Entries in kids (9)


An Unexpected Key To Kids’ Popularity

To better understand what makes kids popular, researchers measured 144 3rd through 8th grade students’ prosocial behaviors (i.e., doing good things for others) and physical/verbal aggression. As you’d expect, kids nominated as popular were more likely to exhibit prosocial behaviors. But, unexpectedly, the popular kids were also more aggressive. Even kids who displayed high levels of verbal and physical aggression (e.g., mean name-calling, pushing/shoving) were popular if they also engaged in prosocial behaviors. Finally, being nice to others was more beneficial for girls’ popularity than boys. As much as a parent doesn’t want their child to be aggressive, it apparently has some upside.

Kornbluh, M., & Neal, J. W. (2014). Examining the many dimensions of children’s popularity: Interactions between aggression, prosocial behaviors, and gender. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. doi: 0.1177/0265407514562562


Kids vs. Scantily Clad Women: Which Do New Dads Prefer and Why?

We’ve written previously that fatherhood is associated with decreased levels of testosterone in dads (except for when a testosterone boost might come in handy). For the most part, the general belief has been that the dads’ lower testosterone limits their impulses to mate (presumably not with their baby-momma), thus keeping them invested in their children.

Some recent research from Emory University, however, suggests another, or additional, possibility.1 Specifically, the researchers compared the testosterone and oxytocin hormone levels of a group of fathers of 1-2 year old children with hormone  levels of men without children. In addition to collecting blood samples to measure the hormones, the researchers also scanned the brains (via MRI scans) of all the men while they were looking at 3 types of pictures: 1) children’s faces (of the same sex and age as their own kids, and depicting a range of emotional expressions), 2) unknown adult faces displaying similar emotions, and 3) scantily clad women. The research team was interested in whether fathers vs. non-fathers responded neurologically (i.e., as assessed via increased brain activation) to the different types of images and, if so, what role hormones play in those neural responses.

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Because I Said So…At Least Until You Say So: Parental Authority Over College-Aged Kids

Parents of college students regularly find themselves in quite a bind – they have to figure out that delicate balance between being an authority figure while simultaneously respecting their kids’ increasing independence. This is because typical college students, as well as other individuals between the ages of 18 and 25, are commonly referred to as emerging adults -- those in this age range do not entirely view themselves as adults nor do they view themselves as kids. As a result, parents of college students have to somehow be a parent to someone who may no longer live under the same roof, but is typically not living entirely independently and grappling with all of the complications that a full-fledged adult life entails either (not to take anything away from the huge responsibilities that many college students deal with every day). Simply put: When is it appropriate for parents of college students to put their foot (or feet) down and provide direction vs. hold back and let their kids make their own mistakes? Balance this conundrum with the knowledge that parents’ aging children actually like their parents more when they maintain appropriate boundaries, and you have a recipe for quite the pickle.

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Three Day Weekends Necessitate Playdates

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Stuck in the Middle: When Kids Feel Caught Between Parents


My wife and I don’t always agree on the best way to parent our two kids. We sometimes have different ideas about how to broaden their palates, limit screen time (here’s hoping one of those freakish talking animals turns on Diego very soon), and how to blend our respective family holiday traditions. When we’re grappling with these and other parenting issues, we engage in what researchers call co-parental communication, which generally refers to how she and I communicate with one another and our children when parenting.

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Parental Knowledge: Take What You Can Get


Dating with Children: How and When Should You Introduce the Kids? 

I have not been able to see The Consultant much the last few weeks due to his travel schedule. When he is in town, our ability to find time to spend together has been further complicated by the fact that we both have kids. Faced with the possibility of not seeing each other at all over the long Thanksgiving weekend because of our childcare obligations, I proposed “running into each other” at a local museum. He was looking for something to do with his tween girls anyway, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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Common Punishment Techniques: Do They Work?

(This article was adapted from the book Science of Relationships: Experts Answer Your Questions about Dating, Marriage, & Family.)

When most people hear the word discipline in the context of parenting, they often think of punishment, which generally involves the application of some negative stimulus (e.g., physical pain, like spanking) or removal of something positive (e.g., removal from a rewarding activity, like a time-out from play) in hopes of changing a child’s behavior. Researchers, however, conceptualize the term discipline far more broadly; it turns out that a lot of what parents might do when their children misbehave is considered discipline. For example, recent research by Elizabeth Gershoff and colleagues1 assessed how eleven different parental responses (or, as researchers refer to them, discipline techniques) in six different countries were associated with 8- to 12-year-old kids’ aggressive and anxious behaviors. Researchers asked parents how frequently they performed eleven behaviors after their kids misbehaved over the prior year (kids also indicated how often their parents did these things) and also measured kids' use of aggression and anxiety symptoms.

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Estrogen Levels Influence How Many Kids Women Want

Researchers asked college women, “Ideally, how many children would you like to have?”, and either (a) assessed their peak estrogen levels by collecting weekly urine samples for 4-6 weeks (Study 1), or (b) asked strangers to rate how feminine (vs. masculine) the women’s faces were (Study 2; note: prenatal and pubertal estrogen feminizes faces). Women with higher peak levels of estrogen, or with more feminine faces, reported wanting more children.

Smith, M. J. L., Deady, D. K., Moore, F. R., et al. (2012). Maternal tendencies in women are associated with estrogen levels and facial femininity. Hormones and Behavior, 61, 12-16.

image source: whatisall.com