In a letter to child development experts, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, outlined some of the difficulties new parents experience after welcoming their children into the world.
The comments from the former Kate Middleton came as her husband, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened up about his own struggles with mental health in a BBC documentary.
The duchess said she appreciated the “sense of isolation” new parents face, writing: “I can understand that people are nervous about asking for help for fear of judgment, and how that sense of isolation can quickly become overriding and debilitating for any new parent,” reported Sky News.
“Recognizing that the task of parenting is substantial, I have realized the importance of working to make it easier for parents to request support.”
The duchess sent the letter to a steering group she set up last year to compile research on early child development. Praising the experts’ work, she said she would continue to promote the health and happiness of families and children.
She wrote, per Harper’s Bazaar: “Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with mothers and fathers about the issues they deal with day-to-day. Your work has affirmed to me just how important it is to listen to parents and those who care for children… I hope my long-term commitment to working in the early years will help make a difference over a generational timescale.”
On Monday, the duchess unveiled a multisensory garden at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London. The woodland wilderness, which is intended to promote children’s well-being, includes a rope swing, a campfire and a stream. According to the BBC, the Cambridge children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louise—helped gather twigs and moss for the garden.
Catherine told the BBC: “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental well-being, particularly for young children.
“I really hope this woodland that we have created inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.”
The duchess visited the garden with her children and husband over the weekend, before returning with a group of schoolchildren Monday. She worked on the garden with landscape architects Andree Davies, Adam White and the Royal Horticultural Society.
William detailed his own struggles with mental health in a BBC One documentary called A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health. In the film, which aired Sunday, the duke discussed the difficulties he experienced after his mother’s death in 1997.
Describing “pain like no other pain,” he said his own bereavement had helped him connect with families experiencing trauma when he worked as an air ambulance pilot.
Although the “British stiff upper lip thing” has its place, we need “to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re not robots,” he said.
Gone are the days of trusty Moleskine 18-month planners, scraps of to-do lists and family calendars hanging on the fridge. Full-time jobs and older kids mean more clubs, more appointments, more social life. Making a move to digital organization can take a load off and breathe new life into the family.
It’s never too early to help children learn to manage their time and be responsible for themselves too (to a point, obviously). It’s a skill that will help them on their path through life. And it’s surprising how little you need to do to organize family life. Often you have the apps and software on hand — you just need to rethink how you use them.
For many, this is the obvious starting point. You’re probably already using a calendar from Google, Outlook or iCloud for work, so it’s simple enough to add a family one. As the kids get older and their social lives start getting more hectic, give each of them a shared calendar of their own.
Using a shared calendar means you can arrange their clubs, events and playdates, and the kids, in theory, just need to check their phones to know if something is — or isn’t — happening. You can set notifications and alerts to remind them to get to that music lesson or swim meet. Connect their phones to a smartwatch and they’ll get the message even when their phone is silent.
You’ll be sorting their lives out initially, but steadily, they’ll realize they can take control of their calendars. Maybe start by having them load their school schedule. It’s good practice to get them into the habit of checking their calendar the night before, so they can pack their bag and be ready to take it in the morning.
For you, the color-coded calendars are not unlike Mrs. Weasley’s clock: You can see where everyone is at one glance. And everyone can see their own calendar as well as the shared family one on their phone, which, let’s face it, is attached to them anyway.
You’d think having everything right there in the palm of their hand would mean you can step back and watch them bloom into competent, organized young humans. Ha! Calendar’s all set up, but ping: “Mommy, when’s my drums lesson?” Ping: “Daddy, I forgot my football kit, could you drop it off, PURLLLEASE!” Ping: “Mommy, I’ve run out of money on my lunch card, could you load it, please?”
WhatsApp has probably been the single most-used way of keeping things moving smoothly in this house.
Some parents have a problem with WhatsApp and similar messaging apps — the minimum age of use for WhatsApp is 16 in Europe and 13 elsewhere — but it is what you make it. Of course, it’s vital you know whom your children are talking to, so when you’re setting rules for phone use, let them know that as parents, you can check their phone whenever the mood takes you. It’s also a great way to talk about friendships and what’s happening in their world. But for many, WhatsApp is how they keep in touch with extended family and share location, photos and files.
So how can WhatsApp keep the kids on task and organized? Essentially, it’s a parent in your pocket.
Get a family group going, though, and anyone can answer those quick questions or check arrangements — it doesn’t have to be Mom, Dad or caregiver. Because in a busy world, one person can’t manage a whole family’s schedule all the time. A WhatsApp group gives siblings the chance to step in and help out too. “Yeah, duh, Mom said meet at 3.30 — not listening again, bro?”
To help them keep track of vital information like when and where to meet, show the kids how to star messages to mark them as important. If you send a message with tickets, pdfs, files or arrangements, start the message with “STAR THIS.” These messages are stored together, so the kids can get to them quickly without having to scroll through thousands of others in the thread.
WhatsApp’s location-sharing feature is fantastic too. You just have to open the group or person you want to share with, click on “attachment” or “plus” and hit “share location.” You can share your location for 15 minutes, an hour or eight hours, which gives the kids the freedom and independence to explore their corner of the world without you having to get all panicky.
When they’re out and about, sharing locations, information and generally keeping in touch, kids’ phones take a beating. It’s little surprise when batteries run out. To keep everything functioning smoothly, a behemoth charging pack, capable of juicing a phone multiple times, can be a lifesaver. Unlike the single-charge banks, these monsters give you the peace of mind that the kids’ phones will never run out of juice — and they’ll never have any excuse for being disorganized.
The perfect accessory for any budding organized child, a smartwatch or fitness tracker connected with a phone is ideal for ensuring they get alerts and notifications during the day, when their phones are silent, which of course, they should be during school. We like the Fitbit Ace 2, which was built specifically for kids.
For the kids who are already super active, simply having the time and alert functions are great — and the competitive element of nailing step counts is not a bad thing. For children who have more sedentary skill sets — music, art, academics — they’re a fantastic reminder to get out there and explore the world: Take a walk and get that step count up, go for a bike ride into the woods to find a landscape to paint, stretch out after being stuck over a desk, instrument or video game. And they don’t have to cost a fortune.
Most schools are now fully on board with homework and tools like Firefly, Show My Homework and Frog. Designed to improve organization, these apps and websites help parents and kids manage tasks, time and co-curricular experiences by sending emails and alerts. Kids get notifications when homework is set and reminders when it’s due. And parents can see homework, deadlines and additional support material. If only we had this at school in our day! If the professionals in charge of children think apps and software can help them get organized and stay on task, we should go all in too.
The benefits of having a routine and developing independence are all over parenting websites and pedagogical studies. Whether it’s sleep training infants, potty training toddlers or helping teens navigate the hormone years, at the root of all the advice is to get a routine in place and support them in their independence. Yes, we should let kids screw up, forget things and deal with the consequences, but we should also give them the resources they need to develop the skills that will stay them for life.
A new study from North Carolina State University finds that educating children about climate change increases their parents’ concerns about climate change.
“There’s a robust body of work showing that kids can influence their parents’ behavior and positions on environmental and social issues, but this is the first experimental study demonstrating that climate education for children promotes parental concern about climate change,” says Danielle Lawson, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student at NC State.
For the study, researchers worked with middle school science teachers to incorporate a climate change curriculum into their classrooms. Prior to teaching the curriculum, researchers had 238 students and 292 parents take a survey to measure their levels of concern regarding climate change.
Seventy-two of the students and 93 of the parents were in a control group, meaning the students did not receive the climate change curriculum; 166 students and 199 parents were in an experimental group, meaning the students did receive the climate curriculum. All students and parents took the survey again after the students in the experimental group had completed the climate curriculum.
“We found that there was an increase in climate concern for both the experimental and control groups, but that the shift was much more pronounced in families where children were taught the curriculum,” Lawson says.
The climate survey measured concern on a 17-point scale, ranging from -8 (not concerned at all) to +8 (extremely concerned). On average, students in the control group had an increase in concern of 0.72 points on the second survey, while their parents increased 1.37 points. Meanwhile, students in the experimental group had an increase of 2.78 points, while their parents increased 3.89 points.
“We also found that the results were most pronounced for three groups: conservative parents, parents of daughters, and fathers,” Lawson says. This was noteworthy because conservatives and men are typically among the least concerned about climate change.
On average, conservative parents’ level of concern increased 4.77 points; parents of daughters increased 4.15 points; and fathers increased 4.31 points. All these key groups went from being marginally not concerned (-2.1 for conservatives, -1.8 for those with daughters, and -0.9 for fathers, compared to a zero midpoint) to moderately concerned (2.5 for conservatives, 2.5 for those with daughters, and 3.6 for fathers). These post-test concern levels were much higher than those in the control group (conservatives: 0.25; those with daughters: -1.6, fathers: -0.8).
Notably, liberal and conservative parents in the treatment group ended up with similar levels of climate change concern by the end of the study. The 4.5 point gap in the pretest shrunk to 1.2 after children learned about climate change.
“This study tells us that we can educate children about climate change and they’re willing to learn, which is exciting because studies find that many adults are resistant to climate education, because it runs counter to their personal identities,” Lawson says. “It also highlights that children share that information with their parents, particularly if they’re given tools to facilitate communication — and that parents are willing to listen.”
“To be clear, climate change education is about giving people a good foundation in climate science and cultivating critical thinking skills,” says Kathryn Stevenson, co-author of the paper and an assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State. “This is about education, not activism, and children are great educators. They seem to help people critically consider ways in which being concerned about climate change may be in line with their values.”
The paper, “Children can foster climate change concern among their parents,” is published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The paper was co-authored by Nils Peterson, a professor of forestry and environmental resources at NC State; Sarah Carrier, an associate professor of science education at NC State; Renee Strnad, an environmental educator in NC State Extension; and Erin Seekamp, an associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at NC State.
Difficulty concentrating, a racing heart, a sinking feeling of fear in the pit of your stomach — many adults are familiar with symptoms of anxiety.
Today, there seems to be a greater recognition of anxiety disorders than ever before. But for young kids who are struggling, especially those who lack the knowledge to fully understand what they’re experiencing, these symptoms can leave them feeling afraid and very alone.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), anxiety disorders are the most commonly occurring mental health disorder among children, affecting approximately 8 percent of kids under the age of 18.
The symptoms these kids exhibit might include trouble sleeping, fear surrounding social situations and separation from loved ones, refusal to go to school, and physical complaints.
Dr. Arthur Lavin, AAP chair of the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, recently told Healthline, “Anxiety is actually a complicated phenomenon. What we’ve come to realize is a lot of people have a steady stream of anxiety. It’s part of your personality. It has nothing to do with events in your life, though certain events can increase and decrease anxiety. But some people just have higher or lower levels of anxiety than others.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports Trusted Source that depression and anxiety have increased over time, with the rate of diagnosis among 6- to 17-year-olds jumping from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 8 percent in 2007 and 8.4 percent in 2011 and 2012.
But Dr. Lavin isn’t convinced the numbers are actually increasing. He thinks it’s at least possible what we’re seeing is more a factor of our increasing interest in, and ability to diagnose, anxiety disorders.
“Even if the numbers haven’t changed, it’s a huge problem that impacts a person’s ability to relate to other people,” he said.
As Lavin pointed out, a large number of the people who are affected are children. But many of those kids won’t get the treatment they need — only 6 in every 10 Trusted Source diagnosed, according to the CDC.
A new treatment option
The reason many young children aren’t getting the help they need is because there are a variety of barriers to treatment for kids living with anxiety.
Issues like poor health insurance coverage, lack of access to doctors and health programs, adults failing to identify the issue, and a child’s resistance to treatment can all make helping a child with anxiety difficult.
But an experimental program at Yale University is aiming to address that last barrier. The goal of this program isn’t to treat the child with anxiety in a typical treatment setting, but to instead train the parents in how to best help their child.
Eli Lebowitz, PhD, the Yale School of Medicine psychologist responsible for developing this training, recently told Healthline, “In terms of the problem, we’ve known for a long time that parents play a role in anxiety.”
He was quick to explain that he isn’t suggesting parents are the root cause of their child’s anxiety. In fact, he was very clear that isn’t the case at all. Instead, he said, “Parents can be deeply impacted by their child’s struggle with anxiety. They get drawn in in a variety of ways.”
Lebowitz said the idea for a parent-based treatment program came about organically.
He explained that he was working in a clinic for children with behavior problems when it occurred to him that addressing those behavior problems often meant much of the work was being done by the parents. They would learn techniques and tools to take home and use with their children there.
“And that’s natural,” he explained, “because children with severe behavioral problems aren’t always good candidates for therapy themselves. I would find myself explaining to parents that they can have a big impact, even if the child isn’t involved.”
He began to wonder how a similar treatment plan might benefit children with anxiety. The result was a program called SPACE: Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions.
The goal of SPACE
Lebowitz explained that the SPACE program is trying to accomplish two things, and both of them involve changes parents should make to their own behavior.
“This is a critical point because previous attempts in involving parents in childhood treatment really involved getting parents to change their child’s behavior in a way that was similar to what a professional therapist might do in the office,” he said.
That might have included parents do breathing exercises with their kids or practicing exposure to things they feared.
But, Lebowitz said, “That approach proved to not produce a significant impact and can also be very challenging for parents because children are not always active participants.”
The SPACE program does away with the goal of training parents to treat their kids.
Instead, the focus is on changing the way the parents themselves behave by aiming to help parents increase supportive responses to a child’s anxiety, while also reducing the accommodations they provide for that anxiety.
The goal is for parents to show both an acceptance and validation of a child’s experience, while also exhibiting a confidence in the child’s ability to cope with and tolerate that feeling of anxiety.
“This is a really important message for children,” Lebowitz explained. “Many of the things we do in response to a child’s anxiety actually delivers the message that they can’t cope. And that’s not what we intend to tell them, but it’s often the message we send.”
What to expect
Learning how to both increase support and reduce accommodations winds up looking a lot like therapy, according to Lebowitz.
Parents come to weekly meetings with a therapist who asks questions about how they respond to their child when they’re anxious. Those meetings then involve practicing supportive responses so that over time, those responses become more natural and impactful.
“For a lot of children, it’s the first time that a parent will have validated what the child is feeling. Often, we don’t give that acceptance. A child will say they’re scared, and we’ll say, ‘No you’re not, it’s not scary.’”
Once the therapist helps the parents to provide natural and impactful support, they then work with the parents to map out all the ways they’re accommodating their child.
“It doesn’t make sense to stop all those accommodations at once. No one could do that, and certainly no one could do it consistently. So, we pick one. And then we make very detailed plans of what the parent will do differently.”
Lebowitz was excited to report that the impact they’re seeing through the parent training program is big.
“What we have found is that if you do this consistently, if you increase that supportive behavior and you decrease the accommodations, children’s anxiety improves significantly. They can actually be cured of their anxiety disorder without ever having met with the therapist themselves,” he said.
When to seek help
It’s important to note that plenty of kids deal with some level of anxiety, but not all have true anxiety disorders requiring some form of treatment.
Lavin wanted to remind Healthline readers that, “Symptoms of anxiety are very common. One could make a case that they are nearly universal. There’s a difference between having some symptoms of anxiety and having anxiety so severe it requires intervention.”
He said the best indicator of when a child may need help is when the anxiety reaches a point that it seems to be interfering with their enjoyment of life.
“Anything that makes it difficult for them to socialize with other people, to do work at school, do homework, make friends, really any aspect of life that provides a sense of enjoyment, a sense of purpose. If the anxiety impairs a child’s ability to do those things, it’s time to seek help,” he said.
The good news is there may now be one more option for helping kids with anxiety who need it most.
Water is essential to human life. In fact, it is essential to all of the forms of life known to humankind in general, as there are no known species that can survive without it.
Though marine biologists are unsure just how many kinds of creatures reside in our planet’s 5 oceans, it is estimated that about one-quarter of all of the Earth’s species do. Not to mention how very important the oceans are to our civilization—for thousands of years, braving their waters has been one of the bravest feats a human being could accomplish, one that often led to amazing discoveries and the general increase of our knowledge of the planet we inhabit.
For all of these reasons and many, many more, Mother Ocean Day is a long-overdue celebration of our oceans in all of their majesty and peril.
History of Mother Ocean Day
Mother Ocean Day is relatively a new celebration, as it was introduced for the first time in 2013. It is a concept thought up by the South Florida Kayak Fishing Club that has since sought the approval of the City of Miami to declare this a day official. The point, of course, is to take a day to celebrate the beauty and wonder of the ocean, and it is no surprise that inhabitants of Florida were the ones to come forward with this idea, as Florida is famous for particularly gorgeous white sand beaches and clear, aquamarine waters.
How to celebrate Mother Ocean Day
There are many things people can do on Mother Ocean Day, what’s important is to pay homage to this incredible force of nature and enjoy what it has to offer to the full. Taking to the waves, whether this be on a boat or a surfboard, is one way to enjoy the day. Snorkeling and diving are both unforgettable ways to get to know the ocean better by taking a look at some of the plants, fish and other creatures living in it. If you prefer to stay on dry land, a picnic on the beach enjoying the calm, soothing sound of the waves could be the perfect way for you to appreciate the ocean. Just remember to clean up afterwards! And for those who wish to celebrate the day from the comfort of their own home, eating a meal made from foods of the ocean, such as fish and shellfish, could be a deliciously appropriate way to go about observing this occasion.
For example, have you ever tried langoustines? Langoustines are an excellent alternative to lobsters, as they are much cheaper, but have a similar flavor some chefs even find superior to lobster because of its delicate sweetness. They are also surprisingly easy to prepare—all you really need is some salty water to briefly boil them, and some garlic butter to brush over them. If you love your barbecue, langoustines can also be barbecued and then dipped in a simple dijon mustard sauce. Originally, langoustines were eaten in Europe, but they have recently become popular in North America as well, so if you have never tried them, this day is the perfect time!
However, regardless of whether it’s Mother Ocean Day or not, we should always respect the oceans and the beaches leading into them by never polluting them in any way, so future generations can enjoy them as much as we do today.
However, regardless of whether it’s Mother Ocean Day or not, we should always respect the oceans and the beaches leading into them by never polluting them in any way, so future generations can enjoy them as much as we do today.
As an adult, we’re well aware of when to go to the toilet and usually have the wherewithal to know we don’t want to sit in our own dirty pants.
We don’t normally ascribe that level of consciousness to babies; mainly because they can’t even hold their head up properly.
However, an age-old technique that puts a lot more faith in babies’ capabilities is making a resurgence here in the West, and it’s called elimination communication.
Parents who practise this may use no nappies at all, and start toilet training their kids right from birth. Here’s how it works.
What is elimination communication and does it work?
Although it’s making its way onto the Insta feeds of new age parenting bloggers, elimination communication (or EC) has actually been around pretty much since babies have.
Parents in less industrialised countries have carried their babies without nappies for centuries, and have found ways to ensure a minimum of ‘accidents’.
There are a number of ways to do this, but they essentially centre around working out the cues your child has for needing to use the loo, and taking them there when you think it’s time.
It also involves teaching your baby to tell you that they need to go via signing, sounds, and eventually words.
You can start from birth, and completely forgo nappies, or start at a later date and gradually reduce their need for nappies until full potty training is received.
Pros and cons of elimination communication
The pros of EC are first and foremost that you’ll use fewer nappies – both saving money and helping the environment – and that it’ll be easier to fully toilet train as your child gets older. It can also help avoid nappy rash and even (by supporting your baby in a certain position over the toilet or potty) reduce constipation. The most obvious con is that it might not fit in with your lifestyle. You need to be personally present most of the time to interpret your baby, which isn’t compatible with a number of childcare situations. It can take a lot of time to start off, and also could be messy at the very beginning.
How do you get started?
Proponents of EC recommend starting off by leaving your baby without a nappy for a while when they’re sitting on a baby mat to gauge their timings.
Newborns often pee every 10 to 20 minutes, and poo after feeding and before waking up. From there, the timings may change, so you’ll need to get used to your own child’s rhythms.
Interestingly, many babies won’t automatically go to the toilet if they’re held close (such as in a sling), and will signal through crying or noises that they wish to, prompting you to take them to the potty.
Cueing is another technique you may choose further down the line, which involves you making a ‘psss’ or ‘shhh’ noise as your child goes to the loo, effectively signalling to them that this should be associated with it. Some parents use visual cues like sign language instead of noises.
EC is not for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with not having the time, patience, or want to do it.
A number of these parenting trends might seem silly, and EC is certainly one which might make you double-take.
However, what’s worked for centuries can’t be completely wrong, even if it has been co-opted by parents whose lives seem pretty unattainable.
It’ll take work, and it may take a lot of cleaning up, but if it’s something you wish to do, conquer that elimination.
When it came time to potty train my son, I waited for him to tell me when he was ready. And he wasn’t ready to take his “pee-peeing” by storm until he turned 3. I trained him using the 3-Day Potty Training Method. If you’re a working mom, like me, I suggest you take off Friday and bang potty training out in a long weekend. Why? Because you need to quarantine yourselves in your home—or in my case (cringe), small apartment—for three entire days, no exceptions.
“The parent(s) needs to know that it will take work and you have to dedicate a full three days to the child. This means giving up ‘me’ time. You won’t be cooking, cleaning or visiting with friends—or Keeping up with the Kardashians. You will seriously be spending all waking hours with your child for three days,” says Lora Jensen, author of 3-Day Potty Training.
And when you’re figuring out how to potty train a boy or girl, she says, you must plan ahead: “Have your shopping done and meals prepared ahead of time. Do the laundry and clean the house prior to starting. Be ready to play games, color, watch cartoons and just enjoy some bonding time with your child.”
It’s not a bad idea to arrange playdates out of the home for older kids, too. Make this three day potty training mission about your soon-to-be potty pro.
What You’ll Need for 3-Day Potty Training
Pick up a few T-shirts that will cover your kid’s private area. Why? Your child will be going commando for three days—at least mine did (and he loved it). The theory is that if he knows the diaper isn’t there to catch the pee or poop, it should click that he needs to get his bare butt to a potty. But if that makes you uncomfortable, Jensen says using undies with no pants is OK for potty training boys and girls, too.
“We do not put pants on the child during the training process because we want to be able to see when they have an accident,” she says.
Speaking of Accidents… “Accidents will happen; that is part of training. Children learn from having those accidents,” says Jensen of potty training girls and boys. “The 3-Day Potty Training Method is against punishments during training. You will clean up the accident and simply encourage them to make it to the toilet next time. Praise goes a long way.”
Stock Up on Drinks I’m a rebel, and my kid drank juice when he was 2 and 3, so I bought a bunch of reduced sugar juice boxes. Encourage your kid to drink more than usual. This will obviously cause your kid to have to pee, and that’s what you want when potty training—that feeling, that urge.
Gentle Reminders Work If your kid doesn’t go after sucking down a juice box, remind him to go. And when he says, “no”—and he will!—tell him to just try. Remember this is potty training, not game day. You’re his coach.
Prizes Are Important My son doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so candy rewards didn’t work for us. I did, however, hit up a local dollar store for potty training incentives—stickers, crayons, coloring books and action heroes. He didn’t get a prize every time because it’s for peeing in the toilet, not on the rug or all over himself.
A Surprising Potty Training Product Bath mats have rubber bottoms and can serve as a barrier between an accident and your couch or rug when teaching your boy or girl how to potty train. You don’t want to make a huge deal of an accident. Just clean your kid up and move on.
But What About Day vs. Night? “You will be training for both day and night. Training for both at the same time keeps the child from getting confused…If you train for both day and night, you eliminate the crutch or feeling they can just go in their diaper or pull-up,” Jensen says of potty training. Basically, go big or go home!
Got it? OK, Here’s How to Potty Train Your Boy or Girl in Three Days:
When your child wakes up in the morning, change his soggy diaper and bid farewell. Have your kid throw the diaper out and say “bye-bye.”
Change your kid into one of the oversize T-shirts you bought and explain there is no diaper to catch the pee-pee or poop, so he has to put it in the potty.
Give your kid breakfast and an extra drink. Afterwards, lead your little one to the potty. It should be a successful trip after all those liquids.
Go on with the day, but remember, no leaving the house during the three day potty training. Play, read, color and watch cartoons.
Have a constant sippy cup of water at your kid’s reach. Just like crate-training a puppy, walk your child to the potty every 15 minutes, all day long for three days.
Cut off all liquids and snacks after dinner while potty training.
Complete one final potty mission before bed.
Wake your kid up halfway through the night to pee. (Yes, set an alarm.)
Repeat for the next two days.
Don’t get upset about potty training accidents. They’re not a big deal. Don’t react.
Growing data suggests that exposing young children to too much time in front of a TV or computer can have negative effects on their development, including issues with memory, attention and language skills.
In the latest look at the topic, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics that more screen time is linked to poorer progress on key developmental measures such as communication skills, problem solving and social interactions among young kids over time.
Sheri Madigan, an assistant professor of psychology at University of Calgary in Canada, and her colleagues studied 2,441 mothers and children enrolled in the All Our Families study, which followed young children from ages two to five. Mothers reported on how much time their children spent in front of a television or computer screen on a typical day, and also reported on developmental measures by answering questions about their children’s communication skills, behavior and social interactions. The data were collected at the start of the study, when the children were two years old, then again when they were three and five.
Many studies have looked at the connection between screen time and developmental issues at one point in time, but by following the children over many years, Madigan and her team could learn more about how screen time and development interact. For example, while some studies suggested that increased screen time might contribute to slower development, it was also possible that parents with children with behavioral issues and developmental delays might be more likely to use movies, TV or video games to calm or quiet their child.
Madigan found that on average, the children in the study were spending about 2-3 hours a day in front of a screen. (The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that toddlers and young children spend no more than one hour a day watching quality educational programming.)
The researchers found that over time, children who spent more time using TV or computers did indeed show poorer performance on the developmental measures. But they did not find evidence that the opposite was occurring; it did not seem that children with developmental issues were more likely to spend time in front of a screen. The links remained strong even after they accounted for other factors that can influence developmental milestones, including parents’ education, how physically active the children were and whether parents read to their children regularly. “The results show that there is a lasting influence of screen time, especially when children are two to five years old, when their brains are undergoing a period of tremendous development,” Madigan says.
That strongly supports expert guidelines that recommend limiting screen time for young children, when the brain is rapidly developing new connections and learning from every cue it receives. “What too much screen time leads to is a variety of missed opportunities for learning and development,” says Madigan. “When a child is watching a screen, he or she is missing out on the opportunity for walking, talking and interacting with others.”
Not all screen time is detrimental, she says, and her study did not delve into the quality of programming the children were watching. The way in which children are using TV or computers is also important. Watching with parents or caregivers, for example, can make the experience more engaging and less passive, and can even provide opportunities for learning and social development. “Families can develop healthy media habits,” she says. “When parents watch with their children, they can point out interesting things and contribute to language skills and learning.”
When I was growing up, both of my parents had demanding jobs. We lived in the suburbs and they worked in the city — my mom a court reporter, my dad a lawyer. They would endure the usually long and annoying commute back and forth every day, and many nights they’d still have some work to do when they got home. But while I know that now, my sister and I almost never felt that when we were younger. All we knew was that they were there . . . for every single thing.
The big sport in my family has always been basketball. My dad played in college, and I pretty much attempted to dribble a ball as soon as I could walk. I begged to be in an endless amount of little leagues, went to basketball camp in the Summer, and played for my school’s team in the Winter. When I got to high school, it became my top priority (and also took up most of my free time). And throughout my 15-plus years of playing basketball, my parents were at every single game. Every. One.
When I look back on it now, having them at every game mattered more to me than I can probably ever explain. I wanted to show my dad that I listened to his tips during our Saturday morning practices in the driveway. I wanted to show my mom that I was as dedicated to the game as I told her I was. I wanted to prove that I was better at hustling down the court than my sister (sorry, sis — love you). I wanted to make them proud.
At every game, I would search for their faces in the stands. When I found them, I knew I mattered. I knew my dreams, no matter how silly or far-fetched they may have seemed, mattered. Whenever I would score points or play good defense, I would look up at my dad for his thumbs-up signal and listen for my mom’s slightly embarrassing roar. Just like in every other aspect of my life, my parents proved I could rely on them. And that feeling has stuck with me throughout my life.
I know it isn’t always possible or easy to show up and be at every game, but parents, even if you think it’s no big deal (and even if your kids say it’s no big deal), it matters. And if you can’t be there, trying matters. I don’t remember a lot of the birthday gifts I got growing up or cookies I ate before dinner, but I vividly remember my mom and dad, in their work suits and jackets, walking into every game I ever played.
Toys that teach aren’t a new thing, but a growing number are calling for kids to build with blocks, circuits or everyday items before reaching for a tablet screen.
Play is how kids learn about the world around them, whether it’s a toddler throwing a ball or teens playing video games. It’s about seeing how things work and what happens when they do something. And over the years, toys have gotten more high tech to keep screen-obsessed children engaged with such play. But there’s growing worry among parents and educators that toys are moving too far in that direction. Educational toys that have a math and science bent _ marketed under the umbrella of STEM _ are now trying to get back to the basics: less screen time, more hands-on activities. “When kids use their hands, your outcomes are much higher,” said Pramod Sharma, CEO of one such toy company, Osmo. “It’s very different than if they’re just staring at a screen watching TV.” With Osmo, kids learn everything from spelling to coding not by touching a screen, but by snapping together magnetic blocks. A screen is still part of it; an image is beamed onto an iPad through its camera. But the idea is to have kids learn first with their hands, then see their creation move to the screen.
Learn By Building
Educators agree that whether you’re talking about a toddler playing with blocks, or a teen building a computer from scratch, the act of putting something together helps educational concepts sink in. “The way the world comes to us is actually through tactile activities, so tactile toys where we build stuff are incredible helpful,’ said Karen Sobel-Lojeski, who studies the effects of technology on children’s brain development at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. Bloxels attempts to bridge the physical and the digital. Kids build their own video games by putting plastic blocks in a special tray, instead of writing out code. Using a phone or tablet’s camera, an app transforms the shapes created with the blocks into digital characters and scenery. Makey Makey, a startup founded by a pair of MIT students, asks kids to come up with their own electronic creations by combining software, circuits and everyday items like bananas and doughnuts.
Good But Popular?
Sobel-Lojeski said toys are most educational when kids can learn how things work by building. But Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst at NPD, said such toys are rarely on kids’ wish lists. On the other hand, tech toys that have subtle educational value, but aren’t specifically marketed as such, can be strong sellers. Lennett cites Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, which introduces basic coding concepts by letting preschoolers assemble segments that each tells the caterpillar to do something different, such as turn left’ orplay sound.’ “I’m not sure that kids are asking for it, or that their parents just want their kids to go to Harvard, but it’s definitely one of the top-selling toys this holiday,’ Lennett said. Tracy Achinger, a former automotive engineer in Shelby Township, Michigan, said her 8-year-old son got interested in coding after starting computer programing classes this year. So for Christmas, she’s buying him an Ozobot, a golf ball-sized robot that kids can program by drawing different colored lines or using a kid-friendly, block-based programing language.
Tech Has Its Limit
Achinger’s 3-year-old son will be getting an iPad this year. She said she isn’t against screen time, but believes parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are watching and playing. She said her older son has been playing creative games such as Minecraft’ for a few years.We try to keep it educational,’ Achinger said. I really think those kinds of games get their imaginations going as they create their own worlds.’ The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its guidelines to shift the emphasis away from banning screen time and toward balancing high-quality content with non-screen activities. That doesn’t mean every toy with a screen is educational. Barbie has her own smart home in the form of the voice-activated and Wi-Fi-connected Hello Dreamhouse. And new versions of Elmo, Furby and the Cabbage Patch Kids have apps, which Lennett said are often more about branding than learning. Sobel-Lojeski said slapping an app on a previously low-tech toy can backfire. Instead of letting the child imagine how a particular toy would talk or behave, the app fills in those holes.It cuts the child off from play that is much more important for development,’ she said. Some of the drive for tech in toys comes from parents who believe that the younger their kids are exposed to technology, the more prepared they will be for a lucrative career someday. But Sobel-Lojeski said Albert Einstein came up with breakthroughs without ever touching a computer, let alone tech toys at a young age. “We can easily be tricked into thinking that all this stuff is going to make our kids more intelligent or better scientists and that’s just not true,’ she said.
Resist The Screen
Companies that make computers for kids also see the value in a construction element. Kano shows kids how to build their own computers in a kid-friendly storybook format. Kano co-founder Alex Klein said he had to resist suggestions to just put Kano into app form and skip the computer construction all together. He said the act of building a computer was key because it created a huge sense of energy and momentum for what followed on screen.’ But Klein said screens aren’t going away anytime soon.You can’t compete with screens with kids,’ he said. “So, for us it’s not about trying to push against what this next generation thinks is good or likes. It’s about providing a new angle on it that’s more creative.’