All posts by Maggie

Why are baby boys more vulnerable when facing stress?

As we now know, babies’ brains are highly vulnerable especially during the first months of life.

Opposite as we once thought, every move we make as parents has an impact either positive or negative on our children. For so long we have misunderstood how babies develop, and that explains why we have treated baby boys differently. Cultures and religions have influenced too on how we educate our children. We have developed ideas on how tough we should be with our children and we have been tougher with baby boys, since we believe that if we are too caring or responsive we may spoil our boys. However, the truth is that all babies need responsive care and affection to grow physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy.

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What are the outcomes for babies who are born bashful?

Is your child bashful? To determine the answer to this question you may ask yourself how would you describe your child’s temperament. Too often people tend to confuse shyness or behavioral inhibition with introversion (Weir, 2014). As both shy and introverted children’s response to social interactions may seem the same, it’s quite different.

According to Koraly Pérez-Edgar, a developmental psychologist at Penn State University, bashful children really want to socialize with others, but it’s too overwhelming and difficult to them. They really crave social interactions, but at the same time it’s too stressful for them to socialize. On the other hand, introverted children are not really interested in social interactions, as they prefer spending time by themselves. So, how can you detect if your child is shy? Pérez-Edgar says that bashful children have these in common: they are timid, and often show a coy smile.

When can you find out if your child is bashful?

According to longitudinal studies from Harvard and the University of Maryland, signs of behavioral inhibition or shyness can be seen before a baby’s first birthdate (Weir, 2014). One of these signs is sensitivity to novelty. For example, babies react with signs of distress when shown a new musical toy. Later on, this sensitivity to novel things gets canalized into a sensitivity to social novelty (Weir, 2014). This is one of the reasons why it’s more common for a bashful child to develop social anxiety compared to an introverted child.

Is being bashful an all downside?

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Why should we praise children’s actions instead of their innate qualities?

Parents praise their children for many different things, especially during their first few years of life when they are constantly learning and accomplishing new tasks. Be it that their children finally learned to walk, or simply look extremely beautiful, parents tend to constantly praise their children for almost everything. It seems as if they were hired to play cheerleaders for their children the whole day.

And don’t get me wrong, this is great! Babies need this kind of social support to keep up, learn, and grow. But, the thing is that not all types of praises benefit children in the same way. It all depends on the chosen words and whether these words are focusing on the toddler’s efforts, or on his/her physical and individual characteristics. For instance, the phrase “good job” focuses on the toddler’s actions, and “good girl” focuses on the toddler as an individual. Even though both of these phrases may sound quite similar, they have very different effects on toddlers. A study found that toddlers are better prepared for future life challenges when they are praised for their actions and efforts, rather than for their innate qualities.

Researchers studied a group of over 50 toddlers while interacting with their parents. They videotaped these babies and watched them five years later. They found that toddlers who were praised for their efforts during their first three years of life were more prepared to overcome life’s challenges. The reason is that these children believed they had the ability to learn, become smarter, and grow. Their parents had helped them believe in themselves and in their ability to make things happen by putting some work and effort. Moreover, researchers found that more boys were praised for their actions and efforts than were girls. So, even though girls were praised with phrases like: “you are so smart,” they were less likely to believe that they could develop those same traits, and therefore were less likely to challenge themselves. Continue reading

Why should you hold on to some parenting practices?

Change is in our nature! We live in a world that is constantly changing, where we have learned to adapt to new situations and environments. As we discover and experience new things, our parenting practices and cultural beliefs change with us.

Experience has taught us that some old-fashioned social or parenting practices are not good for us, so we strive to change them entirely. But, what about questions we haven’t been able to answer yet? Or wrong knowledge that we thought it was right? New research found that some past parenting practices and cultural beliefs were actually pretty good, and should not be abandoned, since they are necessary for a healthy brain development.

Human babies are born with needs, as their brains haven’t fully developed yet. Narvaez says that ancestral early parenting involved breast-feeding, responsivity, touch, play, and natural childbirth. Studies have found that all of these nurturing practices have a positive impact on a child’s developing brain. For instance, breastfeeding provides nutrients and helps create bonding between mother and baby. Play is an essential form of learning and expressing in children that helps babies develop both social skills and self-control. And touch as a form of language affects empathy and self-control. The problem is that we have abandoned some of these parenting practices, since our cultural or contemporary beliefs have changed, and so, our behavior towards children has changed, too.

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Why over-reactive parenting can negatively affect children?

As we all know, parenting has never been an easy task. Parents often get involved in situations where they feel the need to get angry with their children, so that they can learn right from wrong. Besides, many parents are too worried about being good parents that they miss out what’s most important: to help their children control their emotions so that they can be happy. Parents who constantly get angry and overreact to situations may not be helping their children at all, even though they might think they are.

According to Bandura’s Social Learning theory, children observe how other individuals behave, including their parents, and may later imitate those behaviors. As soon as babies are born, they start to decipher their social world and begin to learn everything about it. Researchers have found that babies tend to misbehave and get upset more than normal, whenever they have parents who constantly overreact and get angry. Continue reading

Affection or discipline? What children need for their healthy development

If there was a parent guide on what to say or how to act in each situation, being a parent would be one more task, and a very simple one. However, each person is unique, so you’ll surely realize that what works with one child doesn’t work with another one. In addition, life is unexpected and the future impossible to control. We are transformed by the different experiences that happen to us through life. Many of these are good, but there are also negative ones that cannot be avoided, and that have an effect in our human development.

In addition, different factors such as the family, economic situation and personality of the child, affect how our children react, act, feel and think in different scenarios. For parents, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to make decisions about raising their children. In fact, some people say that parenting is one of the most difficult tasks, as there are many factors in play that can’t always be controlled. However, experts have found that parenting styles have a strong impact on the development of a child. According to several studies, parents contribute and help shape a child’s behavior, personality, self-esteem, and psychology. In fact, it has been found that children’s development, either positive or negative, depends in part on the parenting style adopted by their parents.

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The benefits of kangaroo care for premature babies

According to the World Health Organization, more than 15 million premature babies are born each year. Premature refers to a baby born before 37 weeks of gestation. The rate tends to increase in low-income countries. According to the Center for the Control and Prevention of Diseases, babies who are born preterm are at increased risk of respiratory problems, intellectual disability, among others. Many of these babies’ lives are at risk due to lack of intervention, or resources and intensive care. It has been found that maintaining skin to skin contact with their parents for several hours a day helps these at-risk babies.

Kangaroo care is a method that involves the mother holding her baby in diapers, while maintaining skin to skin contact. A blanket is used to cover the baby’s back and keep him warm. It’s called kangaroo care because it simulates how kangaroos carry their babies in their pouch. Several studies have found that kangaroo care promotes healthy development of premature babies, and can even save the lives of at-risk babies. Continue reading

Types of attachment: Fostering a secure attachment in your baby

Have you ever wondered why some people struggle to maintain close and healthy social relationships, while others don’t? According to John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and researcher, the emotional responsiveness of our first experience of attachment could be the most influential factor in human development. Bowlby found that primates seek for an adult’s protection when they are in danger, just as we do. According to this pattern of survival, Bowlby concluded that we are programmed to form attachments, and possess an innate willingness to seek proximity to a protective adult.

During their first two years of life, babies form attachments with their parents. This means that the quality of interaction between you and your baby will be very important for his social and emotional development. Some factors that may influence the type of attachment that your baby will develop are: physical contact and attention to basic needs. The critical period to form an attachment to a mother or father is during the first two years of life. It’s very important to foster a secure attachment in your baby, as this will influence the quality of interpersonal relationships that he will have in the future – including romantic relationships!

How to tell if your baby has developed a secure attachment?

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