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Ten Important Child Development Findings in 2004. Ann Epstein, Ph.D. 10 Important Topics in 2004. Brain Research: sensitive periods Gender: classroom biases TV Viewing: detrimental effects Temperament: inborn, goodness of fit Achievement and Culture: expectations.

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10 important topics in 2004
10 Important Topics in 2004
  • Brain Research: sensitive periods
  • Gender: classroom biases
  • TV Viewing: detrimental effects
  • Temperament: inborn, goodness of fit
  • Achievement and Culture: expectations
10 important topics in 2004 cont
10 Important Topics in 2004 (cont)

6. Bullying: victim, aggressor, by-stander

7. Emotional Intelligence: validity

8. Families: divorce, step families, sexual orientation

9. Families: parenting styles

10. Poverty: overwhelming effects


Primary References

  • Santrock, J.W. (2004). Child Development, 10th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.
  • Junn, E. N. (2003). Annual Editions: Child Growth and Development, 11th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

(Specific citations and studies available upon request.)

brain research and young children
Brain Research and Young Children

“Blooming and Pruning” of Synaptic Connections

  • Nearly twice as many synaptic connections are produced during first year as will ever be used
  • Synaptic density peaks in visual cortex (vision) at approximately 8 months
  • “ ….. in auditory cortex (hearing) and prefrontal cortex (reasoning and self regulation) between 3 and 6 years
  • Blooming and pruning continues until at least age 10
brain research and young children6
Brain Research and Young Children

Implications for “blooming and pruning”

Brain is ready to learn!

  • Provide rich sensory experiences
  • Provide appropriate conceptual learning experiences
  • Recognize plasticity (changing nature) of young child’s brain
brain research and young children7
Brain Research and Young Children

Implications of Plasticity

  • Repeated experiences “wire” the brain; appropriate learning activities actually build strong brains
  • Resiliency (recovery from early traumatic events) has biological foundation
brain research and mylenation
Brain Research and Mylenation
  • Mylenation: fatty covering of neurons that increases speed of information traveling through nervous system
  • Finding: children who watch excessive amounts of TV have less mylenation, thus not able to process information as quickly as children who have sensory rich experiences
brain research and middle childhood
Brain Research and Middle Childhood
  • 6 – puberty: most brain growth is in temporal and parietal lobes
  • Implication: critical time for development of language (literacy) and spatial skills
brain research and adolescence
Brain Research and Adolescence
  • Adolescent brains have more activity in amygdale
  • This is primary area for processing emotions
  • Implication: academic learning occurs in on-going context of emotional processing
brain based gender differences
Brain Based Gender Differences
  • Portions of the corpus callosum (band of tissue through which the brain’s two hemispheres communicate) larger in females
  • One part of hypothalamus responsible for sexual behavior larger in males
  • Are of parietal lobe involved in spatial tasks larger in males
  • Areas involved in emotional expression show more metabolic activity in females

Current Classroom Biases Against Boys

  • Compliance, following rules, being neat and orderly are valued (boys “wired” differently)

2. Most teachers are female (lack of role models)

3. Boys more likely to be identified with learning disabilities (don’t fit today’s educational process)

gender current classroom biases against boys continued
Gender: Current Classroom Biases Against Boys (continued)
  • Boys more likely to be criticized
  • Boys’ academic struggles (especially in literacy) more likely to be overlooked
  • School personnel stereotype boys’ behavior as problematic

Current Classroom Biases Against Girls

  • Tendency toward compliance, diminished assertiveness
  • Teachers give more attention to boys
  • By middle school, girls have lower self-esteem
  • Girls see fewer career options
tv taking our kids down the tube
TV: “Taking our Kids Down the Tube”
  • Average young child watches 4 hours/day
  • Thousands of commercials for high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods
  • Violence, alcohol use, inappropriate sexual activity
  • 60% of children 8 to 16 have TVs in bedrooms
effects of excessive tv viewing
Effects of Excessive TV Viewing
  • 15 % of US children are seriously overweight (5% in 1964)
  • Children who watch 10 or more hours per week have lower reading scores
  • The more TV between ages 1 and 3, greater the risk for attention problems at age 7
  • Exposure to TV violence definitely linked to aggressive behavior

Traits are primarily genetic with some environmental influence

Three Types

  • Easy or Flexible: 40%
  • Slow to warm up or Fearful: 15%
  • Difficult or Feisty: 10%

35% of children exhibit combination of traits

goodness of fit
Goodness of Fit

Match between child’s temperament and environmental demands

  • Difficult children need calm response, redirection, options for high energy
  • Fearful children need gradual introductions to new experiences
gender culture and temperament
Gender, Culture and Temperament

Cultures value temperament traits differently

Example: Chinese value quiet babies, Canadians value active babies; Canadian mothers of inhibited 2 year-olds were less accepting of their infants’ temperament while Chinese mothers were more accepting

achievement and culture
Achievement and Culture

American/Japanese Example

  • Hours teaching math
    • Japan: 25% of time in first grade
    • US: 10% of time in first grade
  • Hours in school
    • Japan: 240 days
    • US: 178 days
  • Beliefs
    • US parents: Math achievement is due to ability
    • Japanese parents: Math achievement is due to effort
  • Who?: nearly 1 in 3 6th through 10th graders (either victim or perpetrator)
  • Begins in Kindergarten
  • Boys and younger middle school students (both genders) most likely
  • Boys: physical – hit, slapped, pushed
  • Girls: verbal – rumors, sexual comments, gestures
  • Belittled about speech, looks, race, religion, dress (begins in elementary school)
  • Perpetrators: poor grades, other behavior problems, smoke, drink alcohol, substance abuse, early sexual activity
  • Victims: miss school, develop physical problems and/or depression
  • Parents and teachers hesitate to become involved, children do not report incidences
  • Bystanders: need training, encouragement and reinforcement

Possible Solutions

  • Family involvement
  • School-wide policies: consistent responses
  • Assist children in developing social skills
  • Address as top priority
    • Learning decreases as bullying increases
    • Continuing consequences for victim, aggressor, and bystander
emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
  • Daniel Goleman, 1995: “Emotional intelligence tells us more about a person’s competence than traditional intelligence tests.”
  • Understand causes of one’s feelings, manage emotions
  • Be aware of other’s feelings
  • Be able to separate feelings from actions
emotional intelligence27
Emotional Intelligence
  • Reevaluated in 2000
  • EQ can be measured and taught
  • Emphasize caring school climate, cooperation
  • Recognize individuals with high EQ
  • Important in reducing incidences of bullying
  • Altruism present in inner city youths
  • Not motivated by adult authority (innate ability)
families divorce
Families: Divorce
  • 50% of US marriages end in divorce, 40% of children experience divorce
  • 75% of children from divorced families do not have academic or behavioral problems
  • Overall, children from divorced families are more likely to have problems
  • Boys experience more distress than girls
families step parents
Families: Step Parents
  • Majority of children do not have academic or behavioral problems
  • 25% of children from step families showed adjustment problems compared to 10% in intact, never-divorced families
  • Early adolescence is most difficult time for adjusting to step families, particularly for boys
families gay and lesbian
Families: Gay and Lesbian
  • 20% of lesbians, 10% of gays are parents
  • Most have children before acknowledging sexual orientation
  • Children are just as popular with peers
  • No differences in adjustment and mental health of children living in gay or lesbian families
  • Overwhelming majority: heterosexual orientation
families parenting style
Families: Parenting Style
  • Authoritative (democratic) provides most effective guidance
    • Provide flexibility within limits
    • Communicate often
  • Maternal Employment: no detrimental effects EXCEPT
    • Infants whose mothers worked during the first year of life experienced negative effects
families parenting style32
Families: Parenting Style
  • Spanking has negative short and long term effects
  • Maltreatment: most common abuser is overwhelmed single mother in poverty
poverty s effects
Poverty’s Effects

Greatest risk for developmental weaknesses is from growing up in families with persistent socioeconomic disadvantages

  • Cognitive
  • Physical
  • Socio-emotional
poverty s effects34
Poverty’s Effects

US Statistics

  • 16% of US children live below poverty line
  • 9% of Canadian children, 2% of Swedish children
  • 50% African-American
  • 40% Latino
poverty s effects35
Poverty’s Effects

Characteristics of poor families

  • Vulnerable: little warning before being laid off, no resources to fall back on
  • Powerless: rules are handed down, rarely make decisions at work
  • Restricted alternatives: not able to make wise decisions due to poor education
poverty s effects36
Poverty’s Effects

Family characteristics (continued)

  • Feminization of poverty: single parent Moms have low pay, little alimony
  • Distressed parents feel less effective in disciplining, are less affectionate
  • What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? (Langston Hughes, 20th century American Poet and Author
children our hope and future
Children: Our Hope and Future

“In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again”

James Agee, American writer, 20th century

if i had my child to raise over again
If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.

I’d do less correcting, and more connecting.

I’d take my eyes off my watch,

and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less,

and know to care more.

I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.

if i had my child to raise over again continued
(If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again, continued)

I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I would run through more fields,

and gaze at more stars.

I’d to more hugging and less tugging.

I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.

I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I’d teach less about the love of power,

And more about the power of love.

Diane Loomans