2016 Newsletters

A message from Jane Anderson, MD:

On a regular basis, I, along with my professional colleagues, will offer you new scientific research that we hope will be practical and useful in your daily lives.

Current Newsletters

Building Relationships

Research continues to accumulate regarding the influence of technology / screen usage on infants and children, and unfortunately, it often shows an adverse impact on language development and relationship skills. One study found a significant connection between the amount of handheld screen time and expressive speech delay. Another study found that after just five days without screen time, adolescents improved in their ability to correctly interpret other people’s emotions – both in pictures and videos.

This newsletter provides simple strategies for you to help your children develop language and relationship skills.

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Teaching Kids and Teens Respect

Teaching respect can reap benefits for both parents and child. Parents benefit as they can take their children out in public without worrying about misbehavior, so parents are more relaxed and can ultimately enjoy their children more. Children benefit as respect is inherent in the concept of self-control and discipline, and how a child views her parents will essentially determine how that child will later view her school teacher, her boss, and law enforcement. Studies show that lack of discipline, direction and control creates insecurity in both young and older children. We hope this newsletter will provide you with tips and resources on teaching children and adolescents respect--respect for themselves, respect for parents and respect for others in general.

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Teaching Children to Take Initiative

Initiative is dependent upon developing internal rewards (pride of accomplishment, creativity) rather than external rewards (money, grades). Some research states that intelligence accounts for less than 25% of life success, while personal character traits such as initiative are the most important determinant of achievement. The overriding concept is – allow your children to do tasks for themselves, provide a supportive environment that allows for failure, and role model this trait yourself. We hope the suggested concepts in this newsletter will encourage you to provide your children and adolescents with opportunities to develop this important character trait.

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Your "Smart" Child

We often use the word “smart” to indicate how intelligent an individual is – and by intelligence, we are usually referring to the ability to problem solve on an IQ test. However, several researchers are encouraging parents and educators to rethink the concept of “smart” to include eight different forms of intelligence and problem solving: word smart, logic smart, picture smart, music smart, body smart, nature smart, people smart, and self-smart.

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Building Independence in Childen

As parents, it is easy to recognize our role in parenting our infants. Babies are dependent and rely on us as parents to meet all their needs – physical and emotional. We would be most dismayed, however, if our adolescents demonstrated that same dependence – yet, parents often fail to recognize that it is through teaching, mentoring, and practice that our children learn the skills that help them become independent, self-reliant individuals who can contribute positively to their families and society.

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Sensitive or Positive Parenting

Sensitive or responsive parenting refers to family interactions in which parents are aware of their children’s emotional and physical needs and respond appropriately and consistently. Sensitive parents are “in tune” with their children and provide a secure base from which children can explore their environments – and thereby learn. They understand individual developmental and temperamental differences, respond quickly and appropriately to their children, and provide encouragement and support during times of distress. Research shows tremendous benefit to children when parents interact responsively and supportively.

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Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a very powerful and effective teaching tool that can help shape and change behavior. Positive reinforcement, initially promoted by B.F. Skinner, works by presenting a motivating item (reward) after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen again. This newsletter provides information on how parents can identify and reinforce positive behaviors in children through positive reinforcement.

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Fears and Phobias

Fear, or anxiety, is a common emotion experienced by everyone, and can often be beneficial as the emotion heightens our state of alertness and may protect us from dangerous situations. Even infants demonstrate the fear of strangers, and, interestingly, children’s fears change in a predictable manner as they age and mature. As parents, we need to be mindful of how we respond to our children’s fears. We want to assist our children as they face and, hopefully, overcome their fears. In order to help our children with their fears, parents must acknowledge their own fears and temper their personal reactions when their children are present. In this newsletter, we will provide information on age-specific fears, along with helpful ways parents can respond.

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Teaching Children to be Resilient

Resilience – the ability to manage stress and overcome adversity – is one characteristic that has been identified as contributing to success in life. “Bouncing back after hardship” is an important skill to develop, since each child will experience adversities and difficulties, despite our best efforts to protect them. In fact, since children actually benefit from experiencing difficulties, it is important that we, as parents, allow our children to experience adversity and failure, rather than always protecting them from it. Children need to learn that things do not always turn out the way they would like, but they can benefit, even from difficulties. Fortunately resilience can be taught or developed in children by skillful parenting.

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ADHD – What does recent research tell us?

It is widely acknowledged that the prevalence of ADHD has been increasing, with the CDC reporting in 2011 that approximately 6.4 million children between 4 and 17 years of age have been diagnosed with ADHD. 7.8% of children in America were diagnosed with ADHD in 2003, but by 2011 that percentage had increased to 11%. Many factors most likely contribute to this increase, and a few recent articles provide some clues. Some theorize the affected children are manifesting an immaturity of their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for strategizing and controlling impulses. Genetics also seems to play a role, as does parenting, nutrition, and environment.

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Parental Monitoring - Evidence of Benefits

A television broadcaster in the 1960s, Tom Gregory, was known for asking parents, "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" The need for parents to monitor their children's activities is even more important in today's society - and scientific research demonstrates the numerous benefits of parental involvement, especially in the lives of their adolescents.

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Volunteering is a wonderful way to help children learn beneficial values and develop personal characteristics that will last them a lifetime. Compassion, empathy, gratitude, community awareness and responsibility – even job skills – can all be learned through volunteering. At this time of year the available options for families to volunteer together are numerous, and we encourage you to take time this season to think of helping others. As the research documents, you will also be helping yourselves and your children – in your emotional well being, but also your physical health.

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Cell Phones – What does the research tell us?

As technology affects more of our lives, researchers are beginning to investigate the effects of that technology. One study performed by a global security software maker surveyed 2200 mothers from 10 developed nations, including the US and Canada, who had children between ages 2 and 5 years. The survey found that more of these preschool children could use technology than could tie their shoes, ride a bike or swim.

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