Archive for the ‘ Red-Hot Parenting ’ Category

Parenting Principle #3: Read, Read, Read

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on the power of reading.

You know that reading to your child is important for the development of language and cognitive abilities. But there’s a lot more that happens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed reading to babies, not just toddlers and children. Why is this is great idea?

Reading to babies is really talking to babies – and talking to babies is one of the most important things a parent can do. Talking yields much more than cognitive benefits. It’s a primary way to ensure social bonding. Reading offers the platform to express emotions which pique babies’ interest. And the act of moving your lips and conveying meaning in your eyes provides an endless stream of visual information that is fascinating to babies. So … in the first years of life reading is like dedicated talking and delivers a very rich payoff. And it’s also a way to make sure parent and baby are not preoccupied with screen time (we all get plenty of that now and reducing it here and there is a good thing).

In the toddler years, reading takes on an additional layer of importance in terms of providing a foundation for literacy. Again, the profit comes from not just reading but engaging your toddler. Interacting with them – by, for example, asking them to point to a picture, expand on an idea, answer a question, and even acting out the story – enriches the broader sense of communication skills and in fact promotes pre-reading skills.

As kids get older, and they are reading on their own, setting aside time for parents and kids to read in parallel sends the message that reading is important to you – and ensures that kids are reading. Don’t be afraid to let kids read books that interest them even if they don’t seem like they are books they “should” read. Reading is reading. Any reading is good. And parents and kids do well to read, read, read.

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Parenting Principle #2: Talk, Talk, Talk

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on the importance of talking to babies and children.

Maybe this sounds silly to you. But the fact is that parents differ tremendously in how much they talk to their kids.

Lots of studies have tracked how much parents talk to their babies and toddlers. Projects have literally recorded parental talk and counted up how many words were spoken – especially those directed to the babies and toddlers. The results can be summarized simply. The more the parents talk to their babies and toddlers, the more advanced the language skills. Not just short term, but over time as well. Babies and toddlers absorb language. But they need to hear a lot of it – and the reality is that not all of them hear as much as they should.

Parental talk doesn’t just improve language development. It’s the tool parents use to help kids direct their behavior. Finding the right words to explain rules and limits in a consistent manner makes for the most effective parenting at any age. Think about it this way. Imagine you are observing parents and toddlers in a parking lot. One parent is trying to make the toddler stay with them by grabbing their arm and giving them a spanking. Another parent is holding a child’s hand and explaining that he or she can’t run off by themselves because it’s not safe (keep in mind that the parent is holding the hold to be sure the child doesn’t run off). Which do you think is more effective, both in the short term and as a long-term parenting strategy. The power of explanation, combined with consistency and follow through, are characteristics that define an “authoritative” parenting style – the style that has been shown across decades of research to be most productive in terms of fostering positive development.

One other big thing happens when you talk to your child a lot. They tend to talk to you too. Which means that they will be comfortable confiding in you across the ages. That’s a huge benefit that will come in very handy.

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Parenting Principle #1: Be Positive

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What are the key parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted, children? Here the focus is on the power of being positive.

Parenting is hard. It is demanding. It can be exhausting and frustrating. But …

The reality is that parents make a choice on how they think about themselves as parents, and how they act as parents. And focusing on the positive is a fundamental key to making parenting easier and more effective.

How do you do this? First, remind yourself of the importance of being a parent. Yes, you have all kinds of competing things that weigh on your mind and drain your time. But what matters to you most? Simply reminding yourself everyday – however you want to do this (listen to a song, look at a picture, recall a memory, think back to when you didn’t have a child and how you knew you wanted one, say a prayer) – of the simple fact that having a child is an extraordinary gift is an effective way to recalibrate emotionally.

Next, put this into practice. When a baby is crying, remind yourself that you are doing something magical by trying to soothe them (even if it’s not working). Replace anger with compassion (your child is dependent on you). Look for the little wonders (simply a smile) even in the stream of the craziness. And, most importantly, discover for yourself that the more positive you are, the more positive your child acts.

Try to eliminate the criticism. Babies and kids are, by definition, always learning. Criticism assumes they should know what to do and how to do it all the time. Teach them. Nurture them. Share their joy when they hear what you are saying and find that it works.

Finally, soak up the joy that babies and kids find in the world. They aren’t concerned with all the things that concern adults. They don’t care if you are late – they just want to look at the dog across the street. They don’t care what they are wearing – they just want to jump in the puddle because it’s fun. They find the world, and you, fascinating. Try to live in their world. It’s a good world to live in.

This isn’t about indulgence. Pick your spots. Set real rules and find ways of enforcing them consistently, without yelling and screaming. If it’s not the right time to jump in the puddle, explain that, and find something else interesting to redirect their attention. They can be persuaded easily.

A positive parent is an inviting guide to the world. Positivity makes for happier parents and kids and makes life easier. The more you try it, the more you will reap the rewards.

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Why Crawling Matters … A Lot

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Parents get very excited when a baby takes those first steps. As they should. It’s quite the milestone. But all the fuss about walking can diminish the very real benefits that come from babies moving themselves around their world before they can walk.

There are, in fact, many developmental benefits of crawling, including the obvious all-around opportunities for motor development. Developmentalists detail all kinds of advantages including optimizing sensory processing and integration. Relatedly, there are cognitive benefits that should not be overlooked. When babies are crawling, it gives them a chance to explore their environment and platforms them to manipulate objects. This kind of controlled and active discovery is the stuff of brain development. In the laboratory setting, babies who have more experience crawling are more apt to explore and extract information from objects – and are more advanced at later ages in terms of cognitive development. Babies need that time to take in and integrate their sensory information, and use all their senses (touching is especially important) to formulate the abstract principles that fuel cognitive development. For example, babies who have experience manipulating three-dimensional objects will be more likely to “know” that three dimensions exist when tested in the laboratory setting – their eye movements will continuing scanning images for “hidden” dimensionality in objects that other babies will miss.

All of this may sound rather “academic,” but the intention here is deliberate. It’s very easy to be thrilled seeing a baby walk. It’s not so obvious that a crawling baby is doing all kinds of highly sophisticated cognitive processing (which is more detectable in the laboratory than every day life). What’s the point of all this? Simply put – don’t be in a rush to get your baby to walk. Don’t go out of your way to promote walking when they should be crawling. Babies walk when they are ready to walk. Some do it earlier, some do it later. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is going out of your way to let your baby crawl, and to be able to find safe and interesting objects to explore. There’s a reason babies crawl before they can walk.

Keep track of Baby’s milestones in one place. 

Baby Crawling via

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Young Baseball Pitchers: Throwing Too Hard, Too Much, Too Young

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Are young baseball pitchers jeopardizing their long term health, and success, by pushing too hard, too young? Accumulating data and perspectives indicate this is the case.

Tom Verducci has written a thought provoking piece in Sports Illustrated detailing the increasing frequency of young professional pitchers blowing out their arms. While arm problems have always been a part of the game, what’s troubling is the frequency of injuries, like those requiring Tommy John surgery, at younger and younger ages. How young? We’re not just talking about major league pitchers in the early stages of their career. Verducci documents an increasing number of players selected in the Major League Baseball draft who have already needed Tommy John surgery, before they’ve even begun playing professionally. As Verducci notes, Tommy John surgery was developed to correct injuries that typically happened later in one’s career. Now it’s not uncommon before a career even starts.

What’s the root of this troubling frequency of young, strong arms breaking down? Verducci offers two correlated causes – velocity and volume. Young pitchers today are throwing harder than ever, more frequently than ever. They play year round, go to showcases, and always pitch at maximum velocity. As throwing a baseball is an unnatural motion, and throwing heat that exceeds 95 miles per hour puts enormous stress on the arm, going all out all the time is just not recommended for young bodies that are still maturing.

If you have a kid who is a pitcher, it’s well worth your time to read Verducci’s work, and to buck the trend of pushing young arms too hard. There’s no utility to putting any kid on the fast track when it’s likely to lead to injury – especially when a bit of moderation, reasonable rest and down periods, and learning how to pitch by conserving arm strength (rather than just throwing as hard as possible all the time) are all factors that in fact set a foundation for achievement.

Baseball Pitcher via


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