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Ten Important Child Development Findings in 2006


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Title: Ten Important Child Development Findings in 2006

Ten Important Child Development Findings in 2006
  • Ann Epstein, Ph.D.

10 Important Topics in 2006
  • Brain Research infants, 2nd language, enhancers,
  • Gender classroom biases
  • TV Viewing detrimental positive effects
  • Temperament inborn, goodness of fit
  • Achievement and Culture expectations

10 Important Topics in 2006 (cont)
  • 6. Bullying victim, aggressor, by-stander,
    cyber bullies
  • 7. Emotional Intelligence validity
  • 8. Families divorce, step families, sexual
    orientation, parenting styles
  • 9. Poverty overwhelming effects
  • 10. Exceptionalities dyslexia, ADHD, Aspergers

  • Primary References
  • Frieberg, K. (2006) Annual Editions Human
    Development 06/07, 34th Edition. New York McGraw
  • Junn, E. N. Boyatzid, C. J. (2005). Annual
    Editions Child Growth and Development 05/06,
    12th Edition. New York McGraw Hill.
  • Klass, P. Costello, E. (2003). Quirky Kids. New
    York Ballantine Books.
  • Santrock, J.W. (2004). Child Development, 10th
    Edition. New York McGraw Hill.
  • (Specific citations available upon request.)

Brain Research and Young Children
  • Blooming and Pruning of Synaptic Connections
  • Nearly twice as many synaptic connections are
    produced during first year as will ever be used
  • Synaptic density peaks in visual cortex (vision)
    at approximately 8 months
  • .. in auditory cortex (hearing) and prefrontal
    cortex (reasoning and self regulation) between 3
    and 6 years
  • Blooming and pruning continues until at least age

Brain Research and Young Children
  • Implications for blooming and pruning
  • Brain is ready to learn!
  • Provide rich sensory experiences
  • Provide appropriate conceptual learning
    experiences inquiry based learning
  • Recognize plasticity (changing nature) of young
    childs brain

Brain Research and Young Children
  • Implications of Plasticity
  • Repeated experiences wire the brain
    appropriate learning activities actually build
    strong brains
  • Resiliency (recovery from early traumatic events)
    has biological foundation

Brain Functions

Brain Research and Mylenation
  • Mylenation fatty covering of neurons that
    increases speed of information traveling through
    nervous system
  • Finding children who watch excessive amounts of
    TV have less mylenation, thus not able to process
    information as quickly as children who have
    sensory rich experiences

Brain Development in Pregnancy
  • Can I take my Prozac, drink my diet Coke, and/or
    have a glass of wine?
  • Antidepressants OK
  • Caffeine OK (3 c. coffee, 5 cola drinks/day)
  • Wine OK (1 glass/day)
  • Problem Substances
  • Artificial Sweetners 10 servings/day
  • Cigarette smoke, illegal drugs

Brain Development and 2nd Language Learning
  • Bilingual children perform better than
    monolingual children on cognitive tasks including
  • selective attention
  • concept formation
  • analytic reasoning
  • Current statistics 6 of US children study a
    second language in grades 1 6 (no figures for

Ethics vs Enhancers for your Brain
  • Current Enhancers attention, mood, memory
  • What really worries critics is that Prozac and
    Ritalin may be the pharmacological equivalent of
    bearskins and stone axes compared to the new
    drugs that are coming.

Brain Research and Middle Childhood
  • 6 puberty most brain growth is in temporal and
    parietal lobes
  • Implication critical time for development of
    language (literacy) and spatial skills

Brain Research and Adolescence
  • Adolescent brains have more activity in amygdale
  • This is primary area for processing emotions
  • Implication academic learning occurs in on-going
    context of emotional processing

Adolescent Brains
  • Changing until at least age 25
  • Second major pruning occurs around age 11 (girls)
    12 (boys)
  • Last area to develop is prefrontal cortex
    planning, setting priorities, organizing
    thoughts, suppressing impulses, weighing
    consequences of actions
  • Hormones affect mood and excitability

Brain Based Gender Differences
  • Portions of the corpus callosum (band of tissue
    through which the brains two hemispheres
    communicate) larger in females
  • One part of hypothalamus responsible for sexual
    behavior larger in males
  • Area of parietal lobe involved in spatial tasks
    larger in males
  • Areas involved in emotional expression show more
    metabolic activity in females

  • Current Classroom Biases Against Boys
  • Compliance, following rules, being neat and
    orderly are valued (boys wired differently)
  • 2. Most teachers are female (lack of role
  • 3. Boys more likely to be identified with
    learning disabilities (dont fit todays
    educational process)

Gender Current Classroom Biases Against Boys
  • Boys more likely to be criticized
  • Boys academic struggles (especially in literacy)
    more likely to be overlooked
  • School personnel stereotype boys rough and
    tumble behavior as problematic
  • Competitive
  • Risk taking
  • Pursuing danger

  • Current Classroom Biases Against Girls
  • Tendency toward compliance, diminished
  • Seek harmony, avoid discord
  • Strive to maintain order, safety
  • Teachers give more attention to boys
  • By middle school, girls have lower self-esteem
  • Girls see fewer career options

TV Taking our Kids Down the Tube
  • Average young child watches 4 hours/day
  • Thousands of commercials for high-fat,
    high-sugar, high-salt foods
  • Violence, alcohol use, inappropriate sexual
  • 60 of children 8 to 16 have TVs in bedrooms

Effects of Excessive TV Viewing
  • 15 of US children are seriously overweight (5
    in 1964)
  • Children who watch 10 or more hours per week have
    lower reading scores
  • The more TV between ages 1 and 3, greater the
    risk for attention problems at age 7
  • Exposure to TV violence definitely linked to
    aggressive behavior
  • Advertising affects childrens goals, aspirations
  • Corporate sponsorship of very young athletes

Role Models and the Media
  • In TV and film, male figures appear more
  • Male characters continue stereo-typed roles more
    leaders, bossier, more intelligent than females
  • Role models
  • Parents (34)
  • Entertainers (20)
  • Friends (14)
  • Athletes (11)
  • Acquaintances (8)
  • Authors (1),
  • Historical figures (1)

The Demise of Creative Play
  • Increased TV viewing, video playing results in
    less creative play
  • Children who play imaginatively
  • Have more sophisticated vocabularies
  • Laugh and smile more often
  • Show less aggression
  • Solve problems more easily

Guilt Free TV
  • Ages 2 5 Dora the Explorer, Clifford the Big
    Red Dog (slow moving, repetitive)
  • Ages 5 8 Sagwa, the Chinese Cat (good vs bad)
  • Ages 9 11 Doug, Lizzie McGuire, The Wild
    Thornberrys (inner lives, complex motives)
  • Young Adolescents and Tweens Gilmore Girls, Nick
    News (rationale not provided)

  • Traits are primarily genetic with some
    environmental influence
  • Three Types
  • Easy or Flexible 40
  • Slow to warm up or Fearful 15
  • Difficult or Feisty 10
  • 35 of children exhibit combination of traits

Goodness of Fit
  • Match between childs temperament and
    environmental demands
  • Difficult children need calm response,
    redirection, options for high energy
  • Fearful children need gradual introductions to
    new experiences

Gender, Culture and Temperament
  • Cultures value temperament traits differently
  • Example Chinese value quiet babies, Canadians
    value active babies Canadian mothers of
    inhibited 2 year-olds were less accepting of
    their infants temperament while Chinese mothers
    were more accepting

Achievement and Culture
  • American/Japanese Example
  • Hours teaching math
  • Japan 25 of time in first grade
  • US 10 of time in first grade
  • Hours in school
  • Japan 240 days
  • US 178 days
  • Beliefs
  • US parents Math achievement is due to ability
  • Japanese parents Math achievement is due to

High Income Families Achievement
  • Comparison of inner city (middle to low income)
    and suburban (high income) 10th graders
  • More substance abuse, anxiety, depression in high
    income group
  • Causes isolation from parents, pressure to

  • Who? nearly 1 in 3 6th through 10th graders
    (either victim or perpetrator)
  • Begins in Kindergarten
  • Boys and younger middle school students (both
    genders) most likely

  • Tough Boys physical hit, slapped, pushed
  • Mean Girls verbal rumors, sexual comments,
  • Belittled about speech, looks, race, religion,
    dress (begins in elementary school)

Cyber Bullying
  • Harassment through websites, text messages,
  • Begins in upper elementary, peeks in middle
  • Girls Rule in cyberspace more rumor spreading,
    name calling
  • Starts on home computers, fall out occurs at
  • Prime example 10 worst kids list

  • Victims miss school, develop physical problems
    and/or depression
  • Bystanders need training, encouragement and
  • Perpetrators poor grades, other behavior
    problems, smoke, drink alcohol, substance abuse,
    early sexual activity
  • Parents and teachers hesitate to become involved,
    children do not report incidences

  • Possible Solutions
  • Family involvement monitor computer use
  • Train ALL staff (cafeteria, bus, volunteers)
  • School-wide climate of acceptance
  • Consistent responses consequences
  • Assist children in developing social skills
  • Address as top priority
  • Learning decreases as bullying increases
  • Continuing consequences for victim, aggressor,
    and bystander

OK or Not OK? What should parents worry about
in the bullying behavior crackdown?
  • Shooting another child a dirty look
  • Being in a clique
  • Being a tomboy
  • Your child only has a handful of friends
  • Gossiping
  • Psychiatrists Henry J. Gault in Deerfield, IL and
    James C. MacIntyre of Albany Medical College, New

Emotional Intelligence
  • Daniel Goleman, 1995 Emotional intelligence
    tells us more about a persons competence than
    traditional intelligence tests.
  • Understand causes of ones feelings, manage
  • Be aware of others feelings
  • Be able to separate feelings from actions

Emotional Intelligence
  • Reevaluated in 2000
  • EQ can be measured and taught
  • Emphasize caring school climate, cooperation
  • Recognize individuals with high EQ
  • Important in reducing incidences of bullying
  • Altruism present in inner city youths
  • Not motivated by adult authority (innate ability)

Implications for Schools
  • Give less emphasis to behavioral objectives
  • Give more emphasis to emotional reasoning
  • Teach emotional knowledge and emotional reasoning

Families Divorce
  • 50 of US marriages end in divorce, 40 of
    children experience divorce
  • 75 of children from divorced families do not
    have academic or behavioral problems
  • Overall, children from divorced families are more
    likely to have problems
  • Boys experience more distress than girls

Families Step Parents
  • Most children no academic or behavioral problems
  • 25 of children from step families showed
    adjustment problems compared to 10 in intact,
    never-divorced families
  • Early adolescence most difficult time to adjust,
    especially boys

Families Gay and Lesbian
  • 20 of lesbians, 10 of gays are parents
  • Most have children before acknowledging sexual
  • Children are just as popular with peers
  • No differences in adjustment and mental health of
    children living in gay or lesbian families
  • Overwhelming majority heterosexual orientation

Families Parenting Style
  • Authoritative (democratic) provides most
    effective guidance
  • Provide flexibility within limits
  • Communicate often
  • Maternal Employment no detrimental effects
  • Infants whose mothers worked during the first
    year of life experienced negative effects

Families Parenting Style
  • Spanking has negative short and long term effects
  • Maltreatment most common abuser is overwhelmed
    single mother in poverty

Povertys Effects
  • Greatest risk for developmental weaknesses is
    from growing up in families with persistent
    socioeconomic disadvantages
  • Cognitive
  • Physical
  • Socio-emotional

Povertys Effects
  • US Statistics
  • 16 of US children live below poverty line
  • 9 of Canadian children
  • 2 of Swedish children
  • Poor children in America
  • 50 African-American
  • 40 Latino

Povertys Effects
  • Characteristics of poor families
  • Vulnerable little warning before being laid off,
    no resources to fall back on
  • Powerless rules are handed down, rarely make
    decisions at work
  • Restricted alternatives not able to make wise
    decisions due to poor education

Povertys Effects
  • Family characteristics (continued)
  • Feminization of poverty single parent Moms have
    low pay, little alimony
  • Distressed parents feel less effective in
    disciplining, are less affectionate
  • What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun? (Langston Hughes, 20th
    century American Poet and Author

Each Day in America (Childrens Defense Fund)
  • 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect.5
    children or teens commit suicide.181 children
    are arrested for violent crimes.380 children are
    arrested for drug abuse.1,154 babies are born to
    teen mothers.1,701 babies are born without
    health insurance.1,900 public school students
    are corporally punished.2,252 babies are born
    to mothers who are not high school
    graduates.2,447 babies are born into
    poverty.2,482 children are confirmed as abused
    or neglected.3,879 babies are born to unmarried
    mothers.4,356 children are arrested.

  • Neurological base
  • Difficulty associating sounds with letters
  • Three areas in left side of brain
  • Phoneme producer
  • Word analyzer
  • Automatic detector

Dyslexia Interventions
  • Core Elements
  • Practice manipulating phonemes
  • Build vocabulary
  • Increase comprehension
  • Improve fluency

Red Flags for Dyslexia
  • At Kindergarten
  • Difficulty rhyming
  • Memorizes words and sentences rather than
    sounding out
  • Family history

Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder Myths
and Truths
  • Behavioral therapies work better than medication
  • ADHD occurs more often in white boys
  • Families and teachers are not willing to change
    educational approaches and home routines to deal
    better with children with ADHD
  • ADHD medications are stimulants
  • ADHD medications are addictive

Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Includes autism, Aspergers disorder, pervasive
    developmental disorder not otherwise specified,
    Retts syndrome, and childhood disintegrative
    disorder. (Diagnostisic and Statistical Manual of
    Mental Disorders IV)
  • Autism delayed language and social skills,
    usually development is normal during infancy but
    regression occurs before age two repetitive
    behaviors, very resistant to change

Aspergers Disorder
  • Signs
  • Language typical form with atypical content
    (talk at length about favorite subject,
  • Social Interaction do not understand rules
  • Motor often clumsy, uncoordinated, poor at
  • Intelligence usually above average, often highly

Aspergers Disorder
  • Interventions
  • Decrease sensory over-stimulation
  • Teach social skills, including body language,
    facial cues, gestures
  • Summarize key information (directions, ground
  • Prepare for transitions, assist during changes
  • Prepare carefully for changes in routine

Children Our Hope and Future
  • In every child who is born, under no matter what
    circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the
    potentiality of the human race is born again
  • James Agee, American writer, 20th century

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again
  • If I had my child to raise all over again, Id
    finger paint more, and point the finger less.
  • Id do less correcting, and more connecting.
  • Id take my eyes off my watch,
  • and watch with my eyes.
  • I would care to know less,
  • and know to care more.
  • Id take more hikes and fly more kites.

(If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again, continued)
  • Id stop playing serious, and seriously play.
  • I would run through more fields,
  • and gaze at more stars.
  • Id to more hugging and less tugging.
  • I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
  • Id build self-esteem first, and the house later.
  • Id teach less about the love of power,
  • And more about the power of love.
  • Diane Loomans
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