Halloween: the Good and Bad

The twins will dress up as Harry and Hermine from Harry Potter tonight.  They have Hogwarts robes and wands to complete their costumes.  We will make the rounds in the neighborhood and collect scads of candy.  That’s the good part, so to speak.

The bad part is that one has a nut allergy and the other has a corn allergy.  Tell me what candy doesn’t have either a nut or corn product in it? So most of the night’s take will go with me to work to share with coworkers, and we will need to have something fun to replace the candy we’ll need to take away.

Thankfully we don’t have to go to too many houses, because they told us they would like to hurry home and give candy to others and see costumes that others are wearing. 

Hmmm…maybe we ARE doing something right.

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November 1, 2007 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

Stages of Development

I have added a new page to the site.  It presents the stages of ego development by psychology researcher Jane Loevinger.  It’s been extremely helpful when trying to determine what’s appropriate behavior; what concepts can they reasonably understand; am I being too demanding in my expectations, etc. 

The list also incorporates Kolberg’s stages of moral development, to show that different developmental researchers have developed similar stages but with different emphases.

What is fascinating to me is that “It is also not possible to ‘jump’ forward stages; each stage provides a new yet necessary perspective, and is more comprehensive, differentiated, and integrated than its predecessors.”  Each stage “transcends and includes” the prior stages.

October 28, 2007 at 8:11 pm Leave a comment

Toy Recalls for Lead Paint

I keep having a gut reaction that there is bit of over reaction to the violations of the lead paint standards leading to the toy recalls.  So to either confirm or contradict this reaction I decided to do a bit of research.

Upon reading the EPAs fact sheet on lead and children’s health, I notice there is a marked absence of any mention of toys as a leading cause of lead poisoning among children.  Rather, the primary environmental means of lead poisoning in children mentioned are paint dust from deteriorating paint in homes and schools older than 1978, paint dust during remodeling of houses and schools of the same age, contaminated soil, and drinking water distributed to houses via lead pipes.  Even under the rare causes, toys are not mentioned.

I found another EPA booklet addressing lead in the home.  This booklet does mention toys, but only if put in the mouth.  The booklet specifically says that lead is not absorbed through the skin.  So is it safe to conclude that an older child that no longer puts toys and fingers in their mouth and practices standard hand washing hygiene should experience no danger from toys painted with lead paint?  Or am I missing something?

October 26, 2007 at 8:44 am Leave a comment

Perfectionism and Gifted Children

I just finished listening to the following podcast:

http://www.vanderbilt.edu/news/releases?id=37935

Although they have yet to be tested, our children show classic signs of giftedness.  Believe me, this can be both a blessing and curse.  We are always looking for resources to assist us on this journey.

Although I think the presentation by Ms. Stambaugh of the College of William and Mary’s Center for Gifted Education was good, I think that some of the symptoms attributed to perfectionism  may actually be a normal aspect of a particular stage of development.  For example, the tendency to see the world in black and white is part of the Conformist stage of development.  And the tendency to externalize blame is a normal characteristic of the Self-Protective stage (our son is in this stage right now and nothing is his fault even when presented with concrete evidence to the contrary). The problem would arise if this tendency persists past the normal and expected stage and becomes a shadow aspect of the personality. 

I think her recommendation to try several things to see what works is the best advice.  Each child responds differently, and the sensitive nature of the typical gifted child requires an equally if not more sensitive approach to negative thoughts and behavior. 

I also appreciated that she included the emotional perspective.  Parents and educators can get so caught up with the cognitive needs of the child, that the emotional needs are often ignored.  There can be a tendency to believe that just because a gifted child is doing school work beyond their chronological age that they have the corresponding emotional maturity of that advanced age.  This is not necessarily the case and can cause behavior issues if not recognized and addressed appropriately.

October 25, 2007 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Across the Universe and NCLB

I recently went to see the movie “Across the Universe.”  If anyone needs proof that music and the visual arts can transport your state of consciousness to another realm, one should see this movie. 

Some critics have given the movie a low rating, stating that the pieces don’t fit together, that the music seems out of place, and that the story is disjointed.  And if you view the movie analytically, as critics tend to do, then maybe I would agree with their assessment.  However, if you go to this movie for an experience, and not to “understand” it, I believe it can be as good as a two hour meditation.

When I reflected later on my experience and my interpretation of this experience, I began to recall again the meaning of art to our culture, how music becomes the soundtrack of our lives, how art can quickly evoke emotions and states of being, that the role of art and teaching its importance to our children is extremely important.

At times one can get caught up in the trap of believing cognitive development is the only one of importance.  And with the way that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is being administered in a vast number of schools, one can see its impact.  An unintended consequence of NCLB is then this tendency to overemphasize the cognitive line at the expense of creativity.  This is not to say that the cognitive line of development is not of great importance, it is, and is necessary for most all other lines of development.  However, this emphasis at the expense of the other “intelligences” (see Howard Gardner’s work) will result in a generation that knows little or nothing of creativity and innovation.  I recently heard that this past decade (NCLB was passed seven years ago) is the first decade in our history in which the overall level of U.S. intelligence, has dropped rather than increased.

NCLB’s goal to improve education by holding the teachers responsible for outcomes is good, but the methods being employed when coming from a national centralized bureaucracy, will continue to fail.  This goal can be set, but the methods must be developed locally if they are to be successful.  Until then, parents will continue to choose educational alternatives to see that their children are given the opportunity to not just memorize facts, but to understand, to apply concepts, and to develop their capacity to create a better world.

October 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment

We HAVE to be smarter than them

As if parents don’t have enough to worry about with identity theives…

Parents Getting Burned by What Their Kids Spill Online

Every parent of children old enough to have a Facebook or MySpace page needs to have one as well and needs to be a friend of their child and all their child’s friends so you can monitor their discussions.  Not only do you need to know what they are saying about you, but this is a way to teach them proper web-etiquette. 

Any other tips or ways you have found to monitor your kids online?  What are your favorite browsing filters for each age?

October 22, 2007 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Depression in first-time fathers

“Up to 10 per cent of first-time fathers suffer postnatal depression but in most cases their symptoms go untreated, a university researcher says.”  according to the an Autrailian study.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/4242537a7144.html

Mothers get most of the attention in postpartum care.  But there seems to be a significant number of first-time fathers that also experience “depression, anxiety, stress and psychological distress” as well.

This can have an important impact on the family if gone untreated or addressed is some fashion. 

It’s been over 6 years now, but as I recall there is a “natural” shock factor during the first couple of months.  I think the problem would arise if that feeling doesn’t begin to decrease but rather intensifies during the next 4-6 months.  That would be an indication that some intervention might be in order.  Hopefully the daddy bloggers can be of some assistance.

Did you experience any depression as a first time dad?

October 19, 2007 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment

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