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Posts Tagged ‘Developmental psychology’

Want your child to have positive memories of childhood?

January 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Do you find my brain? - Auf der Suche nach mei...

Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr

Apparently the human brain is naturally hard-wired to remember negative experiences. Even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the implicit negative memory bank grows faster. We retain negative memories and tend to forget the good ones.

So given that we know that, how can we use that to the benefit of parenting? You can rig your child’s brain for happy memories! Sounds a little creepy, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences. Instead, the key is to fostering as many positive experiences as possible and then really let them soak in.  Christine Carter, a psychologist who writes a blog on at the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, suggests the following:

1. Teach kids to see all the good around them. Share with them an appreciation for a beautiful day, time spent together, good food, the kindness of others. The idea is turn positive facts that are present all around us into an experience for the child.

2. Draw out and really savor the experience. The idea here is to not only encourage your child to hold the positive idea in mind, but also to remember the emotions. That practice will strengthen the positive associations made with the memory.

3. Let it all sink in. Let your child imagine this feeling sinking into their mind, using methaphors such as the way water sinks into a sponge.

Focusing on good memories in this way can actually overwrite negative ones. Dr. Carter’s uses her personal example of not remembering the pain of being bullied because all the positive attention she received from friends and family created so many positive memories for her that they outweighed the negative.

Do you have an example to support this theory from your childhood?

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Test Your Child’s Temperament (and it’s free!)

November 16, 2010 2 comments

In addition to reading a lot of books about parenting, I also like to read blogs. So when I find interesting elements, I will share those here as well. If I find the entire blog interesting to following long-term, I add it to my blog roll to the right of the screen.

While browsing tonight, I found an interesting quiz to improve your understanding of your child. Psychologists Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess have come up with nine typical traits that make up a person’s temperament (a few other theories exist as well):

1. Activity level (physical energy)
2. Distractability (tendency to get distracted by events in environment)
3. Intensity (energy level of a positive or negative response)
4. Need for physical routine (predictability in biological functions)
5. Sensory sensitivity (reaction to sensory changes in environment)
6. Initial reaction (approach/withdrawal to a situation)
7. Adaptability (how long a child takes to adjust to a new situation)
8. Persistence (attention span)
9. Usual mood (general tendency toward happy or unhappy demeanor)

You can test your child’s temperament for these 9 traits here:
http://www.readyforlife.org/temperament/quiz

You can also test your own temperament to see how it matches your child’s. The site (http://www.readyforlife.org) also has other interesting information on temperament. Knowing your child’s temperament can help you reframe how you look at your child’s behavior and address their individual needs.

How do you Teach Honesty? The difference between “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “George Washington and the Cherry Tree”

November 15, 2010 2 comments

In the book NurtureShock, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss research by Dr. Victoria Talwar, one of the leading experts on children’s lying behavior. During one of Dr. Talwar’s experiments, reading the story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree (George confesses he chops downs a prized cherry tree with a hatchet and the father forgives him and says to hear George tell the truth is better than having a thousand cherry trees) cut down lying in boys by 75 percent and in girls by 50 percent. While 75 percent of parents polled by Bronson and Merryman on their website (http://www.nurtureshock.com/) believed The Boy Who Cried Wolf would reduce lying, it actually served to increase it slightly.

In essence, what Dr. Talwar’s research found is that children lie to make parents happy. Most parents respond to lies with anger and punishment. She found in her experiment with six-year olds that what really reduces lying is for the parent to say that they are not upset with the transgression and that if the child tells the truth, they will make the parent very happy. While it also reduces lying to say that the child will make him/herself very happy, young kids are most focused on making their parent happy, hence the greater effect when saying it in the context of the parent’s happiness.

The other reason that children lie, Talwar notes, is that they learn it from us in the most subtle ways – white lies and disapproval about tattling. More on that some other time.

How to get kids to do boring but necessary tasks

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment

The week is getting super busy so I have not done much reading to talk about. I would like to continue posting, so today I am sharing an article that I found some time ago from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley entitled How to Get Kids to Do Boring but Necessary Tasks

The best part of the article I think is the final conclusion (based on this one and several previous related articles):

“Rewards work in the short-term because they provide us with a nice feel-good Dopamine hit. But unfortunately, rewards tend to have a negative effect on kids’ motivation over the long-term. The answer is to motivate kids to do those not-so-fun things that are necessary in life with the particular kind of encouragement described above. That way, their brains deliver those feel-good chemicals in response to their feelings of mastery and autonomy (intrinsic motivation) rather than in response to receiving a material reward (extrinsic motivation).”

Based on other things I have read, this means rewards are helpful when you want to make a change in a temporary behavior, for example, sleeping without a pacifier. But when it comes to long-term behavior, such as working hard in school or instilling honesty, it is better to motivate using the strategies discussed in the article above.

Negotiating and parenting

November 5, 2010 Leave a comment

About 6 months ago, I was researching the renowned developmental child psychologist Jean Piaget, and I came past this article:

Intellectual and Moral Autonomy: Operational Implications in Child Development. Aids to Programming UNICEF Assistance to Education. June 1984.

While many parts of the paper were great food for thought, I liked this piece the most:

“Children who thus negotiate mutually acceptable solutions day after day develop their ability to think logically because they have to make sense to others if they are to be convincing. This ability to think logically is an important foundation for learning to read, to do arithmetic, and to organise every other kind of knowledge in and out of school.”

I loved this paragraph because it is definitely a core belief of our family to allow negotiation and to always listen to a child’s viewpoint. However, sometimes I am (very) worn down by the negotiating done in our house (especially at the end of the day, simultaneously by all 3 kids!). However, it helps to remember that it is useful developmentally and this reminds me to stick to our belief.