Category Archives: Social & Emotional

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

Playdates 101

If you are thinking of organizing play dates…Congrats! That means you have mastered the diaper changing and feeding, and, hopefully, you’re getting some sleep and even managed to start showering every day.

So probably now you have a bunch of questions about play dates, is my baby ready for play dates? How long should it last? What are some do’s and don’ts I should know? Don’t worry, we will give you some tips and try to clear the air around all of your questions.

You can start right now!

If you have an infant, playdates ten to be more about you, the mommies. It is important you find mommies that you can relate to so that you can talk about the daily routine, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding and even funny or not-so-funny stories. Don’t worry, they will totally understand as they are on the same page as you. During these playdates babies will be able to profit from being exposed to new toys, an unfamiliar environment, and even another small person lying next to them, even if they sleep most of the time. 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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My baby’s social world

Babies are social beings. it’s in their nature and it’s a key aspect for their survival and to connect with others.

From the moment they’re born, babies begin to communicate with others through their very own language: crying. A baby’s cry prompts the caregiver to offer comfort and fulfill the child’s needs, be it food, a diaper change, or simply cuddle time.

By responding to your baby’s needs, you are helping her become more efficient at communicating with you, and soon all those sleepless nights will be rewarded with your little one’s first toothless grin.

Your baby’s first social smile will emerge between one and a half to three months of age. You’ll be able to differentiate this smile from her first reflex smile since this smile occurs in response to a stimulus and not a spontaneous body reaction. For example seeing your face or listening to dad’s voice will elicit a social smile. Respond to your baby’s smile and your baby learn that they can communicate with their parents in more ways than just crying. Talking, singing and making eye contact with your baby helps her learn to socialize and express her different emotions.

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Happy Parents, Happy Kids: What can I do to strengthen my romantic relationship?

If you’re like most new parents, then you probably focus most of your energy and attention towards your new baby, as you should, but what about your relationship with your partner?

Between the baby’s naps, your post-baby body, and the exhaustion of taking care of a newborn, be careful, you could be neglecting your relationship with your partner! Numerous studies show that new parents are the most uniformly dissatisfied group when it comes to marital happiness. But anyone who’s had his or her party of two crashed by a magical (but exceptionally demanding) third wheel doesn’t need to read the research, since he or she is probably going through it.

If this is your case, don’t worry! It is totally normal; most couples that have a new baby have been through this stage. The important thing is to recognize that you may need to put in a bit more effort in your relationship. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to keep it going: Continue reading

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

A New Approach to Childhood Discipline

Many educational practices are based on incentives and consequences that are all tied to a desired behavior. Why is my child misbehaving? He is not sufficiently motivated to follow the rules. Strategies such as timeouts, counting to three, sticker charts, privilege gain and loss emphasize obedience with adult commands and rely on power to achieve one’s goals.

But, is there a better option to remedy misbehavior?  How about shifting away from power and more towards collaboration as the primary means by which a parent can ultimately better influence kids? Giving kids a voice on their own affairs and the necessary tools to solve problems that affects his or her life is a much better way to prepare a child for the real world.

Parents worry about losing a sense of control and authority if they shift from power to collaboration, however parents fail to recognize that control is simply an illusion. No parent has any total control over their child’s outcome. The best you can aim for is influence – parents have a lot of influence and their voices have a greater likelihood of being heard, when they learn to hear their kids’s voices and involve them in finding solutions to problems that affect their lives. What about expectations? Yes, it’s impossible to parent without expectations. The issue lies when your child is having difficulty meeting a specific expectation. How can a parent or caregiver solve a problem in a cooperative manner? Dr. Ross W. Greene, author of “Raising Human Beings” outlines his environmentally focused method to remedying behavior: Continue reading

How to deal with the “Terrible Twos”

Is your baby’s second birthday coming up? Then you know that the “terrible twos” stage is approaching. Since it can hit at 18 months or at 34 months, it’s less of an age, and more of a stage of development – so you may be dealing with it when you least expect it.

But is it as dreadful as everyone says? It all depends on how you handle it!

Two-year-olds are just realizing that they are separated entities from their parents, which means they will be determined to define themselves, test their limits, communicate their likes and dislikes (as much as they can), and act independently.

The downside is that toddlers are just developing their skills, so they won’t be able to accomplish everything they set out to do and that is frustrating. At this age, your little one will have a hard time expressing his feelings and controlling his emotional impulses, so his anger and frustration tend to erupt abruptly in the form of crying, hitting, or screaming. During this period your little one will need your patience as well as loving guidance to help him navigate through the rush of emotions he will experience.

When you see a challenging behavior, it usually means that your child can’t figure out how to express his or her feelings in an adequate way or doesn’t know how to get his or her desires met. To cope with challenging behavior, your response should show a beneficial way to handle his or her feelings.

Here are some tips you can try to handle challenging behavior:

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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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Developing a Sense of Self

How do babies develop a sense of self? When does this realization occur? Does your little one recognize him or herself in the mirror? That’s only one part of a much more complex process.

Research has found that from the moment they are born, babies are well aware of their own bodies. Body awareness is a key skill that helps distinguish oneself from others. Since birth, they are exposed to information related to who they are – they can touch their faces and body and exert their influence on the world that surrounds them.

“Selfhood starts at birth, but children don’t start expressing an “idea of me” until toddlerhood.” – (Ross, Martin, & Cunningham, 2016).

At around the second half of your baby’s first year, he or she will begin to respond to his or her name. At first, he or she might simply stop to listen and focus his or her eyes in your direction when you call for him or her. Later on, closer to his or her first birthday, your little one will respond by turning, crawling or even taking a few steps towards you! Continue reading