Don’t leave a phone in your child’s bedroom

Mike the Psych's Blog

talking_with_your_followers_1600_wht_9116Just the presence of a smartphone or device is enough to disturb children’s sleep patterns as they anticipate the possibility of getting a message and can’t relax.

Using devices  at any point in the 90 minutes before bedtime more than doubles the risk of a poor night’s sleep. Even leaving it charging in the corner can have a detrimental effect, possibly because children are subconsciously engaged with them if they know they are within earshot.

Researchers ta Kings College London examined the digital behaviour of 125,000 children across four continents. It’s known from previous studies that around three-quarters of children and adolescents have at least one device in their bedroom at night.

Screen-based media may adversely affect sleep in different ways: psychologically stimulating the brain, delaying or interrupting sleep time, and affecting sleep cycles, physiology and alertness. They effect both the quality and the duration of sleep.

Sleep is undervalued but…

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Does “the terrible twos” actually exist?

s1030647_2I’ve never agreed with the idea of the “terrible twos” and now a former teacher, coach, and therapist has come out and said what many of us have long thought.

Tantrums are caused by lax parental discipline and unrealistic expectation rather than being an inevitable part of child development.

9781785831089newGillian Bridge, in her new book The Significance Delusion says this behaviour is peculiar to the UK and the USA where there is an acceptance that toddlers’  frustrations are worked out in “semi-feral behaviour labelled the terrible twos” which doesn’t exist in many other parts of the world.

She says visitors to the UK are often baffled by misbehaving toddlers and either had higher standards of behaviour for their own children or were more indulgent of childhood without having expectations about a child’s self-control. Some thought Brits expected too much of their youngsters.

In more traditional cultures in Asia and Europe children are expected to learn quickly about hierarchies and the fact that adults had more rights than children because they had more knowledge, wisdom and experience. (Perhaps a lesson to be remembered as children get older and parents want to be their best friends on social media).

In Britain however toddlers are routinely taken to places where they are unlikely to behave well such as a pub or the cinema. “We take our children to an awful lot of places and get them to fit in with adult arenas which we wouldn’t have thought appropriate years ago” Bridge told the Times.

To make maters worse parents often ignore the ensuing meltdown or try to discipline them when their behaviour shouldn’t be unexpected in such environments.

She says this is apparent at the nursery gates where “harassed Mums and Dads … vainly attempt to restrain their struggling, squawking tinies or hopelessly give up on the attempt“. She says people view this almost as a rite of passage.

She added that parents are inconsistent and often didn’t behave to the standard they expected of their children.

Another so-called expert and super-many Jo Frost says these are the 5 areas where parents make mistakes.

Sleep – ensuring both parents and children get enough – and on a regular routine.

Food – establishing good eating habits and appropriate nutrition

Play – teaching children to socialise by playing and sharing

Screen time – no more than 30 minutes a day for toddlers

Manners – set a good example by behaving as you would like your children to behave.

I would include in that not smoking, getting drunk, or swearing in front of them – or is that too blindingly obvious?

Boys behaving disgracefully at school & where are the teachers?

figure_dancing_fad_500_clr_11824I was sickened to read that an MPs report says sexual harassment is rife in schools. Girls as young as 11 are groped, taunted and called “slags” and “sluts” and unwanted touching is accepted as a daily part of life in the classroom.

Well it shouldn’t be!

Apparently many boys think nothing of pulling up skirts, slapping bottoms and feeling girls’ breasts. Nearly 3/4 of girls had been called offensive names, over half had been sexually harassed and a third of girls aged 16-18 had been sexually touched at school. It’s assault people. In the workplace people would be sacked and even charged with a criminal offence.

What are the boys thinking about? On-line pornography will no doubt get some blame but what about the fact that most schools let pupils use their smart phones at school where they can sext away to their hearts content rather than confiscate them on arrival.

What do their mothers think about this? Do they think it OK? And what about those with sisters. Are they happy for this to happen to them? (If so we have bred a sick society).

And what are teachers doing about it? Well overlooking it obviously. It’s not the kids who need compulsory SRE (sex and relationship education) but the teachers who need to be reminded that they have a responsibility for the children’s safety.

Next time it happens line up the offenders and shame them and if it’s serious report it to the police; next time report it to the police anyway. Three strikes and you’re out springs to mind. We are too liberal about these behaviours.When teachers themselves have been found guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children and of posted inappropriate material on social media sites what kind of example are they setting?

No wonder girls are suffering more from depression than boys (but I also blame them for spending too much time on social media)

Girls more depressed & you can blame social media

stick_figure_liking_it_500_wht_9170On the face of it today’s young people have never had it so good. Teenage pregnancies are down, fewer of them smoke and they drink less than previous generations.

So what have they got to be depressed about?

Well they spend an awful lot of time on social media, posting selfies, seeking approval from others. “Like me, like me” they seem to beg.

It’s a recipe for disaster and means they are continually comparing themselves with others. And it’s all artificial.

They spend hours making themselves up for selfies. I’ve taken loads of photographs at parties and invariably the women want to check the photos to make sure they’re OK.

Whether its posting selfies or posting posed photos on Facebook using cats, cuddly toys and even their babies as accessories, it’s all about wanting approval. Over half of teenagers are said to spend more than three hours a day on social media. (I’ve posted before about my views on Facebook)

And this is the most risk-averse generation we’ve seen for ages and maybe that’s part of the problem. No-one dares misbehave any more in case it gets on social media (as it will) and is then held against them later in life e.g. at job interviews.

It’s been said that young people work harder at schools. I don’t believe that for one minute. Exams are easier, course work is often group work and there has been such grade inflation over the years (at all levels in the education system) that you can’t rely on the grading system.

Nonetheless there has been a 10% increase in girls being treated for depression and a 50% increase in self-harming. For boys there has been a decrease over the same 10 year period.

The psychological distress reported includes sleep loss, inability to concentrate, feeling unhappy and worthless. Girls report suffering these twice as much as boys (30% of girls).

Whether or not social media is totally to blame it clearly plays a part. The head of the charity Sane believes the internet has played a huge part. No longer can students get relief from school or peer pressure at home. It’s now always-on.

But lets not forget pushy parents. Kids from better off families report higher levels of stress and anxiety. Lower status children seem to suffer less – perhaps because they have lower expectations, or maybe because they are more resilient.

Schools which have banned smartphones report better results. Parents need to think about reducing screen time and switching off the wi-fi.

As I’ve posted before about smartphone users – Get a Life!

The government has promised to put £1.4 billion into providing mental health support for young people. Maybe we should start helping them closer to home.

 

Free fruit for the kids – nice one Tesco Burnley

P1030416I first spotted this a few weeks ago after noticing kids walking round eating fruit.

My first thought was that they’d pinched it or were helping parents reduce the household bill by eating en route to the check-out.

But no, Tesco are trying to get kids to eat more healthily, removing sweets from check-out lanes and offering free fruit as part of their EatHappy Project.

So well done Billie (Community Champion) and the team at Tesco Burnley!

Update 29 July 2016:  Pity scheme has been suspended at Burnley store because of adults taking the fruit when it’s being rolled out in 800 other stores.

Matt  Davies, the new CEO is claiming the credit according to the Sun while the Times says the suggestion came from a Tesco worker in Lincolnshire!

Davies said “We’re hoping this will create healthy eating habits that will stay with children”

First posted 27 March 2016

Boys need a leg up at school but treating them like girls?

babies_with_blocks_spelling_learn_1600_wht_13401The latest research on children’s achievements suggest that there are a million lost boys out there.

These are the boys who have fallen behind girls in the communication skills they need to cope in class.

The research by the charity Save the Children and researchers from Bristol University says that this gap exists regardless of social class.

A professor of education at Bristol University said ” We found gender affects literacy attainment and language development irrespective of social class and includes boys from middle-class homes.

The worst affected area was Merseyside, where 5-year old boys were 17% behind girls in reaching expected standards in language and communication skills. But even in Rutland, which has low poverty levels, the gap was still 14%.

Girls are ahead of boys in all 152 local council areas in England.

This is worrying because children who fall behind before they reach school tend to stay behind. Boys who are behind at age 5 are four times more likely to fall below expected reading standards by the age of 11.

They struggle to pay attention in class and find it hard to follow lessons or develop friendships. They are also less likely to get good GCSE results and A levels, complete degrees (already there are fewer boys than girls going to universities), get a good job and are more at risk of poor mental health.

A spokesman for Save the Children  said “this research gets to the nub of why boys fall behind. It shows that even before they walk through the school gates they are at a disadvantage that trails them through life.

The researchers say that parents can help bridge the gap by bringing up boys more like girls.

The research shows that parents spend less time on activities that develop language skills with their sons rather than their daughters.

They sing more nursery rhymes and songs and do more drawings and paintings with girls than they do with boys. So parents can do more with their sons in this regard and also get them to talk more about their activities. They can also read story books as well as non-fiction books to get them interested in reading for pleasure (Dads take note especially).

The other problem boys have is their ability to concentrate and focus. So playing word games and completing drawing tasks can help them build up their concentration and attention span.

Save the Children is recommending having a graduate teacher in each nursery to boost boys’ levels of literacy before they get to school.

The report makes sense but the idea of bringing up boys more like girls is a misleading headline.

It’s been argued for years that there are too few male role models in nurseries and primary schools and the way young pupils are taught is more girl-friendly. Something I posted on several years ago.

Shah Jalal masjid dominates Burnley skyline

Ten years in the building this mosque and madrassa dominates the skyline near the Asda store in Burnley. The £100,000 one tonne white dome was lifted into place in 2014.

P1030729 P1030730

P1030731 (1)The Shah Jalal Masjid Mosque and Burnley Islamic Cultural Centre has cost £2m so far and the new minaret, which was paid for by the community, marked the completion of external work on the mosque withy plans for a further £500,000 to decorate the interior.

Mozaquir Ali, a former Burnley councillor and project coordinator, said it was a symbolic moment for the project which has been planned as early as 1993.

He said: “It was a brilliant day. People turned up to see how it was going. The community is very pleased about it – it has now completed the four domes and the building is now weather tight from the outside.

“it has been a decade of hard work and financial support from the community in Daneshouse which is stricken with unemployment.

“It is a fantastic project which will be a landmark for Burnley and an iconic building not just for Muslims but the community as a whole can be proud of.

The mosque is one of 13 in Burnley and probably the biggest. I don’t know if any non-muslims use the cultural centre as it’s also a madrassa or Islamic religious school which tend not to encourage outsiders.

Background from Burnleyexpress.net

See also a Mosque in Nelson