Monday, May 10, 2010

science and parenting

From Amy Henry of in the WSJ...

'Never hug or kiss them. Never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning."

Such was the advice of behavioral scientist John Watson to mothers in the 1920s.

His council may sound absurd to modern ears, but nearly a century later, 21st-century parents techno-savvy enough to Google the latest research...may be even more likely to fall victim to the "scientific" parenting trend-of-the-moment...

For instance, a 2010 study at Gunma University in Japan found that teenagers whose parents overprotected or overcontrolled them as children have less gray matter due to the excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol in their prefrontal cortex, the brain area associated with mental illness. So far, so good. Parents just need to learn not to hover so much. Back off a bit, perhaps. But the same study found that brain growth can also be stunted if parents neglect their children. In other words, hyper-parenting is no better for kids than throwing a key under the mat and wishing them the best....No pressure.

The whiplash-inducing waves of advice don't stop there....Experts first say that television makes our kids fat, that vaccines cause autism, that spanking is bad, that antibiotics are good, that wiggly boys must have ADD, and that the early mastering of the ABC's is essential for a child's success. Then new studies come out saying —oops!...


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