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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Middle aged dads are evolution’s heroes

Mike the Psych's Blog

Forget your lean testosterone-driven  alpha male.

It’s the men with love handles, slightly overweight,who live longer, are better at passing on their genes – and are more attractive to the opposite sex! A recent study of women in Latvia confirmed that such men are more sexually attractive than lean men.

It’s a mystery why men remain fertile for so long after they have passed their reproductive and physical peaks.

41a1gp0xwpl-_ac_us160_Richard Bribiescas, anthropology professor at Yale University thinks he knows the answer. In his book “How Men Age” he sets out a theory about pudgy dads which suggests that the slow ebbing of male sex hormones after the late teens is the key to longevity not just for men but also for women.

Most men become slightly fatter after fatherhood and find it increasingly difficult to build muscles as their testosterone declines. this however prolongs their lives and strengthens their immune…

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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?

Competitive & obsessed with social media – a mum’s life today?

talking_social_media_1600_wht_9159Well it is according to parenting web-site BabyCentre.

They surveyed around 2,000 mums and found three out of four millennial mums i.e. aged 18 to 32, spent 8 hours a day on their smart phone, tablet or computer.

Almost half of them admitted buying something after seeing someone in their social network following a particular brand and more than half admitted they were influenced by comments pasted on Facebook.

The managing director of BabyCentre said “Millennial mums said they found motherhood really tough with all the competitiveness and accepted that they’re bringing it upon themselves by their prolific sharing of photographs and baby moments online. There is competitiveness over first milestones from first words to when their children can count to ten. It also includes the brand of buggy and the size and design of footwear”

Some mums in the survey said they felt pressured to take their children to swimming classes or music lessons so as not to be considered a bad mum.

Seems everyone wants to be an Alpha Mum and yet they rely on Facebook and other social networks to make decisions.

The statistics quoted from this survey seems unbelievable yet when did you last see a young woman without a smartphone in her hand? Millennial mums spend about twice the time  on their mobile phones as Generation X (born in mid-60s to mid-80s) and half bought something on-line every week. A clear case of smartphone addiction or Nomophobia

If they spent less time on social media they would feel less pressured and have more time for their babies and real friends.

 

Brits are happy to be childless

businesslady_shrugging_500_wht_14231Britain has the third highest rate for childlessness in the OECD i.e. developed countries. withy 1 in 5 women never having children.

You might be surprised to see that Italy is in top spot followed by Austria. It seems it’s getting harder and harder to afford top bring up children with many women delaying having them until they feel more financially secure and then it’s too late.

Others are called “socially infertile” i.e. they haven’t met the right man. And others just don’t want any.

Not having children doesn’t seem to impact on a couples’ happiness, at least in the USA. Research found that no group of parents, whether married, step-parents or single, reported greater emotional well-being than those without children.

Economists have found an increase in happiness in the year before a child is born (wonder why that might be?) and in the year the child is born but after that there is a sharp fall until by the time the child is aged four the parents are no happier than before they had the child.

One expert thought parents got bogged down in the day-to-day chores related to having children rather than enjoying them. Parents also have anxiety about what the future will bring for their children.

Mums prepare your kids for school

babies_with_blocks_spelling_learn_1600_wht_13401Ofsted has suggested mums should be given a checklist of things their children should be able to do before they start school.

Skills considered essential are:

  • Being able to sit still & listen
  • Being aware of other children
  • Understanding the word NO and the boundaries it sets for behaviour
  • Understanding the word STOP and that it might mean there is danger
  • To be potty trained and go to the lavatory
  • Recognising their own name
  • Being able to speak to an adult and ask for help
  • Being able to take off their coat and put on shoes
  • To talk in sentences
  • To open and enjoy a book

The head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw has said they family was a great educator and many parents were already teaching their children these skills without realising it.  But some children weren’t and they were at a disadvantage when they went to school and never caught up.

He thought those who thought the early years should be about emotional development and being left to play only were failing the disadvantaged. He believed that it was middle-class prejudice, for which the most disadvantaged pay the price, to say that children were having their childhood stolen. Better off families could more easily find ways to educate their children.

He criticised the Sure Start programme for not delivering and closing the gap between rich and poor.

The Don’t Forget the Children charity said that it wasn’t healthy to be engaged in structured learning too soon and “too formal education too early is damaging in the long term” Good parents have always engaged and responded in sensitive ways to their children and that’s what makes the brain develop”.

I can see both sides. Children in Scandinavia start school later and yet are always top of the league in education. And there is good evidence that deprived kids do worse at school and in life generally.

But looking at the skill set that children should have I don’t see that as something necessarily delivered by formal education. There has to be a middle way with perhaps more emphasis on parenting skills.