6 Parenting Tips on How to Connect with Your Children

6 Parenting Tips on How to Connect with Your Children

One of the problems parents might face at one point is difficulty in connecting with their children. This might be brought by various causes like busy work schedule, rebellion in early adolescence, and others. However, it is never too late to repair your connection and relationship with your children. Here are some effective tips:

1 Make Conversations

This is one of the most basic tricks that never get old. Try to talk and listen to them—about anything really. From how their day went to some interesting and unforgettable memories that you both of you can laugh about. This is the easiest way to let your children know that you care. Don’t just impose on your belief and be a good listener. There will come a day that they will voluntarily entrust you with their troubles.

2 Learn About Their Interests

Talking won’t do all the work. Show your care in your actions by learning about their interests. Won’t a basketball fanatic kid find it easier to talk to their parents who know at least the basic rules of the game or the famous basketball teams? If your kids like video games try to watch and ask to play with them sometimes. They might just shut you out and not let you play together but at least they will feel you are not judgmental of their hobbies.

3 Never Use Guilt Trips

Fine, it might work once, twice or a few times but using their guilt to get your kids to obey you will wear them down and only cause them to resent you sooner or later. Guilt trips are not called “relationship killers” for nothing. It can make your children feel that you are forcing them to do what they do not want using negative criticisms. They may feel hurt and frustrated inside and their overall view about you might go down a notch.

4 Let them into Your World

Another way to make a favorable impression to your kids is by making them feel welcome to your life. Let them go to explore your workplace or let them meet your friends and co-workers. You can also pull your kid to your interests. Drag them to the concert of your favorite band or go with them to places with significance to you and share them your story about it. With this, they won’t feel that you are out of reach.

5 Find a Common Hobby

Find a new activity you both haven’t done yet but somehow interest you and do it together. For example, start some sports activity or enter a yoga class. This will give you more time to bond, make happy memories and develop your relationship.

6 Find Time for One-on-one Time

This is easy for those with just one kid but a little challenging to those with many children. Make sure to dedicate even at least even 15 minutes of one-on-one time to have a heart-to-heart talk or pour your love to each of your kids. There some things they may easily blurt out when you’re alone with them. Try visiting their bedroom to have some snuggle and chat time before going to bed.

Air Pollution Linked with Overweight and Obesity in Childhood

Air Pollution Linked with Overweight and Obesity in Childhood

When we breathe in polluted air, it irritates our respiratory system and we may experience breathing difficulties. In the long run, exposure contaminated air and smoke produced by industries and vehicles can lead to decreased lung function, diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer. Now another health problem might be added to the list—childhood obesity.

Impacts of Obesity in Children

Looking at the many severe diseases linked to air pollution, obesity seems a little insignificant. However, this condition should not be overlooked.

Obesity affects up to 15-20 percent of children worldwide. Aside from the various health hazards linked to obesity such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, and cardiovascular diseases. Overweight and obesity also affect the psychological being of children.

Several studies reveal that childhood obesity can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. This is commonly due to social exclusion, negative stereotypes, and bullying. In fact, some experts described being overweight as “one of the most stigmatizing and least socially acceptable conditions in childhood.”

Obesity and Air Pollution

Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) claimed that exposure to air pollution, especially at school, might be liked with a higher risk of overweight and obesity during childhood. In a study published in Environment International, researchers investigated 2,660 children ages 7-10 years old from 39 schools in Barcelona under the BREATHE project.

The team collected data on the children’s height and weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI). They also assessed the levels of pollution in the school areas. Among the pollutants they measured are nitrogen dioxide, elemental carbon, particle matter, and ultrafine particles. They examined the pollutants twice; during a week in summer and another week in winter.

Jeroen de Bont, a researcher at ISGlobal and first author of the study concluded that children exposed with medium to high levels of the measured air pollutants had “a higher risk of obesity and overweight as compared to those exposed to lower levels.”

It was also revealed that many children were exposed to air pollution levels above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels. To be specific, more than 75 percent were exposed to unsafe levels of particle matter. While more than 50 percent were exposed to the above-recommended level of nitrogen dioxide.

Study Limitations

The researchers, however, highlighted that their study has limitations. One of the reasons is because their analysis was done with only estimates of exposure levels. Martine Vrijheid, ISGlobal researcher and study coordinator explained:

“The study has however some limitations, which means that the results are to be cautiously interpreted. Being a cross-sectional study, we only have data at one time-point, and we do not have enough data to establish the nature of the association. To draw more solid conclusions, we need new longitudinal studies that follow the study participants over time.”

But how can air pollution possibly affect obesity? Researchers explained the underlying mechanisms on the idea. Previous animal studies reveal that air pollution can induce insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and systemic inflammation. These are known factors that contribute to obesity.

In the study in particular researchers identified that ultrafine particles were the pollutants that had the most effect in increasing the risk of overweight or obesity. “This may be explained by the fact that the ultrafine fraction of the particles deposit in greater number and deeper into the lungs than do large-size particles, having more capacity to reach the circulation and induce oxidative stress and inflammation,” the researchers wrote.

Warning! Too Much Screen Time Interferes Child Development

Warning! Too Much Screen Time Interferes Child Development

One of the problems of many parents nowadays is their children’s screen time. Persuading kids to take time off from their gadgets often does not end nicely. But here’s another reason to limit your children’s screen time—it is linked to their future development.

In a paper published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that toddlers 2-3 years old who spend a lot of time staring at screens have poorer performance on their developmental screening tests at 3-5 years old.

Critical Stage of Development

The development of children unfolds rapidly in the first 5 years of life, which is a critical period of growth and maturation. The researchers highlighted that too much screen time can negatively affect children’s natural development ability. This can also affect their readiness for school entry.

By spending too much time on screens, children might miss important opportunities to practice their motor, communication, and interpersonal skills. The researchers explained:

“For example, when children are observing screens without an interactive or physical component, they are more sedentary and, therefore, not practicing gross motor skills, such as walking and running, which in turn may delay development in this area. Screens can also disrupt interactions with caregivers by limiting opportunities for verbal and nonverbal social exchanges, which are essential for fostering optimal growth and development.”

Screen Time and Child Development

The researchers gathered data from 2,441 mothers and children in Canada. The mothers were given questionnaires on how much time children spent using electronics on a typical weekday and weekend. They were also asked questions related to the child’s performance on developmental tests at ages 24, 36 and 60 months. The developmental test can assess children’s growth in motor skills, problem-solving and communication, personal social skills.

Results revealed that longer screen time at 24 months was linked to poorer performance on developmental screening tests at 36 months. On the other hand, longer screen time at 36 months was linked with lower scores on developmental screening tests at 60 months.

“Excessive screen time can impinge on children’s ability to develop optimally; it is recommended that pediatricians and health care practitioners guide parents on appropriate amounts of screen exposure and discuss potential consequences of excessive screen use,” the researchers wrote.

Recommended Screen Time Limit

“On average, the children in our study were viewing screens two to three hours per day. This means that the majority of the children in our sample are exceeding the pediatric guidelines of no more than one hour of high-quality programming per day,” said Sheri Madigan, first author of the study from the University of Calgary.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended limit of screen time in children 2-5 years old is just one hour a day. Sheri likened screen time to junk food, “In small doses, it’s OK, but in excess, it has consequences.”

This screen time includes watching television programs, movies, videos, or stories on a VCR or DVD player. As well as using a computer, gaming system, mobile phone, laptop or other screen-based devices.

Exposure to Two Languages May Benefit Babies’ Development

Exposure to Two Languages May Benefit Babies’ Development

There are many misconceptions on raising children in a bilingual environment. Although experts have previously explained otherwise, some parents still worry that it may cause speech delays, confusion, and mixing up of the two languages.

Here is another inspiration for parents to expose their children to more than one language early. According to a recent study, as early as infancy, it gives an advantage to the early development of their attention. And in the long run, it could give benefits to their cognitive development.

In a study published in Developmental Science, researchers at York University investigated how a bilingual environment affects six-month-old infants using two different experiments.

As they lay in a crib, infants were shown images in a screen above them. Meanwhile, there was a camera which records how their eyes move in different areas in the screen. Half of the infants on the experiment were raised in a monolingual environment, while the other half were raised in a bilingual environment.

During the first experiment, the infants were first shown images which are indicative of whether the next target image will be shown on the left or the right. For example, if the screen shows a pink and white image in the center, it will be followed by an attractive target image on the left. Meanwhile, if a blue and yellow image appeared, it will be followed by a target image on the right. These rules could be followed by all infants.

In the second experiment, the researchers changed the rules halfway. Tracking the babies’ eye movements, they found that those who were raised in a bilingual environment were quicker at learning the new rules and anticipating where the target image will appear.

The researchers highlighted that learning the new rules is difficult because the infants need to replace their response on the images with a contrasting one. Scott Adler, associate professor in York’s Department of Psychology and the Centre for Vision Research and co-senior author of the study explained:

“Infants only know which way to look if they can discriminate between the two pictures that appear in the center. They will eventually anticipate the picture appearing on the right, for example, by making an eye movement even before that picture appears on the right. What we found was that the infants who were raised in bilingual environments were able to do this better after the rule is switched than those raised in a monolingual environment.”

Previously there were studies which demonstrated how bilingual children and adults were better than monolinguals on completing cognitive tasks. However, this new study is revolutionary as it shows the cognitive benefits of bilingualism to infants who are not bilingual yet, and are just hearing the bilingual environment.

“By studying infants — a population that does not yet speak any language — we discovered that the real difference between monolingual and bilingual individuals later in life is not in the language itself, but rather, in the attention system used to focus on language,” said Ellen Bialystok, Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and co-senior author of the study. “This study tells us that from the very earliest stage of development, the networks that are the basis for developing attention are forming differently in infants who are being raised in a bilingual environment. Why is that important? It’s because attention is the basis for all cognition.”