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Boys will be Boys! #002 - Parenting Styles
November 13, 2008
Boys will be Boys! Newsletter, Issue #002 - Parenting Styles
This monthly newsletter is brought to you by the Parenting Boys website. Each issue brings you the latest additions to the site, a parenting tip of the month, interesting parenting news, a quote or joke of the month and some food for thought.
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Assertive Discipline in the classroom
Corinne's Parenting Tip: Stick to your guns!
I want to discuss parenting styles because I believe it is very important. Sure, we don't usually think about the parenting style that we use every day when parenting our boys. But we all have our own style, that can be more or less categorized. There are four "standard" parenting styles that were defined by Diana Baumrind:
I think most of us probably oscillate between the authoritarian and permissive style at one time or another (with the authoritative style in the middle). Research has shown that authoritative parenting is the style with the best outcome for children. I believe we should all thrive to adopt it as much as we can. But, of course, we are all humans and not perfect (at least I know I'm not) so this can be challenging.
This is why, while I try to be an authoritative parent, I think that the second most important thing in my parenting is to stick to my guns! What I mean is that it is vital when raising boys to be consistent. Children need consistency and we need to enforce discipline. There is nothing worse for children than mixed messages. So, if I have decided on a house rule for instance, I stick with it and my boys know that they better stick with it too or there will be consequences.
When I am out and about, I witness so many parents wavering. If their child misbehaves, they ask him to stop, once, twice maybe, then just turn a blind eye and ignore the situation if they don't get immediate result. This is what I mean by sticking to your guns. I think this is the only way to show our boys that we are serious and that discipline is necessary.
According to a review study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, obesity appears to increase the risk of miscarriage.
"Obesity has been described as the new worldwide epidemic, and as the (rate) of obesity increases, so does the number of women of reproductive age who are becoming overweight and obese," Dr. Mostafa Metwally and colleagues from the University of Sheffield, UK, write.
The investigators conducted a review of articles published in medical journals over the last few decades to identify studies that compared normal-weight and overweight women who miscarried. The main outcome measure was pregnancy loss at less than 20 weeks.
Sixteen studies were included in the analysis. The findings showed that overweight and obese women were 67% more likely to have a miscarriage than normal weight women. The risk was even higher when the woman, but not their partner, required a fertility treatment.
According to Metwally and colleagues, "The current evidence suggests that obesity may indeed increase the risk of miscarriage, both in the general population and possibly after (fertility therapies). However, the evidence is not yet conclusive because of the differences between the currently available studies, and because of the paucity of studies in specific treatment categories."
For the first time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends this year that all children aged six months through 18 years receive the flu vaccine; previous advisories included children only up to five years old.
According to US government data the flu shot is more necessary than ever. The rate of flu deaths among children, while not high, are continuing to rise - more than 80 deaths were recorded in the 2007-2008 flu season, according to the CDC - highlighting the potential benefit of vaccination.
Yet a new study published Oct. 6 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine suggests otherwise - that the flu shot in children doesn't necessarily protect them from illness. Led by Dr. Peter Szilagyi, researchers at University of Rochester studied 414 children aged 5 and younger, who came down with the flu during the 2003-2004 or 2004-2005 flu seasons. These children were compared with over 5,000 controls who did not have influenza during the same seasons. Turns out that flu shots seemed not to make much difference: Kids who got immunized did not get the flu at lower rates than unvaccinated kids. In fact, the immunized youngsters were just as likely to be hospitalized or to visit the doctor as kids who never received the vaccine. But before deciding to skip the flu shot this year, experts warn that results of flu studies like this are all about design. Depending on the study design, the results can vary, and quite significantly.
Targeting the wrong strain of flu virus is one reason the vaccine can be ineffective. Another reason for the flu shot's failure may have been the fact that certain forms of the vaccine are more effective than others in children. In this study, most of the children received the injected vaccine, but recent studies have shown that the nasal spray, known as FluMist, appears to be better at protecting youngsters from influenza (offering about the same level of protection as the injected vaccine in adults). The lack of effectiveness could also have been due in part to the trial's small sample size.
What is sure is that this study's results show that we need to become more realistic when it comes to our expectations of the annual flu shot. There is no guarantee that it will work, but on a population level, odds are that it's better to get a flu shot than not.
An new study found that children exposed to secondhand smoke often have levels of carbon monoxide in their blood that are similar to those of adult smokers, and frequently higher levels than adults exposed to secondhand smoke.
This study, presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting in October in Orlando, Fla., said the younger the child, the greater the potential for exposure.
"The physiology of children -- especially the youngest -- is different from that of adults," Dr. Branden E. Yee, of the anesthesiology department at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in a news release issued by the society. "Children breathe in a greater amount of air per body weight compared to adults."
The study measured levels of carboxyhemoglobin, which is formed when carbon monoxide binds to the blood, in 200 children between the ages of 1 and 12. The exact ramifications of high levels of carboxyhemoglobin are not entirely known, but long-term, low-level exposure includes changes in heart and lung tissue as it hampers delivery of oxygen to body tissue.
While household and environmental factors such as stoves, heaters and automobiles are potential sources of carbon monoxide exposure, secondhand cigarette smoke is often the most likely source of elevated carboxyhemoglobin, the researchers said.
Yee said educating parents about the need to change their smoking habits, especially around children, is vital.
"Personalized education coupled with the act of physically showing a parent the carboxyhemoglobin measurement in his or her child's blood may provide a graphic and concrete message to that parent," he said.
For some children, teasing at school can turn into outright violence and abuse. Researchers say that as many as 1 in 10 children suffer physical attacks, name-calling and other social aggression at school, and a new study suggests that a child's risk of becoming a chronic victim of bullying may depend on factors that appear much earlier in life.
"Studies also show that peer victimization becomes increasingly stable over time, with the same children enduring such negative experiences throughout childhood and adolescence," write the authors of a new study on victimization, published in current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. "The consequences associated with high and chronic victimization are manifold and include depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, physical health problems, social withdrawal, alcohol and/or drug use, school absence and avoidance, decrease in school performance, self-harm and suicidal ideation."
The aim of the new study was to identify early predictors of victimization, along with behavioral interventions that may prevent it. The study tracks behavior in very young kids, as early as pre-preschool, when children first begin interacting with one another socially.
The research team studied data on 1,970 children - about half boys, half girls - and their families, all participants in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. The children were born between October 1997 and July 1998 and represented a socio-economic cross-section of Quebec society. Mothers were surveyed about their children during their earliest school years - every six months up to age six - in order to determine how often children complained of suffering physical violence at school, being called names or being teased by their peers. Subsequently, the study asked the same questions of teachers and the children themselves.
Those periodic interviews, Boivin said, allowed researchers to identify three "trajectories" of victimization risk that children tended to follow as they moved from preschool into kindergarten. Most kids (71%) fell into the low-trajectory camp; about a quarter fell into the moderate category. But "there was 4% - mostly boys - who are chronically, highly victimized," Boivin says.
Researchers found several key factors that predicted a child's risk of future victimization - namely, physically aggressive behavior in the child, harsh parenting methods (such as "overly punitive" responses to kids' bad behavior) and low socio-economic status. The best predictor, the study concluded, was early childhood physical aggression. "If a child is aggressive at two years of age, he's more likely to be in the higher increasing trajectory," Boivin said. "If, in addition, the mother is hostile and reactive, the prediction risk increases." Adding the third element, low socio-economic status, increases that likelihood even further.
"At 30 months, there is a lot of physical aggression among kids," Boivin notes, but most children manage to adjust socially and eventually develop the verbal skills needed to negotiate peacefully within a group. "Aggression becomes less and less of a normative way to get things done," he says. But children on the high-risk path appear unable to develop those social skills; their aggression ends up turning on them. "As children get older, in grade school, they slowly shift their aggression and tend to withdraw into shyness," Boivin said.
Boivin's study was careful to distinguish aggression from hyperactivity in children. While hyperactivity also often causes social problems and increases a child's risk of being victimized by about second grade, the authors did not find that it predicted peer victimization in young children. Rather, it was physical aggression in early childhood - behavior such as kicking, biting and bullying - that increased a child's odds of becoming a victim of that same behavior later on.
Identifying risk factors in preschool or even earlier helps parents and school administrators step in earlier too. Children who exhibit aggressive behavior can be counseled earlier, for example, and harsh parents can be taught a gentler form of discipline. The authors say further study is needed to answer questions of cause and effect: For instance, does children's aggressive behavior prompt harsh parenting, or vice versa? And what about the role of older siblings? Psychologists know that older siblings often victimize their younger brothers and sisters, sometimes to great detriment; studying these family dynamics may help parents protect younger siblings starting in early childhood. Patterns of victimization begin as soon as children begin to interact socially, Boivin said, and parents and caregivers need to be alert to the problem in the earliest years. "The message is that this...is not unique to school-age children," Boivin says.
Parenting Quote of the Month
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.
For more fun quotes, visit our parenting quotes page.
Food for Thought: Feeding Infants and Small Children
I don't know if it's me, but there seems to be more and more children who are fussy eaters. So many children I meet are fussy eaters. How does that happen? Are all children naturally fussy, or is that the result of some kind of training? I tend to believe that it is not a natural state and is conditioned by the way parents present food to their children.
I believe that "food training" starts in pregnancy. Apparently, the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus in the womb (and commonly swallowed) tastes differently depending on the mother's diet. There are so many "rules" nowadays about what a pregnant woman should or should not eat. I think that, apart from the obvious dangerous substances and potentially harmful foods, a pregnant woman should not change her diet just because she is pregnant. This is the first way that her child will taste the food that is eaten at home.
It then continues when the baby is breastfed. Here again, breastfeeding mothers have an endless list of "forbidden" foods and are constantly being warned that such or such food gives baby gas, and so on. Here too, I believe that the mother's diet should remain unchanged. It is a known fact that breastmilk tastes differently depending on what the mother has eaten. It is such a wonderful way to introduce the new family addition to the family's cooking habits! Why change a diet that the child will be later expected to adopt? I will not mention formula because there is not much the parents can do to change the taste of formula.
Then, when babies start eating solids, a lot of them are introduced first to rice cereal, then to other kinds of cereals and later, for the great majority, to manufactured baby food bought ready from the shop. You are probably thinking that I'm repeating myself by now ;) but I believe that there is no need for all that. The baby can eat home made food that matches what the older children and adults of the home eat. Of course, each new food should be introduced slowly to check for allergies, but once it is known that there is no allergy, then the different ingredients can be mixed. There are not many foods that are not appropriate for an infant (the list of dangerous foods can easily be found), anything that is cooked for the rest of the family can be pureed so that the baby can eat it. I find it very odd to introduce a baby to a "foreign" food (as in not the family's food) and then expect him to like home cooking when he is considered old enough to have it.
I have applied these principles when feeding my own children. They are currently 3 and 4 1/2 years old. There are very few foods that they do not like. They eat all kinds of things: meats, fish, shellfish, squid, fruits, vegetables, they have tried (and liked) snails, etc. Basically, they are not afraid of trying new foods and they eat the same food as us, with no difference. We never cook something different for them and their feeding habits have just adapted to our family's feeding habits in such an easy way. Feeding has never been a power struggle in our house.
I do not pretend to be perfect or know better, but I do think this is about common sense.
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