Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Medina , John (2010-10-12), Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Pear Press, Retrieved on 2011-07-27
Folksonomies: parenting pregnancy babies child development

Memes

27 JUL 2011

 The Biological Big Bang

As a scientist, I was very aware that watching a baby’s brain develop feels as if you have a front-row seat to a biological Big Bang. The brain starts out as a single cell in the womb, quiet as a secret. Within a few weeks, it is pumping out nerve cells at the astonishing rate of 8,000 per second. Within a few months, it is on its way to becoming the world’s finest thinking machine.
Folksonomies: science wonder brain
Folksonomies: science wonder brain
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What it's like for a scientist to watch the developing brain of a baby.

27 JUL 2011

 Science Takes No Sides--and No Prisoners

The great thing about science is that it takes no sides—and no prisoners. Once you know which research to trust, the big picture emerges and myths fade away. To gain my trust, research must pass my “grump factor.” To make it into this book, studies must first have been published in the refereed literature and then successfully replicated. Some results have been confirmed dozens of times. Where I make an exception for cutting-edge research, reliable but not yet fully vetted by the passag...
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A good summary of what research to take seriously.

27 JUL 2011

 Parenting Research is Associative, Not Causal

Even if all brains were wired identically and all parents behaved in a cookie-cutter fashion, a great deal of current research would still be flawed (or, at best, preliminary). Most of the data we have are associative, not causal. Why is that a problem? Two things can be associated without one causing the other. For example, it is true that all children who throw temper tantrums also urinate—the association is 100 percent—but that doesn’t mean urination leads to temper tantrums. The i...
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It is dramatically unpractical to test causal relationships between parenting practices and cognitive development in children.

27 JUL 2011

 It Takes Nature and Nurture

A third-grade boy comes home and hands his father his report card. His father looks at it and says, “How do you explain these D’s and F’s? The boy looks up at him and says, “You tell me: Is it nature or nurture?” I was once at a lively, noisy science fair with my own third-grade son, and we were touring some of his classmates efforts. Several experiments involved seeds, soil, and growth curves. One memorable little girl took great pains to explain to us that her seeds had started ...
Folksonomies: nature vs nurture
Folksonomies: nature vs nurture
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Raising children is like raising a plant, it takes a seed (nature) and soil (nurture).

27 JUL 2011

 Morning Sickness as an Evolutionary Strategy

In fact, some evolutionary biologists believe this is why morning sickness still persists in human pregnancies. Morning sickness, which can last the entire day (and, for some women, the entire pregnancy), makes a woman stick to a bland, boring diet—if she eats much at all. This avoidance strategy would have kept our maternal ancestors away from the natural toxins in exotic or spoiled foods in the wild, unregulated menu of the Pleistocene diet. The accompanying fatigue would keep women from ...
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The nausea encourages women to pursue a bland diet.

27 JUL 2011

 No Commercial Product is Shown to Improve Baby Cognitive ...

Believe it or not, no commercial product has ever been shown in a scientifically responsible manner (or even in an irresponsible non-scientific manner) to do anything to improve the brain performance of a developing fetus. There have been no double-blind, randomized experiments whose independent variable was the presence or absence of the gadget. No rigorous studies showing that an in utero education curriculum produced long-term academic benefits when the child entered high school. No tw...
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There is no research supporting any product doing anything.

27 JUL 2011

 The Wonder of the Fertilized Egg

The opening cast members of the baby-making play are simply a sperm and an egg and a saucy Marvin Gaye song. Once these two cells are joined, they begin producing lots of cells in a small space. The human embryo soon looks like a tiny mulberry. (Indeed, one early development stage is called the morula, Latin for mulberry.) Your mulberry’s first decision is practical: It has to decide what part becomes baby’s body and what part becomes baby’s shelter. This happens quickly. Certain cel...
Folksonomies: wonder fetal development
Folksonomies: wonder fetal development
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The process will produce a human brain from a single cell.

27 JUL 2011

 The Development of the Human Brain

Two types of cells are important here. The first type, glial cells, make up 90 percent of the brain cells inside your child’s head. They give the brain its structure and help the neurons correctly process information. It’s a good name; glial is a Greek word for glue. The second type of cell is the familiar neuron. Though they do a lot of your child’s thinking, neurons make up only about 10 percent of the total number of brain cells. That’s probably where we get the myth that you us...
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A fascinating description of a process that begins before birth and continues into our 20s.

27 JUL 2011

 The Paleo Diet

An old movie called Quest for Fire opens with our ancestors seated by a fire, munching on a variety of foods. Large insects buzz about the flames. All of a sudden, one of our relatives shoots out his arm, clumsily grabbing an insect out of thin air. He stuffs it into his mouth, munches heartily, and continues staring into the fire. His colleagues dig around the soil for tuberous vegetables and scrounge for fruit in nearby trees later in the movie. Welcome to the world of Pleistocene haut...
Folksonomies: evolution diet
Folksonomies: evolution diet
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Look to our ancestors for best practices for diet.

28 JUL 2011

 Three Characteristics of Stress to Avoid in Pregnancy

Researchers have isolated three toxic types. Their common characteristic: that you feel out of control over the bad stuff coming at you. As stress moves from moderate to severe, and from acute to chronic, this loss of control turns catastrophic and begins to affect baby. Here are the bad types of stress: • Too frequent. Chronic, unrelenting stress during pregnancy hurts baby brain development. The stress doesn’t necessarily have to be severe. The poison is sustained, long-term exposu...
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Frequency, severity, and individual temperaments determine how much stress a person can experience while pregnant and have it affect the health of their baby.

28 JUL 2011

 How the Adverse Affects of Stress Were Discovered

Lots of research has gone into trying to understand how maternal stress affects brain development. And we have begun to answer this question at the most intimate level possible: the level of cell and molecule. For this progress we mostly can thank the klutzy researcher Hans Selye. He is the founder of the modern concept of stress. As a young scientist, Selye would grind up “endocrine extracts”, which presumably contained active stress hormones, and inject them into rats to see what the ra...
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A clumsy researcher stressed out his lab rats, causing infections and loss of sleep.

28 JUL 2011

 Benefits of Exercise for Pregnancy

Does that mean exercise should be a part of human pregnancies? Evidence suggests the answer is yes. The first benefit is a practical one, having to do with labor. Many women report that giving birth is both the most exhilarating experience of their lives and the most painful. But women who exercise regularly have a much easier time giving birth than obese women. For fit women, the second stage of labor—that painful phase where you have to do a lot of pushing—lasts an average of 27 minutes...
Folksonomies: pregnancy exercise
Folksonomies: pregnancy exercise
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Women who are fit have a shorter second stage labor compared to women who are obese, resulting in less stress and oxygen deprivation for the infant.

28 JUL 2011

 Most Marriages Degrade After a Child is Born

A bracingly cold glass of water was thrown on this Eisenhoweresque perception by famed sociologist E.E. LeMasters. In 1957, he published a research paper showing that 83 percent of new parents experienced a moderate to severe crisis in the marriage during the transition to parenthood. These parents became increasingly hostile toward each other in the first year of the baby’s life. The majority were having a hard time. [...] There is hope. We know four of the most important sources of mari...
Folksonomies: parenting marriage stress
Folksonomies: parenting marriage stress
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But recognizing the characteristics that cause stress in the relationship can help things.

28 JUL 2011

 Reconcile in Front of Your Children

Even in an emotionally stable home, one without regular marital hostility, there will be fights. Fortunately, research shows that the amount of fighting couples do in front of their children is less damaging than the lack of reconciliation the kids observe. Many couples will fight in front of their children but reconcile in private. This skews a child’s perceptions, even at early ages, for the child always sees the wounding but never the bandaging. Parents who practice bandaging each other ...
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Fighting in front of your children isn't as bad as not making up in front of them

28 JUL 2011

 The Four Reasons Parents Fight

                • sleep loss • social isolation • unequal workload • depression
Folksonomies: parenting marriage stress
Folksonomies: parenting marriage stress
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Three things to keep an eye on for new parents as their stress levels and social dynamics change.

28 JUL 2011

 The Importance of the Tribe in Parenting

Birth—before the advent of modern medicine—often resulted in the mother’s death. Though no one knows the true figure, estimates run as high as 1 in 8. Tribes with females who could quickly relate to and trust nearby females were more likely to survive. Older females, with the wisdom of their prior birthing experiences, could care for new mothers. Women with kids could provide precious milk to a new baby if the birth mother died. Sharing and its accompanying social interactions thus prov...
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Our ancestors were social animals, and, with a high-fatality rate for pregnancies, we relied heavily on our relatives to raise our offspring.

28 JUL 2011

 The Disparity Between Mothers and Fathers in Raising Chil...

Women spend a whopping 39 hours per week performing work related to child care. Today’s dad spends about half that—21.7 hours a week. This is usually couched as good news, too, for it is triple the amount of time guys spent with kids in the ’60s. Yet no one would call this equal, either. It is also still true that about 40 percent of dads spend two hours or less per workday with their kids, and 14 percent spend less than an hour. This imbalance in workload—along with financial confl...
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If a Mother were paid for the hours she put into childcare, she would make a six-figure salary.

28 JUL 2011

 Five Ingredients for Human Intelligence

• The desire to explore • Self-control • Creativity • Verbal communication • Decoding nonverbal communication
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Things to keep in mind when stimulating your child's intellect.

28 JUL 2011

 Children are Scientists

Thousands of experiments confirm that babies learn about their environment through a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas. They experience sensory observations, make predictions about what they observe, design and deploy experiments capable of testing their predictions, evaluate their tests, and add that knowledge to a self-generated, growing database. The style is naturally aggressive, wonderfully flexible, and annoyingly persistent. They use fluid intelligence to extract information,...
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They explore, test hypotheses, and record everything in memory to understand the world.

28 JUL 2011

 Children With Self-Control Do Better in Life

A healthy, well-adjusted preschooler sits down at a table in front of two giant, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It’s not a kitchen table—it’s Walter Mischel’s Stanford lab during the late 1960s. The smell is heavenly. “You see these cookies?” Mischel says. “You can eat just one of them right now if you want, but if you wait, you can eat both. I have to go away for five minutes. If I return and you have not eaten anything, I will let you have bothcookies. If you eat on...
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Children who can resist eating a cookie long enough to be rewarded with a second one have much higher SAT scores.

28 JUL 2011

 Sign Language May Boost Cognition in Children by 50 Percent

Gestures and speech used similar neural circuits as they developed in our evolutionary history. University of Chicago psycholinguist David McNeill was the first to suggest this. He thought nonverbal and verbal skills might retain their strong ties even though they’ve diverged into separate behavioral spheres. He was right. Studies confirmed it with a puzzling finding: People who could no longer move their limbs after a brain injury also increasingly lost their ability to communicate verball...
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Children who learned the form of communication in the first grade performed 50 percent better on a series of cognitive tests.

28 JUL 2011

 Characteristics of Visionaries

Visionaries had in common five characteristics, which the researchers termed “Innovator’s DNA.” Here are the first three: • An ability to associate creatively. They could see connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, problems or questions. • An annoying habit of consistently asking “what if”.And “why not” and “how come you’re doing it this way”. These visionaries scoured out the limits of the status quo, poking it, prodding it, shooting upward to the...
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Experimentation, inquisitiveness, and the ability to draw associations are the cognitive traits of an innovative mind.

28 JUL 2011

 The Baby's Brain is Interested in Surviving

Many well-meaning moms and dads think their child’s brain is interested in learning. That is not accurate. The brain is not interested in learning. The brain is interested in surviving. Every ability in our intellectual tool kit was engineered to escape extinction. Learning exists only to serve the requirements of this primal goal. It is a happy coincidence that our intellectual tools can do double duty in the classroom, conferring on us the ability to create spreadsheets and speak Fre...
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This is an important thing to remember when trying to teach children: first provide them a safe environment.

28 JUL 2011

 Benefits of Open-Ended Playtime

Studies show that, compared with controls, kids allowed a specific type of open-ended play time were: • More creative. On average they came up with three times as many nonstandard creative uses for specific objects (a standard lab measure) as did controls. • Better at language. The children’s use of language was more facile. They displayed a richer store of vocabulary and a more varied use of words. • Better at problem solving. This is fluid intelligence, one of the basic...
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Lots of boosts to a child's creativity and cognition when they are allowed free playtime.

28 JUL 2011

 Imaginative Play with Rules

Vygotsky was one of the few researchers of his era to study dramatic play in children. He predicted that the ability of the under-5 crowd to engage in imaginative activities was going to be a better gauge of academic success than any other activity—including quantitative and verbal competencies. The reason, Vygotsky believed, was that such engagement allowed children to learn how to regulate their social behaviors. Hardly the carefree activity we think of in the United States, Vygotsky sa...
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Adding rules to imaginative play gives children better self-control.

31 JUL 2011

 Do Not Praise Your Children's Intelligence

On the successful completion of a test, they should not have said,“I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart. They should have said, “I’m so proud of you. You must have really studied hard”. This appeals to controllable effort rather than to unchangeable talent. It’s called “growth mindset” praise. More than 30 years of study show that children raised in growth-mindset homes consistently outscore their fixed-mindset peers in academic achievement. They do better in adult life, t...
 2  2  notes

Praise them for working hard because they can control that.

31 JUL 2011

 An Hour of TV a Day Equals a 10 Percent Increase in Atten...

Another example comes from a study that looked at bullying. For each hour of TV watched daily by children under age 4, the risk increased 9 percent that they would engage in bullying behavior by the time they started school. This is poor emotional regulation at work. Even taking into account chicken-or-egg uncertainties, the American Association of Pediatrics estimates that 10 percent to 20 percent of real-life violence can be attributed to exposure to media violence.   TV also poisons at...
  1  notes

Even second-hand television, just having it on the the room, causes problems; therefore, the APA recommends no Television for children for two years.

31 JUL 2011

 Recommendations for Exposing Children to Television

1. Keep the TV off before the child turns 2. I know this is tough to hear for parents who need a break. If you can’t turn it off—if you haven’t created those social networks that can allow you a rest—at least limit your child’s exposure to TV. We live in the real world, after all, and an irritated, overextended parent can be just as harmful to a child’s development as an annoying purple dinosaur. 2. After age 2, help your children choose the shows (and other screen-based expos...
  1  notes

No television before age two, and when television is introduced, limit consumption and use watching television as a chance for interaction to have the child think critically about what they are seeing.

31 JUL 2011

 Exercise with your Children

This rise in pediatric obesity is painful to hear in the brain science community, especially because we know so much about the relationship between physical activity and mental acuity. Exercise—especially aerobic exercise—is fanastic for the brain, increasing executive function scores anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent. This is true across the life span, from young children to members of the golden-parachute crowd. Strengthening exercises do not give you these numbers (though ther...
  1  notes

Exercise is so important for improved cognitive function.

31 JUL 2011

 Friendships are the Best Predictor of Happiness

“The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”       After nearly 75 years, the only consistent finding comes right out of It’s a Wonderful Life. Successful friendships, the messy bridges that connect friends and family, are what predict people’s happiness as they hurtle through life. Friendships are a better predictor than any other single variable. By the time a person reaches middle age, they are the only predictor. Says Jonatha...
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Having strong social bonds and the opportunities for altruistic acts are a strong predictor of lifelong fulfillment.

31 JUL 2011

 The Four Kinds of Parents

In the mid-1960s, Baumrind published her ideas on parenting, a framework so robust that researchers still use it today. You can think of her ideas as the four styles of child-rearing. Baumrind described two dimensions in parenting, each on a continuum: • Responsiveness. This is the degree to which parents respond to their kids with support, warmth and acceptance. Warm parents mostly communicate their affection for their kids. Hostile parents mostly communicate their rejection of their ...
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Combinations of Responsive and Demanding behaviors in parents, with Responsive and Demanding parents being the best.

31 JUL 2011

 Parents Who Know Their Child's Emotions have Power Over T...

Why does this work? We know only a couple parts of the story. The first is that parents who possess emotional information gain the great power of behavioral prediction. Moms and dads become so acquainted with their children’s psychological interiors, they become pros at forecasting probable reactions to almost any situation. This results in an instinctive feel about what is most likely to be helpful, hurtful, or neutral to their child, and in a wide variety of circumstances. That’s abou...
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Parents who pay attention to their children's emotional states can recognize the inner workings of their children and respond to them more effectively. Teach your children the names of the emotions they are experiencing to give them control over them.

31 JUL 2011

 Music Lessons Teach Children Emotional Nuance

10 years of music lessons There’s another powerful way to fine-tune a child’s hearing for the emotional aspects of speech: musical training. Researchers in the Chicago area showed that musically experienced kids—those who studied any instrument for at least 10 years, starting before age 7—responded with greased-lightning speed to subtle variations in emotion-laden cues, such as a baby’s cry. The scientists tracked changes in the timing, pitch, and timbre of the baby’s cry, all t...
  1  notes

Children who begin music lessons before the age of seven have a greater ability to detect emotional nuance than children who do not.

31 JUL 2011

 The Stages of Moral Development

Kohlberg outlined a progressive process for moral development: 1. Avoiding punishment. Moral reasoning starts out at a fairly primitive level, focused mostly on avoiding punishment. Kohlberg calls this stage pre-conventional moral reasoning. 2. Considering consequences. As a child’s mind develops, she begins to consider the social consequences of her behaviors and starts to modify them accordingly. Kohlberg terms this conventional moral reasoning. 3. Acting on principle. Eventually, the ...
Folksonomies: development ethics morality
Folksonomies: development ethics morality
  1  notes

Three stages of moral development, of which the third many people never reach.

31 JUL 2011

 Don't Spank Your Children

Over the years, many studies have been devoted to assessing the usefulness of this method, often coming to confusing—even opposing—conclusions. One of the latest lightning rods is a five-year review of the research literature by a committee of child development specialists sponsored by the American Psychological Association. The committee came out against corporeal punishment, finding evidence that spanking caused more behavioral problems than other types of punishment, producing more agg...
  1  notes

Enough studies confirm the detrimental effects of this practice that it shouldn't even controversial, but it is.

31 JUL 2011

 Parenting is Receiving as Well as Giving

As a new parent, you may feel sometimes that all children do is take from you, but it is just a form of giving in disguise. Kids present you with an ear infection, but what they are really giving you is patience. They present you with a tantrum, but they are really giving you the honor of witnessing a developing personality. Before you know it, you’ve raised up another human being. You realize what a great privilege it is to be a steward of another life. I said that parenting is all about ...
  1  notes

We give and give and give to our children, but in return we get to experience the wonder of watching a life develop.

31 JUL 2011

 Join a Community as Parents

For evolutionary reasons, human babies were never meant to be born and raised in isolation from a group. Psychotherapist Ruth Josselson believes it is especially important for young mothers to create and maintain an active social tribe after giving birth. There are two big problems with this suggestion: 1) Most of us don’t live in tribes, and 2) we move around so much that most of us don’t even live near our own families, our natural first tribal experience. The result is that many new pa...
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Includes a great idea for cooking 50 meals for parents of a new baby.

31 JUL 2011

 A Strategy for Allowing Children Access to Digital Media

Knowing full well the need for our kids to be digitally conversant, yet fully aware of the dangers, we came up with a few rules as our boys became preschoolers. First, my wife and I divided digital experiences into categories. Two of the categories involved things necessary for school work or for learning about computers: word processing and graphics programs, web-based research projects, programming, and so on. The boys were allowed to do these as homework required. Recreational experiences...
  1  notes

Categorize media into constructive and fun and allow the children to earn "fun digital" time money they can spend on games or other activities.

31 JUL 2011

 Verbalize Empathy

In front of your children, verbally speculate about other people’s perspectives in everyday situations. You can wonder why the person behind you in line at a grocery is so impatient or what the joke is when a stranger talking on a cell phone laughs. It’s a natural way to practice seeing other people’s points of view—the basis of empathy.
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Speculate aloud on the the motivations and perspectives of other people in front of your children to give them empathy.

31 JUL 2011

 Guide Your Child to a $50k a Year Career

Guide your child toward a $50,000 career   People who earn six- and seven-figure incomes, studies show, are not substantially happier than those who earn five. The cutoff is about $50,000, in 2010 dollars.
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This is the median income of happy people, higher incomes than this do not come with significant increases in happiness.

27 JUL 2011

 Preschool Social Programs Demonstrate the Importance of a...

In 1962, researchers wanted to test the effects of an early-childhood preschool training program they had designed. Kids in Ypsilanti, Michigan, were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first attended the preschool program (which eventually became a model for other preschool programs nationwide, including Head Start). The second group did not. The differences powerfully illustrate the importance of a child’s early years. The kids in the program academically outperformed the contro...
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Programs like Head Start have a lifetime's worth of positive benefits for the children enrolled in them.

28 JUL 2011

 The Affect of a Nurturing Environment on Babies

If survival is the brain’s most important priority, safety is the most important expression of that priority. This is the lesson Harlow’s iron maidens teach us. Babies are completely at the mercy of the people who brought them into the world. This understanding has a behavioral blast radius in infants that obscures every other behavioral priority they have. How do babies handle these concerns? By attempting to establish a productive relationship with the local power structures—you, in ...
 1  1  notes

Babies that have their needs met grow up to be regular children, babies that are neglected, even in just the first four months, grow up to be gang members.

27 JUL 2011

 Why the Brain Takes So Much Time and Effort

The brain’s chief job description—yours, mine, and your hopelessly adorable children’s—is to help our bodies survive another day. The reason for survival is as old as Darwin and as young as sexting: so we can project our genes into the next generation. Will a human willingly overcome self-interest to ensure the survival of his or her family’s genes into the next generation? Apparently, yes. Enough of us did hundreds of thousands of years ago that we grew up to take over the Seren...
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Babies must be born before they are ready to prevent killing the mother, thus parenting became an evolutionary strategy in humans.

31 JUL 2011

 Activities With Children

After my children turned 3, I employed some fun activities to improve executive function, roughly based on the canonical work of Adele Diamond. I would tell them that today was “opposite day. When I held up a drawn picture of the night, an inky black background sprinkled with stars, they were supposed to say “day.” When I held up a picture with a big blue sky inhabited by a big yellow sun, they were supposed to say “night.” I would alternate the pictures with increasing rapidity ...
  1  notes

Some activities the author engages with his children to teach them self-control.

28 JUL 2011

 Talk to Your Babies

The more parents talk to their children, even in the earliest moments of life, the better their kids linguistic abilities become and the faster that improvement is achieved. The gold standard is 2,100 words per hour. The variety of the words spoken (nouns, verbs, and adjectives used, along with the length and complexity of phrases and sentences) is nearly as important as the number of words spoken. So is the amount of positive feedback. You can reinforce language skills through interaction: l...
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2,100 words per hour in a variety of words. Babies are listening.

31 JUL 2011

 The FIRST Principle for Effective Punishment

Effective punishment FIRST   “F” stands for firm. The punishment must mean something. It has to be firm and aversive to be effective. “I” stands for immediate. The closer the punishment is delivered at the point of infraction, the more effective it is. “R” stands for reliable. The punishment must be consistently applied whenever the noxious behavior is displayed. Inconsistently applied rules are confusing and lead to uneven moral development. “S” stands for safe. Th...
  1  notes

Firm Immediate Reliable Safe Tolerant punishment is best for children, when there is not opportunity to praise good behavior.

28 JUL 2011

 IQ is Malleable

IQ is malleable. IQ has been shown to vary over one’s life span, and it is surprisingly vulnerable to environmental influences. It can change if one is stressed, old, or living in a different culture from the testing majority. A child’s IQ is influenced by his or her family, too. Growing up in the same household tends to increase IQ similarities between siblings, for example. Poor people tend to have significantly lower IQs than rich people. And if you are below a certain income level, ec...
Folksonomies: intelligence iq elasticty
Folksonomies: intelligence iq elasticty
  1  notes

A poor child adopted into a middle-class family will gain 12 to 18 IQ points.