Monday, September 27, 2010

Regular time with dad is key to kids' happiness


Regular time with dad is key to kids' happiness

BY ROSEMARY BLACKDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Friday, June 18th 2010

The key to childhood happiness might be more face time with Dad. Kids who chat regularly with their father are happier than kids who don’t, according to new research.

Children who converse with their father “most days” rated themselves 87 out of 100 on a happiness scale, while those who rarely talk to their dads scored a 79. The study results, released by the Children’s Society in Great Britain just in time for Father’s Day, called the findings “highly significant” because research has demonstrated that a person’s well-being later in life has a lot to do with their relationship with both parents during the teen years.
Of the 1,200 children in the study, who were 11 to 15, nearly 50% said they “hardly ever” talk to their dads about important subjects, as compared with just 28% who report rarely discussing important subjects with their moms.
Dads may not have as many meaningful conversations with their kids, but they tend to roughhouse with them more than moms do, and research indicates that's important for kids’ development, too.
“There are now studies showing that this so-called rough and tumble play supports healthy exploration later on in life,” Harvard Medical School associate clinical professor William Pollack told Msnbc.com. “People used to worry that it might increase aggression in boys, but there’s plenty of data out there to show that it can lead them to be more empathetic.”
Studies also show that dads often empower their children and encourage them to explore and meet new people, according to Msnbc.com. And dads tend to be more in charge of playtime than the mother, too.
“Mothers help children feel connected, anticipated and wanted,” said Patrick Tolan, professor at the Curry School at the University of Virginia, according to Msnbc.com. “Fathers teach them how to interact with others and how to control themselves when they feel their needs aren’t being met.”
One study from the Universite de Montreal School of Psychoeducation observed parents interacting with their toddlers while the children were put into “risky” situations. For one experiment, a stranger approached the kids and in another, the kids saw toys placed at the top of a flight of stairs. While the moms stayed closer, dads followed their kids at a greater distance, which researchers said encouraged kids to explore.
“We found that fathers are more inclined than mothers to activate exploratory behavior by being less protective,” lead study author Daniel Paquette told Msnbc.com. And as any independent-minded child knows, the chance to explore without a helicopter mom on board leads to even more happiness.






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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cyberbullying Linked to Teen Health Problems




 Cyberbullying Linked to Teen Health Problems

Katie Drummond Contributor AOLNews.com



(July 5) -- Teasing and bullying are no longer confined to the schoolyard: Digital abuse -- whether via cell phone, social networking sites or e-mail -- has become increasingly common among kids and teens.

In the wake of troubling incidences of cyberbullying-related suicides, a new study has concluded that the psychological and physical impact of the aggressive activities are remarkably common among both victims and perpetrators.

A research team out of Finland's Turku University, whose work appears in this month's issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, surveyed 2,215 teens ages 13 to 16. The teens were asked about their health, substance use, bullying experiences and psychosomatic symptoms.

Teens who'd been victims of cyberbullying suffered from emotional distress, concentration problems, headaches and abdominal pain, and had difficulty sleeping. Cyberbullies indicated several of the same symptoms, as well as behavioral problems, hyperactivity and frequent substance abuse.

The study's results indicate that swaths of U.S teens could be affected: A 2007 report from the Journal of Adolescent Health estimated that 34 percent of teens had been the victims of cyberbullying, and 20 percent had perpetrated the digital deeds.

And cyberbullying is particularly worrisome because of just how pervasive it can be.

Because it occurs anywhere, cyberbullying effectively eliminates the safe haven of home. Perpetrators are often meaner, because the acts can be relatively anonymous, and the bullying can reach hundreds of teens with the click of a single button, warns the National Crime Prevention Council.


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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Toddler TV linked to low math scores

Toddler TV linked to low math scores
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 4, 2010 | 10:36 AM ET
The Canadian Press

Too much time in front of the tube as a two-year-old can predict some negative consequences at the age of 10, a new study suggests.
Researchers studied more than 1,300 children in Quebec and found that higher TV exposure as toddlers corresponded to less achievement in math, an increase in being victimized by classmates and less physical activity at age 10.
The children also had a higher likelihood of consuming more junk food and soft drinks and of having a higher body mass index, according to the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Parents reported their kids' viewing habits at age 29 months and at 53 months as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Teachers were asked to evaluate the students' academic, psychosocial and health habits, and body mass index was measured at 10 years old.
Researcher Linda Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the University of Montreal, says the bottom line is that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV from birth to age two, and no more than two hours a day after that.
If parents aren't following these guidelines, then their kids are missing out on other opportunities, she said.
"There's only 24 hours in the day, and the early childhood period is a period of brain expansion," said Pagani, who also works at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre.
"But that brain expansion occurs in the context of a lot of interaction with one's environment — playing, talking, interacting, making intellectual effort — because your brain is like a muscle, and if you don't use it, it's less fit for more muscular activity later on."
Development effects
But Deborah Linebarger, director of the Children's Media Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, said that lumping all television together is not the best way to fully understand later developmental effects.
"By lumping it all together, any positive gains associated with educational content are typically masked," she said in an email from Denver, where's she attending a conference.
"Early TV use becomes demonized and parents who let their infants and toddlers watch this content are (potentially seen as) 'bad' parents."
She said her research indicates that watching educational content when in preschool predicts higher grades in high school, better academic self-concepts and more leisure book reading.
But she said watching child-directed but age-inappropriate content predicts poorer language and less or no learning.
Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute, said the new study by Pagani is further evidence of the real potential harm associated with TV viewing.
But he, too, said there's a problem in viewing it monolithically.
"We know that for kids a lot depends not just on how much they're watching, but what they're watching," he said from Vancouver.
'Wrong kinds of shows'
"And for some kids, particularly given that they're watching the wrong kinds of shows, the effects are actually probably much worse than what they found. But for other kids, who might be watching the appropriate types of shows, the effects are probably much less bad, and maybe even good."
Christakis was not surprised by association between greater TV viewing as a youngster and higher consumption of junk food and soft drinks at an older age.
"We know from a great number of studies that children are incredibly influenced by the advertising they see. In fact, preschool children are more influenced by ads than are older children," he said.
The new study did not distinguish between direct viewing and television in the background.
Shorter playtime
Linebarger said that experiments show that when a television is on in the background, infants' and toddlers' play episodes are shorter and less cognitively complex.
And Christakis said a study a few months ago audiotaped kids under age four who wore a vest with a digital microphone recording everything they could hear, and what they said.
If they heard a television, they spoke less and were spoken to less, he said, and that included when a television was on in the background.
Pagani said she recommends that parents follow the pediatrics academy guidelines.
"A lot of parents are completely unaware of those guidelines. They assume that television is harmless. They treat it like a coffee table."




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Friday, September 3, 2010

Before Your Teen's First Date



Do you have young children?  It's not too early to start preparing them to interact with the opposite sex.  This is an excellent article to help you get started.  Let me know if it is helpful.
Al Menconi, editor


Before Your Teen's First Date
Taking Some of the Stress out of Dating

By Christina Crawley published 5/4/10 in YM Today.com
Prep early.
Ideally, the process of preparing your teen to date should start when he or she is young. Healthy dating is, in part, about learning how to relate well to others (and it's never too early to teach that). Kids learn from watching others and will build their worldviews based on what they see around them. If you want your teen to live out functional relationships, do what you can to create a healthy and Christ-centered living experience for them. Get involved in a small group at church. Invite other families over for dinner or a movie and popcorn. Expose your kids to others who live Christ-centered lives.
Fill in the gaps.
Teens need to see healthy male-female relationships modeled at home. Statistically, abusive relationships are increasing among even young adolescents, so it's important to find ways to teach your teens about respectful opposite-sex relationships. Talk openly about what's OK and what's not OK in relationships.
Talk openly.
God told the Israelites to talk about His commands with their children at home and as they went about their daily lives.

Help your teens decide before the first date where the limits are and how to stick to them. Talk about sex. Talk about expectations. Talk about treating others - and being treated with respect. Talk about how to get out of situations that aren't healthy. 

Dialogue with other families. You're not the only one going through teen-dating dilemmas, so find out how other Christian parents are dealing with them.
Think through it.
Have a plan, including rules and guidelines. This isn't the time to be your kid's friend. Your job as a parent is to be responsible and set God-honoring boundaries for your child. Think through important questions. What age will your son or daughter be allowed to date? (Dating too young can lead to getting physical, and younger teens don't necessarily have the skills to navigate the difficulties of relationships.) Who will your teen be allowed to date? How will you respond when your freshman wants to date a senior? When are group dates allowed, and when are one-on-one dates allowed? Agree as a family with mother and father on the same page with dating expectations. No crash course can prepare you for all you'll face parenting teens, but open dialogue will help ensure that when dilemmas come up, you and your teen can work through them together.

For books and resources to help you connect and communicate values to your kids check out our website at:

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