Raising children is one thing, but how about prodigies?

Tuesday, 6 November, 2012

Raising a child is one thing, but one that is especially gifted or talented, or a prodigy, can present parents with a completely different set of challenges:

Every prodigy is a chimera of such mastery and childishness, and the contrast between musical sophistication and personal immaturity can be striking. One prodigy I interviewed switched from the violin to the piano when she was 7. She offered to tell me why if I didn’t tell her mother. “I wanted to sit down,” she said.

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How quickly children grow in time lapse mode

Thursday, 26 April, 2012

Frans Hofmeester has stitched together photos of his son Vince, taken from the time he was born until his ninth birthday, chronicling his growth in time lapse format.

He has also made a similar video of his daughter Lotte, ranging from birth to age twelve.

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Hyperactive children are not made of sugar and candy

Wednesday, 9 November, 2011

The notion that sugar consumption and hyperactivity in children are linked is a tenacious one, though not one of twelve studies in the subject have ever turned up such a connection.

Even when science shows time and again that it’s not so, we continue to persist in believing that sugar causes our kids to be hyperactive. That’s likely because there’s an association. Times when kids get a lot of sugar are often times when they are predisposed to be a little excited. Halloween. Birthday parties. Holidays. We may even be causing the problem ourselves. Some parents are so restrictive about sugar and candy that when their kids finally get it they’re quite excited. Even hyper. This does not mean that there aren’t a ton of great reasons why our kid should not ingest large quantities of sugar. As almost any parent knows, sugar has been linked to cavities and the obesity epidemic. Just don’t blame it for your child’s bad behavior.

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One year old children are smart enough to know who isn’t smart

Tuesday, 21 June, 2011

Children as young as 14 months old are able to tell the difference between adults who pass on reliable information and those who are do not, and after a time will only take cues from those they consider to be switched on.

“Infants seem to perceive reliable adults as capable of rational action, whose novel, unfamiliar behaviour is worth imitating,” the researchers said. “In contrast, the same behaviour performed by a previously unreliable adult is interpreted as irrational or inefficient, thus not worthy of imitating.”

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Cool kids never have the time, nor much of an adult life either

Wednesday, 18 May, 2011

Children who are marginalised at school because they are considered to be geeks or nerds, tend to be more successful as adults, as they are far more self aware, spontaneous, and creative, than popular students, says Alexandra Robbins, who has written a book on the subject, The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth.

So called popular students are more likely to act and think according to the wishes of the groups or cliques there are part of, rather than on their own, behaviours that are unhelpful in adult life.

Even if the kids in these cliques are momentarily on top of the world, Robbins says the traits they are learning could be toxic in their future lives. “When you are in the popular crowd you are more likely to be conformist, you are more likely to hide aspects of your identity in order to fit into the crowd, you are more likely to be involved in relational aggression, you are more likely to have goals of social dominance rather than forming actual true friendships,” Robbins says, pausing for a breath. “You are more likely to let other people pressure you into doing things. None of those things is admirable or useful as adults.”

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If you don’t eat your vegetables you can’t have any stickers

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

While it is possible for parents to persuade, even entice, young children to eat vegetables, the best results come from offering a reward, even something quite small, like a sticker. Such a strategy need only be short term as well, after a couple of months eating an appropriate serving of vegetables with reward, the habit becomes permanent.

Over the course of two weeks, Wardle compared doing nothing with three different strategies. One was simply asking the kids to try the vegetable. In another, the kids were lavishly praised (“Brilliant, you’re a great taster!”) And in the third, the kids were offered a small reward (a sticker) for their efforts. The rewards, according to a recent write-up in Psychological Science, enticed kids to try the vegetable more. But the big surprise is that, three months later, the sticker kids were still eating substantially more of it. (The praised kids also ate more, though not as much.) This is a key insight into human behavior: Temporary rewards can bring permanent change.

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Enriching the lives of our children may not leave us so rich…

Thursday, 9 December, 2010

Parents keen to cultivate and enrich the lives of their children by encouraging them to pursue a sometimes large range of extracurricular interests – such as dancing, musical, and sporting activities – are behind an increase, of almost 25 percent in the last 50 years, in the cost of raising a child through to the end of high school.

By the time Alex turns 18, Mr. and Mrs. Giulianis will have spent somewhere around $222,360. That’s the cost the USDA figures for the average middle-income couple raising a child from birth through age 17. And it’s 22 percent more, in real dollars, than parents spent in 1960 – in the thick of the baby boom – when the USDA started counting such things and when kids shared bedrooms, had one pair of shoes, ate TV dinners and Wonder bread sandwiches, did homework with encyclopedias, didn’t go to the doctor – let alone medical specialists – for much more than vaccinations or a broken arm, and went out to play unsupervised. (“Just be home by dinner!” called stay-at-home moms who did their own housekeeping but no helicoptering).

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Who is at their most creative on three hour sleep except parents?

Wednesday, 24 November, 2010

The interrupted nights of sleep that (sometimes) accompany parenting don’t always impact on the creativity of some people, in fact the half-sleep that some parents experience seems to enhance it.

My 21-month-old son, Elias, has been teething and/or sick over the past few weeks and he wakes up at least once every night, sometimes in a fit. My wife is five months pregnant, so I’ve been getting up and sitting with him in a rocking chair or playing him lullabies on the ukulele until he falls back asleep. I don’t really mind the interruptions. Rising out of bed in a gray stupor is now second nature, but every day at the office, with the trail of half-slept nights growing longer, I expect to be nodding off in a useless fog. Instead, I’ve been blasting through assignments (I’m an editor for a family of fine-dining magazines) with very little second-guessing or patchwork.

I suspect your mileage will vary however.

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How exactly are you meant to feel when you become a father?

Thursday, 7 October, 2010

On becoming a father… photographer Phillip Toledano sifts through the mixed feelings he experienced following the birth of his daughter Loulou, in his photo essay “The Reluctant Father”.

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The top worries of parents are usually the least of real worries

Monday, 20 September, 2010

When it comes to the welfare of children, parents tend to worry excessively about the danger of scenarios that are unlikely to transpire, over events that actually do take place.

Why such a big discrepancy between worries and reality? Barnes says parents fixate on rare events because they internalize horrific stories they hear on the news or from a friend without stopping to think about the odds the same thing could happen to their children. “I’d love it if every news story came with a little warning at the bottom that said, ‘Even though this is very tragic, this is 1 in 10 million, 1 in a million or 1 in 20’, ” says Barnes.

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