Oct 11, What does the evidence tell us about feeding newborns?

The newborn feeding schedule: The evidence for feeding on cue, and avoiding regimented, strictly-timed meals © 2008-2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved This article focuses on the newborn feeding schedule. For information related to this topic, see my article about breastfeeding on demand, as well my overview of the science in favor of infant-initiated meals. Throughout much of the 20th century, Western medical professionals recommended that newborns be fed on a highly-regulated timetable (Fildes 1986). Today we know better. The scientific evidence strongly suggests that newborns—defined as babies less than one month old—benefit when they are fed frequently and on demand. According to the latest recommendations, that means (1) initiating feedings when babies show signs of hunger, and (2) ending feedings when babies show signs of being satiated (i.e., don't try to force them to finish a bottle). It also means feeding infants approximately 8-12 times every 24 hou..
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Oct 4, Television violence: Do kids (and adults) like it?

Television violence: Do kids (and adults) like it? Studies suggest that both children and adults are happier when they reduce exposure to violent content © 2011 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Media creators serve up lots of television violence, and there's reason for concern. Exposure to media violence may cause sleep problems in young children. It also puts kids at higher risk for developing behavior problems. Defenders argue that the benefits outweigh any costs, because viewers crave violent conflict. It's what makes stories engaging or fun. But is that really true? Fascinating experiments suggest otherwise. Let's take a look at the effects of television violence, and what happens when we reduce exposure -- or remove it from a story altogether. Evidence that media violence undermines sleep, and interferes with the development of prosocial attitudes and behavior It's no surprise to parents coping with bedtime problems: Studies show that childr..
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Parenting Tip: Don’t Ask a Question if “No” is Not an Answer

Think about how many questions you ask your kids in a given day – especially when you are trying to get them to do something. Questions like: “Honey, will you brush your teeth now?” “It’s time to do your homework, okay?” When trying to get their kids to do the things they should be doing, like making their beds or doing other chores, parents often resort to asking for their kids’ cooperation. What would happen if you asked your kids, “Do you want to clean your room now?” Hmmm. Let’s see, yes or no? It would be nice to think that your kids would respond, “Yes, Mom. I’ll do that right away.” But chances are, given the choice, they are much more likely to say “no.” Now you’ve backed yourself into a corner. So today’s tip is: Don’t ask a question if “no” is not an acceptable answer. Often parents phrase their demands and expectations for their children in the form of a question because it feels nicer to ask – rather than to tell – children what to do. And that is true. There is a ti..
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Sep 26, Preschool number activities

Preschool number activities © 2008 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Preschool number activities often involve counting, but merely reciting the number words isn't enough. Children also need to develop "number sense," an intuitive feeling for the actual quantity associated with a given number. That's where these activities can help. Inspired by research, the following games encourage kids to think about several key concepts, including The one-to-one principle of numerosity (two sets are equal if and only if their items can be placed in perfect, one-to-one correspondence) The principle of increasing magnitudes (the later number words refer to greater numerosities) The one-to-one principle of counting (each item is to be counted is counted once and only once) The stable order principle (number words must be recited in the same order) The cardinal principle (the last word counted represents the numerosity of the set) As your child engages in these preschool ..
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Sep 19, Nightmares and night terrors in children: What’s the difference, and how can we help?

Nightmares and night terrors in children: How to identify the problem, and help kids sleep more peacefully An evidence-based guide © 2008 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Night terrors in children--also known as "sleep terrors"--are sometimes confused with nightmares. Both cause distress and disrupt sleep, and though terrors are less common than nightmares, they are hardly unusual--particularly among young children. What's the difference between nightmares and night terrors, and what can be done about these conditions? Here is an evidence-based overview of each problem, with some tips for coping. 1. Nightmares in children Nightmares are frightening dreams associated with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Because most REM sleep happens later at night, nightmares are more likely to occur after your child has been sleeping for several hours. How can you tell if your child has frequent nightmares? That's not always easy to tell, especially if your child is too yo..
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Sep 14, Preschool social skills: Evidence-based tips for helping children succeed

Preschool social skills: Evidence-based tips for helping children succeed © 2006-2017 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved Preschool social skills depend on several abilities: self-control empathy verbal communication Many people assume that children need to spend lots of time with same-aged peers to develop social skills. They don't. Play-dates and preschool attendance can enrich your child's life. But socialization--the process of learning how to get along with others--is not the same thing as socializing. Spending the day with same-aged peers is not necessarily a good way for young children to learn about cooperation, sharing, and emotional self-control. In fact, the opposite might be true. Too much time with peers might make kids behave badly. In studies of American preschoolers, the more time preschoolers spent in center-based care, the more likely they were to develop externalizing behavior problems. We shouldn't assume it's inevitable, because some chi..
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Sep 8, Yes, we can help kids develop the skills they need to thrive socially, and make the world a better place

Teaching empathy: Evidence-based tips for fostering empathy in children © 2009 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Teaching empathy? That might sound strange if you think of empathy as an innate, fixed trait -- a talent that some people are born with, and others lack. But empathy isn't an all or nothing proposition. It isn't something that unfolds automatically, in every situation. It isn't even a single ability or skill. As Jean Decety and Jason Cowell have argued (2014), the word "empathy" has become a "catch-all" term for three distinct processes: Emotional sharing (also called "emotional contagion"), which occurs when we experience feelings of distress as a result of observing distress in another individual Empathic concern, which is the motivation to care for individuals who are vulnerable or distressed, and Perspective-taking, the "ability to consciously put oneself in the mind of another individual and imagine what that person is thinking or fee..
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Parenting Tip: Parent with the big picture in mind

Have you ever wondered how you could turn helping your kids with their homework into something more elevated than just teaching them reading, writing, and math? Without understanding that you can use the opportunity to instill important values in your children, getting your kids to do their homework can feel like pure drudgery. But if you keep in mind that how you approach your children on any issue, even how they do their schoolwork, will ultimately influence what kind of adults they are going to be, you can do a lot more than just get them to finish their work. So, today’s tip is: Parent with the big picture in mind. It is true that as you guide your children in completing homework, you are teaching them specific academic skills related to the assignment. However, while you are doing that, you can also teach them how to approach life with balance, to be organized, to delay gratification, to be responsible, and at the same time, to find enjoyment. With this long-term view, you can..
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Aug 30, Parents: How do you handle video games?

Online parenting studies: Research you can participate in Want to participate in research? These online parenting studies are being conducted by researchers in the behavioral and cognitive sciences. When you click on a link below, you will open a page that provides more information about each study. As a rule, each research project has been approved by a college or university review board. However, you should always read the information carefully to make sure you are comfortable with the terms of the study and agree to participate at your own risk. Parental policies and awareness of video gaming Seeking parents at least 18 years of age Dr. Doug Smith of Southern Oregon University wants to "gain a better understanding of parent’s attitudes toward video games and the degree to which they actively monitor and/or supervise children’s video gaming behaviors." If you are a parent age 18 or older, you can help by participating in this online survey. No personal information will be ..
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Aug 24, ADHD in children: What parents need to know about attention and hyperactivity

ADHD in children: What parents need to know about attention and hyperactivity problems © 2010 - 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The difficulty of identifying ADHD in children Diagnosing ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is intrinsically problematic. The symptoms—distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity—are consistent with the normal behavior of young children. So when a child is diagnosed, the implication is that he is more distractible, impulsive, or hyperactive than he should be for his age. But where do we draw the line between developmentally normal behavior and medical disorder? That's a crucial question because diagnosis rates among very young children are on the rise, and many of these kids are being medicated. According to historical health data collected in the United States, the percentage of 2-to-5-year-olds diagnosed with ADHD increased by 50% between 2008 and 2012 (Danielson et al 2017). And a study by the U.S. Center for..
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