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Child Development

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BBC Interview: Dr. Dieter Wolke on Sibling Rivalry

Secure Attachment to Moms Helps Irritable Babies Interact With Others

Mother to Son Relationship Key to Emotional Development

Father-Daughter Attachment Affects Communication in Future Relationships

The Neurobiology of Attachment

Edge Conversation: Sarah Jane Blakeman on the Adolescent Brain

Attachment Approach to Couples Therapy

On Feminists, Attachment Parents, Tiger Moms and Wise French Mothers. Oh, and Dads

Time Magazine Cover: What's It Trying to Do?

 

Series: Core Competencies for Kids

What Self-Esteem Really Means

The Crucial Role of Self-Control

Decision-Making Skills

Prosocial Skills

Moral Intelligence

Bye-Bye Boot Camp: Positive Parenting for Challenging Kids


RELATED LINKS:

The Motivation Equation:
Understanding a Child's Lack of Effort

Why Empathy Is Not Indulgence

The Praise Wars: Are Children Overpraised?

 

 

cuteness factor

 

 


Children as Young as Three Recognise 'Cuteness' in Faces of People and Animals

July 21, 2014—Children as young as three are able to recognise the same ‘cute’ infantile facial features in humans and animals which encourage caregiving behaviour in adults, new research has shown.

A study investigating whether youngsters can identify baby-like characteristics—a set of traits known as the ‘baby schema’—across different species has revealed for the first time that even pre-school children rate puppies, kittens and babies as cuter than their adult counterparts.

The discovery that young children are influenced by the baby schema—a round face, high forehead, big eyes and a small nose and mouth—is a significant step towards understanding why humans are more attracted to infantile features, the study authors believe.
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Childhood Maltreatment Associated with Cerebral Grey Matter Abnormalities

 

Abuse could lead to permanent brain damage

June 18, 2014—An international study has analysed the association between childhood maltreatment and the volume of cerebral grey matter, responsible for processing information. The results revealed a significant deficit in various late developing regions of the brain after abuse.
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Anxious Children have Bigger “Fear Centers” in the Brain

Philadelphia, PA; June 16, 2014—The amygdala is a key "fear center" in the brain. Alterations in the development of the amygdala during childhood may have an important influence on the development of anxiety problems, reports a new study in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.
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Want a Young Child to 'Help' or 'Be a Helper'? Choice of Words Matters

 

Tying helping to children's sense of identity may be key

April 30, 2014—How do you get a preschooler to help with chores and other household tasks? A new study suggests that adults' word choice can make a big difference.
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How Mothers Help Children Explore Right and Wrong

 

Concordia study shows that parental talks support children’s understanding of their moral experiences

April 15, 2015—There’s no question that mothers want their children to grow up to be good people—but less is known about how they actually help their offspring sort out different types of moral issues.
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Bye-Bye Boot Camp: Positive Parenting for Challenging Kids

April 1, 2014—Having children is not a prerequisite for having strong opinions about childrearing, so it’s not remarkable that when we do have children, we can be a bit defensive about our parenting style. This is true even when it seems to be working well; but what if our child’s behavior seems particularly challenging? Because we take our responsibility seriously, we may focus on who or what is to blame, rather than on what we can do to improve the situation. We may even wonder whether it can be improved. Is a noncompliant toddler doomed to become a challenging adolescent? Worse, if we have a defiant teenager—one who refuses to comply with requests or follow rules of conduct—do we have any real chance of producing the result we want for him or her?
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Neurobiologists Find Chronic Stress in Early Life Causes Anxiety, Aggression in Adulthood

Cold Spring Harbor, NY; March 27, 2014— In recent years, behavioral neuroscientists have debated the meaning and significance of a plethora of independently conducted experiments seeking to establish the impact of chronic, early-life stress upon behavior—both at the time that stress is experienced, and upon the same individuals later in life, during adulthood.
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Safety First, Children

 

University of Iowa study examines how parents can teach their children to be safer

March 20, 2014—As parents, we’ve all been there: Watching our children teeter on a chair, leap from the sofa, or careen about the playground, fearing the worst. And, we all wonder, how can we teach them to be safer? Such was the goal of a team of researchers at the University of Iowa, who analyzed in a new study how children take stock of various real-life scenarios, and how mothers can help them assess potential hazards. Their conclusions: Children and mothers regularly don’t see eye-to-eye on situational dangers. Because of that, it’s critical that mothers explain why a situation is dangerous, beyond simply administering a verbal slap on the wrist.
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Playing with Barbie Dolls Could Limit Girls' Career Choices, Study Shows

CORVALLIS, OR; March 5, 2014—In one of the first experiments to explore the influence of fashion dolls, an Oregon State University researcher has found that girls who play with Barbie dolls see fewer career options for themselves than for boys.
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Study Shows Why Breastfed Babies Are so Smart

 

Two parenting skills deserve the credit

February 26, 2014—Loads of studies over the years have shown that children who were breastfed score higher on IQ tests and perform better in school, but the reason why remained unclear until now.
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Culture Influences Young People's Self-Esteem

February 24. 2014—Regardless of our personal values, we base most of our self-esteem on the fulfilment of the dominant values of our culture, reveals a global survey supervised by Maja Becker, a social psychologist at the CLLE (Laboratoire Cognition, Langue, Langages, Ergonomie, CNRS / Université de Toulouse II-Le Mirail). The results of the study, involving more than 5,000 teenagers and young adults in 19 countries, were recently published online in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
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Stanford Psychologist Shows Why Talking to Kids Really Matters

February 13, 2014—Fifty years of research has revealed the sad truth that the children of lower-income, less-educated parents typically enter school with poorer language skills than their more privileged counterparts. By some measures, 5-year-old children of lower socioeconomic status (SES) score two years behind on standardized language development tests by the time they enter school.
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'I Know It but I Won't Say It'

 

Tie between toddlers' shyness, language abilities reflects reticence to respond

February 3, 2014—Previous research has suggested that shy children have difficulties with language. Now, a new longitudinal study paints a more nuanced picture.
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For Young African-Americans, Emotional Support Buffers the Biological Toll of Racial Discrimination

February 3, 2014—African American youth who report experiencing frequent discrimination during adolescence are at risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke in later years, according to a new study. The study also found that emotional support from parents and peers can protect African American youth from stress-related damage to their bodies and health.
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Parents Less Likely to Spank after Learning about Links to Problems in Children

 

Studies demonstrate that brief exposure to research findings can reduce positive corporal punishment attitudes in parents and non-parents

January 21, 2014—Parents who spank their children believe it’s an effective form of discipline. But decades of research studies have found that spanking is linked to short- and long-term child behavior problems. Is there any way to get parents to change their minds and stop spanking? Child psychologist George Holden, who favors humane alternatives to corporal punishment, wanted to see if parents’ positive views toward spanking could be reversed if they were made aware of the research.
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Infants Show Ability to Tell Friends from Foes

 

Infant cognition study offers new evidence that babies make inferences about social relationships

January 8, 2014—Even before babies have language skills or much information about social structures, they can infer whether others are likely to be friends by observing their likes and dislikes, a new UChicago study on infant cognition has found.
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Loving Touch Is Critical for Premature Infants

Philadelphia, PA; January 6, 2014—The benefit that premature infants gain from skin-to-skin contact with their mothers is measurable even 10 years after birth, reports a new study in Biological Psychiatry.
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Babbling Babies Responding to One-on-One ‘Baby Talk’ Master More Words

January 6, 2014—Common advice to new parents is that the more words babies hear the faster their vocabulary grows. Now new findings show that what spurs early language development isn’t so much the quantity of words as the style of speech and social context in which speech occurs.
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When Being Called “Incredibly Good” is Bad for Children

 

Study shows inflated praise can harm kids with low self-esteem

COLUMBUS, OH; January 2, 2014—Parents and other adults heap the highest praise on children who are most likely to be hurt by the compliments, a new study finds. Researchers found that adults seem to naturally give more inflated praise to children with low self-esteem.  But while children with high self-esteem seem to thrive with inflated praise, those with low self-esteem actually shrink from new challenges when adults go overboard on praising them.
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Brain Connections May Explain Why Girls Mature Faster

December 19, 2013—Newcastle University scientists have discovered that as the brain reorganizes connections throughout our life, the process begins earlier in girls which may explain why they mature faster during the teenage years.
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Bedtime for Toddlers: Timing Is Everything, Says CU-Boulder Study

December 16, 2013—The bedtime you select for your toddler may be out of sync with his or her internal body clock, which can contribute to difficulties for youngsters attempting to settle in for the night, according to a new University of Colorado-Boulder study.
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Messy Children Make Better Learners

 

Study shows toddlers learn words for nonsolids better when getting messy in a highchair

December 2, 2013—Attention, parents: The messier your child gets while playing with food in the high chair, the more he or she is learning.
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Kids Whose Bond with Mother Was Disrupted Early in Life Show Changes in Brain

December 2, 2013—Children who experience profound neglect have been found to be more prone to a behavior known as "indiscriminate friendliness," characterized by an inappropriate willingness to approach adults, including strangers.
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Connections in the Brains of Young Children Strengthen during Sleep

November 20, 2013—While young children sleep, connections between the left and the right hemispheres of their brain strengthen, which may help brain functions mature, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
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For Low-Income Families, Substandard Housing Takes Toll on Children

 

Study of 2,400 children, teens and young adults sharpens focus on quality, not affordability

CHESTNUT HILL, MA; Oct. 22, 2013—A new report from researchers at Boston College and Tufts University shows the distinct emotional and educational price children pay when their families live in run down apartments and homes.
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Not All Silence is Golden: Study Compares Environments for Premature Infants

Cincinnati, OH; October 17, 2013—Medical technology has improved the survival rates of premature infants, but adverse developmental outcomes are a continuing problem. Researchers have turned their attention to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where premature infants spend their first few weeks or months, for potential answers. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers studied the relationship between different room types in the NICU and the developmental outcomes of the children at 2 years of age.
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Babies Know When You're Faking

 

Infants can detect unjustified emotional reactions as early as 18 months, say researchers

Montreal; October 16 2013—If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! That’s easy enough for children to figure out because the emotion matches the movement. But when feelings and reactions don’t align, can kids tell there’s something wrong? New research from Concordia University proves that they can—as early as 18 months.
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Go to Bed! Irregular Bedtimes Linked to Behavioral Problems in Children

 

Effects build up incrementally and are reversible, say researchers

October 14, 2013—Researchers from University College London have found that children with irregular bedtimes are more likely to have behavioural difficulties.
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Household Chaos May Be Hazardous to a Child’s Health

 

Study links crowding, noise, lack of routine to worse outcomes

COLUMBUS, OH: October 9, 2013—Kindergarten-age children have poorer health if their home life is marked by disorder, noise and a lack of routine and they have a mother who has a chaotic work life, new research suggests.
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Empathy Helps Children Understand Sarcasm

October 8, 2013—The greater the empathy skills of children, the easier it is for them to recognize sarcasm, according to a new study in the open-access journal Frontiers in Psychology.
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Young Adults Reminisce about Music from before Their Time

September 9, 2013—Music has an uncanny way of bringing us back to a specific point in time, and each generation seems to have its own opinions about which tunes will live on as classics. New research suggests that young adults today are fond of and have an emotional connection to the music that was popular for their parents' generation.
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Giving Preschoolers Choice Increases Sharing Behavior

August 19, 2013Getting kids to share their toys is a never-ending battle, and compelling them to do so never seems to help. New research suggests that allowing children to make a choice to sacrifice their own toys in order to share with someone else makes them share more in the future. The new findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

These experiments, conducted by psychological scientists Nadia Chernyak and Tamar Kushnir of Cornell University, suggest that sharing when given a difficult choice leads children to see themselves in a new, more beneficent light. Perceiving themselves as people who like to share makes them more likely to act in a prosocial manner in the future.
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Will to Win Forms at Age Four

 

New research suggests children under four don’t yet understand competitive behaviour

August 15, 2013A team of researchers from the University of Warwick and University of Salzburg found most children under 4 did not have a developed understanding of other people's perspectivesspecifically, of the fact that what someone intentionally does depends on their take on the situation.

Johannes Roessler, from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and his co-authors Beate Priewasser and Josef Perner from the Department of Psychology at the University of Salzburg, tested 71 children aged between 3 and 5 years old on two tasks: the first assessed children's ability to understand that people sometimes act on the basis of false beliefs, and the second assessed their understanding that two competitors have different, and conflicting, goals.

The researchers wanted to explore how much young children’s understand other people’s goals: do they understand that an actor’s goals reflect his or her perspective on what’s desirable?
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Boys Will Be Boys—In the U.S. but Not in Asia

CORVALLIS, OR; May 22, 2013—A new study shows there is a gender gap when it comes to behavior and self-control in American young children—one that does not appear to exist in children in Asia.

In the United States, girls had higher levels of self-regulation than boys. Self-regulation is defined as children’s ability to control their behavior and impulses, follow directions, and persist on a task. It has been linked to academic performance and college completion, in past studies by Oregon State University researchers.

In three Asian countries, the gender gap in the United States was not found when researchers directly assessed the self-regulation of 3-6 year olds. The results appear in the new issue of the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
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From Mice to Humans, Comfort is Being Carried by Mom

CELL PRESS, April 18, 2013—There is a very good reason mothers often carry their crying babies, pacing the floor, to help them calm down. New research published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 18 shows that infants experience an automatic calming reaction upon being carried, whether they are mouse or human babies.

The study is the first to show that the infant calming response to carrying is a coordinated set of central, motor, and cardiac regulations and an evolutionarily conserved component of mother-infant interactions, the researchers say. It might also explain a frustrating reality for new parents: that calm and relaxed very young children will so often start crying again just as soon as they are put back down.
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Core Competencies for Kids: Building Moral Intelligence

April 15, 2013—If you had to compose a list of skills children need in order to develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults, what would it include? You might think of any number of important attributes, but most would probably fit within the five broad categories identified by researchers Nancy G. Guerra and Catherine P. Bradshaw in their 2008 study. In this series we have covered all but the last of these “core competencies for positive youth development,” which include a positive sense of self, self-control, good decision-making skills, and prosocial connectedness. The final competency, according to Guerra and Bradshaw, is a moral system of belief—or what some have referred to as "moral intelligence."
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Multiple Moves Found Harmful to Young Children in Low-Income Families

March 28, 2013—Poor children who move three or more times before they turn 5 have more behavior problems than their peers, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University and the National Employment Law Project. The study is published in the journal Child Development.

Moving is a fairly common experience for American families; in 2002, 6.5 percent of all children had been living in their current home for less than six months. Among low-income children, that number rose to 10 percent. In addition, in 2002, 13 percent of families above poverty moved once, but 24 percent of families below poverty moved. Research has shown that frequent moves are related to a range of behavioral, emotional, and school problems for adolescents.
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Arguments in the Home Linked With Babies’ Brain Functioning

APS; March 25, 2013—Being exposed to arguments between parents is associated with the way babies’ brains process emotional tone of voice, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study, conducted by graduate student Alice Graham with her advisors Phil Fisher and Jennifer Pfeifer of the University of Oregon, found that infants respond to angry tone of voice, even when they’re asleep.

Babies’ brains are highly plastic, allowing them to develop in response to the environments and encounters they experience. But this plasticity comes with a certain degree of vulnerability—research has shown that severe stress, such as maltreatment or institutionalization, can have a significant, negative impact on child development.
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Iowa State Researchers Find Parent-Child Violence Leads to Teen Dating Violence

AMES, Iowa; March 25, 2013—Teens today are involved in intimate relationships at a much younger age and often have different definitions of what is acceptable behavior in a relationship. Violence is something that is all too common and according to researchers at Iowa State it is a reflection of the relationships teens have with their parents or their parent’s partner.
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Mom's Sensitivity Helps Language Development in Children with Hearing Loss

CORAL GABLES, FL; March 8, 2013—University of Miami (UM) Psychologist Alexandra L. Quittner leads one of the largest, most nationally representative studies of the effects of parenting on very young, deaf children who have received cochlear implants. The findings indicate that mothers who are most sensitive in their interactions with their children receiving cochlear implants have kids that develop language faster, almost "catching up" to their hearing peers. The report is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

This cohort of deaf and hearing children has now been followed for approximately 8 years post-implantation; NIH has just funded the competitive renewal, allowing the researchers to follow them for another 5 years, into adolescence. The aims will focus on their cognitive and social development, as well as their academic achievement.
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Solving Common Family Problems

February 24, 2013—In every family, there will be problems. No matter how positive and empathic we have been, kids will still argue and misbehave, and ask for more than they can have. The demands of our daily lives—and of theirs—will inevitably create conflict and misunderstanding.

Kenneth Barish, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Cornell University's Weill Medical College, offers five concrete steps that will help parents solve most of the common problems they will encounter,
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The Praise Wars: Are Children Overpraised?

It is far too easy for parents to come to either-or conclusions on the topic of children and praise. For many, the question is a Shakespearean one: "To praise, or not to praise?"

According to Kenneth Barish, Ph.D., however, we may be asking the wrong question. Barish, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, has been working with children and teens in a clinical setting for more than 30 years. In his own review of the research on praise, another story seems to emerge: one that is well supported by his long clinical experience.

"My own experience—and, I believe, a correct reading of the research on praise—teaches a very different lesson," says Barish, "In three decades of clinical practice, I have met many discouraged, angry, and unhappy children. And the culprit is not praise, but criticism. Most of these children were overcriticized; very few were overpraised."

But what about the dangers of creating "praise junkies?" Barish explains some of the nuances that help reconcile current black-and-white notions about praising children.
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Core Competencies for Kids: The Crucial Role of Self-Control

Of the responsibilities parents tacitly accept when they bring a child into the world, perhaps the most important is teaching how to regulate thoughts, emotions and behavior.

Children who reach adolescence without developing this ability are more likely to fail academically, exhibit aggressive behavior, abuse substances, engage in high-risk sexual behavior and—as a result of any or all of these—generally experience negative life events. Unfortunately, many parents who struggle in this area themselves are ill-equipped to pass these skills down. Yet some researchers will go so far as to suggest that most if not all major problems that plague individuals of all ages in our society, including a number of health problems and mental issues, can be traced in some way to an inability to appropriately control aspects of the self.
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Core Competencies for Kids: Decision-Making Skills

Children around the world commonly use counting rhymes to decide who will be their teammates, which chocolate they will eat, or who among their siblings gets to push the elevator or lift button. But inevitably the decisions children face will become a bit too complicated for counting rhymes. Choosing homework over video games can mean the difference between good grades and bad; choosing one friend over another could mean the difference between being exposed to risky behaviors or mind-expanding, positive experiences. In fact, just about every aspect of our children’s well-being depends on how adept they become at making wise decisions.

By the time we are parents, we understand that the consequences of a single bad choice can reverberate for years, so we want to help our children become competent decision makers. But what skills are required, and how do parents instill them?
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Core Competencies for Kids: Prosocial Skills

What makes the difference between kids who are at risk for lifelong mental-health and behavioral problems and those who seem able to deal with whatever life throws at them as they mature? Experts tell us it’s a matter of gaining certain skills or “competencies” in childhood that serve our well-being for the rest of our lives: decision-making skills, self-control, a healthy self-view, a moral system of belief—and something called “prosocial connectedness.”
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Sibling Rivalry: Playing Favorites

It takes many forms, and exists for a variety of reasons. Children tend to recognize it more readily than do their parents, and it is more common during times of family stress, particularly of the sort that results from marriage problems. When it is not recognized and addressed, it can create long-term emotional problems and can devastate family relationships. “It” is favoritism, and it is far more common than we might like to think.
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