Evidence based parenting book

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Diana MacNamara reads to children at Fort Brag...

In the past, mothers often lived near their own parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who were readily available with parenting advice. Nowadays, people tend to live further away from where they grew up and may not have family around to help them make childcare decisions. Therefore, many parents turn to parenting books for guidance. However, as the number of parenting experts out there rises, so does the amount of conflicting advice, which creates confusion. Parents may worry whether they should or should not sleep train their baby or whether they should be following a strict routine or not. At one extreme there is the rise of attachment parenting books, which suggest that parents should carry their baby around at all times and sleep with their child. At the other extreme, there are books telling parents to get their baby into a routine straight away.

Psychology for Parent: Birth to teens’ tries to cut through the conflicting advice offered by parenting experts by presenting psychological research on parenting issues in an accessible way. It aims to plug the gap between child psychology textbooks and ‘how to’ parenting guides.

One controversy, I feel strongly about is whether breastfeeding affects the mother-baby bond. I know that breastfeeding has important health benefits for babies but some mothers are made to feel awful if they can’t breastfeed and that is wrong. Many of my friends had problems breastfeeding their first child for various reasons, having a premature baby, having a baby with tongue-tie (a condition where the underside of the tongue is too tightly bound to the floor of the mouth for the baby to breastfeed easily), getting mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue) or not producing enough milk. I heard many comments when my son was a baby about breastfeeding leading to a better bond with your child but I was pretty sceptical about them. ‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ presents evidence, which shows that breastfeeding does not affect the mother-baby bond.’

Another topic that leads to heated debate is whether parents should smack their children or not. Gershoff (2002 ) examined 88 studies looking at the effects of physical punishment on children and found that it led to more immediate compliance but also more aggressive and anti-social behaviour later on. The children also had worse mental health and had an increased risk of being a perpetrator or victim of physical abuse. Another study found that children who had been physically punished by their parents were far more likely to be aggressive as adolescents (P. Cohen, Brook, Cohen, Velez, & Garcia, 1990). Therefore, the research suggests that smacking is not the most effective form of discipline. However, there are lots of other discipline techniques, which have been shown to be effective.

Have you asked yourself the questions: Is it better to be too strict or too lenient with my child? What should I do if my child is being bullied? How can I get my teenager to talk to me? What should I do if my child has dyslexia? If you want answers to these questions grounded in psychological research, then ‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ may be the book for you.

‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ is for sale as an e-book on Amazon, Smashwords.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks and Apple ibookstore.

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Why fathers are important role models for boys

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Father/Son A and B

A recent Newsnight programme, highlighted that in some areas of the country some boys are growing up without a father around or a male teacher to act as a role model. The question discussed in the programme, was whether boys need more male role models.

Psychological research shows that same-sex role models are important.  Bandura, Ross and Ross (1961), found that when children observed an adult be physically and verbally aggressive to a plastic bobo doll, they were very likely to copy the behaviour. Boys were more physically aggressive than girls but there was little difference for verbal aggression. The children were also more likely to imitate same-sex models. This study showed the impact that same-sex role models can have on children and the importance of exposing boys to good male role models.

We cannot pretend that all fathers are good role models but many are. Fathers have different skills to mothers and it is important to value these differences. They are better able to engage in rough-and-tumble play and to show their sons how to manage aggression. Fathers are more likely than mothers to play football with their sons and during such play they show their sons how to be good sportsmen. Another difference is that fathers tend to expect their sons to become independent quicker than mothers and having this balance between a father and mother’s expectations helps boys to manage the transition from dependence to independence.

Without a father or a father figure, in form of a male teacher or uncle, young boys may turn to older boys for guidance. Older boys who are not men yet may not be quite ready for the responsibility of guiding a younger boy. After all, older boys may still be forming their own identity. Without fathers or father figures boys may be more likely to be led astray. For example, if a young boy sees an older boy rewarded with respect and status for being involved in a gang, he may be motivated to copy this undesirable behaviour.

Not every child has a father around so I believe the solution is to make sure we have enough male role models in our schools, youth centres and sport centres. If we can’t recruit male teachers in our primary schools, then we should make up for this by have male sports coaches or male activity leaders come into school.

The good news is that the government is not oblivious to the issue of male role models. A playbus comes regularly to my local park and I’ve noticed that the activity leaders are all male. They bring a different activity every week, which is great. Some weeks they make dens with the children, other weeks one does craft activities while the other one plays football and they have even set up science experiments. We just need to make sure that activities like these are offered everywhere.

 

Teaching self-control to children http://wp.me/p29Oas-kX

The importance of family meals http://wp.me/p29Oas-nG