FOR THE past twenty years or so, social scientists have affirmed what parents think when they are at their most exasperated and dyspeptic: children make you miserable. In 2004 Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University and others discovered that parents thought that looking after their children was about as enjoyable as doing the housework. Two meta-studies (studies of studies) in 2012 found that, in most of the research, self-reported “life satisfaction” (a measure of happiness) was a bit lower when there was a child in the house.

The effect was not large. But there is something odd about these findings. In rich countries at least, people decide to have children. A few children are doubtless unplanned but only a few. If children make parents unhappy, why do they keep having them? The puzzle, says Letizia Mencarini of Bocconi University, is why isn’t fertility even lower in countries where people have a choice? Parents far outnumber the childless at every stage of adulthood. A new generation of research helps answer that question, and suggests that children are more likely to make parents happy than was once thought.


Having Kids

paulgraham.com/kids.html, posted 2019 by peter in parenting

The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.

I had plenty of happy times before I had kids. But if I count up happy moments, not just potential happiness but actual happy moments, there are more after kids than before. Now I practically have it on tap, almost any bedtime.

Dr. Ruth Feldman, Ph.D., a social neuroscientist based in Israel, published a study of 112 mothers and fathers in 2010 which found that peaks in oxytocin (and by association, dopamine) occurred for women when they nurtured their children. In contrast, the peak for men occurred when they took part in rough-and-tumble play. Because young children’s brains seem to mimic the same oxytocin levels as their parents’ — meaning they’ll get a similar blast of feel-good oxytocin when playing with Dad and when being nurtured by Mom — they’ll be more likely to engage in that behavior over and over again specifically with that parent, which is critical to their development. Rough-and-tumble play not only cements bonds between father and child, but also plays crucial roles in a child’s social development.

It’s especially important that kids get bored — and be allowed to stay bored — when they’re young. That it not be considered “a problem” to be avoided or eradicated by the higher-ups, but instead something kids grapple with on their own.

We’ve stopped training children to do this. Rather than teach them to absorb material that is slower, duller and decidedly two-dimensional, like a lot of worthwhile information is, schools cave in to what they say children expect: fun. Teachers spend more time concocting ways to “engage” students through visuals and “interactive learning” (read: screens, games) tailored to their Candy Crushed attention spans. Kids won’t listen to long lectures, goes the argument, so it’s on us to serve up learning in easier-to-swallow portions.

In Japan, small children take the subway and run errands alone, no parent in sight. The reason why has more to do with social trust than self-reliance.

In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

The pooled OR for myopia indicated a 2% reduced odds of myopia per additional hour of time spent outdoors per week, after adjustment for covariates (OR, 0.981; 95% CI, 0.973-0.990; P<0.001; I(2), 44.3%). This is equivalent to an OR of 0.87 for an additional hour of time spent outdoors each day. Three prospective cohort studies provided estimates of risk of incident myopia according to time spent outdoors, adjusted for possible confounders, although estimates could not be pooled, and the quality of studies and length of follow-up times varied. Three studies (2 prospective cohort and 1 RCT) investigated time spent outdoors and myopic progression and found increasing time spent outdoors significantly reduced myopic progression.

In this essay, I’m going to try to convince parents that it is possible, and may be beneficial, to teach their children to read even while they are babies or toddlers. I also have remarks for researchers throughout. First, I will explain how I taught my own little one, beginning at age 22 months, and introduce some of our methods. Then I will answer various general objections to the notion and practice of teaching tiny tots to read.

It doesn’t matter whether the child is 4 or 14. In the moments before a meltdown it’s the face scrunching that gives it away. As body language goes it’s all out there, up front and very personal. A clear signal that your child is very sad and needs your help to cope with the rush of unbearable feelings. How do you help them out while keeping your cool—and perhaps even teach them a long term lesson about emotions?

The past 15 years have witnessed an overwhelming amount of research on the bilingual mind, with the majority of the evidence pointing to the tangible advantages of using more than one language. Going back and forth between languages appears to be a kind of brain training, pushing your brain to be flexible.

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