Friday, January 25, 2013

Improve memory power in kids

Memory is the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, and impressions. Some people seem to possess a better memory than others do. 

Parents often wonder what goes wrong when it comes to developing the memory of their kids. They provide kids with everything that the kids need and yet kids aren’t functioning up to their mark. In fact every kid has his own reasons for poor memory development.  

There are various factors that hamper the  memory skills in a child such as medical conditions, lack of concentration, lack of interest, improper eating habits, irregular sleeping habits, excessive TV watching and excessive stress.

These are few tips which a parent could try out for enhancing memory skills for the child:

1. Destress: Establish enjoyable rituals (favorite songs, card games etc.) or surprises (a fun picture downloaded and printed from the internet) before study time to destress the study experience and open up the brain networks that lead to memory storage

2. Use Color as tool to improve learning and memory:
Have your children use colored pens color code notes or words to emphasize high importance. You can have a picture of a traffic light on the wall and he can use green, orange, and red in order of importance - like the traffic light

3. Novelty: If you add novelty to a study experience it will be more memorable. Use video clips from the internet, put on a funny hat, put a scarf on the dog, light a candle) right before your child begins to study. His alerting system will be more open to processing and remember information that comes in after a novel experience

4. Use connections: Use your child's interests to connect her to the material. Make stories together using the information. Stories are great ways to remember new things because you child's brain grew up hearing stories and the pattern for remembering stories is strong in her brain.  Activate your child's prior knowledge by reminding him of things you've done as a family or that he's learned in other subjects that relates to the new information. When your children recognize relationships between new and prior knowledge their brains can link the new information with a category of existing knowledge for long-term storage

5. Syn-naps: Neurotransmitters, brain transport proteins, needed for memory construction and attention are depleted after as little as ten minutes of doing the same activity. Syn-naps are brain-breaks where you help your child change the learning activity to let her brain chemicals replenish. The Syn-naps can be stretching, singing, or acting out vocabulary words


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Managing the fear quotient of a Child

One has to understand that your child’s early fearlessness stems from the fact that ignorance is bliss. What they don’t know can’t hurt them. This is why the same child that cheerfully put her hand between the jaws of a dog, will later run away screaming at the sight of a barking dog.
It has been observed that these fears develop more often in children for whom feeding and toilet training have been contentious issues, or in those who have overprotective parents or who have been regularly warned or cautioned against doing certain things. On the other hand, some children are just born sensitive.

Fear of the dark

Fear of the dark is one of the most common childhood fears. This is also a fear that adults can most easily identify with.. If your child is scared of the dark you can indulge her by leaving her bedroom door open or leaving a night light on. Keep her well occupied with games and other activities throughout the day so that she has no time to brood on her fears. In time, she will realize that there is nothing to fear

Tangible fears

Sometimes children develop fears of tangible things like dogs, cockroaches, the water, men in uniforms, etc. It will certainly not help to coerce them to overcome their fear by forcing them to confront the objects of their fears. There is a good chance that dragging your screaming child towards a dog or throwing her into a swimming pool is going to backfire. Children most often outgrow these fears themselves.

Fear of death

Some children are scared of death and dying. They cannot understand what happens to their pets or people who die. This is not surprising as adults themselves are confused by death.  Some parents choose to explain death in religious terms. They tell their child that the deceased has gone up to God in heaven. On the other hand, parents can just deal with death by saying that the person was old, weak and too tired to go on living. It is important that parents maintain a casual air and reassure their child that they will be around for years and years to come. 

A positive approach

Always keep in mind that while you may not understand the child’s fear, it is very real to her. Ridiculing the fear or chastising your child for being a coward is not going to make the situation any better. Encourage her to talk about her fear. You must instill confidence in her by assuring her that nothing bad is going to happen and that you are right by her side. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Positive Ways to Talk and Listen to Children

As parents we spend so much of our time talking to our kids — and then wonder why they don't seem to hear us. In heated moments, we find ourselves stuck in power struggles, but can't figure out what to say to stop the fighting. Sometimes we just don't know how to answer a tough question.
Why can talking with kids be so hard? The basic challenge is that parents very often speak without understanding how their children receive the message," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain. "We often make an assumption that our kids understand. But then we wonder, 'Why didn't they do what I said?'"
While many parent-child conversations can lead to misunderstandings, becoming an effective communicator is not only possible - it can even be fun!
Remember: There is no script to memorize or order you have to follow. Think of these easy-to-employ ideas as tools you can pull out when you need them to help you and your child understand each other. And keep in mind that there are important times when NOT talking at all may be your best option
1. Spend Time Listening:
Take a break and listen to your child. Specific actions — like making eye contact, kneeling down to your child's level and even tilting your head-show your child you are listening. They also help YOU stop and really listen
Repeat what you heard. It's often useful to restate what you heard and put your child's feelings into words. You might say, "You wanted a turn on the swing right now, didn't you?" or, "You seem sad about going to day care today." These reflective statements acknowledge and give words to your child's feelings
Ask specific questions to gather more information. You might say, "Can you tell me exactly what happened?" If it makes sense to talk some more, you might ask, "What upset you the most?" Follow-up questions both acknowledge your child's feelings and get her talking about them
2. Consider Your Child's Opinion
See the situation through your child's eyes. You know how you feel when your boss or partner says, "That's ridiculous," or insists you really like something you know you hate? Kids feel the same way when parents say, "You don't really mean that," or "I can't believe you said that!"
Acknowledge your child's feelings. In response to your child's statement, you might simply say, "I'm glad to know that," or "I understand." At times, this acknowledgement is all your child needs to hear
Try not to contradict your child's statement immediately, even if you think he's wrong. Hear him out before saying no
Listen to your child's request without judging or correcting it. Good teachers give a child a chance to explain himself first, even if he's wrong. The same technique works at home
3. Pause and Think Out Loud (Before You Say No)
Give yourself a moment to think about what your child is asking.Even if your final answer will still be "No," you might say, "Let me think about what you're saying for a minute and get back to you."
Pause to consider your child's question. This forces you to slow down and helps you not to make a snap judgment, even if the answer is, "No, we are not getting a bunny." Pausing makes your child feel heard, because you have stopped to consider her opinion; it also diminishes the chances of a power struggle.
Share your thinking out loud. Your children will enjoy being included in your thought processes. If your child asks for a sleep over, you might say, "I know you want a sleep over, but your grandmother may want to see you this weekend when she visits. Let me talk to her." In this way your child knows how you arrive at your decision

4. Don't Discuss Everything
Don't turn a statement into a question. Instead of saying, "It's time to leave the playground in five minutes, OK?" simply say, "We're leaving in five minutes." Don't ask for your child's permission. However, you might want to briefly explain your logic, remembering that an explanation is not the same as a negotiation.
Offer choices only when there really is a choice. Be clear about negotiable and non-negotiable situations
Don't let discussions go on too long. If there really is no choice about the outcome, too much talking just postpones the inevitable. If need be, walk away from your child or get involved in some other activity


Monday, January 14, 2013

Read to Succeed: Children and teens

Reading skill is essential to learning all other subjects taught in school. 
The better the reading skills children have and the earlier they have them determines how rapidly and how well they will achieve in school. There is no reason why a child with average intelligence cannot achieve this goal with early and appropriate reading instruction.

Parents are the first and best teacher

The first teacher any child has is his or her parent. Children develop language skills by listening to and mimicking their parents. When children are born they have the capability of producing any sound made in any language spoken in the world. During the early years, they hear the sounds and make the sounds that make-up the language spoken in their culture. The more time parents spend talking with their child the richer the language development of that child. They gradually learn how to speak and listen with fluency and understanding.

The process of reading and writing is simply “talking on paper.” The only difference is that written symbols are used rather than sounds. The child must learn the sounds letters and combination of letters make and how they string together to form words. That is what is called decoding. Once a child learns to decode they can understand communication through written language based on the skills developed through their development of oral language.

Reading to younger children

Just as parents should spend time each day talking to and with their young child, they should also spend some time each day reading to their young child. This spurs interest in books and as children become toddlers and preschoolers who want to imitate their parents doing all kinds of things, reading will become one of them. Parents need to read in a manner that generates enthusiasm and curiosity

Reading with older children

Once your child can read, reading time shifts to listening to the child read and taking turns reading with them. Parents should continue to talk with the child about what is being read.

Once children are readers, get a library card or join a book club to increase the reading material available. 


New Study Underscores Importance of Family Alliance for Child Development

Children are shaped by their environments. The family into which a child is born has a significant impact on the child’s emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development. Numerous studies have shown the effect of maternal mental health on children, and many have focused on the relationship of the parents as a contributing factor to child developmental outcomes.
 In a recent study, Nicolas Favez of the University of Geneva in Switzerland took it one step further. Favez conducted a follow-up to a previous study that examined how family alliance, beginning during pregnancy, affected childhood development at age 5. 
Favez assessed 38 families from the fifth month of pregnancy and then followed them until the child reached 18 months old. Factors such as child temperament and marital interaction, conflict and satisfaction were evaluated. When the children reached age 5, Favez evaluated them again, this time for cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development.
The participants were categorized into three groups: high-stable, high-low, and low-stable. 
The high-stable group demonstrated positive alliance in the first phase of the study and at follow-up, the children in this group scored highest on all the measures. 
The high-low group included parents who had high alliance during the pregnancy, but saw declines in relationship satisfaction after birth. The children in this group had mixed temperaments, and scored lower on all measures than high-stable children. 
In fact, these children had poorer developmental outcomes than even those in the low-stable group. This suggests that the increase in conflict and breakdown of family alliance can do more harm than a weak, but stable, family alliance.
Child temperament was directly linked to poorer outcomes, as well. Favez believes that children with difficult temperaments may engage with others less than easy-going, secure children. If so, the temperament of the child is a contributing factor to the child’s own development. This is a finding that should be examined more closely in future work. Regardless, this study shows that having a child will not fix relationship tensions. In fact, it may add to the stress and problems within the relationship and may negatively affect the developmental outcome of the child. 
Favez added, “These results highlight the importance of both family-level and individual-level variables for understanding individual differences in the social and cognitive development of children.”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How to enhance your child's emotional intelligence

When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). 

As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence or IQ isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. IQ can help you get into college but it’s EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions of sitting your final exams.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:

Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence
Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances
Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict

Emotional intelligence affects:
  • Your performance at work. Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life

How can you help raise your child's emotional IQ? 

Emotion coaching are steps  you can use to teach your child to analyse feelings and handle conflict. 
Here's how it works:

1. Listen with empathy.

Pay close attention to your child when he says how he feels, then mirror what he's shared back to him.Use examples from your own life to show him you understand what he's said. Tell him about how you felt when your own sibling got to go to the amusement park with your father and you didn't, and how your own mom or dad made you feel better. This tells your child that everyone has these feelings, and that they will pass.

2. Help your child name his feelings.
 You can encourage your child to build an emotional vocabulary by giving him labels for his feelings. If he's acting disappointed about not being able to go to the park, you might say, "You feel sad about that, don't you?"
You can also let him know that it's normal to have conflicting emotions about something — for instance, he may be both excited and scared during his first week at school.If your child seems sad or upset for no immediate reason, try looking at the big picture and thinking about what might be troubling him. Have you moved recently? Did you and your spouse have an argument in his presence?

3. Validate your child's emotions
Instead of saying, "There's no reason to get so upset" when your child throws a tantrum  because he's unable to put together a puzzle, acknowledge how natural his reaction is. Say, "It's really frustrating when you can't finish a puzzle, isn't it?" Telling him his reactions are inappropriate or excessive will make him feel as if he should muzzle them.

4. Turn tantrums into teaching tools.
If your child gets upset when he hears that he has an appointment with the dentist, help him feel in control by preparing for the visit. Talk with him about why he's afraid, what he can expect during the visit, and why he needs to go. Tell him about a time you were scared to start a new job and one of your friends made you feel better. Talking through emotions works the same way for children as it does for most adults.

5. Set an example by staying calm.
You'll also want to check how you react to your child's display of emotions. It's important not to be verbally harsh when you're angry. Try saying, "It upsets me when you do that," rather than "You make me crazy," so your child understands that the problem is his behavior, not him. Be careful to avoid excessive criticism, which tends to chip away at a child's self-confidence.
And above all else, stay in touch with your own feelings. Some parents ignore their own negative emotions, hoping to spare their children discomfort or difficulty. But hiding your real feelings will only confuse your child. By acknowledging that you're displeased without acting upset, for instance, you show your child that even difficult feelings can be managed.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Childhood Fear

It is common for kids to have imaginary friends and childhood fears. It is also common for kids to have imaginary worries in the form of the boogey man. These worries vary in different periods and age brackets. These worries are fears that children develop. All children have this fear.

Normally, at the age of three, children have developed their imagination, and this is the kind wherein they imagine themselves in situations that are not real. Although fear is a normal part of human development, fear is existent if a person, especially a child, does not understand that source of a problem. Much less, understand the possible outcome. Kids' fears are normally blown out of proportion and in unbelievable measures. This simply makes a parent laugh at a kid's fear, which is incorrect.

Being naturally inquisitive and curious, children often try to understand things, even if they have been warned not to. Childhood fears often disappear as they grow older. Soon, kids will realize what is real and what is not real.

Coping with Fears
Parents should not think that it is their responsibility to remove all fears. The truth is, parents should teach children how to cope with fears and overcome them. Parents should teach their children to cope with fear and conquer them, not make them believe that they have taken away their fears.

1) Don't Lecture - Listen
It should be noted here that many parents make a mistake in addressing their child's fears. Parents oftentimes do not listen. They just scold and yell. What should be done is that parents should understand the source of the fear. A child will only feel confident to an adult if the child feels that the adult understood his concern or fear. Also, fears should not be laughed at. Teasing children will just add insult to injury. Worse, the child will not trust the adult anymore.

Childhood fears have the potential to become a phobia if not addressed. It is always best to consult a child psychiatrist for diagnosis as early as possible. There are several processes and therapies available to address a child's fear of things. One of these is desensitization. This is a process by which kids are coaxed into imagining their fears and slowly conquering these fears in the imagination. Some medications are also available but these are only for severe conditions. Medication is not really advised if the fear or phobia can still be addressed through therapy.

Another thing that a parent can do is to reassure the child that nothing can go wrong. Being sympathetic will also help a lot. Parents should get their kids' confidence in them so the children will confide. Without mutual trust, kids are not likely to express their fears to their parents.

2) Explore The Unknown
It was mentioned earlier that the source of fear is lack of understanding. The only way to combat this is education. Education brings forth information and will then dissolve irrational fears. One does not have to be formally educated about other things that cause fear. These are things that even parents can explain carefully.

3) Battle Your Own Fears
Children are highly influenced at home by parents. If parents show fear, it is more likely that the kids will also show fear. As a parent, you should overcome your fears first so the child will not observe these fears from you.

4) Do Not Induce Fear Through the Bogeyman
Parents often use monsters as a scheme to make children behave. This is not right because kids are already afraid of their own imagined creatures. It is also strongly advised that kids do not watch monster movies. Children do not understand that these movies are just for entertainment purposes. To them, these monsters are real.

5) Do Not be Overprotective
The downside of being careful is being overprotective. Let your child experiment and imagine because this is a healthy process. If you let your kids be under your shelter all the time, there is a great possibility that the child will grow up clingy and very dependent. Being overprotective gives the child an idea that the world is a very dangerous place and that there is no safety other than by your side.
Childhood fears are common as a human being develops. As the child grows up, these fears disappear.

6) Encourage Games
Children should enjoy playing to avoid developing wild imagination. Being alone induces fear and imagining. If children are engaged in games, they can banish unhealthy imagination.

Cognitive development in children: Piaget's perspective

'Development' is the change that occurs throughout the lifespan and which is
orderly and adaptive.This could be physical, cognitive, or social in
      Key points to remember:

- Different children develop at different rates.
- Development occurs via both spurts and plateaus and is continually 
affected by both nature and nurture
-  Development proceeds in a somewhat orderly and predictable pattern

Role of Brain in Cognitive Development 

Learning involves changes in neurons and synapses. Developmental 
changes in the brain enable increasingly complex and efficient thought.

According to Piaget, a Swiss psychologist there are age-related 
similarities in how children attempt to solve certain tasks. 
Within specific age ranges there were specific types of deficits and 
specific types of strengths in problem-solving skills.
Further, Piaget says that, 
 - Children learn through assimilation and accommodation

- Interaction with one’s physical and social environments is essential for 
        cognitive development

      - Children construct knowledge from their experiences

According to Piaget, Children move through four developmental stages,

In a nutshell:

Children tend to think in qualitatively different ways at different 
Children actively construct their knowledge
Development builds upon prior acquisitions.
- Challenging situations and tasks promote development
- Social interaction is critical for development

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Deal with common teen woes

Teen years are never that easy. Rebellion seems to be their topmost aim in life, making it seem like your teenagers are going out of their way to harass you. Adolescence is a time of fast change in children both physically and emotionally. However, you don't need to take things quietly. You can fix some of the most common teen behaviour problems in a relatively genteel way. 

Suddenly you notice that your sweet, innocentchild is treating you like dirt, disregarding everything you say and giving you rude replies when asked or spoken to. It's hard for parents to deal with this. But remember that part of adolescence is about separating and individuating. This is your child's way of finding their own identities. Give them time to focus on their friends more than on family. If your child hurts you, don't hurt him/ her back. You need to be the calm one and be patient for the phase to pass by. Let your teen know that you're there for him no matter what - this will give him confidence to confide in you once in a while. 

If you find your teen glued to his/ her cell phone, worry not, you aren't alone. Don't ban the mobile phone - cutting off your teenager from his friends this way will only give you more grief. Set reasonable limits like no texting or calls during meal times. Try and make them pay their own mobile bills. Instead of having a computer in their bedroom, keep it in the living room. This gives you a chance of keeping an eye on usage activities and the hours they spend surfing online. Use softwares that help you monitor the use of any questionable web sites. 

Staying out too late and skipping deadlines is another common problem for parents of teenagers. It can get especially frustrating if your child ignores curfew time repeatedly. This is what teenagers want to do - test your patience. First of all ask yourself if the deadline you're setting is reasonable. Ask your friends what time limit they set for their kids. Experts suggest you give a 15 minute grace period. However, if they cross it by a huge margin reprimand them - ground them at home for a week. If you mete out a punishment, stick to it. Also try to find out if your child is staying out because they feel unhappy at home. Communication is important. 

Another common complaint that most parents have is having their kids hang out with friends that they disapprove of. Criticising your teenagers friends will only get them more defensive. Remember that at that age, teens are very attached to their friends and any insult will affect them hugely. However, if you find out that your child is experimenting with drugs with his friends, it's time to have a serious talk. Take professional counselling if necessary.

Source : The Times of India

Third grade emerges as key to student success

Third grade emerges as key to student success

SALT LAKE CITY — By the third grade, students are expected to be reading to learn, not learning to read.
But with a troubling number of students failing to meet that expectation, the third grade has emerged as ground zero for educational reform and student improvement.
Last year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the results of a multiyear study, in which a cohort of students was tracked to observe the connection between elementary proficiency and high school graduation. The study found that 88 percent of the students who failed to graduate tested below proficiency in reading in the third grade.
Matthew Ladner, senior adviser of policy and research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, recently shared the results of that study with guests of the Parents for Choice in Education's annual symposium. He said the research is clear that targeting literacy at a young age is key to academic success later on.
"In a very real sense you have a literary window," Ladner said. "If you miss that window of opportunity, it becomes progressively harder to pick it up later."
The concept has not gone unnoticed in Utah, where graduation rates — particularly those of minority students — are among the worst in the nation, according to U.S. Department of Education data.
Gov. Gary Herbert's budget recommendations, released last month, include $10 million for the continuation and improvement of early intervention programs. The state's Prosperity 2020 education goal — which calls for two-thirds of adults holding some form of post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2020 — also includes a charge that 90 percent of third-grade students score proficiently in math and language arts.
Currently, 43 percent of Utah's adults hold a degree or certificate, 76 percent of seniors graduate from high school and 79 percent of third-graders score proficiently in language arts.
Other initiatives in the state have also targeted childhood proficiency. The United Way of Utah and Utah Valley University recently launched a partnership aimed at improving literacy and numeracy in Utah County, where roughly 30 percent of third-grade students test below grade level.
Legislative action
In the Legislature, Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, plans to present a bill that would establish a statewide high-quality preschool program for at-risk children — based on a successful Granite School District model — and education officials are moving ahead with implementing computer adaptive testing, which will provide more precise data for tracking student performance.
At its November meeting, the Governor's Education Excellence Commission voted unanimously to recommend that state lawmakers pass a resolution in support of the Prosperity 2020 goals. According to the Education Commission of the States, 14 states passed legislation in 2012 aimed at improving third-grade literacy, for a combined total of 32 states — and Washington, D.C. — that have policies in statute to improve proficiency in the third grade. 
Ladner said that learning to read is similar to learning to speak a language, in that it is easier to pick up the skills in younger years as opposed to later in life. Most states typically begin tracking student proficiency in the third grade, Ladner said, but he argues they should start sooner.
"The K-3 period is absolutely critical," he said. "Most state grading systems begin in grade three. We're not tracking nearly enough in what happens in those grades."