How can we foster self-control and self-regulation in our kids?

 

During your adventures in parenthood, you’ll come across a wide-range of typical baby and toddler moments that can basically come down to one thing: self-control or (most times) the lack of it. First off, when talking about self-control we’re referring to the ability to inhibit strong impulses (like running off or biting a friend). On the other hand, self-regulation is all about reducing the frequency and the intensity of those strong impulses by proper management (for instance the ability to resist sweets). In a way, self-regulation is what makes self-control possible. So, what can we do to teach our little ones these very important set of skills?

Developing self-control begins at birth and continues across your little one’s entire life. It’s critical in helping your baby succeed in school, his or her social environment and overall development. It will help your baby learn to cooperate, cope with frustration and resolve conflicts properly. When it comes to these skills, it’s your simple day to day interactions as parents that mean the most:

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Newborn reflexes

During the first weeks of your baby’s life much of her activity is reflexive due to the fact that all babies have a limited amount of control over their body. To make up for this lack of control, mother nature made sure babies were born with a set of survival mechanisms that protect them from harm. For this reason, although your little one is very dependent on her caregivers, she is not completely defenseless.

Reflexes disappear within the first few months or year of your baby’s life once she does not need them anymore. Some even turn into voluntary actions once your little one begins to gain control over her body. These innate mechanisms usually have a short duration, but they are very important. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure your little one has all her primitive responses present, as they indicate that the brain and nervous system are doing their job correctly. You could verify your baby’s reflexes at home but know that your healthcare provider will make sure your little one displays all her reflexes during her first check-up. If you’d like to learn more about these fascinating involuntary movements or actions, check out our list of the most common baby reflexes below.

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How music helps boost language development

We tend to emphasize the importance of reading to children to develop their language skills, but sometimes we forget to consider the incredible benefits that music and singing also provide. Studies have shown that the brain areas responsible for understanding music and language are closely connected.

According to Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, singing lullabies and nursery rhymes to infants before they learn to speak can lead to future educational success and emotional well-being. She identifies singing as speech all on its own; a special kind of speech that carries the inflections of children’s primary language and therefore prepares a child for its acquisition. Continue reading

Encouraging my little one’s discovery, art and science interests!

After your baby is born, getting to know anything is a new adventure, and of course the environment in which your child grows up has an effect on his experiences and greatly influences his development. Keep reading to find effective suggestions on how to foster your little genius’s mind!

 

You’ll notice your little one is adventurous and excited about everything, especially when it’s something new. When we are interested or motivated about something, dopamine is released inside our brain. And when this happens, it is more likely that we remember the activity we are doing because, upon dopamine’s release, the brain feels rewarded. When we reinforce our brain with positive outcomes, the rewards center will help us remember that activity and keep our brains motivated.

You will see your little one engaging with his surroundings spontaneously, wanting to discover and understand the world around him. As parents you can encourage your child to explore and find the sense of wonder in everything. Here are some ideas of things that you can do to foster your child’s discovery, art and science interests:

  • Kids love the outdoor world, and it exposes them to new, natural and colorful stimuli. Sit or play with your little one outside very chance you get.
  • Learn about water by grabbing an empty shampoo bottle and filling it up. Put a little bit of soap and watch how bubbles form when you shake it.
  • Make some paper planes to play outside to get him interested in understanding the differences of that one and a real one.
  • Explore around the kitchen. Do all fruits have the same number of seeds? Try classifying them!
  • What happens when you mix water with baking soda? Why?
  • After a storm, why are rainbows formed? How many colors can you see?
  • How about growing your own bean plant? Why does it need water? is it the same to place it under a light bulb rather than sunlight?

 

These are some suggestions to keep your little one interested about the world. Learning new and exciting things will increase his dopamine levels in a natural way and will reward his brain, reinforce positive outcomes, and increase his motivation and interest in activities!

 

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Introducing Kinedu Skills® – and how it benefits you!

 

We’ve been working on something big… huge, actually! A complete redesign of our milestones and the way we present them. We are thrilled to present Kinedu Skills®: a more intuitive way of understanding your child’s development and interacting with Kinedu.

Over the course of the last 18 months, we’ve worked to restructure our milestones. We’ve eliminated redundant items, non-observable ones, and also consolidated items that measured two skills in one. Having clearer milestones makes it more probable we’ll get precise information from our users about their child’s development, and therefore will be able to provide a more personalized experience.

We also analyzed our database of over 500,000 families and with the help of Stanford University Psychology Professor Michael Frank, and we identified 26 core skills present in early childhood development. Every skill groups together the milestones a child is acquiring from 0-24 months, and serve as major developmental goals to work towards. For example, milestones related to walking will now be asked together, and parents will get a progress report on that particular skill with percentile data. It’s easier to identify how your child is doing on one particular skill, rather than a more general developmental area and our percentiles can help you gain a better understanding of how your child is doing compared to other children his or her age. You’ll get to answer the milestones in every skill that is developmentally appropriate for your child, depending on his or her age.

At Kinedu, we recognize that every child develops at his or her own pace. This is our effort to produce more personalized activity plans, tailored to every child’s particular needs, and offer our users a deeper understanding of their baby’s development.

Introducing Kinedu Skills®

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a complete redesign of our milestone and evaluation structure. We are proud to present our new project: Skills®. We’d like to share with you how we came up with a new way to assess early childhood development and give you a better way to understand your baby’s development.

We dug deep into our milestones – over fifty million individual data points, and we came to learn that our milestone structure needed an upgrade – a better way to present milestones to families, to get accurate data and to provide more personalized activity plans.

First, came a full revision of every last one of our 550+ milestones. We collaborated with Professor Michael Frank from Stanford University to produce a final list. Based on his suggestions, we reviewed them to eliminate redundant items, non-observable ones, and also consolidated the ones that measured two skills in one. With this revision, also came a full revision of each milestone’s attributed month according to CDC and AAP standards, along with other evidence-based studies, and the data from over half a million families.

From this analysis, we realized that milestones could be grouped into “families” of milestones that described the development of specific skills in a child. This provided an opportunity to improve how we cluster our data, and this in turn came with a complete redesign of our assessments as well. Instead of following age ranges and developmental areas, our milestones now follow skills – regardless of age (although age is important to understand developmental variability!).

For example, milestones that led to being able to crawl, such as posture on all fours, sliding on the floor, and crawling, have all been categorized into a separate skill: Crawling. Users will now be able to see at a glance how their baby is doing in developmentally appropriate skills, like walking, babbling or imitating. This will allow us to display milestones to our users without limiting which ones we show based on their baby’s age. Since every baby develops at his or her own pace, this is something imperative. More importantly, grouping milestones in such a way allows us to measure variability in development – recognizing and pointing out (with data!) that it is perfectly OK for babies to say their first words before walking or walk before talking. In the end, our data uncovered 26 major groups of milestones, which we believe are the core developmental skills for every child.

Finally, we conducted a survey to validate our research-based assessment and the way we clustered them into skills. We gathered over 2,000 responses and were able to measure each skill and milestone individually, obtaining an age of acquisition for each one. We understand the role variability plays in early child development, which is why we’ll now present progress resulpfts with percentiles for every skill. Percentiles can help our users gain a better understanding of how their child is doing compared to other children his or her age. With this new data, we can now present our users with more exact and detailed information on their baby’s progress.

This comprehensive revision of our milestones will lead to a better user experience, provide more accurate data for analysis, and therefore give us the tools we need to be able to offer a more detailed, evidence-based report on each baby’s progress. This has been something we’ve been planning and working on for some time now – so we’re extremely excited to be able to release it soon. We hope you enjoy our product re-design: it’s been two years in the making, and we hope it drives our collective understanding of early childhood further.

The science behind deferred imitation.

Deferred imitation is typically defined as a modelled action or series of actions that are reproduced after a certain delay.

The beauty behind deferred imitation, is that it can give us a tremendous amount of insight into our little one’s development. It symbolizes an underlying complex cognitive process. It has been theorized, that imitation may also be an important channel for early social learning. It seems that observation has a great effect on skill acquisition and in some cases even more so than conditioning or trial and error.

For your baby to be able to imitate a day or a week after he sees you do something, your baby has acquired the ability to retain the information, recall it and reproduce it without a guide later on. Simple acts such as closing a flap, pushing a button or shaking an object after seeing an adult doing it a while ago are already a sign of a cognitive task as well as physical. Deferred imitation taps more into “recalling” abilities than recognition per se. Your baby must do something more than simply discriminate between a familiar and an unknown object, he must use his motor skills to reproduce the act he saw earlier.

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Finger dexterity: developing the pincer grasp

Since birth, your baby began developing and fulfilling an incredible amount of skills that allow him to interact with his surroundings. As a parent, it is amazing to see how our babies meet these challenges with eagerness and joy!

One of the great milestones that your baby will fulfill during his first year of age is the pincer grasp. This milestone is fundamental for his development and involves grabbing small objects with the index finger and thumb. Achieving this skill is not easy, it requires a lot of practice. This finger dexterity milestone will begin to develop around the eighth or ninth month of your baby’s life. At first, you’ll see him begin to use this type of grasp clumsily but little by little the movement will become more precise.

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The best way to read with your 2-year-old

Including reading time in your daily routine not only boosts language development, but it provides special one-on-one quality time that strengthens the bond between you and your little one.

Depending on your child’s age, you can focus on different aspects of the reading experience to get the most out of it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a literacy toolkit that includes great tips for parents and caregivers who wish to make the most out of reading time! This article will summarize a few key points about reading with a 2-year-old throughout two stages: 24-29 months and 30-35 months. Within each age range, you’ll find examples of what your child can do and what you can do to maximize the reading experience!

24 to 29 months old

Your child can: At this age, your little one can choose a book to read together – it might be the same one over and over again! He’ll probably be able to repeat a few words and phrases you say while reading, and love to laugh at silly stories and pictures. Your child might be curious and ask simple questions about the book, like “What’s that?”

You can: Find a quiet, cozy place where you and your child can cuddle up and read together. This is a great way to calm and comfort your little one. While reading, pay attention to your child’s cues and respond with excitement. If he says an important word like “dog” you can say “Yes, that’s a dog! The dog is playing outside.” Read joyfully, using different tones of voice for each character. You can even count the objects in the pictures, and wait for your little one to repeat after you. Continue reading

The science behind baby-talk: more than a guilty pleasure!

Why is it that adults become all of a sudden fluent in “motherese” when there’s a baby in the proximity?

When you find yourself in the company of young children, be it your kids, a friend’s, or just the cute baby in her mother’s arms that you crossed at the coffee shop, chances are you have experienced for yourself that automatic and hard to ignore temptation to engage in the caricaturized “baby-talk” with them. What has science got to say about this phenomenon? And beyond its cuteness, is it actually beneficial for your baby’s linguistic and socio-emotional development?

When adults talk to babies and pre-linguistic infants, no matter what part of the world they are in or what language they use (anthropologists have found it native communities from Sri Lanka to Siberia), their speech gravitates towards using some particular features of what is formally known as “infant-directed speech”. This form of addressing infants is characterized by being an emotionally-charged and melodic tone with a higher pitch than usual. Vowels are stretched out, sentences are simplified, and facial gestures and emotional intonation is stressed. These characteristics of baby-talk are particularly emphasized by adults when they are addressing very young babies, and then naturally decrease as the child grows and his or her language skills develop. Continue reading