Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

How Parents Needlessly Lower Their Children’s IQ

The parental behaviour that lowers children’s IQ.

Children who were spanked in childhood have lower IQs, a study finds.

The more children were spanked, the lower their IQ, the research also found.

The probable reason is that spanking is highly stressful for children.

It can leave them with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An ongoing fear of terrible things happening — being easily startled — is linked to a lower IQ.

Parents who continue to use corporal punishment into the teenage years may hamper their children’s brain development even more.

Professor Murray Straus, the study’s first author, said:

“All parents want smart children.
This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen.
The results of this research have major implications for the well being of children across the globe.
It is time for psychologists to recognize the need to help parents end the use of corporal punishment and incorporate that objective into their teaching and clinical practice.
It also is time for the United States to begin making the advantages of not spanking a public health and child welfare focus, and eventually enact federal no-spanking legislation.”

The results come from research that followed 704 children from the ages of 2 – 4 until they were 5 – 9 years-old.

The IQ of children who were not spanked between 2 and 4-years-old was 5 points higher when tested four years later than those who were spanked.

Professor Straus said:

“How often parents spanked made a difference.
The more spanking the, the slower the development of the child’s mental ability.
But even small amounts of spanking made a difference.”

The psychologists also found that countries in which spanking children was more common saw stronger links between corporal punishment and IQ.

Professor Straus said:

“The worldwide trend away from corporal punishment is most clearly reflected in the 24 nations that legally banned corporal punishment by 2009.
Both the European Union and the United Nations have called on all member nations to prohibit corporal punishment by parents.
Some of the 24 nations that prohibit corporal punishment by parents have made vigorous efforts to inform the public and assist parents in managing their children. In others little has been done to implement the prohibition.”

The study was published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma (Straus & Paschall, 2009).

OCTOBER 3, 2017
source: PsyBlog
Advertisements


2 Comments

What Is Attachment Theory?

Introduction to attachment theory in developmental psychology, including Bowlby and Ainsworth’s contributions, evaluation and criticisms of attachment theory.

Attachment theory is a concept in developmental psychology that concerns the importance of “attachment” in regards to personal development. Specifically, it makes the claim that the ability for an individual to form an emotional and physical “attachment” to another person gives a sense of stability and security necessary to take risks, branch out, and grow and develop as a personality. Naturally, attachment theory is a broad idea with many expressions, and the best understanding of it can be had by looking at several of those expressions in turn.

John Bowlby

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first to coin the term. His work in the late 60s established the precedent that childhood development depended heavily upon a child’s ability to form a strong relationship with “at least one primary caregiver”. Generally speaking, this is one of the parents.

Bowlby’s studies in childhood development and “temperament” led him to the conclusion that a strong attachment to a caregiver provides a necessary sense of security and foundation. Without such a relationship in place, Bowlby found that a great deal of developmental energy is expended in the search for stability and security. In general, those without such attachments are fearful and are less willing to seek out and learn from new experiences. By contrast, a child with a strong attachment to a parent knows that they have “back-up” so to speak, and thusly tend to be more adventurous and eager to have new experiences (which are of course vital to learning and development).

There is some basis in observational psychology here. The baby who is attached strongly to a caregiver has several of his or her most immediate needs met and accounted for. Consequently, they are able to spend a great deal more time observing and interacting with their environments. Thusly, their development is facilitated.

For Bowlby, the role of the parent as caregiver grows over time to meet the particular needs of the attached child. Early on, that role is to be attached to and provide constant support and security during the formative years. Later, that role is to be available as the child needs periodic help during their excursions into the outside world. 1

Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth would develop many of the ideas set forth by Bowlby in her studies. In particular, she identified the existence of what she calls “attachment behavior”, examples of behavior that are demonstrated by insecure children in hopes of establishing or re-establishing an attachment to a presently absent caregiver. Since this behavior occurs uniformly in children, it is a compelling argument for the existence of “innate” or instinctual behavior in the human animal.

The study worked by looking at a broad cross-section of children with varying degrees of attachment to their parents or caregivers from strong and healthy attachments to weak and tenuous bonds. The children were then separated from their caregivers and their responses were observed. The children with strong attachments were relatively calm, seeming to be secure in the belief that their caregivers would return shortly, whereas the children with weak attachments would cry and demonstrate great distress under they were restored to their parents.

Later in the same study, children were exposed to intentionally stressful situations, during which nearly all of them began to exhibit particular behaviors that were effective in attracting the attention of their caregivers – a keen example of attachment behavior. 2

mother-child
J. A. Hampton  Topical Press Agency   Getty Images


Hazan and Shaver

Early on, one of the primary limitations of attachment theory was that it had only really been studied in the context of young children. While studies of children are often instrumental in the field of developmental psychology, that field is ideally supposed to address the development of the entire human organism, including the stage of adulthood. In the 1980s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver were able to garner a lot of attention, then, when they turned attachment theory on adult relationships. 3 

In their studies, they looked at a number of couples, examining the nature of the attachments between them, and then observed how those couples reacted to various stressors and stimuli. In the case of adults, it would seem that a strong attachment is still quite important. For example, in cases where the adults had a weak attachment, there were feelings of inadequacy and a lack of intimacy on the part of both parties. When attachments were too strong, there were issues with co-dependency. The relationships functioned best when both parties managed to balance intimacy with independence. Much as is the case with developing children, the ideal situation seemed to be an attachment that functioned as a secure base from which to reach out and gain experience in the world.

Criticisms of Attachment Theory

One of the most common criticisms of attachment theory is that non-Western societies tend to offer up compelling counter-examples. For instance, in Papua New Guinea or Uganda, the idea of a child being intimately attached to a caregiver is somewhat alien, and child-rearing duties are more evenly distributed among a broader group of people. Still, “well-adjusted” members of society are produced, indicating that, at least in these societies, some other mechanism is acting in the place of the attachments that are so necessary for Western children.

Evaluation

Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development.

John Bowlby first coined the term as a result of his studies involving the developmental psychology of children from various backgrounds.

Mary Ainsworth conducted this research, discovering the existence of “attachment behavior” – behavior manifested for the purpose of creating attachment during times when a child feels confused or stressed.

Hazan and Shaver (1987) used the “Love Quiz” to demonstrate the applicability of attachment theory to adult romantic relationships.

Attachment theory has had a profound influence upon child care policies, as well as principles of basic clinical practice for children.

Critics of attachment theory point out the lack of parental attachment in many non-Western societies.

References
1 Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. 1969.
2 Ainsworth, M. “Infancy in Uganda: Infant Care and the Growth of Love.” Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1967.
3 Hazan, C. & Shaver, P. “Attachment as an organizational framework for research on close relationship.” Psychological Inquiry. 5 1-22, 1994.


4 Comments

Kids are becoming candyholics, and adults are to blame

Adults need to stop enabling kids’ candy addiction

By Mark Schatzker, CBC News       Jan 14, 2014

Recently, my seven-year-old daughter uttered the unlikeliest sentence I ever expected to issue from her mouth: ‘Mummy, I think we need to take a break from candy.’

The date was December 29th, and my daughter – wise beyond her years – was reflecting on the three-week candy and calorie fest that is the holiday season. And she was, at that moment, doing the very thing she proposed to stop: eating candy.

Children eat a lot of candy these days. I know because I used to eat a lot of candy. Or at least I thought I did, until my kids came along.

My candy eating, I came to realize, was like one of those old black-and-white hockey games you sometimes see on TV: slow, crude and painfully old fashioned.

I went entire days without eating candy. Not my kids. Candy is everywhere. Their friends have it. Their grandparents have it. They get candy when we go to the hardware store. They get candy from doctors and nurses. They get candy in loot bags. They even get candy from their teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are not the worst offenders. I went on a kindergarten field trip not long ago and discovered that some parents pack candy in their kids lunches – or pop, which, when you think about it, is just liquid candy.

Eventually, I was struck with the question: Is my childrens’ candy use actually a form of abuse? Are my kids candyholics?

I filled out one of those online addiction quizzes.

Do my children eat candy to have fun?
    Yes

Do they eat candy alone?
    Yes

Do they sneak candy when no one is looking?
    Yes

Do they eat candy to have a good time?
    Yes

Do they get upset if they don’t get candy?
    Yes

Has a family member expressed concern about their candy eating?
Can they handle more candy now than when they first started eating candy?
Do they lie about the amount of candy they eat?
    Yes, yes, and yes.

The lying about candy started a few days after my daughter’s proposed candy cleanse. We decided to do it as a family. No candy for the month of January.

And not long after that, candy revisionism set in. After dinner one night, my son, pouting and clearly feeling sorry for himself, announced that in fact he had only had one piece of candy – a solitary marshmallow – over the entire holidays. “It’s not fair,” he said.

kidcandy
‘We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods
and all the terrible problems they lead to
– obesity and diabetes to name just two.
And yet, instead of giving kids less candy,
we give them more.
What’s going on here? (shutterstock)

If he can learn to lie that convincingly as an adult, I thought to myself, he has a glorious future in politics.

His twin sister did him one better. She said she didn’t have any candy over the holidays, her lower lip quivering. My wife gently asked, “but what about the jelly beans?” My daughter cast her eyes towards the floor.

We’re now approaching the mid-way point of no-candy month, and it’s actually not going too badly – although there has been a measurable uptick in requests for Nutella and hot chocolate.

But the bigger question I have is why do kids eat so much candy?

There’s only one place they get it from: adults. So the real question is why do adults give kids so much candy?

We are more aware than ever of the dangers of empty foods and all the terrible problems they lead to – obesity and diabetes to name just two. And yet, instead of giving kids less candy, we give them more. What’s going on here?

There are, no doubt, many answers to this question, but here’s one of the big ones. It’s fun to give treats to adorable creatures. We give liver-and-bacon flavoured treats to dogs and sardines to cats. The behaviour seems almost instinctive. See cute face, give cute face calories.

So now that we know what the real problem is – adults – maybe adults should try and fix it. Because if we can’t control our urges, we surely can’t expect kids to.

source: CBC


Leave a comment

Learning music early builds up brain’s reserves

Elderly who knew music were protected from normal decay in discriminating sounds

CBC News       Jan 09, 201

Childhood music lessons could pay off in protecting the brain against dementia decades later, even in those who don’t continue to play, researchers are learning. 

In one study, children who played instruments performed better on memory tests even decades later.  

Music training benefits the brain’s cognitive function. Neuroscientists in Illinois tested for delays in how the brain responds to fast-changing elements of speech.

In November, they published their findings that four to 14 years of music training early in life was associated with faster processing, 40 years after the music training stopped. None of the subjects reported practising an instrument, performing or instruction after age 25.

Dr. Luis Fornazzari of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, has also studied musicians’ memory in relation to dementia.

“The elderly who knew music or they were a musician at one point in their life, they were protected from this normal decay in the discrimination of the sounds,” Fornazzari said.

music

Learning to play an instrument early in life
can help the brain decades later,
even if the instrument isn’t played during adulthood.


“The brain becomes absolutely trained in the discrimination of the sounds, the human voice and the different instruments, the different notes and that lasts.” 

The advantage of learning to read music is it activates many areas of the brain, scientists say.

It’s thought that learning music or a second language builds up reserve capacity in the brain to help hold dementia at bay.  

“If the disease occurs and you have good brain reserve capacity, you can tolerate the effect of the disease for longer so not showing the symptoms until later,” Fornazzari said.

The findings are music to the ears of Renita Greener of Toronto.

“I had one of those teachers who was very sort of old school and it was all about doing, doing, doing.  There wasn’t a lot of fun so I sort of dropped it,”  Greener recalled.  

With files from CBC’s Kim Brunhuber and Melanie Glanz

Source: CBC


Leave a comment

Yelling, threatening parents harm teens’ mental health

By Allison Bond      NEW YORK      Tue Dec 10, 2013

(Reuters Health) – Threatening or screaming at teenagers may put them at higher risk for depression and disruptive behaviors such as rule-breaking, a new study suggests.

“The take home point is that the verbal behaviors matter,” Annette Mahoney, who worked on the study, said. She’s a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“It can be easy to overlook that, but our study shows that the verbal hostility is really relevant, particularly for mothers who scream and hit, and for fathers who do either one,” Mahoney told Reuters Health.

All of the kids in her study had been referred to a community clinic due to mental health or behavioral problems.

Their mothers had to be both verbally and physically abusive to increase the kids’ risk for depression and behavior issues. But either kind of behavior alone from a father was sufficient to produce lasting ill effects.

The researchers realize that parents can be trapped in a vicious cycle.

Verbal abuse “has a cyclical nature to it,” said Mahoney. Kids with behavioral or mental health problems can be tough to handle, she said.

Not surprisingly, her team found, adolescents whose parents were also physically violent toward them – hitting, choking, or threatening them with a gun or knife – had an even higher risk for mental illness and behavioral problems.

“Parental verbal aggression towards adolescents is just as – if not more – destructive than severe physical aggression, particularly in families seeking mental health services,” said Michelle Leroy, also of Bowling Green State University who led the research.

For the study, which was published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, 239 troubled adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 filled out surveys that asked if they were hit, called names, or subjected to other forms of physical or verbal violence over the past year.

Parents of the youths also participated, reporting their behaviors in the same time frame.


Fifty-one percent of the adolescents said they’d experienced serious physical or verbal aggression, or both, from one or two parents.

Having a mother who both screamed and hit increased kids’ risk for mental health problems (such as anxiety, depression, and rule-breaking behaviors) to an even greater extent than having a mother who was aggressive in only one way.

In other words, the effect of a mother’s verbal hostility may be worsened if she also hits her child, Mahoney said. That may be because teens likely feel more traumatized and threatened when physical violence is a real possibility.

In contrast, screaming by mothers who had not previously escalated to serious physical aggression did not appear to increase the risk of psychological problems among teens getting counseling in this study, Mahoney told Reuters Health.

On the other hand, fathers who were verbally abusive affected the adolescents’ mental health, regardless of whether the threats were accompanied by physical violence.

The study’s results may indicate that doctors should be on the lookout for verbal aggression at home, particularly in families with an adolescent who may be having mental health or behavioral problems, the researchers say.

Many doctors make it a habit to ask their patients about acts of physical abuse. They should also ask about verbal violence, Mahoney’s team adds.

“You have to break the cycle; someone has to crack it open. It doesn’t excuse the parents’ behavior, but (doctors and therapists) have to not be judgmental (and) get the facts out.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/J32Z74, Child Abuse & Neglect, online November 17, 2013              Reuters

 


Leave a comment

Tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy way

Katie Cavuto MS, RD, For Philly.com/Health     Monday, October 28, 2013

The real trick to Halloween is indulging in your favorite sweet treats without succumbing to the inevitable upset stomach or dealing with an off-the-wall kid on a sugar high.

When I was a kid, I was an uber-competitive, self-proclaimed professional trick-or-treater. You know, the kid with the pillowcase sprinting from house to house collecting as much sugary loot as my hands and sack could hold? That was me!

These days, as a dietitian and mom to two-and-a-half year old, chocolate loving Hudson, I see things a little differently. Now I believe you can enjoy the holiday and indulge in your favorite sweets, but easily prevent over doing it.

Here are my tricks for enjoying Halloween treats in a healthy, moderate way:

Fuel up:  Make sure the whole family has a healthy meal prior to trick-or-treating. The more satisfied you are the less likely you will be to over-indulge on the sweet stuff. Be sure to include lots of veggies, whole grains and lean protein for lasting fullness.

Start Small:  Head out with a smaller sized Halloween Bag/Pumpkin — definitely avoid the urge to use a pillow case, ha! — and when it’s full, it’s full. Simple as that!

Take one:  Many houses offer the generous option of taking several pieces of candy — or if kids are lucky, even a handful! Allow your kids to choose one piece per stop to prevent excess.

Pick favorites:  Nothing beats the moment when you get home, dump your loot, and eye it up with pride. This is a great time to have you kids make a “favorites pile” (adults can join in the fun, too).

iStockphoto
Mindfully munch:  The excitement of Halloween night can lead to mindless eating for both kids and adults. Set limits when it comes to how many pieces of candy are “ok” for consumption. You can even attach a number of pieces to the piles like “we all get to pick our favorite 20 pieces” — kids first of course!

Snack Packs:  Take the “favorites pile” and separate it into snack size bags (think 1-2 pieces) for daily consumption and decide how many snack bags your kids can consume each day. Don’t forget to be a role model and stick with the rules you give you children.

Healthy pairings:  Encourage your kids to pair their “snack pack” with a healthy option like a glass of milk, peanut butter on crackers, a piece of fruit or some raw veggies with hummus. You’ll want to have them eat the healthy snack first which will help to fill them up and prevent them from overindulging in the sweet treat.

Treats for Toys:  Adopt the idea of a “pumpkin fairy” and allow your kids to trade treats for toys. You can really get creative with this and offer different sized gifts based on the amount of candy returned. This can be as simple as stickers and bubbles, or as elaborate as legos and barbies, or even a cash exchange. You choose what works best for your child.
Katie Cavuto MS, RD is a registered dietitian and trained chef. She is the president of Healthy Bites, a company offering local and national culinary nutrition services. Katie is also the consulting dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies, and a regular contributor on local and national TV and radio as an expert in her field.

source: www.philly.com

 


Leave a comment

8 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety

Studies show that anxiety affects the sense of smell and balance, how we judge faces and perceptions of our personal space.

Anxiety may be an unpleasant emotion, which can be crippling in excess, but it does exist for a good reason.

Anxiety tells us we’re in danger and we need to do something. It was our anxious ancestors who prepared better for winter and made plans to fight off neighbouring tribes. The relaxed, laid-back guys never made it.

But anxiety’s effects aren’t limited to motivation, they seep through the mind to all sorts of areas…

1. Anxiety literally makes everything stink

As people get more anxious, they are more likely to label neutral smells as bad smells (Krusemark & Li, 2013). So, anxiety literally makes the world stink.

The reason, explains Professor Wen Li is:

“In typical odor processing, it is usually just the olfactory system that gets activated. But when a person becomes anxious, the emotional system becomes part of the olfactory processing stream.”

And as people get more anxious they become better at distinguishing between different bad smells (Krusemark & Li, 2012).

2. Exercise reduces anxiety

Generally, when people get a little exercise they feel less anxiety in their lives. As little as 20 minutes can make you feel calmer right now.

The benefits of a little workout extend beyond the gym, though, into everyday life.

One study has found that although simply resting reduces anxiety, it doesn’t help protect against stressful events (Smith, 2013).

Exercise, though, seems to have a more lasting effect, helping to reduce anxiety when faced with stressful situations afterwards.

Indeed, many think exercise should be prescribed for depression and anxiety instead of drugs.

3. The parental effect

Like many things, high anxiety is partly in the genes, but part of the reason anxious people are anxious is because of their parents’ behaviour.

Children are more likely to be anxious when their parents direct criticism at them, display high levels of doubt and are emotionally cold (Budinger et al., 2012).


4. Think different

One of the best ways of reducing anxiety is to think about situations differently.

It’s not an exam; it’s a fun little quiz. It’s not a scary presentation; it’s a little chat with a few colleagues. It’s not a job interview; it’s a chance to meet some new people.

Most situations can be re-framed in this way and studies show that people who do this naturally–as opposed to trying to suppress their anxiety–feel less anxious in stressful social situations (Llewellyn et al., 2013).

5. Anxious people jump to conclusions

Highly anxious people jump to conclusions more quickly when judging facial expressions.

A study by Fraley et al., (2006) suggests that anxious people may have problems in their relationships because they jump to conclusions too quickly about facial expressions.

Professor Fraley explained:

“This ‘hair trigger’ style of perceptual sensitivity may be one reason why highly anxious people experience greater conflict in their relationships. The irony is that they have the ability to make their judgments more accurately than less-anxious people, but, because they are so quick to make judgments about others’ emotions, they tend to mistakenly infer other people’s emotional states and intentions.”

6. Anxiety affects balance

People who experience more severe levels of anxiety also often have problems with their balance. They sometimes feel dizzy for no apparent reason and sway more than others while standing normally.

This often starts in childhood and, because anxiety can be difficult to treat in children, psychologists have started trying to treat the balance problems.

Studies have shown that treating the balance problem can help with the anxiety (Bart et al., 2009).

7. Meditation reduces anxiety

On top of exercise and thinking differently, those experiencing anxiety can also try meditation.

To pick just one of many recent studies, Zeidan et al. (2013) found that four 20-minute meditation classes were enough to reduce anxiety by up to 39%.

8. Anxiety expands personal space

We all have an invisible field around us that we dislike other people invading.

In front of the face it’s generally about 20-40cm; if others get closer without our permission, it feels weird.

But, researchers have found that for anxious people, their personal space is larger (Sambo & Iannetti, 2013).

So, don’t charge up too close to anxious people, their ‘safety margin’ is larger.

source: PSYBLOG