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Diana Laufenberg presents a TED talk on teaching kids to learn.
Most developmental disorders are diagnosed on the basis of behavior alone. However, they originate in the brain – why not use brain imaging to try to confirm diagnoses? Up to 50% of children dealing with what seems to be autism, may actually be dealing with a particular type of brain seizures. Knowing that means that we can treat those seizures effectively, and a previously pervasive developmental disorder becomes something that is significantly less chronic.
Research has explored both the role of family relationships and peer relationships on gendered social development. Studies show that adults interact differently with babies dressed in pink (a “girl” color) than babies dressed in blue (a “boy” color). When entering a room with a baby dressed in blue, adults tend to play more actively and rough house more with the child. When the same child is dressed in pink, adults tend to play in more soothing ways, cooing and cradling the infant as opposed to tickling it or tossing it in the air. As boys and girls grow up in America they are socialized into their gender roles. Boys learn that they are made of “snips, snails and puppy dog tails” while girls consist of “sugar and spice and everything nice.” When boys fall, they are encouraged to “be tough.” When girls fall, they are checked in with, dusted off and cuddled (Santrock 2007). In the midst of all of these interactions, boys learn that vulnerable emotions are to be at best contained, at worst stifled. Either of those extremes can be epitomized by either the police officer containing their emotions in crisis to best serve, or on the other end, a male with a high need for expression, who societally isn’t allowed to do so. Girls seem to be taught that vulnerable emotions are at best, experienced by a group, at worst, tools for manipulation.
In the midst of those interactions, boys and girls are also developing peer relationships. In those peer relationships, Deborah Tannen identified that boys tend to use report talk, while girls tend to use more rapport talk. Report talk is defined by what is going on, while rapport talk is what does it feel like. Report talk is built on a hierarchical structure, while rapport talk is built on a structure of egalitarian connection (2001). Egalitarian structuring lends itself more towards the sharing of vulnerable emotions. If one is trying to prove superiority over a competitor, being seen as susceptible is a liability. In contrast, being seen as imperfect or needing fits with a connective social structure because it compels the maternal within to protect and soothe. In the midst of these co-occurring processes, what is it that then compels females toward greater emotional intelligence than males?
Both responses can be adaptive as long as they don’t begin and end with the expression or nonexpression of emotion. According to Kennedy-Moore, cognitive moderation is a requirement to effective emotional regulation and social intelligence (2005). Does the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory Youth Short Version consider the cognitive processing in determining emotional intelligence? Do peer or caregiver relationships plays a greater role in emotional development across the genders?
Harrod, N.R. & Scheer, S.D. (2005) An exploration of adolescent emotional intelligence in relation to demographic characteristics. Adolescence. 40(159). 503-512
Kennedy-Moore, E. & Watson, J.C. (1999) Expressing emotion: myths, realities and therapeutic strategies. The Guilford Press: New York, NY
Santrock, J. (2007) Adolescence. 12th ed. McGraw-Hill: New York, NY
Tannen, D. (2001) You just don’t understand: women and men in conversation. Harper Paperbacks: New York, NY
(CNN) — The medical journal The Lancet on Tuesday retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
The study subsequently had been discredited, and last week, the lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.
The General Medical Council, which oversees doctors in Britain, said that “there was a biased selection of patients in The Lancet paper” and that his “conduct in this regard was dishonest and irresponsible.”
The panel found that Wakefield subjected some children in the study to various invasive medical procedures such as colonoscopies and MRI scans. He also paid children at his son’s birthday party to have blood drawn for research purposes, an act that “showed a callous disregard” for the “distress and pain” of the children, the panel said.
After the council’s findings last week, The Lancet retracted the study and released this statement.
“It has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. are incorrect, contrary to the findings of an earlier investigation. In particular, the claims in the original paper that children were ‘consecutively referred’ and that investigations were ‘approved’ by the local ethics committee have been proven to be false. Therefore we fully retract this paper from the published record.”
What a great day for science, kids’ welfare, and parents.
Kids learn more formal social skills from their parents, but the bulk of their social learning seems to come from siblings or peers of their cohort. By helping kids form cooperative relationships with each other from an early age, parents help kids adjust and maintain cooperative relationships into adulthood. For parents of only children, using playdates or daycare may be an important tool towards developing their children’s social skills.
When I worked with clients dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder, I saw some really interesting patterns in their styles of play. As adolescents, they still seemed to demonstrate more parallel play styles than cooperative or even pretend play. I attribute this to the disruption in their early development. Although I’m not a parent, how do any of you remember your children’s social development occurring?
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010, January 15). Siblings play formative, influential role as ‘agents of socialization’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 16, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/01/100115112104.htm
Popular culture would have me believe that parents hate the amount of homework their children are given, believe that the homework they are given takes away from family time, and the amount of time children spend doing their homework takes away from recreation and family time. However, a recent study put out by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that parents generally support the amount of homework their middle school aged kids are given and know how to help them complete it. One area that could use improvement, according to the study, is communication between parents and school staff about homework and any issues that come up. Another area of concern is the trend in which some parents will complete their children’s work for them, as opposed to helping them check it or teaching them to figure the answers out from the textbook or other examples.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2009, August 20). Contrary To Popular Belief, Parents OK With Kids’ Homework Loads. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/08/090820124048.htm
As of this year, there are 800,000 children in foster care in the United States. Most of those children are removed from their birth homes due to severe neglect, abuse or trauma. When children spend the early years of their lives in traumatic or neglectful situations, they are more likely to develop mental health issues. Not surprisingly then, foster care alumni (adults who grew up within the foster care system) have disproportionately higher rates of mental health issues. However, according to a study found in Child Welfare, the actual rate of mental health issues and comorbid physical symptoms floored me. In comparison to the general population, where 64% experiences depression that is comorbid with other mental health issues or physical symptoms like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, 98% of foster care alumni experience comorbid depression. 94% experience comorbid Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Even when children are removed from traumatic situations early, they continue to deal with significant consequences of that early trauma as adults. Granted, it should be expected that children who came from abusive or traumatic situations have behavioral or mental health issues. (I don’t say that as a matter of judgment, simply as a matter of survival.*) However, I would think that when children are removed from their homes and put into the child welfare system, regular mental health checks and timely follow-up would be mandatory. Apparently, timely follow-up may be the missing piece of the puzzle. 75% of children who enter the foster care system with serious and obvious clinical impairment will not have received mental health service 12 months following their intake.
In light of these sobering statistics, child welfare systems are expanding their services. Treatment Foster Homes and additional services are becoming more readily available. When these children have access to mental health coverage through their insurance, they use it. In California, although children in foster care represent only 4% of the state-sponsored health insurance, they use 43% of all expenditures. Expanding the availability of mental health coverage would seem to be a necessary portion of the solution.
Pecora, P.J. Jensen, P.S., & et. Al (2009). Mental health services for children placed in foster care: an overview of current challenges. Child Welfare. 88(1). 5-25.