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The Overprotected Kid

The Overprotected Kid

The Overprotected Kid by Hanna Rosin looks at the history of playgrounds, and how regulation and safety guidelines have possibly made recent generations “less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.”

 

“[Lady Marjory Allen] wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures. But more important, she wanted to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.

 

The playgrounds were novel, but they were in tune with the cultural expectations of London in the aftermath of World War II. Children who might grow up to fight wars were not shielded from danger; they were expected to meet it with assertiveness and even bravado. Today, these playgrounds are so out of sync with affluent and middle-class parenting norms that when I showed fellow parents back home a video of kids crouched in the dark lighting fires, the most common sentence I heard from them was “This is insane.” (Working-class parents hold at least some of the same ideals, but are generally less controlling—out of necessity, and maybe greater respect for toughness.) That might explain why there are so few adventure playgrounds left around the world, and why a newly established one, such as the Land, feels like an act of defiance.”

Bunny Days: D-

imagesBunny Days, written by Tao Nyeu lives on the top shelf in my charges room, if I can help it that is.  The top shelf is not an ode to top-shelf liquors, the top shelf is just simply out of her reach and eye-shot so I don’t have to read this disturbing sadistic book.

The story line is simple, there are six bunnies, two goats and one bear.  The author has Mr. Goat “accidentally” mangle the bunnies in each of the mini vignette’s. After the torture has ensued the goat offers no apology, he continues with his daily chores, unaware and unconcerned that he has chopped off the bunnies tails, sucked them into a vacuum, etc. Instead of Mr. Goat taking responsibility for what he’s done, Bear comes to the “rescue,” fixing the bunnies in ways that would never work in real life, like putting them in a washer.  Wouldn’t this only and make their pain and suffering worse?

The few times I’ve read this book I cringe, because the reality of tails chopped and suffocation in the washer, even if it’s on delicate, is all too much for me.  And really what message does it send?  Sure, I guess the message is, “help out your friends when they’ve been beaten and abused” and while this is a good, moral message, it seems  to me the amount of physical brutality is a little unnecessary for toddlers, couldn’t the author have made the point a different way?  Mr. Goat is painted as the bad guy and doesn’t even know it, maybe instead of fixing the Mr. Goats mishaps Bear should put an end to the torture.

Maybe the better message would be, “Hey Goat, pay attention dude, you keep hurting my friends.  What’s going on in your life that you don’t even notice the pain you’re inflicting? Are you depressed?  Let’s get you help!”

Tip: Don’t buy this book, and if you already have it, put it out of sight on the top shelf!

Butt Rash?

There’s almost nothing sadder than a baby with horrible diaper rash-they cry, they scream, and they stiffen up like a board when you try to, ever-so-gentily, wipe their bottom.

Unknown-1Best Solutions:  I personally like to let baby/toddler lay or walk around the house Winnie the Pooh style, that is diaperless. Obviously the risk factor is you might end up with poop or pee on the ground, or on you.  To avoid this take baby or toddler to the toilet directly after feedings, you can kind of use the elimination communication practice.  I recommend throwing on clothes you don’t care much about. If you have carpeting or rugs try to keep them out of those rooms, hardwood or tile will be much easier to clean!  If your baby isn’t crawling or walking, and you want to lay her down, put down a clean, old blanket or towel so she can get some comfy floor time. Besides for the possible accidents, the diaperless method works the best, especially for the more severe rashes.

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste:  This stuff works pretty well, it weirds me out, just a little, because it’s so thick, but it works! You can also do a combination of the paste and naked bottom.

Prevention:  The best way to prevent a rash is by frequently changing your little one’s diaper. Many parent’s I know comment that their children get the most rashes when they spend a full day with grandparents.  I’m definitely not dissing the G-parents, but remember that it’s ok to remind them to change diapers, they might forget because it’s been a long time since they had to do it.  Just casually, not bitterly, remind your parents or in-laws to change them.  You can even blame it on yourself, “I find myself forgetting to change his diaper every 2 hours or so, time just flies and then all of the sudden his diaper is full and his bum it bright red!”

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: A

UnknownThis is such a great book, full of  sensory imagery and adventure.  The author, Michael Rosen takes his little readers through tall grasses, roaring winds, heaving storms and monstrous mountains.  Each outdoorsy “obstacle” is followed by a mantra,

“We can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, we have to go through it!”

Maybe it’s just me, but this mantra is such a great lesson for little kids to learn in life.  Things can be tough, sometimes we have to deal with it, and go straight on through.  At least, that’s what I get out of it– my charge on the other hand just wants to go on a bear hunt!

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What Drives Success?

What Drives Success?

-New York Times

-New York Times

Here is an interesting article from The New York Times by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld about race, immigration and success.  They identify three embedded-not innate traits which can lead to your child’s success.

“The fact that groups rise and fall this way punctures the whole idea of ‘model minorities’ or that groups succeed because of innate, biological differences.  Rather there are cultural forces at work.

It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success.  The first is a superiority complex– a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality.  The second appears to be the opposite– insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not enough.  The third is impulse control.”

Success happens, not by instilling only one of the three traits, all three must be present– and in America, specifically well-off white families, falsely think they can drive their child to success by constant confirmation, such as, “You’re amazing.  Mommy and Daddy never want you to worry about a thing” (NYT.)  Rather, success is based not solely, but partially, on some possible threat of failure, or of failing to live up to some standard prerequisite.

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Forbes: on Damaging parenting

Forbes: on Damaging parenting

I agree with all 7 of the negative parenting styles, or acts listed in this article. Parents and caregivers want to be there and protect their children, I get that,  and we should continue nurturing and supporting our kids and charges. However, Like most anything else excessive behavior can have negative results. Maybe next time you see your kid upset because another kid budged the line for the slide, don’t butt in, let your kid figure it out. Take small steps, it can be difficult to occasionally let your kids fend for themselves, but you might be shocked by what they’re  capable of, and what they can learn by experiencing these autonomous moments.

Back to Pink, Kind of.

This is kind of a reblog from Bluemilk, I saw her post referencing the recent article/discussion Girls, Boys, Feminism, Toys: Deborah Siegel and Rebecca Hains Discuss.  The discussion between Deborah Siegal and Rebecca Hains, points to issues with the anti-pink phenomenon, and ways to educate children about media literacy.  

Rebecca: In all honesty, the argument that we need to stop (“or at least pause”) the war on pink didn’t even come off as a rhetorical device to me. I’m sad to say that it just came across as ill-informed. There isn’t a war on pink; there’s a thoughtful, measured argument that while pink isn’t inherently bad, it’s limiting the play worlds and imaginations of boys and girls alike. So “Who’s Afraid of the War on Pink” reads, to me and my colleagues, like a straw man argument. The authors were conjuring up a nonexistent epidemic of myopic thinking, instead of engaging with anyone’s actual writing on the subject of girl culture and the rise of pink.

Check out the rest of the discussion on Girl W/Pen

Sorry Goldieblox

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I just found this article by Katy Waldman in Slate, Goldieblox: Great for Girls? Bad for Girls? Or Just Selling Toys?

If you haven’t yet heard of GoldieBlox toy company, check it out here.   The aim of the company is to guide girls toward a career in engineering, or at the very least get them away from typical girl toys.   While I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of the toys, and while the company aims seem at first powerful and legitimate I can’t help but shutter a little at the almost sleazy misappropriation of feminism seen in their video and mission statement, and with it the assumption that girls don’t already utilize home materials, and other toys to satisfy their desire for constructive and creative learning.

I really don’t want to poo-poo on anyones attempt at trying to promote “better” learning for girls (and boys, right?) and while I can even respect understand, the desire to try and make a buck in the name of feminism, this toy company seems to have missed the mark.  In Waldman’s essay she points to many disheartening truths about the toy, and reviewers all seem to agree that while the idea behind the toy is “inspiring” the execution is a, “massive disappointment, Really doesn’t inspire creativity or ‘engineering’ skills, no room for thinking outside the box.” Amazon reviewers. 

In the end, if you want to inspire children to be creative and even to directly push them toward a career in engineering it seems your best options remain in your household.  Tupperware, tape, boxes, blocks, utensils, etc., all of these things promote spacial reasoning, creativity and may even build future engineers.

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Everyday Gendering

Gender Neutral Parenting: 5 ways to Avoid Implicit Sexism

Here is a great article which pinpoints the dangers of naturalized sexism. “Naturalized” sexism is something that most of us unknowingly perform, or take part in daily, even women.

“In one experiment, mothers were asked to guess the steepness of a carpeted slope that their 11-month olds would be able to crawl. Then the children actually crawled the slope, and the difference between actual and mother-predicted angles was noted.

The results showed that both boys and girls were able to crawl the same degree of incline. However, the predictions of the mothers were correct within one degree for the boys and underestimated their daughter’s ability by nine degrees.”