Jun 20, Authoritarianism: How does it affect children?

Authoritarian parenting: What happens to the kids? Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas © 2010-2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The authoritarian parenting style is about being strict and stern. It insists on unquestioning obedience, and enforces good behavior through threats, shaming, and other punishments. As defined by psychologists, it's also a style associated with less parental warmth and responsiveness (Baumrind 1991). That doesn't bode well for a child's health outcomes, especially if she's growing up in an otherwise stressful environment. As I note in this article, studies suggest that responsiveness and warmth can protect kids from the effects of toxic stress. But what about other things -- like behavior problems? Social Skills? Emotional well-being? Academic achievement? If authoritarian parents are demanding, doesn't that at least suggest they'd produce kids who are better-behaved and more successful in the classroom? Surprisingly..
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Jun 14, Understanding working memory in children

Working memory in children: What every parent needs to know © 2010 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Working memory, also known as WM, is a bundle of mechanisms that allows us to maintain a train of thought. It's what we use to plan and carry out an action -- the mental workspace where we manipulate information, crunch numbers, and see with our "mind's eye" (Cowan 2010; Miller et al 1960). Can you add together 23 and 69 in your head? Remember a list of grocery store items without writing them down? Recall the seating arrangements of a dinner party after a brief glimpse at the table? These tasks tap WM, and whether or not you succeed depends on your working memory capacity, or WMC. People with larger capacities can juggle more information at once. This helps them process information more quickly, and the benefits are well-documented. People with higher-than-average WMC are more likely to excel in the classroom. For example, when researchers have tracke..
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Keep Kids Safe Online: 5 Tips for Parents

Home / Technology & Kids / Keep Kids Safe Online: 5 Tips for Parents Keep Kids Safe Online: 5 Tips for Parents Posted June 2, 2017 by Maile Timon View Comments As your children grow up, technology will become an increasing part of their world. While every parent hopes their child will never encounter inappropriate content, cyberbullying or online scams, these dangers are out there. Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to promote online safety and help your children have a positive online experience. Here are five things you can do to keep kids safe online. Online Safety Tip #1 Keep Electronics Out of the Bedroom It’s hard to keep kids safe online if s/he can use the Internet behind closed doors. Keep the computer in a communal area so you can monitor your child’s activity. Even if s/he complains, remind him or her that you’re not snooping, but looking out for their safety. Besides computers, don’t allow your children to keep other e..
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Parenting Tip: Manage Children’s Frustrations by Changing the Mood

Has your child ever protested or refused to get ready to go when you tell him it is time to leave a friend’s house? This can be a very annoying – not to mention embarrassing – situation be in. When it happens, parents often don’t know how to respond. The following tip can be useful in these situations: Manage your children’s frustrations by changing their mood while still insisting that they cooperate. The first thing you can do to ease some of the tension is acknowledge your children’s frustration and disappointment. That doesn’t imply giving in, it simply means listening and mirroring back what your children are feeling. Sometimes that’s all children need to hear in order to feel less frustrated and do what they are asked to do. In the above situation, you could say,“I see that you are having such a good time and you don’t want to leave yet.” If that doesn’t do the trick, you can give your children their wishes in fantasy. “I bet you wish you could stay at Davey’s house all nig..
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May 15, Troubleshooting your baby’s sleep problems

Infant sleep problems: An evidence-based guide © 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Struggling with infant sleep problems? Baby sleep is different than adult sleep. A lot of the stuff that drives us crazy is developmentally normal behavior. For example, newborns need to feed frequently (8-12 times every 24 hours), and the transition to longer, consolidated bouts of sleep is gradual.
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Parenting Tip: 3 Ways to Cope with Your Children’s Anger

Have you ever had to deal with an angry child? Chances are, if you are a parent, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Dealing with your kid’s outbursts can be very frustrating. You may get mad at your child for being angry in the first place. It can be a vicious cycle, ending with everyone in the family feeling resentful and even angrier. So what is the best way to handle your children’s anger? Accept and understand that kids will get angry. Feeling disappointed and frustrated is normal for children as they proceed through childhood. Tell your children that it is okay to be mad and that you will help them handle their strong emotions. Teach your children acceptable ways of expressing their anger. Emphasize the importance of not being hurtful with words or behaviors. Teach them to speak respectfully even when angry by using “I” messages to express feelings. For example, instead of name-calling or hitting, they can say, “I am really mad at you!” Help your children to find ways to calm d..
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Special Editorial: Meds, meds, meds…Do we really need them or is it all in our heads?

Okay, so the medication debate is not as black and white as the title may suggest. It sure is worth having, however, as an article that came out this June in APA’s Monitor on Psychology about the inappropriate prescribing of psychotropic medication spells out. Before I go any further, I am completely aware that medication can be a game-changer for some people, allowing them to function in ways that they simply could not before being prescribed an appropriate medication. For many others, more than we may guess, medication may not be as necessary or helpful as we are led to believe. And when it comes to medicating children, I vote for being even more careful with prescribing, especially in light of the fact that many medications have not been thoroughly researched for kids. So here’s the low down on the article: Many psychotropic medication prescriptions do not come from professionals that are well-versed in mental health issues (4 out of 5 come from non-psychiatrists). Primary care p..
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5 Dos and Don’ts of Shared Custody

You may already know the basics of custody etiquette—not dropping your child off late and no bad-mouthing your ex in front of your child. While these are important, there are many other unspoken guidelines you should know about for a smooth and happy shared custody experience. Whether you’re reaching an amicable agreement with your ex, or going to court with lawyers, here are five other dos and don’ts: Come Together For a Plan That Works Two Parents, One Plan™ Get on the same page as your partner and learn how to effectively parent as a team with easy-to-follow parent/child demonstrations. $99.00 $79.00 Buy Now Learn More SHARED CUSTODY DOS AND DON’TS Don’t ever ask a child to choose between parents. Some parents may feel it’s respectful to ask their child who he/she wants to live with, or stay with this weekend. Unfortunately, there’s no right answer a child can give in this situation. The child knows that whichever parent he/she does not choose will be h..
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Parenting Tip: Let Children Experience Natural Consequences

Loving parents who want their children to be successful and to reach their potential often err on the side of being over-protective and overly involved in their children’s struggles. They go to extreme lengths to keep their children from experiencing any kind of failure. If this sounds like something you can relate to, then you may benefit from today’s tip: Give your children the opportunity to face the natural consequences of their mistakes. Assuming they will not be harmed physically or morally, children often learn important lessons from making mistakes. When you run interference by rescuing them and bailing them out, you deny them the opportunity to discover their own limits and talents, to figure out how to do things better the next time, and to solve problems. For example, when you assume responsibility for your children getting their work done and act as a personal assistant, you deny them the opportunity to discover why it is important to meet obligations. When you turn ov..
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Mar 14, Jettisoning the infant feeding schedule

Jettisoning the infant feeding schedule: Why babies are better off feeding on cue © 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The infant feeding schedule reconsidered In the past, Western "baby experts" often instructed parents to feed their babies at regularly-spaced intervals of 3- or 4-hours. But today, official medical recommendations have shifted in favor of letting babies decide. Why the change? There are a number of reasons, but the simple answer is this: When we let babies determine the timing and the length of their own feeds, they are more likely to get what they need: Not too little, and not too much. Interfering in this process -- by imposing an infant feeding schedule -- doesn't help babies develop their own intuitions about food (Tylka et al 2015). And it may lead to problems. For instance, newborns should be fed frequently, and whenever they show signs of hunger -- ideally, before they start to cry. Otherwise, newborns are at higher risk for dehydration ..
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