10 Psychological Studies Every Parent Should Know About

I loved this article covering the best science-based studies parents should know about: Original Article Here.

One of the many reasons parenting is an impossible job is that everyone is giving you advice, and much of it is rubbish. Frankly, it’s amazing we’ve all made it this far. So, bucking the trend of random anecdote and superstition, here are ten recent psychology studies that every parent should know.

1. Parents are happier than non-parents
In recent years some studies have suggested that the pleasures of having children are outweighed by the pains.

“Ha!” said parents to themselves, secretly, “I knew it!”

Not so fast though: new research has found that, on average, parents feel better than non-parents each day and derive more pleasure from caring for their children than from other activities (Nelson et al.,. 2013).

Fathers, in particular, derive high levels of positive emotions and happiness from their children.

2. Putting your child first is worth it

Underlining the pleasures of having children, research finds that child-centric attitudes are beneficial.

A study by Ashton-James et al. (2013) found that parents who were the most child-centric were also happier and derived greater meaning in life from having children.

Performing child-care activities was associated with greater meaning and fewer negative feelings.

“These findings suggest that the more care and attention people give to others, the more happiness and meaning they experience. From this perspective, the more invested parents are in their children’s well-being — that is, the more ‘child centric’ parents are — the more happiness and meaning they will derive from parenting.” (Ashton-James et al., 2013)

So, what’s good for your kids, is also good for you.

3. Helicopter parenting may be depressing

As with many things in life, though, it’s a fine line between caring and smothering; especially when children have grown up.

Schiffrin et al. (2013) asked 297 undergraduate students about their parents’ behaviour and how they felt about it.

The study found links between ‘helicopter parenting’ and higher levels of depression amongst the students, as well as lower levels of autonomy, relatedness and competence.

“Parents should keep in mind how developmentally appropriate their involvement is and learn to adjust their parenting style when their children feel that they are hovering too closely.” (Schiffrin et al., 2013)

4. Avoid strict discipline
Around 90% of American parents admit at least one instance of using strict verbal discipline with their children, such as calling names or swearing at them.

Rather than helping keep adolescents in line, though, be aware that this may just exacerbate the problem.

A study of 967 US families found that harsh verbal discipline at 13-years-old predicted worse behaviour in the next year (Wang et al., 2013).

And it didn’t help if parents had a strong bond with their children. The study’s lead author Ming-Te Wang explained:

“The notion that harsh discipline is without consequence, once there is a strong parent-child bond–that the adolescent will understand that ‘they’re doing this because they love me’–is misguided because parents’ warmth didn’t lessen the effects of harsh verbal discipline. Indeed, harsh verbal discipline appears to be detrimental in all circumstances.”

5. Regular bedtimes
Regular bedtimes really matter to children’s developing brains.

Researchers followed 11,000 children from when they were 3-years old to the age of 7 to measure the effects of bedtimes on cognitive function, (Kelly et al., 2013).

The researchers found that:

“…irregular bedtimes at 3 years of age were associated with lower scores in reading, maths, and spatial awareness in both boys and girls, suggesting that around the age of 3 could be a sensitive period for cognitive development.”

Regular bedtimes are important for both boys and girls and the earlier these can be implemented, the better for cognitive performance.

6. Do the chores together
Bringing up happy children is easier if Mum and Dad’s relationship isn’t too rocky. One frequent bone of contention between parents is the chores.

A trick for achieving marital satisfaction over the chores is to do them together.

When partners perform their chores at the same time–no matter who is doing what–both people are more satisfied with the division of labour (Galovan et al., 2013).

7. Limit infant TV viewing
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should watch no more than two hours of TV per day after two years of age, and none before that age.

Here’s why: a new study that followed almost 2,000 Canadian children from birth found that an extra hour’s TV viewing at 2.5-years-old predicted worse performance later when they attended kindergarten (Pagani et al., 2013).

The more children exceeded this recommendation at 2.5 years old, the worse their vocabulary, math and motor skills were at 5-years-old.

More on this study: One Extra Hour of TV Reduces Toddlers’ Kindergarten Chances

8. Exercise boosts kids’ school performance
Kids are increasingly sedentary and, as I frequently write here on PsyBlog, exercise is a wonderful way to boost brain power, and it has many other benefits (see 20 Wonderful Effects Exercise Has on the Mind).

A new study of 11-year-olds has found that moderate to vigorous exercise was associated with increased academic performance in English, Maths and Science (Booth et al., 2013).

These gains from exercise were also seen in exams taken at 16-years-old.

Interestingly, girls’ science results benefited the most from extra exercise.

9. Dangers of intense mothering
Some women say that taking care of children is more stressful than being at work. There are also links between child-rearing and stress and guilt.

How can we square this with the reports and research findings that children fill your life with joy and meaning?

It may be down to differences in attitudes to parenting. In particular, being an ‘intense mother’ may be bad for you.

In their study of 181 mothers of children under 5, Rizzo et al. (2012)found that mothers who most strongly endorsed the idea that children were sacred and that women are better parents than men, were more likely to be depressed and experience less satisfaction with life.

Yes, nurture your children, but don’t sacrifice your own mental health.

10. Why siblings are so different
Anyone with more than one child will have noticed a curious thing: their personalities are often very dissimilar.

In fact, according to a study by Plomin and Daniels (1987), siblings have no more in common in their personalities than two completely unrelated strangers.

This is very weird given that 50% of their genetic code is identical.

The answer isn’t in the genes at all, but in the environment in which children grow up.

Far from having the same environments, each child has:
a different relationship with their parents,
a different relationship with their other siblings,
different friends and experiences at school…

…and so on.

And all these differences add up to quite remarkable dissimilarities between siblings–often such that if they didn’t look alike, you’d never know they were related.

All this means, of course, that because their personalities are often so different, parenting strategies that work with one child, may not work with another.

It’s just one more challenge of being a parent!

 

Teens and Privacy in the Digital Age

Image 1 (1)This is a guest post by: Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.

Access to media has altered how children of all ages interact with the world as well as deeply changing how parents connect, guide, and shape their teens’ lives. Having a smartphone and other electronic devices might seem like par for the course, but there are many issues to consider before handing one over to your teen.

The Issue of Safety and Convenience

Many teens receive smartphones from parents who are simply trying to stay connected to their children. It is a scary world out there, and parents want to know that their children are safe, regardless of what they are and who they are with.

Smartphones offer parents and teens a sense of security, as they are able to reach one another at any time of the day or night. While teens might not appreciate this aspect of using a smartphone, parents highly value the ability to instantly connect.

However, teens aren’t just connected to their parents; they are also connected to their friends and strangers that they come across on the internet. Both general groups pose dangers:

  • Of the more than forty million kids and teens with access to smartphones, approximately one-third experience cyberbullying. Only ten percent of them will report the cyberbullying to a trusted adult.
  • As teens grow and develop, they become more susceptible to peer pressure and rely on the opinions of peers more than parents.
  • Kids and teens have access to all kinds of content – including explicit media – when they go online. They often stumble on inappropriate content while looking for something else.

The Issue of Responsibility

Determining if a teen is ready for the privilege of using a smartphone, parents can evaluate current behavior to make a determination. Questions parents can ask themselves about their teens’ efforts at being responsible could include:

  • Does my teen keep his or her grades up in school?
  • Does he or she regularly complete and turn in homework?
  • Are chores done in a timely manner and without complaint?
  • Are his or her current possessions in good working order?
  • Does my teen tend to lose possessions?
  • What other areas has my teen shown that he or she is responsible?

The answers to these questions will help parents figure out how to approach their teens’ desires to have a smartphone for regular use.

The Issue of Privacy

If they can handle the responsibilities that come with smartphone access, teens will want to use that access as a sign of independence. They may balk at the idea that their parents are monitoring their actions online.

However, the fact remains that there is no such thing as privacy online. It is the responsibility of parents to help their teens navigate the web, and it can get quite complicated.

There are two important considerations for parents, which include creating a cell phone contract with their teens and installing monitoring software for each electronic device that their teens use. A cell phone contract will help parents and teens hash out the responsibilities and expectations that come with having a smartphone, including manners, safety, privacy, online behavior, consequences, and how parents will be available to help. Monitoring software can be used to help keep teens safe, adjusting the contract as necessary.

Both of these actions will help parents and teens cultivate open communication regarding what it means for teens to have consistent smartphone access. This type of communication will help teens grow and develop while maintaining a strong bond between parents and their kids.

This is a guest post by: Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.

Read Your Child’s Body Language

I want you to be able to connect with your child on every level–and that means both verbally and nonverbally.

Knowing how to read body language is an essential skills for parents. Especially as kids enter the tween and teen years!

The majority of our communication is nonverbal–some studies say up to 93%! I’m going to show you exactly how to increase you (and your child’s) nonverbal intelligence.

Power of Body Language:

Parents know how important it is to be able to communicate and connect with their children and after many years of working with teens and tweens I have found that learning how to decode their facial expressions, read their body and change mine to respond has been instrumental in building connection with them!

Body Language for Introverts:

How to Know When Your Child Is Lying to You:

Learn more about body language here.

New Perspective and Stats: Cyberbullying

teen text slang

We get a lot of questions about cyberbullying here at Radical Parenting and I found this infographic and some recent stats I wanted to post with tips:

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying isn’t just sending someone a snippy email. Any of the following constitutes cyberbullying: (1)

  • Sending mean or threatening messages to someone’s email or phone.
  • Spreading rumors about an individual through email, text or social media.
  • Posting humiliating or threatening messages on a social media profile.
  • Breaking into another person’s account to send hurtful messages or pretend to be them with the intent of humiliation.
  • Taking and sending unflattering or sexual pictures of a person without their consent.

The Unfortunate Numbers

50%+
Percentage of adolescents and teens who have been bullied online (1)

10% to 20%
Percentage of adolescents and teens who experience regular cyberbullying (1)

Fewer than 1 in 5
Number of cyberbullying incidents reported to police (1)

1 in 3
Number of young people who have been threatened online (1)

38% of girls who are online report being cyberbullied, compared to 26% of boys. (2)

Preventing Cyberbullying: A Guide for Parents

Here are some tips for parents on how to prevent your kids from becoming a victim of cyberbullying. (5)

  • Be aware of what your child is doing online. Ask them what sites they visit and who they talk to on social media sites or instant messaging.
  • Use parental filter controls on your child’s computer.
  • Have your own social media profile and “friend” your child so that you can monitor your child’s activity.
  • Encourage your child to tell you immediately if they are experiencing bullying online. Do not punish them for confiding in you by taking away their computers or devices; simply offer to help mediate or solve the problem.
  • Make sure you clearly establish rules regarding computer use. If you make a rule that a child may not have a profile on a certain social media site, follow through.
  • Talk with your kids about not sharing passwords and about Internet safety as a whole.
  • If you or your child notice signs of cyberbullying, address the issue immediately. Do not let the situation progress or worsen.

Cyberbullying
Source: SocialWorkDegreeGuide.com

Senioritis: Parents Up To the Test

Folasade is one of our teen interns. She is a 16-year-old from Monroe, Louisiana. She enjoys learning as much as possible from techniques in swimming and tennis to new math formulas. She feels communication is only heard through the arts and enjoys all forms from water painting to writing.

teen diariesIt is the already the second semester! Your teens are going through probably the worst half of the year. Some have varsity sports to juggle in with their already busy schedule. Well, for many teens it is time to buckle down and start prepping—even more— for those dreadful standardized tests. Nothing can be worse than a packed schedule, and studying for Aps/ End of the Year Exams. Actually, there can be something worse: when your teen is already have a stressful time at school and extracurricular, the last thing they wants is stress at home. Therefore, there are a few tips for what parents can do for their teens in this chaotic semester.

1.     What Does Your Teen Want?

Sometimes during this point it is vital to listen to your teen. Yes, it may be hard at times with mood swings and etc, but the more in tune you are with your teen the better you can help them. Each teenager works their own way during stressful time, so there are no set rules. However, if your teen feels that running a mile before studying will help their train of thought, then let them go on that run! Nevertheless, you will have to draw the line if it seems to be abused because then the opposite affect will happen. Just remember that this state will only be temporary and that giving in to your child for just a couple of months may be what makes them score 100 points higher on the SAT.

2.     Lay Off the Duties.

Sometimes it is inevitably stressful at home because of responsibilities and chores. Sometimes it is hard for your teen to pick up his/her siblings, do homework, clean the bathrooms, and get some extra studying in. It can be overwhelming to add beneficial study time to an already rough day; therefore, from time to time it would help your tiresome teen if they were “dismissed” from chore duty from time to time.

3.     Alone Time Never Hurt Anyone.

Sometimes it is best to skip out on “family game night”. Some parents think that they are helping their stressed teen by taking them to Disney World or the beach during the holidays. However, sometimes the holidays are just what your tiresome teenager needs instead of days packed with “fun activities”. So if your teen thinks that they would prefer some time at the condo or even just in their room during the week, give them that time because that might be exactly what they need to have a less stressful “study schedule”.

4.     Having a Pep Squad.

Testing is almost like the “academic super bowl” for some students. Therefore, it does get rough along the path, and some encouragement is vital in order to keep teens motivated. By surprising your teen with his/her favorite meal or staying up late with them can be a major booster to your teen. It shows that you support them and are with them 100% because who really misses out on sleep when they don’t have to?

So by following these few simple tips it can help your teen in scoring better on their exams. By having parents that are supportive and considerate during these dreadful times your teenager will greatly appreciate it because these helpful tactics will “score” highly with them.

7 Strategies for Highly Successful Teens

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A life changing program for your teens.

I am so excited to announce I have a new program for Teens, Parents and Teachers.

In this fun, entertaining and inspirational talk I go over the 7 strategies for highly effective teens.

This is nothing like your typical high school presentation.

Here are some highlights:

  • Groundbreaking research insights about the teen brain and behavior
  • Hilarious and inspiring videos
  • Immediately applicable action steps to motivate and encourage teens from all levels
  • Relatable stories for teens to feel engaged and understood

I can’t give too much away, but in this talk we delve into both the lighthearted and serious issues teens face including:

  • Effective communication with peers, parents and teachers
  • Mastering the online environment–preventing cyberbullying, staying savvy online and building a digital reputation that lasts
  • School – life balance, reducing stress and finding the right outlets
  • How to have healthy relationships with the important people in a teen’s life
  • Planning for the future, smart college applications, resume building and finding your life passions

I am stoked about this new talk and have already booked out January, February and March at High Schools, youth conferences and Parent groups around the US.

Please contact our manager Lynn Campbell for pricing and date availability:

 manager@radicalparenting.com

*Yes, of course, we have a tween version!

Giveaway!

I always love giving readers a chance to win some goodies–especially in time for the holiday season!  

 

Enter the word “YES!” in the comments below and you will be entered into a drawing to win a prize pack of AWESOME Clean & Clear gear:

 

  • Continuous Control Cleanser
  • Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 9.26.19 AM

    • Advantage Oil Absorbing Cream Cleanser
    • Advantage Daily Soothing collection
    • Morning Burst Hydrating collection

 

I have partnered with Clean & Clear to offer the lucky winner a prize pack of all these Clean & Clear products, which will also be on promotion at Walmart (collective retail value almost $100).

 

You can use these for stocking-stuffers or extra bathroom goodies for your teens. Especially the Clean & Clear Makeup Dissolving Facial Cleansing Wipes and Clean & Clear Essentials collection are not only guaranteed favorites, but also 10% off (originally $3.99-4.99 per product) this season.

 

Don’t forget the following latest and greatest Clean & Clear products will all be $1 off (originally $5.49-6.49 per product). Cross them off the wish list and consider the skin care part done!

 

  • Continuous Control Cleanser
  • Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer
  • Advantage Oil Absorbing Cream Cleanser
  • Advantage Daily Soothing collection
  • Morning Burst Hydrating collection

This post is a sponsored post. Check out Clean & Clear and the Clean & Clear Facebook page!

Teen Book Review: The Moon and More By Sara Dessen

This book review is written by our teen intern: Folasade Lapite

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 11.38.59 AMThe Moon and More by Sara Dessen

Everything is always the same in Colby, well at least for Emeline. She is having the typical summer as any other; however, this is her summer before college! She wants to have trips, adventures, and memories she will never forget, but she lives in Colby where nothing is out of the ordinary. Well, what she thought. Emeline and the rest of Colby will beg for everything to go back to how it used to be, when a few uninvited people drop off at their doorsteps.

Sarah Dessen takes the reader through the mind of a young women embarking on tackling her life. This young adult novel incorporates everything and anything a young adult is thinking: their future, romance, family, and friends. She shows young adults’ journeys and inner battles through the eyes of Emeline.

Emeline like anyone else wanted the moon and more, but when she starts on her quest to get it; she’ll find herself with people she swore she’ll never trust, traitors, and new friends. Through the course of the novel a variety of people appear in Emeline’s life that too is dealing with their own paths. Why is it that everyone is acting high-strung? Shady? Or even acting like another person? Well, because everyone, even the people in Colby, wants the moon and more, and they will do about anything to get it.

This novel is a great read for not only young adults but adults also. This book allows for both to learn more in the other’s perspective.  Parents can learn more about how to approach their children right before they leave the nest. While teenagers about to go off to college can determine what they would do about their romances and “missions” before heading off to college. This novel allows the reader to see that everyone wants the moon and more, but the true lesson is what the person will do to get it.