The week's best parenting advice: June 22, 2021

Road trip tips, prepping for camp, and more — The week’s best parenting advice

Planning a family road trip this summer? Join the club. One survey from Bridgestone Americas suggests that more than half of Americans plan to drive to their vacation spots this summer, The New York Times reports . Roads could be busy, delays could be frequent, and kids will absolutely be whiny. Julia Marcum, of the Chris Loves Julia blog, shares her tips for road trips with kiddos. Snacks are key, but save yourself from having to be the snack vendor by putting the food in the trunk. “When you make a stop, you let the kids ‘shop’ the snacks that they want to tide them over until the next stop,” Marcum says. “I love that this gives them ownership over their choices and something to look forward to. Plus then we’re not having to deal with ‘can I have more fruit snacks’ every 5 minutes.”

If your kid is headed to summer camp soon, start prepping them now for the emotions that might arise. The transition from home to camp, or school to camp, can come with lots of anxieties. Clinical psychologist Rebecca Kennedy of Good Inside recommends what she calls “Emotional Vaccination” — discussing tricky feelings in advance so they’re more manageable later. Here’s what this might sound like, as imagined by Kennedy: You’ve been with the same group of kids at school and now you’re about to be with a totally different group of kids. You’ve been with the same teacher now there’s gonna be a new counselor. What’s that going to be like? That might feel a little tricky, I know new things feel tricky for me at first. “Now when camp comes and things might feel a little tricky or a little new in that way, your child has already wired those feelings next to your support and validation,” Kennedy says. “Those are key elements in regulation.”

“All babies cry,” says Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. “But some babies cry a lot.” A “colicky” baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week. Dealing with this kind of stress can bring parents to their breaking point, but Moravcik Walbert has some survival tactics. First, set up a schedule with your partner so you’re sharing the load of comforting the baby. And do this as soon as possible, ideally during a moment of calm, because “when the child is screaming is not the time to devise such a schedule,” she says. Ask for (and accept!) help from family and friends so you can get a break. And buy some ear protection. “When you’re in the thick of it all and trying to wrangle and soothe them, there is no shame in wearing earplugs or noise canceling headphones and listening to music or a podcast at the same time,” one parent recommends. “You’re still being there for them and it can help take the edge off.”

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Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Does Your Child Hate Soccer? Here are 28 Hobbies for Kids You Haven’t Thought Of

Hobbies are skill-building activities that relax and inspire you on the regular. In fact, a good one is downright therapeutic for kids and adults alike. If the young person in your life is spending too much of their free time sitting passively in front of a screen , a new interest is likely the only intervention they need. Of course, you can’t pick a hobby for another human, since the ones that really stick are those that speak to a person’s individual interests, but chances are you know your child pretty well. If you’re hoping to give your kid a gentle push in the right direction (i.e., away from Roblox), plant the seed by suggesting one of these unique and stimulating hobbies for kids.

1. Gardening

Aside from the obvious appeal of a hobby that allows kids to get their hands dirty, gardening is also an excellent activity for mindfulness , so it will calm your kid down while providing a physical workout to boot. Bonus: You don’t even need to have an outdoor space of your own for your child to put their green thumb to work, because time spent at a community garden can be equally rewarding.

2. Volunteering

Regular volunteer work is a crash course in compassion that teaches kids the importance of giving back to the community. It’s also a fun way for kids to make new friends and meet interesting people from all walks of life. Plus, given the huge variety of volunteer opportunities available, this hobby will never get old.

3. Chess

This classic game of strategy provides a stimulating challenge at every level of play. The critical thinking involved in chess also has major brain-boosting benefits and kids can join chess clubs and compete in tournaments for some friendly competition as their skill-level increases.

4. Yoga

Yoga is a well-known and widely practiced activity that strengthens muscles, improves physical fitness and calms the mind—and it’s not just for grown-ups. Yoga classes for kids are an excellent option for young people who want a hobby that involves physical activity, without the competitive component of most other sports.

5. Photography

Older kids can nourish their creativity with photography as a hobby. Of course, you’ll have to provide the camera and your child will need to put some effort into learning the skills that go into getting a good shot, but the process of exploring their surroundings in search of new subjects is sure to inspire budding artists.

6. Scrapbooking

Any kid who’s old enough to work with a pair of scissors can take up scrapbooking—a hobby that encourages self-expression and creativity, while producing pieces of art that will continue to inspire pride any time […]

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Your negative emotions are hurting your team. Try empathy instead

In 2011, Google set out to engineer the perfect team, or at least understand it. In an internal analysis known as Project Aristotle, they surveyed hundreds of teams of engineers and managers, to isolate characteristics that made them efficient and effective. Before they even started, leaders at Google thought they knew the answer. They figured that talented individuals would sum together into successful teams, and that if you averaged the talent of each team member, you’d do a pretty good job predicting how the group would perform.

It turned out they had it almost entirely backwards. Individual talent mattered, but the most effective teams were characterized by features that went above and beyond the sum of their parts. These teams exhibited psychological safety. Conversations were not dominated by any one individual, and each person felt like they could voice their thoughts freely without being judged or punished. They also were characterized by clear communication, and a deep connection of team members to the meaning and value of their work. Psychological safety had already been studied in rigorous behavioral scientific work. Project Aristotle provided yet another clear example of how much it matters.

This surprised the designers of Project Aristotle, but fit perfectly with data being collected around the same time on “collective intelligence.” Researchers randomly grouped individuals into two- to five-person teams. Each team was given a set of diverse tasks—solving visual puzzles, finding as many creative uses for an object as possible, making ethical choices together—and scored on their performance. Each team member also took a standard IQ test.

Teams varied in their collective intelligence; some outperformed others across virtually every type of task. But collective intelligence was only weakly correlated with the average IQ of team members or the smartest member’s IQ. Instead, collectively intelligent teams had three features: individuals took relatively equal amounts of time speaking, they were high in cognitive empathy, and they were populated with a greater number of women.

Many elite workplaces fetishize the disagreeable genius, who might clash with everyone around him (and it is usually a him), but also produces dazzling, field-changing ideas. Feedback and compensation packages reward individual performers, as if companies thrive through the work of independent contractors who happen to share an office space.

They don’t. Success depends on collaboration, and agile, high-performing teams are not usually propelled by one or two hyper-skilled individuals. They depend on the whole group’s ability to share their perspectives and to see one another’s.

How empathy fuels effective teams

As we’ve seen, empathy is more than one thing, and each type of it can fuel team success in different ways. To understand how emotional empathy—taking on others’ feelings—can help, we first need to overturn yet another […]

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Prof Narayanan's Research Teaches AI To Find Anyone's Emotional State By Voice

Prof Narayanan’s Research Teaches AI To Find Anyone’s Emotional State By Voice

Human voice is a rich medium with which we not only communicate our wants and needs and intent but it’s also a very special way of expressing our emotions and identity in emerging times where AI is increasingly becoming part of our lives, people want to use that to interact with other digital systems not only for transactional purposes, such as asking about weather, but more so as a social companion for elderly Human speech is rather special as it carries information about our intent, emotions, identity and several other data, like our health state A true AI system, therefore, should not only recognise the intonational properties of human speech, the words we speak and the way we interact but also take into account the nonverbal cues It’s almost like a painting, where we mix different basic colours to create a landscape with different possibilities.

Shrikanth Narayanan is a Professor at the University of Southern California and an interdisciplinary engineer-scientist with a focus on human-centered signal processing and machine intelligence as well as informatics with speech and spoken language processing at its core.

A prolific award-winning researcher, educator and inventor, with hundreds of publications to his credit, his work translates to using speech and audio to identify mental health and wellness issues, analyzing the health and stress level of workers and developing AI tools for understanding how stories are told in film and TV from a social lens. Flickr So sit back, plug in your headphones, tune in to your favourite lo-fi channel and read on this interesting conversation that we had with Professor Narayanan.

What do we understand about voice as a medium of communication in the age of AI?

Human voice is a rich medium with which we not only communicate our wants and needs and intent but it’s also a very special way of expressing our emotions and identity. And spoken language in humans is particularly remarkable. It allows us to easily communicate all our thoughts, ideas and desires through voice; and in emerging times where AI is increasingly becoming part of our lives, people want to use that to interact with other digital systems not only for transactional purposes, such as asking about weather, but more so as a social companion for elderly and learning systems for children. Representative image While today’s AI like Echo, Siri and Google Assistant does an outstanding job of word recognition and analysis, its dependence on speech alone is an inherent limitation–it, kind of, seems mechanical. When can we have an AI system that is truly capable of sensing and reacting to a user’s emotions?

Human speech is rather special as it carries information about our intent, emotions, identity and several […]

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Adults are more generous in the presence of children, new research shows

Adults are more generous in the presence of children, new research shows

Even non-parents were found to be more prosocial if youngsters were present. Most of us assume that we tend to be kinder towards children than we are to adults. Past research confirms this assumption, showing that we’re more caring towards children, and that this effect even extends to being more helpful and empathic towards baby-faced adults.

But no work has been done to examine whether the mere presence of children encourages us to be compassionate and helpful in general—influencing us to be kinder towards other adults, or more giving to charities.

Our recent research set out to understand whether we’re motivated to be more prosocial —defined as behaving in a way that’s intended to benefit others—when we’re either around children, or thinking about them.

Across eight experiments featuring more than 2,000 participants, and a large field study, we found adults to be more generous and compassionate when children were present—suggesting initiatives such as the ” Children’s Parliament “, which aim to introduce children into what are traditionally adult spaces, could have a profound influence on adult decision-making across society.

Emotions and children

We know that children elicit strong emotions in us, especially when they come to harm. For example, few images have sparked such an international outcry of sympathy as the photo of a dead boy , Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach during the 2015 Syrian migration crisis.

In fact, research has found that sympathy with Kurdi’s fate generated concern and solidarity with refugees more widely, as evidenced by greater social media engagement , a 100-fold increase in the number of donations made to aid Syrian refugees, and announcements of new governmental policies to resettle more than 150,000 refugees .

In some ways, the power of this single image is not surprising. Organizations that lobby for the poor and vulnerable have long suspected that they can enhance interest and support by putting children front and center of their campaigns. For instance, children have been featured in campaigns for charity donations , environmental protection and healthy living . These campaigns reveal a widespread assumption that children elicit sympathetic reactions in adults. Increasing sympathy

In our experiments, we wanted to find out whether the emotional effect inspired by children extends beyond our feelings for the young and into the wider world. To encourage adult participants to think about children, we asked them to describe what typical children are like (for example, their appearance and typical behavior). Participants in control conditions described typical adults or skipped this task.

Those participants we asked to describe children later reported higher prosocial motivation. That is, they reported a greater willingness to attain broad prosocial goals such as helping others, social justice, and protecting the […]

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