2012 08 20 smart families things every parent should know
Comprised by Dr. Krystal White,THINGS EVERY PARENT HEALTHY FAMILY pediatric psychologist, Landstuhl SHOULD KNOW BECOMING “SMART” HABITS Regional Medical CenterPLAYING makes kids SMART! Genetics plays a large role in creating for your child’sInteract with your kid, play with learning potential. What parents do raising a child can helphim (her), and make him feel maximize potential. This is a GUIDELINE for Helping yourloved – Scientists observed that Family LOVE learning and ACHIEVE their goalsbabies who were not cuddled,played with and loved havestunted brain growth. They also Your baby’s brain is being shaped as she is growing up –observed that babies who were starting from her first days of life. Her brain consists of anot held and did not receive hundred billion brain cells called neurons. These neuronsattention failed to grow, became interconnect with one another, like roads and bridges.depressed, and eventuallydied. On the other hand, many The formation of these connections are triggered when yourstudies have shown that loving, baby is exposed to an environment that is rich with colors,hugging, interacting and playing sounds, smells, movement, as well as your touch. The simple actwith your child all have has a of talking to your baby, rocking her to sleep, wiggling herstrong effect on developing his fingers, and wrapping her in fresh-smelling clothes actuallyintelligence. The loving builds your baby’s brain. Introducing your baby to a richconnection formed between you environment that builds her brain is called infant stimulation.and your kid and your one-on-one interaction with him STIMULATION can continue throughout life. Parents can helpprovide the foundation for his their child be STIMULATED by interacting with them, byhigher thinking skills. exposing them to activities where they inherently learn and practice new skills (e.g. trips, social groups, exercise), and byPlay with your child---meaning helping them learn from mistakes and bad decisions.both of you are HAVING FUN!Together---without SCREENS, at A main goal of parenting is not just to be “smart” and get goodleast 5 days a week for 20 grades, but raise a child who is SEEKING growth and LEARNINGminutes at a time. THIS BUILDS from his or her decisions.your child’s BRAIN power!For 0-6 months: Dance withyour baby; Baby Massage; Your model MATTERS!Give your 3 to 6 month oldbaby objects to explore bytouch: safe household objectssuch as nonfuzzy clothes, School age children spend 70% of their waking hours (includingplastic cups, keys weekends and holidays) outside of school.6 months -1 year let your babybang away with objects that The most consistent predictors of children’s academicmake a banging noise: pots achievement and social adjustment BESIDES PARENTand pans, blocks; play with ACHIEVEMENT are parent expectations of the child’s academicpop-up toys attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education atToddlers, Memory Games; school.Blowing Bubbles, Make LeggoCreations Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards forSchool Age; Board Games, one their children’s educational activities than parents of low-on one time with a parent, achieving students.walks, hikes or bike rides.
We DO imitate GOOD behavior. For kids to love learning, they need to see their parents learning,liking to read, enjoying hobbies, going to school, or valuing PERSISTENCE through challenging goals(e.g. losing weight, training for a marathon, volunteering, giving blood). Children do better in schoolwhen they know that their parents care what they are learning and doing. What parents can do to maximize learning:Families whose children are doing well in school exhibit the following characteristics:Establish a daily family routine. Examples: Providing a SPECIFIC time and SUPERVISED place tostudy (e.g. kitchen table), assigning responsibility for household chores, being firm about bedtimeand having dinner together.Encourage your kid to exercise - Physical exercise does not only make your kid strong, but it alsomakes your kid smart! Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain and builds new brain cells.Exercise is good for adults mental sharpness, but it has a more long-lasting effect on your kid’s stilldeveloping brain.Limit your kid’s TV viewing – Your child should not be watching TV before age 2, and only 30minutes until he or she starts school, and one hour after that. TV viewing is related to a number ofnegative behaviors (inattention, sleep disruption, aggression and obesity). MOST IMPORTANTLY:Letting your kid watch too much TV takes him away from doing activities that are more importantto his developing brain, like playing, being creative, socializing and reading books. Limit use of newtechnology. When your child devotes too much time in addictive video games, social networking,and watching TV or video, he is not engaged in learning or exercising his brains through complexthinking.Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members. For example, writingpostcards to family members, having a family reunion on a yearly basis, sending care packages.Having a family “reading hour” once a week where the goal is to have the whole house announcewhat each member is reading, and then talking about it over dinner that night. Members can readfiction, magazines, articles, how to manuals, etc.Clearly make GOALS for your child. Work on one goal at a time. For example: 1) to toilet train, 2) tolearn to ride a bike 3) to perform at a music recital 4) raise money for a charity 5) walk 5volksmarches or run a mile or 5K. It is less about WHAT you make as a goal, but HOW. Make a signthat says what your goal is, and when you hope to make it. Note and celebrate progress.Encourage childrens development/ progress in school. Examples: Showing interest in childrensprogress at school, showing interest in school activities, discussing the value of a good education
and possible career options, staying in touch with teachers and school staff. Decades of researchshow that when parents are involved in their child’s education, they have grades, test scores, andgraduation rates 1. Better school attendance 2. Increased motivation, better self-esteem 3. Lower rates of suspension 4. Decreased use of drugs and alcohol 5. Fewer instances of violent behavior Great Ways to Help your Kids learn how to Problem SolveIf you are always giving your kids answers, they will never learn how to problem solve forthemselves. The best way to develop critical thinkers (SMART KIDS!) is to ASK QUESTIONS.Some Ideas are:When your child is doing something that he’s been told not to do repeatedly, ask “why would I NOTwant you to burp at the dinner table?” See if he truly understands why.Play the Good Time/Not a Good time game. Ask her “if you want to go outside and play but it isdark, it is a good time or not a good time?” “If you are driving is it a good time or not a good time toread a book?” “If mom is on the phone or helping your brother with homework, is it a good time ornot a good time to ask for a snack?” Then, when she interrupts you on the phone, or wants to open agift right away, ask “good time? Or bad time?”Also…the question “what can you do while you wait?” this generates kids to come up with theirOWN SOLUTIONS, and entertain themselves, and be more happy that they can’t have what theywant, when they want it. When kids simply can’t find something to do, it’s usually because:1. Theyre so used to screen entertainment that they aren’t practiced at looking inside themselves for direction.2. Their time is always so structured that they aren’t used to finding fun things to do with their “free time.”3. They need some parental attention. All kids need to check in with their parents for refueling during the course of the day.EMOTIONAL PROBLEM SOLVING: Talk about your own life and feelings and experiences andthoughts. “Mom is so mad when there is traffic and we are late!” Once you start labeling yourfeelings, follow up on “what are some ways I can make myself feel better?” One great question is toask “how do you think she/he/I feels?” Point to a picture in a book, or if a child has made a mistake(e.g. hit another child) and ask “how does this make her feel?” Another good question, for example
when a child does not meet a CLEAR expectation, is to say “if Dad didn’t getup in time to be at work when he needed, what would his boss say?” “What Moms andhappens to me if you don’t do your chore?” These questions get the kid to Dads are theconsider the impact of his behaviors and decisions on others. best teachers of their children! Ideas about how to have a smart toddlerBirth to 2 Years READ TO YOUR TODDLER NIGHTLY!Talk to your baby! Sound Learning to read begins in early infancy. So start early! WHY? Everythingout sounds “ma,” “da,” and takes practice. When you read to your one year old, sure, he might not“ba.” And make eye "understand" or sit still. But you are exposing him to looking at the book,contact, and change your seeing pictures, paying attention, and learning words...all skills that TAKEpitch and tone. PRACTICE. Reading picture books is important at this age because your child will begin to make connections between what shes looking at and your words. Kids with parents whom read to them tend to behave better inTalk as you bathe, feed, school and have an easier time communicating than those that don’t. Theseand dress your baby. Talk are skills that teachers like as well!about what you are doing,where you are going, what HOW TO READ TO YOUR Baby/Toddler:you will do when youarrive, and who and what Pick Picture Books, and MAKE THEM BIG! Your baby will want to hold it,you will see. turn the pages and the pictures are easier for baby to see.Teach Point out the pictures. While you read to your baby, point to the picture,your baby to imitate your even if its the only thing on the page.actions, including clappingyou hands, throwing Read with ENERGY. The more animated you are as you read, the more youkisses, and playing finger will entice and engage your baby.games such as pat-a-cake,peek-a-boo, and the itsy- The best time to read to your toddler is before bed, when he is tired and morebitsy-spider. conducive to looking at the picturesIdentify colors. READ every night. The more you do it, the easier it will become on baby andCount items. you and the less resistance you will find. POINT FROM THE EXPERTS: You can tell your baby stories instead of relying on a book as a form of entertainment. However, the act of reading — looking at and making sense of words and pictures — is a specific skill that requires practice. Going to the library and bookstores, and letting your child see you read, will encourage him to explore reading as he gets older.
In contrast to children who Use gestures such as waving goodbye to help convey meaning.are praised for being smart, Introduce animal sounds to associate a sound with a specificchildren who are encouraged meaning: “The doggie says woof-woof.”for their effort come to Read to your child. Sometimes “reading” is simply describing thebelieve that intelligence is amalleable quality that can be pictures in a book without following the written words. Chooseimproved through hard work. books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures that are notThese children feel that their too detailed. Ask your child, “What’s this?” and encourage namingsuccess is in their control and and pointing to familiar objects in the book.therefore they are not 2 to 4 Yearsthwarted by failure. They Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to model.interpret failure merely as asignal to try harder or do Repeat what your child says indicating that you understand. Buildthings differently. In fact, and expand on what was said. “Want juice? I have juice. I havechildren who are encouraged apple juice. Do you want apple juice?”for their effort often are game Use baby talk only if needed to convey the message and whento take on demanding tasks accompanied by the adult word. “It is time for din-din. We willand work to develop new have dinner now.”strategies. In short, thesechildren tend to go at GROUP things. (by colors, shapes, toys, fruits).challenges eagerly, persevere Play matching gameswhen the going gets tough, Ask questions that require a choice. “Do you want an apple or anand show resilience after orange?” “Do you want to wear your red or blue shirt?”failure. Expand vocabulary. Name body parts, and identify what you do with them. “This is my nose. I can smell flowers, brownies,So when you tell your popcorn, and soap.”children they’re smart, you’renot doing them any favors. A Place familiar objects in a container. Have your child remove thelittle “you’re such a smarty” object and tell you what it is called and how to use it. “This is myhere and there likely won’t do ball. I bounce it. I play with it.”any lasting damage, but the Use photographs of familiar people and places, and retell whatkey is to praise children for happened or make up a new story.their effort, their hard work, 4 to 6 Yearstheir persistence, and theirstrategies. Next time your son Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you speak.comes home with an A, Pause after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continueinstead of telling him how the conversation.smart he is, praise him for Talk about spatial relationships (first, middle, and last; right andtrying hard, ask him how he left) and opposites (up and down; on and off).studied, or tell him he should Play Reasoning Games: Offer a description or clues, and have yourtake a tougher class nextsemester. If he comes home child identify what you are describing: “We use it to sweep thewith a lower grade than floor” (a broom). “It is cold, sweet, and good for dessert. I likeexpected, be honest. Don’t tell strawberry” (ice cream).him that he deserved a better Help your child follow two- and three-step directions: “Go to yourgrade because he is smart. room, and bring me your book.”Instead, encourage him to Encourage your child to give directions. Follow his or herthink through ways that hecould improve. directions as he or she explains how to build a tower of blocks. Play PRETEND games with your child such as “house.” ExchangeFROM Gabrielle Principe, Ph.D., roles in the family, with you pretending to be the child. Talk aboutauthor of Your Brain on the different rooms and furnishings in the house.Childhood: The Unexpected Side A DVD can serve as a valuable tool. PAUASE it and talk about whatEffects of Classrooms, Ballparks,Family Rooms, and the Minivan the child is watching. Have him or her guess what might happen(Prometheus, 2011). next. Talk about the characters. Are they happy or sad? Ask your
child to tell you what has happened in the story. Act out a scene together, and make up a differentending.Take advantage of daily activities. For example, while in the kitchen, encourage your child to namethe utensils needed. Discuss the foods on the menu, their color, texture, and taste. Where does thefood come from? Which foods do you like? Which do you dislike? Who will clean up? Emphasize theuse of prepositions by asking him or her to put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under thespoon. Identify who the napkin belongs to: “It is my napkin.” “It is Daddy’s.” “It is John’s.” How to have a Smart School Age kidDon’t Correct Homework! That can say “you’re effort isn’t good enough!” When we allow kids tomake mistakes, we show them we are CONFIDENT in their ability to learn. If you are alwaysCORRECTING, your child is most likely going to learn that learning ISN’T fun. Be aware of thepressure to attempt to perfect your child’s work as a way to compete with other parents. Yourchild’s science project may look like 8 year olds work, when another looks like an engineer’s work.But it will be your child’s trophy of EFFORT.Let them have free time to play with other kids! School age kids thrive when other children theirage and gender live nearby. Informal, unstructured social time is important to help your child learncrucial problem solving skills.Allow them to be bored. Parents often respond to kids’ boredom by providing structured activitiesor technological entertainment. Unstructured time challenges kids to engage with themselves andthe world, to imagine and invent and create. Part of the job of a school age child is to learn whattypes of things she likes, and how to manage their time. If they always have something “to do” thislearning won’t occur. It is easy to become addicted to screens. Thats because electronics (Ipads,phones, computers, game boys) are designed to produce little "dopamine" rewards in our brains aswe interact with them. But kids can, and WILL find other things that make them feel good oncegood limits (only 30 minutes of screens a day!) are implemented AND enforced.Embrace the motto “we try new things”. Whether it is a new meal, a new sport, a new holidaydestination, or a new way of cleaning the house, let your children know that you want to try newthings and discover things you previously did not know much about. This allows children toPRACTICE FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE and tolerating accommodation.Advocate for RECCESS! Research shows that East Asian elementary-schoolers, who outperformAmerican children on standardized tests, are given more recess breaks than American children.Experimental work shows that children’s attention to tasks is better, not worse, following recess.They fidget less and focus more after free play. Playful, non-structured breaks are especiallyimportant in maximizing children’s performance. It is the unstructured nature of playful breaks thatserves to reduce the cognitive interference built up from earlier sustained periods of structuredclassroom work. This is especially the case for younger children whose developing nervous systemsmakes classroom tasks cognitively taxing. Their findings are compatible with what is known aboutbrain functioning: that attention requires periodic novelty, that the brain needs downtime torecycle chemicals crucial for long-term memory formation, and that attention involves 90- to 110-minute cyclical patterns throughout the day (Jensen, 1998). Unstructured physical play reduces
stress. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends unstructuredphysical play as a developmentally appropriate means of reducing stress in children’s lives – andstudies show that stress has a negative impact on learning as well as on health. Outdoors, childrencan engage in behaviors (loud, messy, and boisterous) considered unacceptable and annoyingindoors. And because recess is a break from structure and expectations, children have anopportunity to take control of their world, which is a rarity in their lives How to have a smart teenagerDont take it personally when teens discount your experience or advice. Enlist the help of a slightlyolder sibling, one of your friends, or an aunt to uncle or coach to give good advice to the teen ifneeded.Get teens involved in discussing their behavioral rules and consequences. Teens should take a moreactive role in determining how they should behave. Their advanced reasoning skills make it easierfor them to generate realistic consequences for their actions. Listen to their ideas!Provide opportunities for teens to participate in controlled risky behavior. Get teens involved inproperly supervised extreme sports, such as parachuting, or rock climbing. Such activities will allowteens opportunities to play out their "it cant happen to me" mentality in an environment that wontbe too risky if they fail.Provide opportunities for teens to get involved in community service. Teens want to become activein things that have deeper meaning. Suggest they volunteer at a homeless shelter, walk dogs for theanimal shelter, or take meals to the elderly. Talk with them about their experiences.Talk to teens about their views and be open to discussing your own. Find out what they think aboutnews stories on television or in the paper; ask them about their political and spiritual beliefs. Teensare already thinking about these things so give them a non-threatening forum for discussing them.Encourage involvement in multiple groups or activities both within school and after-school. Realizethat teens are trying to gain a sense of achievement-a sense of being uniquely good at something.Dont get frustrated if they frequently change their minds. At the same time, encourage them tostick with a project or activity long enough to establish some skills---at least 10 weeks.Praise teens for their efforts as well as their abilities. This will help teens to stick with activitiesinstead of giving up if they are not immediately successful.Help teens explore career goals and options. Take teens to work so they can see what adults do. Setup opportunities for them to "job shadow" others. Ask them questions about their future careergoals. Remember that figuring out what they dont want to do is just as important as figuring outwhat they like!Establish rituals to mark significant passages. Few rituals in our modern society mark the passageof teens to adulthood. Have a mother-daughter luncheon when the daughter gets her first period.Have a father-son outing when the son begins to shave. Have a family celebration when the teenmoves from junior high to high school. Celebrate the teens first drivers license and his or herability to vote.
Be aware of who your teens friends are and what they are doing. Such parental monitoring shouldnot end when youth enter their teen years. Despite teens objections, make sure you know whotheir friends are and where they are going. Meet the parents of teens friends. Provide fun things todo at home to encourage teens to "hang out" at your house so youll know where they are and whatthey are doing.Continue to provide a structured environment. Teens should be allowed to have moreindependence, but not enough to place them in jeopardy. Despite their complaints, teens rely onadults to provide them with the sense of safety and structure they need to deal effectively with allthe psychosocial tasks of adolescents. A smart kid WITH you… may NOT be so smart with FriendsOur brains respond differently when we are with others. 1) The brain likes to “win” more when we are in social settings. The part associated with rewards—the medial prefrontal cortex—goes off when we win with peers more than if we win alone 2) We take more risks when we are in a group. And, this is important for parents or teachers of teenagers…our brain is MORE influenced by others in youth. In studies at Temple University, psychologists used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 40 teenagers and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when adolescents are alone versus with their friends .They all played six-minute video driving game while in a brain scanner. Participants were givencash prizes for completing the game in a certain time, but players had to make decisions aboutstopping at yellow lights, and being delayed, or racing through yellow lights, which could result in afaster time and a bigger prize, but also meant a higher risk for crashing and an even longer delay.The children and adults played four rounds of the game while undergoing the brain scan. Half thetime they played alone, and half the time they were told that two same-sex friends who hadaccompanied them to the study were watching the play in the next room.Among adults and college students, there were no meaningful differences in risk taking, regardlessof whether friends were watching. But the young teenagers ran about 40 percent more yellowlights and had 60 percent more crashes when they knew their friends were watching. Andnotably, the regions of the brain associated with reward showed greater activity when theywere playing in view of their friends. It was as if the presence of friends, even in the next room,prompted the brain’s reward system to drown out any warning signals about risk, tipping thebalance toward the reward.The study results are borne out in real-world data that show teenagers have a much higher risk of caraccidents when other teenagers are in the car.“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been withtheir friends,” Dr. Steinberg said. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as verymature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone orwith you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group offriends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”
Is your parenting style IMAGE obsessed? By Jim FAY, Love and Logic authorMany of todays parents are obsessed with the desire to create a perfect image for their kids. This perfectimage, or perfect life, is one in which their kids never have to face struggle, inconvenience, discomfort, ordisappointment. It is a life in which the child can be launched into adulthood with the best of credentials.These kids look great on paper. Their high school and college diplomas show high grades even if they werenot earned. They lead a life where their mistakes are swept under the table. I have often heard these parentssay, "Its a competitive world out there and I want my kids to have every advantage. What they do when theyare young should not hold them back later."These parents, in their zeal to protect their young, swoop down like jet-powered, attack helicopters on anyperson or agency that might hold their children accountable for their actions. Armed with verbal smartbombs, they are quick to blast away at anyone who sets high standards for behavior, morality, orachievement. Declaring their child a victim is a favorite tactical maneuver designed to send school personneldiving into the trenches for protection. Teachers and school administrators become worn down by thisconstant barrage. As they give in to parental demands that their children not be held accountable, standardsare eroded and teachers gradually think, "Whats the use?" It is horribly disappointing to watch kids learn to blame others for their lack of success instead of becoming people who reach goals through effort and determination.All this has caused me to look back thirty years ago to the time when we first wrote about Helicopter Parents.I now realize that those parents were relatively harmless compared to the modern-day version. I daily hearabout the "turbo jet-powered models" designed for deadly attack. Some of these parents are not satisfiedwith protection, but even prefer to destroy the infrastructure of the very agencies that are dedicated tohelping their children grow into educated, moral human beings.Now you tell me. Is it possible for children who have never had to stand on their own two feet, never had tobe responsible for their own actions, or never had to face and solve the smaller problems of childhood, tohave the tools to face the rigors of adult life in America? We all know the answer to that.Can the young adult who gets that perfect job perform well enough to keep that job if his grades from schoolwere the result of teacher intimidation instead of vigorous study? The company who hires this person wontbe easily intimidated by parental pressure in the face of substandard performance.A perfect image and perfect school transcript are poor substitutes for character and the attitude that achievement comes through struggle and perseverance.I have worked with many parents who have fallen into this trap. They all love their children. They all wantthe best for them. They talk about how they dont want their kids to struggle like they did. They are prone torush to blame others for any lack of achievement on their childrens part. These parents are willing to holdothers responsible for their childrens actions. However, they are often willing to change their parentingstyle once they see the crippling effects of this parenting style. Many of these parents have said to me, "I nowrealize that even if I succeed in creating a perfect life for my kid, there is little chance that he/she canmaintain it without my help." YOUR CHILD CAN RISE TO THE TOP One very astute father once said to me,"Jim, Ive got it. There is a huge group of trophy kids growing up today who won’t have the character andresilience to compete in the labor market. If my kid grows up knowing how to get what he wants throughstruggle and character, he will be the one with the true advantage. He will stand head and shoulders abovethe others because he has the tools to create his own perfect life. Now that I have learned that I can disciplinemy child without losing his love, I have the courage to abandon my old crippling parenting style. The Loveand Logic approach to raising my kid will give all of us the tools it takes to make this happen."