We Shouldn’t Wait Until Kids are Teenagers to Teach Them Health

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Teaching children how their bodies function is a controversial idea to some people who think children should remain ignorant until their late teens. Waiting until their bodies are fully developed is too late to teach people about issues like puberty and pregnancy according to experts. Those experts are backed by tons of research and statistics about health around the world. So why don’t we teach children about bodily functions? Because some parents think health education is only about teaching children about sexual activity. It’s time to change that.

While parents, not schools, should be in charge of teaching values, said Schroeder, kids should be learning the facts from content experts, just like they do in other subjects. “It’s gotta be a partnership. I don’t think it’s appropriate for teachers to be inculcating values, that’s the parents’ job. It’s like ‘Dragnet’: Just the facts, ma’am,” she said.

That has led Deardorff to argue that it might be better to find a new name for these early stages of sex ed, the parts that aren’t directly about sex. “The number one thing that I would suggest is that we start pubertal education earlier. And that we don’t call it sex ed, because that raises all kinds of red flags,” said Deardorff.

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Kids Don’t Benefit from Helicopter Parenting

Being a parent must be hard since websites are constantly telling you what you’re doing wrong. If you’re letting your kid explore the world on their own terms than you’re doing things right! Take a breather parents, it turns out that relaxing and stepping back is best for your kid. Parents who try to control their kids too much end up not letting the kids learn how the world works which means that later on in life those kids can’t cope. So, maybe just take it easy and watch your kids instead of directing them.

At the age of five the team looked at the children’s response to an unfair share of sweets, and their ability to think carefully about a puzzle under time pressure.

When the children were aged five and 10, the researchers asked teachers to rate problems such as depression, anxiety or loneliness in the children, the children’s academic performance, and their views of the children’s social skills. At 10 years the children were quizzed on their attitudes to school and teachers as well as emotional issues.

The team found that once factors including the child’s age, behaviour as a toddler and socioeconomic status were taken into account, more controlling behaviour by mothers was linked both to their children having less control over their own emotions and less control over their impulses by the age of five.

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Let’s get Boys to Feel More Things

In adults we know that having the ability to feel a range of emotions to be a good thing, it allows us to better appreciate the world around us. Yes, even feeling bad can actually be good for you in the long term. We tend to want feelings and experiences that make us feel better (like relaxing instead of working) and we send those feelings to our offspring. We want our kids to also have a pleasurable life instead of a hard one, but should we? New research is showing that we really need boys to feel a ride range of emotions.

If having lots of different emotions is good for our health as adults, then shouldn’t we be fostering the experience of a diverse range of emotions in young children as well? And yet the research suggests we are not fostering emotional diversity from a young age, especially when it comes to raising young boys. As early as infancy, boys’ and girls’ emotional landscape differs. One study reported that when watching an infant being startled by a jack-in-the-box toy, adults who were told the infant was a boy versus a girl were more likely to perceive the infant as experiencing anger, regardless of whether the infant was actually a boy. Gender differences in the diversity of emotion words parents use in conversations with young boys and girls also emerge. Another studyexamining conversations between mothers and young children, mothers interacting with daughters employ emotion vocabulary of greater density and depth, whereas conversations with sons tended to focus primarily on a single emotion—you guessed it, anger. Regardless of whether gender differences in adult behavior arise from conscious or unconscious psychological processes, one thing is clear: boys grow up in a world inhabited by a narrower range of emotions, one in which their experiences of anger are noticed, inferred, and potentially even cultivated. This leaves other emotions—particularly the more vulnerable emotions—sorely ignored or missing in their growing minds.

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Thanks Delaney!

Kids are Really Good at Detecting Bullshit

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Parents already know this.

Kids are really good when it comes to detecting bullshit health claims according to a new study on health. Kids were asked if certain health claims are true or not and the kids were remarkable good at deciphering bogus claims when they thought about it. The bullshit being referred to here is inline with Harry G. Frankfurt’s take on it from his academic essay On Bullshit. Basically, a bullshitter is just trying to persuade their opponent with no regard with what is true (a liar on the other hand knows the truth and is purposefully denying it).

So all those bad articles you see on Facebook claiming to ‘cure’ or ‘heal’ something – see if it fools a kid before you believe it.

In a short time, they were running their own blinded, randomized trials — the gold standard for testing medical claims — in the classroom. By the end of their experiment, Oxman said, “They figured out that there was little if any difference in the effects of the different colors and they asked me if the teenagers who made the claim really believed that.”

The results of the trial were just published in the Lancet, and they showed a remarkable rate of success: Kids who were taught basic concepts about how to think critically about health claims massively outperformed children in a control group.

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A Playground Where Kids Play With Tools

NYC playgroundKids need places to play, and those playgrounds need to encourage community, exploration, and more. Designing a good playground can be harder than it sounds, it’s not as easy as putting a slide in a park and hoping that’s enough. A good playground has risk and challenges the players.

In New York City there is a new spot for kids called play:groundNYC that is unlike other modern parks. This park has tools so kids can try to build things and the grounds are designed to encourage kids to try and experiment with the tools and obstacles present on the site. It’s like an adventure park!

The adventure or “wild” playground movement has risen in response to this overprotectiveness. Its advocates argue that less adult supervision may be more developmentally rewarding for children. There are hundreds of adventure playgrounds in the world, most of them in Western Europe. (The concept was invented in Denmark in the 1930s.) There are about a half-dozen in the United States, with twice as many in the pipeline; numbers are imprecise because the definition of what exactly qualifies as an adventure playground varies. One that undoubtedly does qualify is Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California, a 37-year-old local landmark.

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