What Parents Can Do To Shape Their Kids' Early Memories

What Parents Can Do To Shape Their Kids’ Early Memories

Over the past 18 months, many parents have asked themselves: How much of the pandemic will my children remember? And how might those lasting memories — as well as all the others they carry from their childhood — shape who they become?

I’ve personally wondered about that with my own children, especially my toddler, who has now lived more than half his life during an unprecedented global health crisis. I like to think he’s generally a happy kid who’s had a happy life so far, but how do I know if he’ll be carrying around some not-so-lovely COVID-19 memories for years to come?

While memory is complex and many of those questions can’t really be answered, what is clear to experts is that kids’ memories are stronger and better than they once thought. The long-term memories they form may not be totally reliable, but they can still recollect a remarkable amount from their early years.

Here’s why that matters, and what parents can do about it:

The idea that kids can’t remember anything before age 3 is wrong

Sometimes when I’m annoyed with my toddler’s antics and I’m not necessarily being the nicest, most patient mom, I comfort myself with the idea that he probably won’t remember any of this.

Not so, according to Carole Peterson, a professor who studies language and memories at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.

“Children often remember farther into the past than we once believed they could,” she told HuffPost.

Several of Peterson’s studies focus on a phenomenon known as “childhood amnesia,” or the idea that kids (and adults!) remember very little about life before age 3 or 4. For decades, experts thought that childhood amnesia was due to the fact that kids’ brains simply could not form memories before a certain point.

But Peterson and other researchers have found that that’s not necessarily true. One of Peterson’s studies, for example, showed that children who have medical emergencies when they’re just 2 years old — and who are interviewed years later — can absolutely remember central components of their experiences. They may not remember them as clearly as children who were older at the time of their health events, but the memories were still there. Other studies suggest that children remember things that happened to them when they were around 3 very well at age 5, 6 and 7, but they start to lose those memories around age 8 or 9.

All of this is to say there isn’t a clear consensus about when young kids form lasting memories, and it depends on the child. Kids also tend to not be very good at accurately dating their memories, Peterson said, which complicates our understanding of all of this. A 4-year-old, for example, might recall an event from when they were 2 but think it was relatively recent.

The bottom line for parents, Peterson said, is that children may indeed remember things earlier than we think they do.

Emotional events tend to stick with children the most

“Anything that is emotionally salient, kids will remember more often,” Jenny Yip, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist, previously told HuffPost. That’s true for both younger kiddos and older children.

In our present moment, that means kids who’ve had a particularly hard stretch during the pandemic might hold on to those memories more than others.

Expert-approved tips to calm down when you're angry

Expert-approved tips to calm down when you’re angry

Anger is an important instrument for anyone’s emotional toolbox. It protects, helps discharge stress and can bring words and feelings to the surface that may need to be expressed to help relationships grow.

But the manner in which one handles feelings of anger can lead to vastly different outcomes. “There’s nothing wrong with anger, it’s what you do with it that matters,” said Dr. Joseph Shrand, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “Outsmarting Anger: 7 Steps for Defusing Our Most Dangerous Emotion.”

Indeed, the author of “The 5 Love Languages,” Gary Chapman, has counseled countless families and couples over his career and has seen numerous instances in which mismanaged anger destroys marriages, fractures friendships and sometimes even separates parents from children. “Much of my counseling has been in helping individuals understand and process anger,” he said.

Why we get angry

It’s helpful to understand why we get angry in the first place. “In human relationships, anger is the emotion that arises when we feel that we have been wronged or in some way mistreated,” Chapman said. “It’s a call for action to right the wrong. However, when we yield to our first impulse, we usually make things worse.”

Shrand had a similar take: “We feel anger because we want something to be different. We wish someone would stop doing something or start doing something,” he said. He explained that when we’re angry, the part of the brain in charge of managing emotional responses known as the limbic system, gets ready for a fight. In such a state, “we can get impulsive, irrational and lash out without thinking,” he warned.

“Anger is part of the brain’s fight-or-flight response, so it has to do with our survival instinct,” said Stephen Dansiger, an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing clinician and author of “Mindfulness for Anger Management.” He described some of the body’s physiological responses when angry: a rising heart rate, muscle tension, sweating and heightened hearing and vision. “The body is literally preparing to deal with the perceived threat,” he said.

What to do with our anger

Problem is, such base instincts may perceive threats where no real danger exists. “When we’re angry, we see ourselves as a hammer and everyone around us as a nail,” said Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist and author of “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting.” That may include reacting to an insensitive comment from a spouse or to a child who just threw their plate of food on the floor. In such instances, Markham warns, “there is no real threat, but our bodies react as if there is.”

The best way to deal with anger, the experts said, is to diffuse it. That means doing whatever it takes to remind your brain there isn’t really a threat or emergency and that it’s time to calm down.

“There’s an entire body of research on how to calm down and retrain the nervous system,” Markham said. She suggested techniques like running your hands under cold water, taking deep breaths, getting some fresh air, humming, shaking your wrists, counting backwards from 100 until you start to feel calm again, or even forcing a laugh or a smile to trick your brain into switching gears. “These are all research-supported ways to calm down in the moment,” she said.

Social Emotional Learning in Schools for an Enriched Learning Environment

Social Emotional Learning in Schools for an Enriched Learning Environment

The current times call for a need to envision education with the demands of the present situation and for that very reason we must make changes to adapt well. The society we live in is constantly evolving and for the ever-changing world we also require education that garners tools that helps students to be not only academically excellent but also compassionate, responsible towards others and themselves. For this, we need to add something in the education system, that is, social-emotional learning. As of now, education is missing SEL which is a highly sensitive part of the system. Research in SEL shows that focusing on social and emotional aspects of children also helps in developing other academic skills from the early years of their life. Also, we need to take into account that both academic as well as emotional intelligence plays a huge role when we talk about education for the whole child.

Even The New Education Policy recognises the importance of Social-Emotional Learning for holistic development of children from early childhood. “Based on the developments that have taken place in the world of cognitive science, there is now deep engagement with the idea that these social and emotional competencies must be acquired by all learners and that all learners should become more academically, socially and emotionally competent”. (National Education Policy, 2019)

Social-Emotional Learning is a new way of looking at education, where students develop skills to be intellectually intelligent as well as grow to be kinder, compassionate, and responsible citizens of the society.

Here, we will try to understand what SEL is, why it is needed in schools, and some applications.

What is SEL?

As we break down each term separately, we could say that it is “an approach of learning that deals with society (Social/Outward) and with oneself (Emotional/Inward).” Maurice J Ellias stated, “Social-emotional skills, or ‘emotional intelligence’, is the name given to the set of abilities that allows students to work with others, learn effectively, and serve essential roles in their families, communities and places of work.” (The International Academy of Education, 2003). SEL is a process where children learn self-awareness, management, empathy, responsible decision making, etc.

SEL instructions are provided in schools to students by incorporating it through curriculum, activities, games, play, etc. This cultivates a sense of belongingness, caring, compassion towards each other and also with themselves. Social Emotional Learning provides an enriching environment and empowers students to be kinder, compassionate, and resilient not only for today but also for the unpredictable future. These skills equip children of today with better and positive interventions for tomorrow.

We can also say that SEL is more than a course or a subject. It is not something which is taught once and our work is finished. SEL is a life goal, it is continuous and ever changing.

School, Content, and Pedagogy

What we have seen till now is that curriculum, the content which is taught in schools primarily focus on academic excellence and social and emotional learning takes a back seat. Then, we say “Education is for a whole child”. When we talk about the whole child, why do we only focus academically? As we know that the traditional teaching model in schools is not of today but was designed many years ago as per the needs of that time. The present situation requires a change in the system. Which could be met when children not only excel academically but also socially and emotionally.

Ways to replace screen time for children

Ways to replace screen time for children

Today, many parents are struggling to curtail screen time and find alternate ways to engage their children. For many, the struggle is being able to coax their children to disengage from the screen.

Now that online schooling has brought screens into the home, the magnet of online games and recreation seems to be consuming the hours of most children.

Ironically, for parents the screen is an easy tool at their disposal that offers them moments of respite, but the addiction to screens by young children is not what most had bargained for. Most parents and caretakers are aware that children shouldn’t be given easy access to technology at such a young age. Yet, we are all guilty of doing so because we need to multitask, we are tired, and because children simply love it. It’s surprising to see that two-year-olds today can operate a smartphone probably better than I can.

Yet, despite how easy it might be to hand that gadget to your child, I’ll state the obvious – screen time for children isn’t right at all. Research from the Indian Academy of Pediatrics points out that children below the age of two years should not be exposed to any type of screen with the exception of occasional video calls with relatives. For children between the age of two and five years, screen time should not exceed one hour, though the lesser, the better. For ages higher than five, screen time should never come at the cost of any other activity crucial for development such as physical activity, sleep, school work, eating etc.

Further, increased time on phones and tablets also means less time spent with others. This comes at the cost of slowing down and hindering the development of language skills, social and interpersonal skills that develop the much needed ability to feel compassion and empathy.

Sadly, it can also cause isolation at a young age, leading to issues like increased anxiety and even depression in the future.

Hence, despite the fact that we might be proud of our child quickly grasping their command over technology or learning rhymes through YouTube, screen time for kids, beyond school, must be minimised and discouraged.

Prior to the technological age, children enjoyed childhood in the true sense of the word. A childhood that had them use their imagination to create games, find friends to play with and be in touch with the outdoors – all tools necessary to sculpt children into wholesome, confident and social beings with a real sense of their world.

While we have identified the problem, I would like to focus on some possible alternatives to engage our children.

Start with […]

Forget Tiger Moms. Now China's 'Chicken Blood' Parents Are Pushing Kids To Succeed

Forget Tiger Moms. Now China’s ‘Chicken Blood’ Parents Are Pushing Kids To Succeed

BEIJING — They schedule their children’s days in 15-minute increments. They scour online forums and swap tips on the most exclusive tutors and best sports coaches. Some even buy second homes next to the best public schools.

Forget Tiger moms. These are China’s jiwa or “chicken” parents, who are known for their attentive — some say obsessive — parenting style. The term is used to describe aggressive helicopter parenting, and comes from an unproven Chinese medicine treatment dating back to the 1950s, in which someone is injected with fresh chicken blood to stimulate energy.

Jiwa parenting culture, a relatively new phenomenon, is now in the crosshairs of Chinese authorities. At a time when the government wants to see families having more children and raising more future workers, it fears that hyper-competitive parenting pressures — combined with the meteoric growth of China’s private education sector, now worth billions — are deepening inequality and discouraging couples from having larger families, a priority of the country’s new three-child policy.

As more parents complain about the burnout brought on by jiwa culture, there’s concern that the financial and emotional toll is making many reluctant to have a second, much less a third, child.

The government is limiting private after-school classes

A desire to stay ahead and the belief in the power of education mean many Chinese families spend, on average, between one fourth and nearly half of their incomes on supplemental education activities, helping fuel the success of private education companies worth billions, such as New York Stock Exchange-listed TALand language tutoring startup VIPKid.

In July, the Communist Party and the State Council implemented sweeping rules to curtail the number of private after-school classes in which parents can enroll their kids. All education companies must register as nonprofits, and no new licenses will be issued to tutoring agencies catering to elementary and middle school students.

But the new rules have only made some jiwa parents more determined to maximize their kids’ chances of success.

“Because of these policies, parents are even more convinced of the potential [risk] for social immobility,” says Rainy Li, a Beijing jiwa parent of two daughters, one 11 years old and the other a toddler. “They are more eager than ever to propel their kids into elite circles, and more willing than ever to cut back on their own spendings in order to invest in their children.”

Some jiwa parents are more laid-back than others

Li’s days begin at 6 a.m., when she prepares to send her older daughter to school. At 3 p.m., she picks her up. Then there’s dance practice, an online math class and a swim session. They sometimes eat in the car in between activities. At 11 p.m., Li can relax and see her husband.

How to react when your kid’s having a tantrum & the one thing you can do to stop it

How to react when your kid’s having a tantrum & the one thing you can do to stop it

FROM the terrible twos to the troublesome threes and ferocious fours, tantrums evolve over time but they’re all equally unpleasant.

Whether you’re dealing with a child who screams and cries, lashes out physically or gets nasty with words, there are foolproof strategies to put tantrums to bed.  Parenting expert Sophie Giles shares the best way to deal with inevitable tantrums as your child grows up. Fabulous spoke to Sophie Giles, parenting and behavioural consultant and founder of the Gentle Start Family Consultancy, who says the worst thing you can do is fear them.

She says: “Children have tantrums, it’s a natural part of child development.

“They don’t have a way to express everything and they’re trying to work out how to manipulate the world and get what they want.

“So you have to help them to see that having a meltdown isn’t the way to do that.”

To know how best to react, it can be helpful to identify the type of tantrum your child is having.

There are three basic types:

Emotional outburst

Sophie says: “This is when a child has no other way of dealing with their emotions, it all gets a bit too intense and they just have a meltdown.”

Behavioural tantrum

“This is a manipulative kind of tantrum,” explains Sophie.

“The kind of tantrum where they’re threatening, ‘I will scream and yell until you give me what I want’.” Sensory overload Similar in cause to an emotional outburst, but with a slightly different solution, is the sensory overload.Sophie says: “This is when things are too loud, or too bright or there are too many people.”  So what should you do next? With a sensory overload, Sophie says the child may need attention and calming and for you to give them a deep pressure hug (provided they’re not flailing around and trying to hurt you). With an emotional outburst, it’s important to give them space to work through it.“ They need to get it out of their system,” says Sophie.   “If there’s a really shrill screaming going on, that’s telling you, ‘Get out of my face now, I’ve had enough of you’, in which case leave them to it – but you have to make sure they’re safe, obviously.

She also advises limiting your words as much as possible.  “A child under the age of five can’t really process language and heightened emotion at the same time,” Sophie explains.  “Try to use five words or less – that’s pretty much all they can compute.  ”The language you use is also very important with behavioural tantrums and you should think hard about what you’re going to say before you speak.  Sophie says: “The more words you use, the more angry they may get, or […]