Child Development
Child development provides parents with information on physical, mental and emotional growth and development in children. Child development information can help parents know when they are expecting too much from a child as well as become aware of lags in development that may benefit from professional help.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

As your child gets older, she'll learn to do more things for herself — from taking off her shirt to getting her own bowl of cereal in the morning. While watching your baby's growing independence can be bittersweet, learning to take care of herself is an important part of your child's personal and social development.

When it develops
Your child will probably start doing things for herself sometime after her first birthday. Advances come fast and furiously at around 18 months, and while children will still need lots of help and attention for years to come, most will have the basics of self-care — dressing, brushing their teeth, washing their hands, feeding themselves, and going to the bathroom on their own — mastered by or soon after their fourth birthday.

How it develops
Although your child won't make significant progress in self-care until the toddler years, you'll see the first stirrings fairly early on. At about 8 months, your baby will begin to understand how objects relate to one another and may begin using them for their intended function — brushing her hair, babbling on her play phone, and so on. A few weeks later, she'll start learning how to drink out of a cup, and in a few months she'll be able to hold the cup herself (the one-handed grip will come at about 24 months). At 11 months, she'll even start holding out her arm or leg to help you dress her.

Your child will really start developing her own sense of self in the first few months after her first birthday. By 15 months, your toddler will recognize herself in the mirror — no longer will she reach out and try to touch the "other" baby. And soon after, she, like most toddlers, will probably go through a period of adamant no-saying. It's her way of asserting her new feelings of individuation.

As her sense of self increases, so will her achievements in self-care. Over the next three years, your child will master:

• Using a fork and spoon: Some toddlers may start wanting to use utensils as early as 13 months, and most children have figured out this all-important skill by 17 or 18 months. By the time she's 4, your child will probably be able to hold her utensils like an adult, and she'll be ready to learn table manners.

• Taking off her own clothes: While this may lead to lots of naked-toddler chase sessions, it's a key accomplishment, and your child will learn to do it sometime between 13 and 20 months.

• Brushing her teeth: She may start wanting to help with this task as early as 16 months, but she probably won't be able to do it on her own until sometime between her third and fourth birthdays.

• Washing and drying her hands: This skill develops between 19 and 30 months and is something your child should learn before or at the same time as using the toilet — you don't want her spreading bacteria.

• Getting dressed: She may be able to put on loose clothing as early as 20 months, but she'll need a few more months before she can manage a T-shirt and another year or two after that before she'll really be able to get dressed all by herself. At 27 months, she'll probably be able to pull off her shoes.

• Using the toilet: Most children aren't physically ready to start toilet training until they're at least 18 to 24 months old, and some won't be ready to begin for as much as a year after that. Two key signs of readiness include being able to pull her pants up and down by herself and knowing when she has to go before it happens. For more, see BabyCenter's complete toilet training guide.

• Preparing her own breakfast: Toddlers as young as 3 may be able to get themselves a bowl of cereal when they're hungry, and most kids can do it by the time they're four and half. If your child wants to give this a whirl, make it easy for her by leaving kid-size containers of cereal and milk in the cupboard and fridge.

What's next
As the months and years roll by, your child will get better and better at taking care of herself. Before you know it, she'll be able to tie her shoes and take a shower or bath by herself — and then it's just a matter of time until she can do laundry and cook dinner, not to mention drive herself to soccer practice.

Your role
As always, encouragement is key. Whenever your child tries her hand at a new skill, whether she succeeds or not, tell her you're proud she made the effort and urge her to try again. Along the same lines, don't step in too quickly to help; it's essential that she have enough time to master these things on her own, at her own pace (so don't pressure her before she's ready, either). Be flexible — if learning to wash her hands means a messy bathroom for a few days, or if getting dressed on her own means she spends a week running around in an old pink turtleneck, a bright red skirt, blue jeans, and flip flops, go with the flow. The more she practices, the better she'll be.

Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your child as she begins to experiment with doing things on her own. Set limits and explain them: Tell her why it's not safe for her turn on the oven by herself or cut her own meat just yet. She probably won't be very happy about it, but she'll get the idea eventually.

When to be concerned
Children develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if your child hasn't shown interest in doing anything for herself by the time she's 2, tell the pediatrician at her next appointment. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach these and other milestones later than their peers.


posted by Fauziah at 11:29 PM


Your child's early attempts at writing certainly won't look much like words and sentences, but his scribbles, lines, and drawings are all helping him get ready to learn his ABCs — and perhaps someday produce the next great American novel.

When it develops

Most children are able to grasp a crayon and shove it around on a piece of paper when they're about 12 or 13 months old. From then until sometime between their second and fifth birthdays, children will gradually get better and better at writing and drawing until they're able to put a few letters down on paper and, eventually, spell their own name.

How it develops
Over the last several months of his first year, your baby's fine motor skills will improve steadily, which will help him get ready to grab a crayon. At 12 or 13 months, some toddlers are already able to scribble; if yours needs a few more weeks, that's fine too.

Most 16-month-olds will have mastered scribbling, no doubt producing a gallery's worth of masterpieces for the refrigerator. After that, your child will gradually start moving on to bigger and better things, including coloring and painting (artistic play) at about 29 or 30 months and being able to draw a vertical line by his third birthday.

By the time he's 3, your child will be able to hold a pencil in writing position. Some preschoolers will be able to make a few letters — or squiggles that look an awful lot like letters — and a few will even figure out how to write their own name before they enter kindergarten, especially if they've been learning the alphabet in daycare or preschool. Many don't, though, and that's okay. Don't feel pressured to make your child learn to write before he's ready; wait until he's really interested and excited about it.

What's next
As preschoolers get more adept at using crayons and pencils, they'll start making more elaborate and accurate drawings. Between his second and fifth birthdays, your child will learn to make horizontal lines, to copy a circle and a square, and to draw people. Once he starts elementary school, he'll soon learn to read and write.

Your role
As with any of your child's new skills, your job is to provide encouragement and support — and, in this case, supplies. Starting as early as your baby's first birthday, be sure to have crayons and paper or coloring books on hand for when he starts showing an interest in scribbling. (Skip pens and pencils until he's older — they're much sharper than crayons and could hurt your toddler if he fell on them or accidentally poked himself in the face.) Let him practice scribbling as often as he likes, but take breaks if he gets frustrated.

Teach your child to limit his artistic endeavors to the piece of paper in front of him, although no matter how many times you tell him not to, he's bound to find the wallpaper (or the floor, or your brand-new paperback) irresistible. So be prepared to clean up after him a few times; to that end, invest in washable crayons. Try not to let him eat his supplies, although getting a little burnt sienna in his system at some point is practically inevitable — and won't do any lasting harm.

When it comes to writing actual letters, the most important thing you can do is let your child learn at his own pace. "It's all too easy to overdo teaching letters and numbers," says T. Berry Brazelton in his book Touchpoints. "To me, the timing is not as important as the child's own desire to learn. Be sure the idea of learning these things is coming from him. It's so easy to push early learning on a child who is compliant at this age. But it does more harm than good." Preschoolers who are forced to read and write before they're ready can do it and will often seem to have an edge over their kindergarten classmates. But studies have found that they lose that advantage as they get older and realize they can't apply the same memorizing techniques they used for reading and writing to more complex learning.

Finally, be sure to talk to and read to your child as much as possible. The more language he hears, the more his brain will grow and develop, which will benefit all of his communication skills — including writing — in the long run.

When to be concerned

Babies develop skills differently, some more quickly than others, but if your child hasn't started scribbling by the time he's about 15 or 16 months old, bring it up the next time you see his pediatrician. Keep in mind that premature babies may reach this and other milestones later than their peers.


posted by Fauziah at 11:25 PM


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Simple Mommy Secrets to Stop Your Little Biter

Parenting Expert Michele Borba shares her advice on getting your child to stop biting.

Thanks Mom
A daughter, now with a child of her own, tells a story about how she learned parenting skills and how to discipline from her own mother.

Taking The Bite OUT Of A Biting Child
A biting child is a negative child behavior experienced at practically every child care setting, whether it be daycare, in-home care, playgroup, or just among siblings. Nothing will stop kid play more quickly than a biting child giving a hard chomp on another. So What can be done about a biting child?

Effective Use of Time Out
How to effectively use time out with your toddler. Tells how long time out should be and why time out is useful as a redirection of undesired behavior.

Consistency Matters
Explains the benefit of being consistent from very early on with your child's discipline and touches on how disciplining toddlers is so much different than with older children.

9 Reasons Why Toddlers Can Be Difficult to Discipline
Lists 9 reasons why, developmentally, toddlers are sometimes hard to discipline and gives strategies on how to deal with each issue.

Teaching Logical Consequences
Offers parents a way to set limits with their toddlers and explains the benefits of using the logical consequences of actions to teach toddlers. Also describes the difference between discipline and punishment.

Deciding Whether or Not to Spank
Information regarding the use of spanking, including viewpoints from parents who have used both spanking and nonspanking as discipline methods for their toddlers.

Which Toddler Behaviors Require Discipline
Outlines many toddler behaviors that you will likely want to manage and gives steps on how to do so. It covers common behaviors like biting, hitting, refusing to get dressed, problems at the supermarket, whining, swearing and more.

Explores the many reasons why toddlers might bite (themselves or others) and teaches parents how to effectively discipline when it occurs.

posted by Fauziah at 11:25 PM


Use these growth charts for babies and toddlers to record and monitor your child's physical development. Each page includes a .jpg image of the growth chart and a link to a full size printable .pdf file.

posted by Fauziah at 11:22 PM


Use these growth charts for babies and toddlers to record and monitor your child's physical development. Each page includes a .jpg image of the growth chart and a link to a full size printable .pdf file.

posted by Fauziah at 11:22 PM


What to Expect When
Suspecting a Problem
Stimulating Development
Toddler Physical Development
Toddler Social & Emotional Development
Toddler Speech & Language Development

What do you know about reading to your child?

Computers and toddlers: How to make it work
Great music for kids
Help develop your child's writing skills
Help your child become more independent
How to raise a reader
How to raise an imaginative child
How to stimulate your child's natural curiosity
Kids' software we like
Music and your toddler or preschooler (ages 1 to 3)
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Play: Why it's so important
Recommended kids' videos
Starter library for 1- to 2-year-olds
Starter library for 2- to 3-year-olds
TV-watching guidelines for toddlers
What every toddler needs to thrive
Zero to Three

Ask the Experts
How can I give my toddler the best head start for school?
Should I set up structured activities for my toddler or just let him play on his own?
When and how can I teach my toddler to read?
When can my toddler start doing chores, and what kinds are appropriate?
When can we start music lessons?
When can we start taking our child to the movies?

My toddler isn't interested in books
How can I encourage my gifted child without pressuring her?
How can I pay attention to my toddler with a newborn on my hands?
My toddler is a video junkie
My toddler is addicted to "Barney"

Bulletin Boards
Development worries and complaints
Do you let your children play on the computer?
Do you let your children watch TV?
Early milestones: Baby
Early milestones: Toddler
Kids with sensory integration dysfunction
Toddler activities

Do you plan to let your child play on the computer?

Award-winning toys for toddlers
Books: Classic
Top Books: Toddler

posted by Fauziah at 10:38 PM


Avoiding Gender Stereotypes
Learn how to overcome the typical stereotypes in raising your daughter. By Jenny Friedman, PhD for

The Five Year Old Child
Insights to five year olds from the classic research in child development by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames at the Yale Clinic of Child Development.

The Six Year Old Child
Insights to six year olds from the classic research in child development by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames at the Yale Clinic of Child Development.

The Seven Year Old Child
Insights to seven year olds from the classic research in child development by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames at the Yale Clinic of Child Development.

The Eight Year Old Child
Insights to eight year olds from the classic research in child development by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames at the Yale Clinic of Child Development.

The Nine Year Old Child
Insights to nine year olds from the classic research in child development by Arnold Gesell, Frances Ilg, and Louise Bates Ames at the Yale Clinic of Child Development.

Strategies to help you ease the preteen through to a happy adolescence.

PBS Parents . Child Development | PBS
PBS' Child Development Tracker takes you through age six. It covers development in Language, Literacy, Math, Physical Health, Science, Social and Emotional Development, Approaches to Learning, and Creative Arts.

Child Development Basics
Helpful information on the intellectual, physical, and social-emotional development of children from Robert Myers, PhD, of the Child Development Institute. Look around for more articles on parenting topics.

Ages and Stages Articles from National Network for Child Care
Excellent articles on school-age child development.

Child Development from Elaine Gibson
I think this article will ease your mind about some of your child's problem behaviors and also help you recognize if your child's problems are outside of the normal range.

The Child Development Web Site
An online tutorial on classic child development theories by Linda Chapman, MSW.

ParenTalk Newsletter: Preteens
The National Parenting Center provides this extensive list of articles on child development from several excellent authors.

Steps and Stages, School Aged Children
Understanding normal development helps you deal with problem behaviors more effectively. Good stuff from Canadian Parents Online.

Parenting Expert Profile - Thomas Gordon, Ph.D.
Parenting Experts Profile Series - Dr. Thomas Gordon

posted by Fauziah at 10:33 PM


Early Learning

Early Learning: Focus on Birth to Five

Find out how babies and young children learn, and get strategies for nurturing this early development.

School Age Struggles

Inclusive Communities

Help children with disabilities feel included, and teach all kids to respect differences in others.

Struggling to Learn

A resource for understanding and supporting kids who have trouble paying attention, or who struggle with reading, writing or math.

posted by Fauziah at 10:29 PM


Understanding Child Development The child development section of our site provides information on physical, mental and emotional growth and development in children and teenagers. Information on prenatal development is also provided.

Improving Your Child's Behavior Child Psychology information to help build parenting skills that help to provide structure and encouragement for children of all ages from toddlers to teens. These positive parenting tips build self-esteem, self-discipline and create kids that are winners.

Improving Your Child's Learning Ability Provides child development facts and parenting tips to improve learning ability and study skills for children and adolescents.

All About Childhood Disorders Provides comprehensive information on child development, child psychology and parenting from research studies, support organizations and clinical guidelines related to various disorders found in children and adolescents including Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Bedwetting, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities and other behavioral and emotional disorders.

Taking Care of Baby Welcome to parenthood! Get valuable child development and practical parenting information related raising infants and toddlers.

Raising Successful Teens Provides parenting guideline on how to help teenagers reach their full potential. We also provide practical suggestions for parents on how to help teens cope with various life issues.

Child & Teen Health & Safety Issues Find parenting and child development information and practical advise related to medical issues, dental health, safety tips and maternal health.

Kids, Teens and Media Provides news, information and guidelines related to the impact of various forms of mass media including TV, Internet and Video Games on child development. Parenting tips to help children and teenagers make good use of these and other media are also provided.

Visit Parent Mart our online store with books and tapes on child development and parenting as well as programs for kids and teens to improve self-esteem and learning including The Phonics Game for reading improvement and Focus for kids with ADHD.

posted by Fauziah at 10:26 PM


Major Topics

Prenatal/Fetal Development Adolescent Development
Normal Human Development Nutrition
Intellectual Development Physical Development
Language Development Tools & Calculators
Social-Emotional Development Birth Order
Temperament & Personality Role of Play in Child Development

posted by Fauziah at 10:21 PM



Catherine Tuerk first noticed that her son was different from typical boys about 30 years ago. At age 4, he began to be oversensitive, to show disdain for roughhousing and to prefer girl playmates. She felt afraid that he might become gay or transsexual and that she might have done something to cause her son's "problem." Mental health professionals told her that her son could be "fixed," so she and her husband put him through years of psychotherapy to make him more "masculine."

It seemed to work. Tuerk's son began doing stereotypical boy things--pretending to like football, for example. Then he came out to her at age 20, noting that his parents' misguided efforts to make him straight had caused him years of self-doubt and denial. "That's when I realized that everything I had been told by professionals was wrong or harmful to him and our family," says Tuerk, a registered nurse and psychotherapist.

Tuerk learned that many gay men who had been "gentle and sensitive" boys had experienced painful childhoods because of their atypical gender behavior. They were stigmatized at an early age by the outside world and often by their families. Though Tuerk couldn't change the course she set for her son in the early 1970s, she could help parents of young gender-variant children learn to accept their children's atypical interests and possible homosexuality.

To do that, in 1999, she co-founded a support group for these parents, which includes a separate play group for their children, with child psychiatrist Edgardo Menvielle, MD, who counsels gender-variant children at Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) in Washington, D.C.--the project's sponsor. They enlisted clinical psychologist Gregory Lehne, PhD, an expert on children's gender issues and an assistant professor of medical psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, as their adviser. Deborah Elliott, a psychology doctoral student at George Washington University, runs the children's group.

"These families are not likely to meet each other in real life," says Menvielle. "It's unlikely that they're going to have a friend or relative with a similar child. They feel very isolated. Like other people facing unusual and challenging situations, these parents feel truly understood when they finally can talk with another parent of a gender-variant child."

Understanding gender variance

In the 1970s and 1980s, parents of gender-variant children had even fewer chances to connect with other parents. They were more likely to try to change their children than to learn to accept them. Back then, some mental health professionals theorized that children with persistent and multiple gender-variant interests--which for boys include pretending to be female characters such as Snow White, dressing up in girls' clothing or expressing the desire to be a girl--were likely to develop gender identity disorder (GID) and seek to become transsexuals as adults.

But in 1987, psychiatrist Richard Green, MD, published a seminal study later corroborated by other researchers that found that extreme boyhood gender nonconformity was associated with a homosexual or bisexual identity in adulthood--neither of which are disorders.

In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) states that "only a very small number of children" with GID behaviors will continue to meet the criteria for GID in later adolescence or adulthood, and only a small minority change their gender as adults. "That means we can really see that sexual orientation is set very early in life," says Lehne, pointing out that about 75 to 80 percent of gender-variant boys become gay. "Unfortunately, in spite of some progress, many of these kids are still tormented and teased."

Lehne was instrumental in educating Tuerk and Menvielle on the concerns of parents, who may feel distress and confusion about their children's atypical gender interests. Lehne also gave Tuerk and Menvielle access to consenting families, letting them observe counseling sessions and participate in child evaluations. He says he supports their efforts because they "take a positive approach toward homosexuality across the life span.

"Parents need help in loving these kids and helping them become healthy teenagers and adults," Lehne says.

The support group, Menvielle says, allows parents to share and learn from each other in a confidential and supportive environment. For example, parents may need help coming to terms with their children's interests and their feelings about homosexuality. Group members also share strategies for helping their children deal with taunting and ridicule from others.

The group--which Menvielle says may be the only ongoing support group for parents of gender-variant children in the country--includes about 20 parents of sons 3 to 12 years old who meet monthly in suburban Washington. A few parents of girls quit the group because their daughters' issues seemed less distressing to them than to parents of sons.

"For girls, it's a whole different story," Lehne explains. "They're not particularly likely to be lesbian--the majority are heterosexual. They [rarely] come to professionals for treatment, and they tend to have higher self-esteem than non-tomboys."

Menvielle and Tuerk say they'd be willing to start a group for parents of gender-variant girls if enough showed an interest. Meanwhile, they work with the existing group's parents on how to create a space at home that is safe for their children's interests; how to help the children make informed decisions about public behaviors--in order to spare them from rejection or humiliation--while validating the children's uniqueness and right to express themselves freely; how and when to advocate for the child in school, with other children and with adults; how to deal with a child's developing sexuality; and how to look for alternative activities, such as gymnastics, dance and music, to encourage the range of their children's talents and interests.

During one meeting, for example, a mother asked the group for suggestions on how to warn her 4-year-old son that he might be ridiculed for playing with his Barbie dolls in public without making him feel bad.

Taking the group's advice, the mother explained to her son that playing with Barbie dolls is OK, but that other children might tease him for it--and that wouldn't be his fault. The child, now 5, has total trust in his mother and father and seeks their help in gauging when to take social risks, such as whether to bring a doll on a first playdate. "If the parents had been negative about this, the child would have clammed up," says Menvielle. "He would have thought that his parents didn't like him. It's very critical that parents demonstrate to a child that they're on his side."

Parents who can build trusting relationships with their sons help them develop the self-acceptance and confidence that will carry them through adolescence, Lehne says. "Many of these boys' self-esteem is really damaged," he continues, and their fragile identities often lead them to make bad choices, such as practicing unsafe sex.

The group also seeks to prepare parents for the possibility that their son is gay. "We don't beat around the bush," says Tuerk. "We say that if you look at the literature, there's a very good chance that your child is gay--not will be gay--but is gay. They have to struggle with that. When people find out they have gay children, they grieve about this. These parents have a lot of years before they'll find out."

In the meantime, Tuerk and Menvielle believe that the group will help parents work through their complex feelings so that they are able to raise well-adjusted and happy children.

New directions

Giving these children stress-free play opportunities is one way to foster their happiness. Parents in the group recently decided to bring their children to meetings so they can interact with other gender-variant children and their siblings.

Activities for the younger children include doing crafts and playing dress-up with scarves, says Elliott, who enjoys volunteering with the children and plans to do so indefinitely. "The older kids that come are incredibly talented artists, so it is not uncommon for them to spend their time quietly drawing and chatting," she says.

"I believe that if we can bring these kids together when they're young, they'll carry the experience of meeting like-minded kids with them as they progress in their development," adds Elliott, who plans to become a pediatric psychologist.

The program also grew last year when Menvielle won a grant from CNMC's Child Health Center Board to launch a community outreach program to educate pediatricians, teachers and other professionals about gender variance. James deJesus, coordinator for the community outreach program, who is gay, says that these professionals can be a much-needed source of guidance and support for these children.

When he was growing up, his parents didn't understand him and ridiculed him for wanting to play house with his sisters instead of sports with his brothers. He believes that had professionals such as his teachers or guidance counselors known about gender variance, they might have helped his parents learn to affirm and support him.

"I would have felt better about myself if as a child I could have felt free to play with dolls or play house with my sisters instead of being forced to take judo lessons and spar with my brothers," he says. "The question still haunts me, 'Why wasn't it okay just being the way I was?'"

For more information on the support group or the Outreach Program for Children with Gender-Variant Behaviors and Their Families or its listserv, contact CNMC at (202) 884-2504 or e-mail To download the free parent guide, "If you are concerned about your child's gender behaviors," visit the program's Web site at

posted by Fauziah at 10:17 PM


A compendium of findings from a study funded by the National Institutes of Health reveals that a child’s family life has more influence on a child’s development through age four and a half than does a child’s experience in child care.

This study shows only a slight link between child care and child development, I said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH component which funded the study. Child care clearly matters to childrens development, but family characteristics — and childrens experiences within their families — appear to matter more. I

The findings, from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, are detailed in a new booklet available as a PDF file at The booklet is based on the scientific literature, compiling findings that have appeared in such journals as Applied Developmental Science, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, from 1999 through 2003. Included in the booklet are detailed notes that refer the reader to the original publication in which the individual findings were cited.

Because many families must rely on child care, the NICHD launched the study in 1991 to understand how differences in child care experiences might relate to childrens development. For 15 years, researchers from 10 sites around the country have followed the development of more than 1,000 healthy children from across the United States. Children were enrolled in the study at birth. The study included children from ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged households. More than 80 percent of the children in the study grew up in two-parent families.

The study tracked childrens experience in child care. It was not designed to determine cause and effect and so could not demonstrate conclusively whether or not a given aspect of the child care experience had a particular effect.

Children in the sample averaged 27 hours per week in child care from birth through age four and a half. Most started out in child care in the homes of relatives or non-relatives in infancy and made the transition to center-based care when they were older. The study demonstrated that quality, quantity, and type of child care — defined as any care provided on a regular basis by someone other than the childs mother — are modestly linked to the development of children up to age four-and-a-half. Among the studys major findings that are described in the booklet:

  • Children who received higher quality child care were better able to think, respond, and interact with the world around them and had somewhat better reading and math skills than children who received lower quality child care.
  • Children who spent 30 or more hours in child care each week showed somewhat more problem behavior in child care and in kindergarten (but not at home) and had more episodes of minor illness than children who spent fewer hours in child care each week
  • Children who attended child care centers had somewhat better language and social skills and better pre-academic skills involving letters and numbers, but showed somewhat more problem behavior when they first entered school than did children who experienced other types of child care settings.

However, parent and family features were two to three times more strongly linked to child development than was child care during the preschool years.

For example, children did better when parents were more educated, when family’s incomes were higher, when mothers had fewer or no symptoms of depression, and when families had well organized routines, books, and play materials, and took part in learning activities.

These features were as important to the well-being of children who had been in child care as they were for children who had not been in child care.

Study researchers periodically visited each child and family at home, in child care (if used), and in a laboratory playroom at each of the 10 sites. They also contacted families regularly by phone and by mail. Using tests, questionnaires, and direct observation, researchers collected information on how children responded to their environment, how they were developing in relation to what is typical at a given age, how they interacted with their parents and other children, and what their usual mood or personality was.

They also looked at childrens home environments; parent’s attitudes toward work, family, and child care; how child care was structured; and how providers cared for children.

Children in child care centers that met accreditation standards for adult-to-child ratios, group size, and training of staff had somewhat more reading and math knowledge and better language comprehension. They also were somewhat more cooperative at age three than children in centers that did not meet the standards. In essence, the more standards the child care met, the better children did.

Even though links existed between child care features and child development, the quality of interactions between mothers and children was more important for childrens development. Children did better if mothers were more sensitive, responsive, and attentive. And mothers were more likely to be like this if they were more educated, lived in more economically advantaged households, and had more positive personalities.

These NICHD-funded researchers are now following the development of the children through the ninth grade to see whether even minor differences in childrens development due to different early child care and family experiences might affect children later in life.

(More detail about the NICHD study can be found at and on the study Web site at

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

posted by Fauziah at 10:14 PM


Head growth in fetal life and infancy is associated with later intelligence, new research hints. Moreover, catch-up increases do not appear to compensate for poor early growth.

"Brain growth in early life may be important in determining not only the level of peak cognitive function attained but also whether such function is preserved in old age," the study team writes in the journal Pediatrics. "Older people with a larger head circumference tend to perform better on tests of cognitive function and may have reduced risks of cognitive decline and of Alzheimer's disease."

Several studies in children have shown that those with larger brains, measured with imaging studies or as head circumference, tend to score higher on tests of cognitive function. Similar associations have been found in adults.

For their study, Dr. Catharine R. Gale, of the University of Southampton, UK, and colleagues examined the effect of head growth in fetal life, infancy, and childhood on brain power at the ages of 4 and 8 years. Included in the study were 633 term children who had their head circumference measured at birth and at regular intervals thereafter.

By age 1, mean head circumference increased from 34.9 cm at birth to 46.6 cm. Head growth after infancy was slower. Mean head circumference increased to 50.9 cm by 4 years and to 53.4 cm by 8 years.

Average full-scale IQ was 106.3 at 4 years and 105.6 at 8 years. The investigators report that only prenatal growth and growth during infancy were associated with later IQ.

At 4 years, after adjusting for parental factors, there was an average increase in full-scale IQ of 2.41 points for each 1 standard deviation increase in head circumference at birth and 1.97 points for each 1-SD increase in head growth during infancy. This was conditional on head size at birth.

Head circumference at birth was no longer associated with IQ at 8 years. However, head growth during infancy remained significantly predictive, with full-scale IQ increasing an average of 1.56 points for each 1-SD increase in head growth.

posted by Fauziah at 10:09 PM


By Sylvia Rimm

Q. One of our 6-year-old twin boys is currently on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) through our local school district. He was diagnosed as having a generalized anxiety disorder with some behaviors and characteristics of Aspergers Disorder. He has many sensory processing challenges that are managed well through occupational therapy and daily planning.

He has been on an IEP for two years and is doing well. He continues to attend OT, social skills classes and a regular preschool. We've been very pleased with the partnership between the home, preschool and school district. However, we're encountering challenges as we move from preschool to kindergarten.

The school psychologist wants to consider moving from an IEP to a 504 Plan. His reasoning is that our son is bright and would only qualify for an IEP under some type of mental health disability. The school psychologist said he has ethical problems labeling a child this young with a mental health disability. He also commented that he's never had a child get so far on the IQ and achievement tests, and wasn't sure that special services were needed. We've known all along that his cognitive skills were good.

Our concern is whether to keep the IEP in place to ensure services for his kindergarten and first-grade transitions. A label verifies his need for support. It's up to us, as his parents, and the school staff to manage it so that he isn't pigeonholed, and so that the label doesn't turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. We believe it doesn't matter how bright our son is if he can't successfully adapt to the school routine and expectations, and positively navigate the social element of school. We recognize that our son is a unique mix -- he's bright, but he also has the sensory and anxiety challenges that can also cause him struggles and impede his ability to learn.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations on the best way to manage this with the school psychologist? Are we being overly concerned with the social/emotional angle?

A. It's time for a second opinion, but I can't provide that without knowing your son. I suggest you return to the original doctor who first diagnosed your son so he can gauge the progress and either back you in your request or reassure you that an IEP is no longer necessary. A 504 plan also provides services, but they may not be as extensive.

I can understand your concern related to the transition to kindergarten and first grade, because those transitions provide the foundation for his school success. I also agree that no matter how bright a child is, social and emotional issues can prevent his learning, his adjustment to school and his healthy development. If he's progressed well with social skills classes and OT, the therapists providing these services may advise you in those areas.

When your son moves into the classroom, where his academic skills are noticed and valued, his social skills may also improve, but only time will tell if that helps your son in his adjustment to kindergarten and first grade. Young children often attach status to high achievement.

Consider that the school psychologist has a very real concern for your son and that unnecessary services can sometimes be harmful. It's often better not to put an emotional disability label on children when there are only minor issues.

For a free newsletter about gifted children, or about developing social skills, send a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094, or go to for more information.

Dr. Sylvia B. Rimm is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the author of many books on parenting. More information on raising kids is available at Please send questions to: Sylvia B. Rimm on Raising Kids, P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI 53094 or To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2006 Creators Syndicate Inc.

posted by Fauziah at 9:52 PM


By Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

My daughter walked in the door from school, threw down her backpack, and raced back outside. I called out to her as she ran through the yard. "Do you have any homework?"

"No, not tonight!" she called back.

When I heard this news, there were always mixed feelings. I was relieved that she attended a school which gave very little homework to the students in grades one through six, but I worried at times that she might be falling behind students at other schools. After all, doesn't homework help prepare kids to perform better in their later years, increase their discipline, and help them on test scores that are crucial for college admission?

The research on homework might surprise you.

The research shows limited verification of homework's effectiveness, but does show that it's been on the increase for a number of years. A 2004 national survey of 2,900 American children conducted by the University of Michigan found that time spent on homework is up 51 percent since 1981. A 2000 survey showed that students ages 6 to 8 did an average of 52 minutes a week in 1981, and, by 1997, were up to 128 minutes a week, says Alfie Kohn, author of "The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing" (DaCapo Lifelong Books).

But, according to Harris Cooper, professor of psychology and director of the Program in Education at Duke University in Durham, N.C., homework doesn't measurably improve academic achievement for kids in grade school. In fact, he found that "there is almost no correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school and only a moderate correlation in middle school. Even in high school, any benefits start to decline after kids reach a maximum of two hours a night."

And not only can excessive homework be ineffective in helping your kids perform better, it can take a toll on the quality of a family's life. Sara Bennett, author of "The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It," says homework can "take away from family time, puts parents in an adversarial role with kids and interferes with the child's ability to play or have other after-school activities." For middle school and teens, it limits crucial time with their peers. Students of all ages are getting too little sleep, which then impacts their learning in school."

And while homework can create one more piece of the stress pie most American families are feeling these days, it can also have benefits. It especially benefits kids when it teaches new concepts and adds to what kids have learned during the day, increasing their ability to think independently. But too often, homework involves tedious busy work that consumes great amounts of time and won't be remembered a month later. So if your child or family is being unduly stressed by the "homework demon," here are some options:

-- Talk to your child's teacher directly, and tell them what you're experiencing. Most parents do not communicate these concerns, so teachers don't see it as a big problem.

-- Get together with other parents and talk to administrators about the amount of homework given out. You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish.

-- Don't do your child's homework for them. A dependent child will not do well when they go out into the world. Provide a good, quiet, and well-lit space for them, and let them be. Help them when it's needed.

-- Give your child options when they get stuck with homework: They can call friends for help, get online, get a tutor, find extra help at school, etc. As long as they know there are options, they can stay in action and find solutions.

In 2006, our kids are being robbed of one of the most important

things that exist in their life -- stress-free time with their families. First and second graders with homework stress isn't just a bad idea, it's ineffective. So is five hours of sleep a night for high school age kids. Excessive homework doesn't just rob our kids of precious time, it extinguishes a love of learning.

I think it's time for parents to sound the school alarm.

*About the Author: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches parents by phone to balance their life and improve their family relationships. He is an Instructor for the Academy for Coaching Parents ( and author of "Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers" Ecourse, which can be found at Click here for more Ecourse information.

posted by Fauziah at 9:51 PM


By CHRISTINE DELL'AMORE, UPI Consumer Health Correspondent
Source: UPI

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The rising tide of childhood asthma has again been linked to a classic American pasttime -- the swimming pool. In a new study, Belgian researchers showed that exposure to indoor swimming pools before the age of 6 is the "most consistent predictor" of childhood asthma, mostly in children already genetically predisposed to the condition.

Their study, published in the October issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, further investigates the theory that trichloramine, an irritant gas and chlorine byproduct released into the air of indoor swimming pools, can lead to asthma. The chemical irritates the upper respiratory tract, travels deep into the lung and causes cell damage.

"This is just an association, and we need to look into more chemicals," cautioned lead author Alfred Bernard, a professor of toxicology at the Catholic Unviersity of Louvain in Brussels.

Bernard and colleagues recruited 341 schoolchildren -- 172 boys and 169 girls -- between the ages of 10 to 13 from Belgian primary schools, all of whom had mandatory pool time as part of their education.

In 2002, the research team tested the students' blood to determine their genetic predisposition to allergies and administered an exercise-induced test to detect asthma. Of the total group, 32 boys and 24 girls had asthma. In Brussels, about 15 percent of children have asthma, so the study seems representative of the city's population, Bernard said.

The team concluded chlorination by-products polluting the air, such as trichloramine, actually promotes the development of asthma -- at least in young, genetically suspectible children who attend heavily polluted pools.

Bernard and colleagues also calculated the risk of developing asthma increased about 8 percent per 100 hours of exposure to pools.

The researchers speculated younger children were more at risk for several reasons: For one, young kids usually cluster in the shallow pool, which is hot and more heavily polluted than the main pool. When children learn to swim, they tend to inhale and swallow more aerosols and water droplets containing chemicals. Also, human lungs are still developing -- and thus sensitive to outside pollutants -- before the age of 6.

"In my view, this might explain why in Canada and Scotland and Ireland, (places) without much air pollution, there is such a high prevalence of asthma," Bernard said.

Childhood asthma has skyrocketed ten-fold across the developed world, particularly in the English-speaking countries of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, there are nearly 5 million asthma sufferers are under age 18 -- making asthma the most common chronic childhood disease.

The emphasis on stringent hygiene in these countries, as well as the popularity as indoor swimming pools, has led some to question whether pools and asthma are somehow linked.

Another major theory is the hygiene hypothesis, which says asthma and other allergic diseases are spurred by the declining exposure of children to infections during infancy.

But because asthma has so many triggers and potential causes, scientists are unable to fully explain its dramatic spike.

The Brussels study named trichloramine as the main culprit in triggering the development of asthma. Little research has focused on trichloramine and its effect on children; likewise, there is no regulation of the chemical in the United States and other developed countries. The city of Brussels recently passed air standards for trichloramine.

Although the chemical can be easily regulated by ventiliation, the process is not cheap. For that reason, many of the pool facilities studied failed to properly ventilate their indoor pools. The recommended frequency is six to eight times an hour, Bernard said.

"Children could be, in some way, the victims of this rising cost," he said.

Finding an alternative to chlorine to sterilize pools -- such as ozone, for instance -- might eliminate trichloramine, but won't necessarily cut down on costs.

Because indoor swimming pools are similar across the globe, the results can be generalized to U.S. children, Bernard said.

"There's no reason to believe this is specific to Belgium," he said.

There were limitations to the study; namely, the small sample size. The results will have to be repeated in a much larger cohort. The team also did not study outdoor pools. (Bernard and colleagues are currently studying outdoor pools to determine whether the chlorine byproducts harm children through contact with the skin, or only when inhaled.)

Also, it's possible asthmatic children swim more than non-asthmatics. That's because doctors often recommend asthmatic children swim for exercise, as the steamy, hot atmosphere aids breathing.

The trichloramine theory is an important area of research, Dr. Raoul Wolf, section chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, told EcoWellness.

Yet Wolf is hesitant to put much stock in the possibility of the chemical actually causing asthma. There's no question exposure to chlorine is a trigger for children who have asthma, he said. But it's too easy to jump to the conclusion swimming and asthma are connected causally.

Proving causation is particularly tricky with a multi-faceted disease such as asthma.

"This doesn't mean if you avoid swimming pools, you're going to avoid asthma," Wolf said.

Bernard stressed his study should not scare parents away from signing their kids up for swimming lessons. But they should be aware of how their local pool is ventilated.

"This has nothing to do with swimming -- this has to do with air quality," he said.

posted by Fauziah at 9:50 PM


Source: UPI

URBANA, Ill. (UPI) -- How a parent talks to a child contributes to the child's secure attachment, sense of self-worth and eventual social competence, say Illinois researchers.

"As soon as children start talking, parents develop conversational patterns with their kids, and different parents have very different patterns," said Kelly K. Bost, a University of Illinois associate professor of human development. "In elaborative conversations, parents provide rich detail and lots of background information and try to get their child to provide new information from his memory as the conversation goes on."

Bost and colleagues compared the conversational styles of 90 mothers and their 3-year-old children with assessments the scientists had made in the home of the children's attachment security. The research, published in Attachment and Human Development, confirmed that mothers of securely attached children use a more elaborative conversational style than those of insecure children.

"When you pick your son up at school and ask about his day, try to pull him into the conversation and be responsive to his communication. Keep asking open-ended questions -- get him to elaborate," says Bost. "If you can provide an emotional touchstone from years past, do that too. You might say: Do you remember when this happened last year? How were you feeling then? What did you do?"

posted by Fauziah at 9:49 PM


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