Friday, May 6, 2016

Calling your child by your pet's name

When I was little, my Mom would sometimes call me by my brother's name. It usually happened when she was distracted, or when she was in a hurry. I never thought about it much, since she usually corrected herself quickly.

Mom really knows which one is which.
Misnaming people is quite common - many of us accidentally slip up and call people by the wrong name. Science finally looked into this (thanks, science!) and determined that when we do call people by the wrong name, we tend to swap in a name from a similar social group. This explains why sibling names tend to get swapped, or why we switch names for our coworkers. The study found that the swaps have very little to do with physical appearance.

This explains all those times that you may have had someone call you by the family pet's name. It's not because you look like the dog or cat, it is because your parent considers the family pet part of the family group.

When's the last time you had your name accidentally swapped out with someone else's? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Who do you think is lonely?

Pause for a moment to take stock of your family and friends. Do you think that anyone you know is lonely? Did you know that you are probably right?

Social isolation isn't good for us - numerous studies have shown that people need connections. And, as if that wasn't enough, people who are lonely are seen negatively by new acquaintances. It's hard to make new friends to alleviate your loneliness if every new person you meet has a negative view of you because you are lonely.

Researchers wanted to know if people (generally speaking) were able to even tell if the individuals they were close to were lonely. The good news is that we can: Even when someone is pretending to feel socially connected, if you have a close enough relationship with the person, you can see through the clutter and detect the true feelings.

What do they mean by close enough relationship? Well, romantic partners tend to detect more emotional nuances than friends, for example, and parents who talk with their children often tend to score better than some friendships. So, it's all a matter of degrees.

If, at the beginning of this post, you identified someone you know as being a little lonely, you are probably correct. Maybe you should drop them a line.

Who do you reach out to for company when you are feeling a little lonely? Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Focusing your attention on the important things

My son is six now, but I vividly remember the oh-so-brief period when he was a baby. He would sit on the floor with toys scattered all around him and either his Daddy or I would be on the floor nearby, watching him play and sometimes joining in to help him with his blocks or trucks. I never wondered if we were playing with our son in the "right" way or even if there was a "right" way to play with him.

But, apparently, there is.

Through numerous observations, researchers have found that this is the way that parent's should play with their babies:
  • Be nearby
  • Let the baby choose the toy
  • Interact with the baby and the toy
  • After the direct interaction, let the baby continue to play with the toy on her own, but stay focused on your child's play
What does all this accomplish? Babies who take the lead in picking a toy tend to have longer attention spans. Instructive play in which a parent chooses a toy and explains it to the baby doesn't have the same effect. And parents staying focused on the baby after the interaction (instead of looking at a phone or walking away) also increases attention span and concentration skills overall.

Who knew that play could be so important?

The caveat to all of this is that it is hard to do. Sitting on the floor with your baby for play sessions can be both very rewarding and sometimes (let's be honest) a little boring. But I think it is worth a try.

What are your tips for playing with your baby? Leave them in the comments.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The way we view failure

My son walked in while I was getting ready for work and said, "Mommy, I have some questions about ancient Egypt that I would like to talk about."

Of course he does.

I love my son's curiosity, so I listened to his questions, answered the ones that I knew and then found him a children's video on Egypt to answer the ones I didn't know. He was happy to learn more about Egypt; I was happy that he wants to learn more.

I try to encourage my son's learning wherever I can, so I was interested to hear that one of the ways that I can keep him motivated to learn more is with the way I approach failure. Children adopt either a fixed or growth mindset around intelligence early on: Either they believe their intelligence cannot change (fixed) and may give up on learning concepts that are too difficult or they believe that they have an unlimited ability to learn (growth). So, when it comes to failure, parents should try to focus on the failure as a learning opportunity rather as a reflection of their child's abilities.

Like most things in life, this is easier said than done, but it is definitely something I will keep in mind to ensure that my son keeps asking more questions.

What do you still enjoy learning about? Tell me in the comments.