Category Archives: Social & Emotional

The importance of our social and emotional development

We often emphasize IQ as the strongest predictor of success and we overlook emotional intelligence -the greatest factor in determining later success. 

We tend to overlook social-emotional development when it comes to observing our baby’s overall development. We take a closer look at motor milestones and worry about their future IQs. However, emotional stability and the ability to control and detect feelings is arguably a better predictor of success.

If this argument does not seem convincing, let’s recap a study that was conducted a few years ago. In his now famous marshmallow experiment, Walter Mischel studied delayed gratification with 4 year-olds. The children were given a marshmallow and were told that they could eat it now or wait until the experimenter came back 15 minutes later, in which case they would get another one. Some kids were unable to control their impulses, while others although struggling and closing their eyes to avoid temptation, were able to wait for their reward. Further studies found that the performance on this marshmallow test predicted success at the end of high school more accurately than their IQ scores at that time. Those that had impulse control, later did better on their SAT scores than those that were more impulse driven. They were more conscientious and better socially adapted. Thus, all the intelligence in the world will not be effective if a child lacks emotional intelligence.

How to raise caring children

Early in children’s lives we see the beginnings of compassion, empathy, and caring, but in order for those qualities to flourish and for the kids to become full ethical people, adults need to help them out.

When children can empathize with others, they’re more likely to be happier and more successful later on in life, having stronger relationships with others. It’s important to strive to cultivate children’s concern for others. As part of their Making Caring Common Project, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education has shared a few guidelines to raise caring, respectful, and ethical children.

1. Strive to develop loving relationships with your children

If you want your kids to be caring and respectful, then treat them that way! Tend to their physical and emotional needs, provide a stable and loving family environment, show affection, talk about things that matter to them, and praise their efforts and accomplishments.

2. Be a strong moral role model

Children learn by observation, they will repeat the things they see other adults they respect do. Make sure that you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself! It’s important that when you catch yourself not being such a great role model in front of your kids, you acknowledge it and work on it!

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Wiring up the visual brain: Nature vs. nurture

“Vision will become the lens through which your baby will perceive and learn about the various properties of the world.”

The vision takes up 30% of our cortex, compared to the 8% of touch and just the 3% of hearing. Each of the two optic nerves carrying information from the retina to the brain consist of millions of fibers. It is one of the most sophisticated aspects of human development. This development occurs so quickly that is dominates the human sensory experience. This process is crucial and will become the lens through which your baby will perceive and learn about the various properties of the world.

Firstly, how does this phenomena occur? Babies begin with a rather limited visual experience, but this wiring occurs in two phases. The first phase of this development is nature’s part of the job, establishing a crude wiring diagram. Big groups of neurons use a host of programmed molecule cues to help guide axons to near current locations. The second phase, however, is influenced by nurture. The baby’s visual stimulation generates electrical activity. Neighboring axons compete for space in the brain’s unrefined map and the pruning process occurs. Depending on the timing and level of electrical activity, axons either lose their synapses or link into accurate targets. This evolutionary adaptive process is called synaptic pruning; the “fittest” or most active connections that complete this wiring journey are able to successfully refine this crude map into a more precise representation of visual space.

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Why being a dad is completely awesome!

Being a dad is awesome! And although those first few days (or months) were a bit hard, you always knew that everything was worth it. Being a dad is the best thing that has happened to you!

In celebration of Father’s Day we have come up with five reasons why being a dad is pretty amazing:

1. You become a kid again! Once you become an adult you know that playing like a kid can look a bit foolish – and we know that you secretly miss it! But with your kid at your side you can let your imagination run wild and become a kid again!

2. You become a professional photographer! As you see your little one grow up so fast you will want to capture every special moment. So your phone is probably full of baby pictures and videos! We even bet that you are thinking of getting a particular camera for all those awesome vacations you will take one day. So go ahead, capture every moment of your little one’s childhood, because they grow up so fast!

3. You never thought you could love someone that much! From the moment you held that little baby, you knew that your heart was taken. Now every time you see your little one sleeping, eating, laughing, or just looking at you your heart completely melts for him or her. Just wait when he or she grows up and asks for the car! Continue reading

Why love matters

Every parent has heard how early experiences define a child’s future, but most people underestimate the importance of love and stability during infancy. A great deal of the brain’s biochemistry and structure is determined during a baby’s first months. Also, most problems found in childhood and adolescence like aggression, hyperactivity, depression, and poor school performance are subsequent to early experiences; current research has proven this to be the case.

Human brains have many common characteristics with those of other animals. What differentiates us from every other species is the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex, particularly the pre-frontal section, also known as the social brain. This part is in charge of emotional control, awareness of other people’s emotions, and empathy. This area is not innate or works automatically like most of the brain, and we aren’t born with anything hard-wired in it. This part is conscious and malleable, most of it shaped by early experiences. Right after birth, a baby doesn’t have many neural connections (synapses), and most of them are created during the first year. This is when the brain has the most neural synapses. After the first year, a process called pruning begins, where only the circuits that are used the most stay, and the others are lost.

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One major factor that can impact your child’s academic & social success

The first 3 years of life are a period of remarkable transformation in a child’s development. During this time, babies change from being dependent newborns, to toddlers capable of exploring their surroundings on their own and expres with words their wants and needs.

It is during these early years that the foundation of a child’s brain architecture is established. Early experiences, especially the relationship between a child and a parent, impact the development of the brain architecture, providing the basis for all future learning, behavior, and health. As explained by Harvard University’s Center of the Developing Child, “Babies naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures; and adults respond with the same kind of vocalizing and gesturing back at them. This back-and-forth process is fundamental to the wiring of the brain, especially in the earliest years”.

But to what extent could your interactions affect your baby’s development?

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, University of Delaware, and the University of Illinois had that same question and decided to collaborate in a study to see if caregiving (more specifically, maternal sensitivity) during the first three years of life could affect people as adults. 

How to raise emotionally intelligent children

Can you remember the last time you felt really frustrated or sad? What techniques or skills did you use to manage your emotions?

Just like adults, children need to develop strategies for managing their emotions. Many times, toddlers and young children will bite or hit out of frustration, or have a hard time calming down after an exciting day. It is a parent’s responsibility to teach them the skills needed to identify and express their feelings. Although aggressive behaviors in young children may be challenging for parents, these situations are a great learning opportunity for them to identify and express their emotions!

Research has shown the benefits that result from teaching emotional intelligence from a very young age. According to various studies, young children who participate in social-emotional skills programs show less aggression and anxiety, and become better at solving social problems. Not only do these outcomes provide a more peaceful environment for everyone, but also the benefits endure through the years! In fact, regulating emotions and not reacting in impulsive or hurtful ways is now recognized as a critical factor in children’s psychological health.

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Why being a mom is completely awesome!

As a mom, you probably know about all the kind of struggles new parents face, but the truth is that after all the chaos that the day brings, being a mom is the best thing that has happened to you! You never thought that you could love someone that much and even become a better person for him or her. Being a mom is simply AWESOME!

Here at Kinedu we came up with some great reasons why motherhood is amazing, check them out and let us know what you think.

  1. You are more empathic. Probably every time you see a mom with her newborn crying you remember those good old (scary) days! Rather than feeling annoyed because the baby won’t stop crying, you empathize with the mom. Motherhood has given you the ability to step into other parents’ shoes, and appreciate the giant job they undertake with their own kids. Becoming a mom has given you a new, essential life perspective, and your compassionate side has blossomed.
  1. You are super productive. Can you even remember those days that you didn’t have anything to do? Now you probably have a million things to do… but don’t worry, motherhood has made an efficiency expert out of you! You probably had a routine planned out for today… a week ago. Those daily naps are glory and you make them count every time! With this new ability now nothing is impossible!
  1. Being a mom helps you make great friends. You probably thought that after college making that kind of good friends would be really hard. Now, as a mom you meet new friends everywhere! From birthing class to your son’s school. You may not have the same background but you share one key element: motherhood, and it’s really easy to bond and learn new things from each other because of it.

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Why parents need to let their children experience failure

Once a baby comes into the world, it becomes a parent’s innate desire to protect and support him as he grows. Life has completely changed -now someone’s life depends on you to grow and develop happily. This new responsibility is not a burden; it is something you are willing to do out of love. However, this inherent vow to protect your baby from any harm does not mean you should go over the top and guard him from any possible setback or failure. It means letting them fail safely.

Nevertheless, letting children fail safely is easier said than done. As time goes by, many parents have started to believe that “more” is better. For example, giving “more” praise, helping out “more”, so they don’t feel stressed, and the list goes on. Although they have the best intentions, these actions actually backfire. Many parents have a difficult time watching their children “fail”. And who could blame them? All you want to do is see your children succeed, so how could you stand seeing your child struggle? How can you not intervene when you see he is stressed out, sad or anxious by not being able to complete a task? Where are parents supposed to draw the line?

The ideal parent is one who is involved and responsible, but respects his child’s autonomy. Although it may feel uncomfortable, parents need to let their children make mistakes. In fact, letting them learn from their mistakes and failure helps children build resilience –which is an essential part in raising a confident, happy, and successful adult!

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Preparing your child for a new sibling: A few tips

Welcoming a new baby to the family can be tough for siblings. Rivalry usually begins right after the arrival of the second child, or often times even before it. Most of the time, the older child acts out by becoming aggressive or by regressing and acting more like a baby (wanting a bottle, peeing in their pants, etc.). It’s essential to prepare your older child when you know you are expecting a new baby. Kids need to know what to expect to feel secure, and they need time to adjust to changes.There are tons of things you can do to make the adjustment process easier for everyone. Here are just a few:

  • Tell your older child about your pregnancy when you tell your friends. It’s important that he hears this from you, and not someone else!
  • If any (other) big changes are coming up in your toddler’s life, like moving to a new bed or bedroom, start toilet training, or starting preschool, plan to get through them before the baby arrives.
  • Constantly talk to your little one about the baby arriving, giving him a realistic idea of what to expect. For example, let him know that the baby will take up a lot of your time and that the baby will not be able to do much at first!
  • Sit down with your toddler and look at pictures and videos of birth and of the days when he was very little. This will give  him a better picture of what to expect.
  • If it’s possible, visit friends with a new baby.
  • Let your older child participate in the preparations as much as possible. For example, you can let him decide, between two choices, his sibling’s first outfit.

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