How High School Can Ward Off Dementia 58 Years Later (M)

Across 58 years, this high school factor was still influencing people’s cognitive powers.

Across 58 years, this high school factor was still influencing people's cognitive powers.

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This Parenting Style Increases Child’s Risk Of Mental Health Issues 150%

Psychological hostility can be as bad as, or worse, than physical hostility, studies have frequently found.

Psychological hostility can be as bad as, or worse, than physical hostility, studies have frequently found.

Hostile parenting styles increase the chances of children developing mental health issues by 150 percent, a study concludes.

Hostile parenting can involve routine physical punishment, regularly shouting at children, breaking down their self-esteem and handing out random punishments on a whim.

In many ways psychological hostility can be as bad as, or worse, than physical hostility, studies have frequently found.

The research included over 7,000 children aged 3, 5 and 9 who were tracked as part of the ‘Growing Up In Ireland‘ study.

The results showed that 10 percent of children were at high risk for mental health issues.

The research covered all kinds of issues:

  • internalising symptoms: social withdrawal and anxiety.
  • externalising symptoms: aggression, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Mr Ioannis Katsantonis, the study’s first author, said:

“The fact that one in 10 children were in the high-risk category for mental health problems is a concern and we ought to be aware of the part parenting may play in that.

We are not for a moment suggesting that parents should not set firm boundaries for their children’s behavior, but it is difficult to justify frequent harsh discipline, given the implications for mental health.”

The study assessed parents on how much they used these three parenting styles:

  • Warm parenting: supportive of the child’s needs.
  • Consistent: setting clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Hostile: psychologically and/or physically malevolent.

Hostile parenting, the researchers founds, increased the risk of children experiencing mental health issues at age 9 by 150 percent.

However, parenting style was not the only factor: those from less wealthy homes, single-parent families and female children were at a higher risk of mental health problems.

Dr Jennifer Symonds, study co-author, said:

“Our findings underline the importance of doing everything possible to ensure that parents are supported to give their children a warm and positive upbringing, especially if wider circumstances put those children at risk of poor mental health outcomes.

Avoiding a hostile emotional climate at home won’t necessarily prevent poor mental health outcomes from occurring, but it will probably help.”

Children at risk should be given appropriate support, said Mr Katsantonis:

“Appropriate support could be something as simple as giving new parents clear, up-to-date information about how best to manage young children’s behavior in different situations.

There is clearly a danger that parenting style can exacerbate mental health risks.

This is something we can easily take steps to address.”

Related

The study was published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences (Katsantonis & Symonds, 2023).

These Parental Personality Traits Are Linked To Children’s Success (M)

There is little evidence that children ‘turn into’ their parents, but parental personalities are central.

There is little evidence that children 'turn into' their parents, but parental personalities are central.

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This Household Pesticide Linked to ADHD in Children and Teens

Children with the biomarker for this chemical were twice as likely to have ADHD as those without.

Children with the biomarker for this chemical were twice as likely to have ADHD as those without.

A commonly used household pesticide has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens.

Pyrethroids, a type of pesticide, were introduced as a supposedly safer alternative to organophosphates.

Organophosphates were banned for residential use in the US 15 years ago.

But the research may question the safety of their replacement.

Dr Tanya Froehlich, a developmental paediatrician who led the study, said:

“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance.”

The results come from 687 children who were followed as part of the 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

This collected information about hyperactivity and impulsivity as well as biomarkers of pyrethoid exposure.

The results showed that children with the biomarker were twice as likely to have ADHD as those without.

The connection was much stronger in boys than girls.

Dr. Froehlich said:

“Our study assessed pyrethroid exposure using 3-PBA concentrations in a single urine sample.

Given that pyrethroids are non-persistent and rapidly metabolized, measurements over time would provide a more accurate assessment of typical exposure and are recommended in future studies before we can say definitively whether our results have public health ramifications.”

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health (Wagner-Schuman et al., 2015).

Why Children Are More Depressed Than Ever Before (M)

Depression, anxiety and suicide are now at record levels among children — how can that be explained?

Depression, anxiety and suicide are now at record levels among children -- how can that be explained?

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Natural Talent Or Hard Work: Which Do People Value More? (M)

The bias emerges in children as young as five, but fades with age.

The bias emerges in children as young as five, but fades with age.

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This Much Screen Time Linked To Child Development Problems (M)

More screen time for young children is linked to poorer communication and daily living skills later one.

More screen time for young children is linked to poorer communication and daily living skills later one.

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How To Raise Well-Adjusted Children

Is one parent enough to raise a well-adjusted child?

Is one parent enough to raise well-adjusted children?

Children who bond closely with one or other parent grow up the most well-adjusted, research finds.

Young children only need to feel a bond with one parent to boost their emotional stability later on.

A warm, secure and positive bond is enough to meet the child’s need for security.

Bonded children are less likely to grow up to be aggressive, troubled, or to display emotional and behavioural problems at school.

Dr Sanghag Kim, study co-author, said:

“There is a really important period when a mother or a father should form a secure relationship with their child, and that is during the first two years of life.

That period appears to be critical to the child’s social and emotional development.”

The conclusions come from research on 86 infants who were followed until the age of 8.

Both parents and teachers were asked about any concerns they had for the children.

Dr Kim said:

“Parents and teachers have different perspectives.

They observe children in different contexts and circumstances.

That is why we collected data from many informants who know the child.”

The news is good for both stay-at-home dads and single parents.

While being bonded with both parents is no bad thing, it is heartening to know that one parent can provide the required emotional closeness and support.

Dr Kim said:

“Some people think the father is not good enough to be the primary caregiver.

Our data show otherwise.”

Children who did not feel a secure attachment were more likely to report fears, worries and aggressive tendencies at school-age.

The study was published in the journal Child Development (Kochanska et al., 2012).

Developmental Psychology Studies: 10 Examples

Discover ten classic developmental psychology experiments that study how children’s self, memory, language, learning and more emerge.

Discover ten classic developmental psychology experiments that study how children’s self, memory, language, learning and more emerge.

Once upon a time, although it seems barely credible to us now, we were all children.

We gurgled, we cried, we laughed, we explored, we fell down, and we had very little idea about the journey on which we had just embarked.

Barring mishap, over the first few years of our lives we developed memory, language, self-concept, cognitive, social and emotional abilities.

We took our first steps towards our future selves.

Child psychology — or, more broadly, developmental psychology — is not just the study of children, it is the study of you and me and how we came to be this way.

Just as discovering your history can teach you about the future, so developmental psychology shows us what we once were and even what we will become.

Here are 10 classic developmental psychology studies that have illuminated crucial areas of childhood development.

Each one is a piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is ourselves, and each one reminds us, through examining just one piece, how aspects of experience we now take for granted were once so complex.

Click the links for a more extensive description of each developmental psychology experiment.

1. Infant memory develops very early on

Some argue it’s impossible for us to remember anything much from before around two to four years of age.

Others think our memories can go way back – perhaps even to before birth.

The question of infant memory is thorny because it’s hard to test whether adults’ earliest memories are real or imagined.

What psychologists have done, though, is examine the emergence of memory in our first few years with a series of now classic experiments in developmental psychology.

These have found that our memory systems actually work quite well from very early on.

Infants’ memories also seems to work in much the same way as adult memories – it’s just that infant memories are much more fragile.

2. Developmental psychology: when the self emerges

To this day the ‘mirror test’ remains the best developmental psychology experiment yet developed for examining the emergence of self-concept in infants using the mirror test.

Most people look out for number one, themselves, which makes it strange to think that there was ever a time when we had no concept of ‘me’.

A simple study dating from the early 70s suggests that before the age of around two years old we can’t recognise ourselves in the mirror.

Because of this study, and the many variations in developmental psychology that have followed, some claim that it isn’t until our second birthday that our self-concept emerges.

3. How children learn

A classic study of childhood learning suggests true understanding comes from letting go of established preconceptions.

How children revise their understanding of the world is one of the most fascinating areas of developmental psychology.

But it is not just relevant to children; we all have to take on new concepts from time-to-time – even though they may not be as profound as the origin of the species.

It’s tempting to think that learning is largely about memory – especially since in the bad old days of education learning was largely accomplished by rote.

However, the idea of ‘mental models’ suggests children create, and then test, mental models of the way the world works in order to build up our understanding, and that is how children learn.

4. Attachment styles in developmental psychology

Attachment styles analyse how people respond to threats and problems in their personal relationships.

People who find relationships difficult often become unable to participate in the ordinary give-and-take of everyday life.

They may become hostile towards others, have problems in education as well as a greater chance of developing psychiatric disorders later in life.

These difficulties sometimes have their roots in the most important early relationships, evidenced in attachment styles.

It’s no wonder that developmental psychologists are so interested in the first relationships we build with our primary caregivers.

These attachment styles are likely to prove a vital influence on all our future relationships, including those with our spouse, our workmates and our own children.

While you can’t blame everything on your parents, early relationship attachment styles are like a template that we take forward with us in life.

5. Infants imitate others when only weeks old

One of the most basic forms of social behaviour is copying another person.

Although imitation is something we adults take for granted, it’s actually a pretty demanding process for a young infant.

At the heart of imitation is understanding the difference between yourself and others – something that famous Swiss child psychologist Jean Piaget thought didn’t emerge immediately in infants.

Consequently, he argued that infants could not imitate others until they were 8 to 12 months of age.

However, now some researchers think tiny infants who are between 12- and 21-days-old can imitate others.

6. When children can simulate other minds

Theory of mind is when we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes to try and imagine their thoughts, intentions and possible actions.

Without the ability to simulate what other people are thinking we would be lost in the social world.

The emergence of theory of mind in children is a vital developmental milestone; some psychologists think that a failure to develop a theory of mind is a central component of autism.

Some developmental psychology experiments suggest that at about 4- to 6-years old a range of remarkable skills start to emerge in young children that are vital for their successful functioning in society.

They begin to understand that others can hold false beliefs, they themselves can lie, and that others can lie to them — they have a theory of mind.

7. Object permanence in developmental psychology

Object permanence, or object constancy, in developmental psychology is understanding that things continue to exist, even if you cannot seem them.

Research in developmental psychology has found that infants as young as 3.5 months seem to have a basic grasp of object permanence.

It appears that young infants are not necessarily trapped in a world of shapes which have little meaning for them.

Instead, they seem to be intuitive physicists who can carry out rudimentary reasoning about physical concepts like gravity, inertia and object permanence.

8. How infants learn their first word

An infant’s very first step in their year-long developmental journey to their first word is perhaps their most impressive.

This first step is discriminating and categorising the basic sound components of the language they are hearing.

To get an idea how hard this might be think about listening to someone speaking a language you don’t understand.

Foreign languages can sound like continuous streams of noise in which it’s very hard to pick up where one word starts and another word begins.

Research in developmental psychology finds that until about 11 months of age infants are masters of discriminating phonemes used in all different types of languages.

But after 11 months infants settle down with one set of phonemes for their first language, and lose the ability to discriminate the phonemes from other languages.

9. Play and developmental psychology

The pioneering developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky thought that, in the preschool years, play is the leading source of development.

Through play children learn and practice many basic social skills.

They develop a sense of self, learn to interact with other children, how to make friends, how to lie and how to role-play.

The classic developmental psychology study of how play develops in children was carried out by Mildred Parten in the late 1920s at the Institute of Child Development in Minnesota (Parten, 1933).

She closely observed children between the ages of 2 and 5 years and categorised the types of play.

She found six different types of play, ranging from solitary, through associative to cooperative

10. Piaget’s developmental psychology theory

Jean Piaget was a developmental psychologist whose four-stage theory, published in 1936, has proved extremely influential.

Piaget’s four stages of development theory has the dubious claim to fame of being one of the most criticised psychological theories ever.

From the sensorimotor stage, through the pre-operational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage, his theory attempts to describe how childhood development progresses.

However, Piaget’s experiments and theories about how children build up their knowledge of the world have faced endless challenges, many of them justified.

Read on about them here.

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The Childhood Personality Trait That Makes You Popular

The trait is intrinsically rewarding.

The trait is intrinsically rewarding.

Being fun is the childhood personality trait that makes kids popular, research shows.

Children rated as more fun tend to have more classmates who like them and more who rate them as popular.

Those rated as fun accrue a higher status among their peers which leads to more opportunities since fun kids tend to group together to practice their skills.

Professor Brett Laursen, the study’s first author, said:

“We had good reasons to suspect that being fun would uniquely contribute to a child’s social status.

Obviously, fun is intrinsically rewarding.

Fun peers are rewarding companions and rewarding companions enjoy higher social status than non-rewarding companions.

But the benefits of fun probably extend well beyond their immediate rewards.

Fun experiences provide positive stimulation that promotes creativity.

Being fun can protect against rejection insofar as it raises the child’s worth to the group and minimizes the prospect that others will habituate to the child’s presence.

Finally, changes in the brain in the early middle school years increase the salience of rewards derived from novelty, in general, and fun, in particular.

Children and adolescents are, quite literally, fun-seekers.”

The study included 1,573 children aged 9-12 who were asked to rate their peers likeability, popularity and how fun they were.

The results revealed that being fun was central to who was liked and popular.

Being fun makes children more rewarding companions, said Professor Laursen:

“One potential combination is surgency and ego resilience, which make the child a novel and exciting companion.

Fun children are probably also socially adept, and have high levels of perspective-taking and social skills.”

Being well-liked is a very handy trait, said Professor Laursen:

“Well-liked children present few adjustment difficulties and tend to succeed where others do not.

Popularity is highly coveted by children and adolescents; many value it above being liked.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Laursen et al., 2020).

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