence, teachers also assessed the children’s social interactions with their peers and administered standardized tests to evaluate academic performance. Once the kids reached their 20s and early 30s, researchers conducted interviews to evaluate their romantic relationships and educational achievements.

Results showed that children who received attentive, sensitive caregiving were consistently more successful, both academically and socially, than those who did not. These children also received higher test scores throughout their adolescence. As adults, they achieved higher levels of education and had greater success rates with intimate relationships. However, there was a more substantial impact on the individuals’ academic accomplishments than how well they functioned socially.

“Altogether, the study suggests that children’s experiences with parents during the first few years of life have a unique role in promoting social and academic functioning–not merely during the first two decades of life, but also during adulthood,” says Lee Raby, co-author of the study. Uninterested or hostile parenting not only have a negative impact on kids immediately, but it continues to affect them through every stage of their lives. Although Raby’s study observed children who were born into poverty, he believes that the results would be the same if  financially secure families were involved, notes The Huffington Post.

For Raby, the next step in the research is to determine if moms with access to parental support programs during the first few years of their kids’ childhood will have a positive impact on their adulthood. But based on the current study, parents should continue to nurture their children, be conscientious to their needs, and acknowledge their achievement with praises.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

Image: Mother and daughter painting via Shutterstock

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Smartphones: The New Reason Why Kids Sleep Less

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Sleeping boy with tabletOnce upon a time, you probably worried that putting a TV in your child’s room might distract him from going to sleep. These days, smartphones — with its portable, easy access — are the new sleep distractions, reports HealthDay.

A new study, which will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics, focused on data about the sleep patterns and smartphone use of more than 2,000 kids in elementary and middle school, specifically the fourth and seventh grades. The results revealed that kids who had smartphones and tablets in the bedroom slept less at night and fell asleep more often during the day.

“We found that both sleeping near a small screen and sleeping in a room with a TV set were related to shorter weekday sleep duration. Children who slept near a small screen, compared to those who did not, were also more likely to feel like they did not get enough sleep,” says Jennifer Falbe, the study’s lead author.

Researchers discovered that kids with electronic devices (but not necessarily TVs) in the bedroom have worse sleep patterns than kids with only TVs in their rooms. Kids with smartphones and tablets went to sleep 37 minutes later than their usual bedtime and slept 21 minutes less per day, versus kids with only TVs in their bedroom went to bed 31 minutes later and slept 18 minutes less per day.

On average, kids should get around 10 hours of sleep at night and a routine, uninterrupted bedtime schedule can ensure good eating habits, healthy brain developments, and positive academic achievements. In an increasingly technical world full of electronic devices, it would be difficult to ban gadgets from the home.

Instead, try following the American Academy of Pediatrics’s media guidelines by having “screen-free” zones at home where no electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, or TVs) are allowed in the bedrooms. And parents should keep establishing rules to curtail the use of electronics to a few hours a day and prevent their presence at the dinner table.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

How to Choose an Electronic Educational Toy
How to Choose an Electronic Educational Toy
How to Choose an Electronic Educational Toy

Image: Sleeping boy holding a tablet via Shutterstock

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Want Smarter Kids? Don’t Feed Them Fast Food!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Hungry boy looking at burgerWe all know fast food (even without trans fat) is bad for you, but a new study now offers a significant link between fast food being detrimental to kids’ education, reports ScienceDaily.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom,” says Kelly Purtell, lead author of the study.

The study, published online in Clinical Pediatrics, tracked 11,740 students starting in fifth grade and then again in eighth grade. Data was collected between 1998-1999 by the National Center for Educational Statistics and sorted by various researchers at Ohio State University.

Kids were asked about their fast food consumption in fifth grade only, and then tested on reading, math, and science in both grades. Researchers discovered that kids who ate fast food either every day or four to six times a week in fifth grade showed significantly lower improvement in all three subjects by the time they were in eighth grade. There was a 20 percent difference between kids who ate a lot of fast food and kids who didn’t.

And kids who ate fast food one to three times a week also tested lower in math, compared to kids who didn’t eat any fast food.

Although more research will have to be conducted, the study shows the importance of encouraging healthy eating habits in kids from an early age. Parents don’t have to ban fast food from kids’ diets, but whenever possible, they should provide foods high in vitamins and nutrients and low in sugar and fat, to help improve kids’ achievements in school.

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Hungry boy looking at burger via Shutterstock

 

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Must-Know 2014 Pregnancy, Parenting, Health, and Safety News

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

child in childcare centerThere’s a lot to keep up on when you’re a parent (or parent-to-be), whether you’re in that exhausted-and-expecting stage, the exhausted-because-you-have-a-newborn stage, or exhausted because you’re chasing around your active kiddos. So in case you missed it, here are some of the most noteworthy and news-worthy pregnancy, parenting, health, and safety stories we covered in 2014:

The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 became law

Good news from Washington (yes, really!): Thanks to the signing of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, young kids in child care will now be safer. As Parents deputy editor Diane Debrovner wrote last month, “The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal grant program that provides child-care assistance to low-income families. The new law affects child-care centers and individuals who care for children with the support of federal funding, but all children in child care are likely to benefit from the new higher standards.”

The government took a stand on circumcision

Few topics are more hot-button that the decision parents of boys must make regarding circumcision. But earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weighed in on the issue in a draft of guidelines, saying that medical evidence showed the procedure can reduce the risk of HIV, STDs, UTIs, and even some types of cancer. The CDC says circumcision should be covered by health insurers, but still doesn’t go so far as to flat-out recommend it to parents.

Too many babies are sleeping with unsafe bedding

A shocking study published in the January 2015 issue of Pediatrics looked at infant bedding use from 1993–2010 and found that more than half of babies fell asleep with potentially hazardous bedding. Another finding: Teen moms were most likely to use soft bedding, altough, as we noted, “the study also found a link between use of bedding and mothers who were younger in general, a minority, or not college educated.”

We’re making car-seat mistakes from the get-go

Is there a parent among us who hasn’t fretted about the car seat being installed correctly? Well, as it turns out, we’re right to be worried. A study presented in October at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 93 percent of parents make at least one major mistake (such as a too-loose harness, a too-low retainer clip, or using the wrong harness slot) before they’ve even driven away from the hospital. And in almost 70 percent of cases, there were mistakes with both the installation of the seat and how baby was positioned in it.

Enterovirus D86, ebola, and flu were—and remain—causes of concern

Three different health threats caught our attention this year: enterovirus D68, which by October had more than 650 confirmed cases, ebola, and influenza. And while, sadly, both enterovirus D68 and ebola caused a loss of life, it’s the flu that causes the most harm, killing an estimated 30,000 Americans each year and causing the hospitalization of roughly 20,000 kids under the age of 5.

The EEOC updated its rules regarding discrimination and pregnancy

Unfortunately, accusations of pregnancy discrimination seemed to abound in 2014, from the Supreme Court’s hearing of Peggy Young’s case to the woman who claims she was fired for needing to take pee breaks. But one bit of good news: for the first time in more than three decades, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new, tougher rules regarding pregnancy discrimination and “related issues” (think breastfeeding and parental leave.) As we reported, one thing the EEOC made clear is that “adjustments may need to be made for pregnant workers—including providing the option of light duty.” Furthermore, employers can’t force a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence when she’s capable of continuing to work.

Yet another study disputed a vaccines-autism link

As we reported last summer, a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics reviewed “a large body of scientific findings and concluded that parents should be reassured about vaccines’ safety.” The study found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

Scientists may have discovered the cause of 40% of pre-term births

In October, we reportde that scientists at Queen Mary University in London “identified the chemical chain of events that they believe causes the preterm premature rupture of the fetal membrane (PPROM)—the condition that accounts for 40 percent of all preterm births.” The findings were published in the journal Placenta. Next up—we hope: a treatment that would actually repair the membrane.

The pre-term birth rate in the U.S. is way down

In Novermber, the March of Dimes released its annual Premature Birth Report Card, which revealed that the pre-term birth rate in the United States fell to 11.4 percent—a 17-year low. Good news, to be sure, but the organization stressed that there’s still work to be done to ensure more babies are born healthy, and at term. To that end the U.S. received a “C” grade on the report because it missed the group’s stated goal of a 9.6 percent preterm birth rate.

The autism rate was lowered to 1 in 68

In March came a shocking new estimate from a CDC report that 1 in 68 kids are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The previous estimate, made two years ago, put the prevalence at 1 in 88. As our Red-Hot Parenting blogger Richard Rende, PhD., wrote, “The estimated prevalence of ASD has gone up tremendously in the last decade, and it is assumed that improved recognition and diagnosis is the primary factor. The implication here is that we have underestimated the true rate of ASD and as such the new data suggest an urgency in mobilizing resources to understand the causes and accelerate the delivery of interventions.”

Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism

Image of child in daycare: Shutterstock

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Too Much Screen Time Can Decrease Kids’ Ability to Read Emotional Cues

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Kids Who Use Technology Less Can Read Emotional Cues BetterThe amount of screen time you allow your kids can be a point of tension in many households. A new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior shows that increased digital use may actually affect pre-teens’ ability to read and interpret people’s nonverbal emotional and social cues.

According to The Los Angeles Times, two groups of children were given two tests, a pre- and a post-experiment test that asked them to decipher the emotions of people shown in photographs and videos. Afterwards, one group continued with their normal plugged-in lifestyle, while the other group spent five days outdoors with peers at a wilderness camp where all electronics (cellphones, televisions, and computers) were banned.

Researchers found that the kids who spent time away from technology scored better on their post-experience test, while those who didn’t scored about the same. This finding underscores the worry that many parents have about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to digital media. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a senior author of the study from UCLA. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

But the good news is that it only took the kids who attended camp a short amount of time improve their emotional recognition ability. And this new piece of research gives the evidence you need to get kids to turn off technology — at least for a few more hours — and interact with friends and family. “The main thing I hope people take away from this is that it is really important for children to have time for face-to-face socializing,” said Yalda Uhls, another author of the study and a Southern California regional director for Common Sense Media,

Would you ever consider asking your family to give up technology? Our Homeschool Den blogger is doing just that this week!

Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology

Plus: If you’re hesitant about how to introduce technology to your little one, we’ll show you how with these media-minding tips.

Photo of children courtesy of Shutterstock.

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