Friendship

One of the family stories is my brother has this friend. They were in the same daycare class when they were months old through college with a brief hiatus where they still maintained the friendship. This was the best man at his wedding.

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A former coworker of mine and a current one of my wife has a daughter about the same age as Fleur. They’ve had many a play date growing up. And ended up in the same daycare. COVID put a halt to that, but now they are around each other again.

Pre-COVID, they would play around each other. They acknowledged the existence of the other. They might allow the other to play with a toy that is theirs, but it wasn’t playing together. It saddens me that I cannot peek into the room to observe if this has changed.

This morning, I was informed that the crayons she was taking were:

  • Blue for friend
  • Red for self

Which makes me happy. Our child is growing up and making friends.

People!

Ms. Fleur’s Neighborhood:

We go on a walk every day in the neighborhood. Well, less so now that summer has arrived. The available time will get earlier and earlier every day that we can without needing to take a shower right after it.

Fleur has gotten to know the neighbors. We are all starved for social interaction. She gets excited to see people. Familiar neighbors or strangers, it doesn’t matter they are people.

She is human. (More so than me.) So as a social creature, she craves social interaction.

Kindness over achievement

baby children cute dress

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This is another thing to add to tracking my responses to Fleur’s behavior. I know she monitors my behavior, so it is important to behave in the way I want her to model. But, also to what I respond matters. From an article:

Kids learn what’s important to adults not by listening to what we say, but by noticing what gets our attention. And in many developed societies, parents now pay more attention to individual achievement and happiness than anything else. However much we praise kindness and caring, we’re not actually showing our kids that we value these traits.

Well, that puts on the pressure. But, I already thought that I need to be the person I want her to emulate.

 

Raising a homebody

Fleur spoke her first sentence. She wanted to make sure that it was a day where we would all stay home. She has really been using “home” quite a bit whether we are there or not. Usually she will ask whether each person on the list of family members are going to be home. For the week that my mother stayed with us for Christmas, she was included in the list of people.

This repetition on “home” seems likely tied to the disruption daycare has played on her. She seems to have done well at daycare other than some frustration at dropoff and pickup. Her vocabulary has exploded. She has gone from being a passive listener of books to being an active participant wanting to turn the pages and point at interesting things on the pages. Still, she doesn’t like being left there.

I think home really means getting to stay with us. Even if it is just me. And she learned it from The Littlest Family’s Big Day where the big payoff page is a fold out with HOME on a banner. We read it loud and emphasize the word. And she loves it so much.

It seems like home is one of her first words because being there is so very important to her. She needs to hear that we are going there to be happy about being where we are. It has me thinking about language acquisition may be dependent on desire. The things that are most important to her are the words she is going to pick up earliest.

A Calming Brain Game

We are starting to see the tantrum behaviors manifest. As she has more autonomy through self-movement and develops preferences, sometimes we run into conflicts over wants. At present, these tantrums make me laugh because mainly they manifest as a little shuffle of her feet and the upset face. Occasionally Fleur lays down on the floor. Limited throwing, hitting, kicking, and screaming so far.

This Lifehacker article: Help Kids Calm Down With a ‘Brain Game’ looks interesting.

  1. Get their attention: They are consumed by their emotions, so it may be required to use a strange stimulus like a Light Switch Rave [1], jumping  up and down, or making a silly noise.
  2. Offer: Whisper… “Hey, do you want to play a little game really quick? It will be fun.”
  3. The Game: “Can you point out <number> things that are <property>?” Do a few of these until has a big smile.
  4. Explain what you intended that caused the meltdown. (Build empathy.)

Essentially, the amygdala reacted. They won’t have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex to properly manage the amygdala until their 20s. So, need to help them interrupt the amygdala by leveraging to hippocampus and memory cortex to distract the amygdala long enough for us to explain.

[1] That was a Strong Bad email #45 from Homestarr Runner reference.

Defiance of parental authority leads to success?

toddler with red adidas sweat shirt

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Fleur pauses if you say, “Careful!” She complies with commands to help, but… only if she wants to do so. If she does not, then she just continues on with what she wants and ignores my presence. When it gets to her, the babbling back, though, is too utterly cute because it feels like I know what she is saying even though she cannot yet say it. We call this her being “strong-willed.”

A while ago, I noticed articles claiming that strong-willed children are more successful according to science. Intending to bookmark one to remind myself that I want this in my child any time I feel frustrated about this behavior, I found they linked to the actual study which is not behind a paywall.

Spengler, Marion & Brunner, Martin & Damian, Rodica & Lüdtke, Oliver & Martin, Romain & Roberts, Brent. (2015). Student Characteristics and Behaviors at Age 12 Predict Occupational Success 40 Years Later Over and Above Childhood IQ and Parental Socioeconomic Status. Developmental psychology. 51. 10.1037/dev0000025.

Note that this study is using income for occupational success, is longitudinal, and is somewhat self-reported. I do wonder if being willing to admit to “rule breaking and defiance of parental authority” in a study makes a difference to who gets rated strong in that measure. Like, they are so defiant that they are essentially bragging to authorities about doing so. Also, the people talking about their strong-willed kids have toddlers. The study they cite looks at pre-teenagers. Lots of behaviors at ages 2 or 5 or even 8 don’t persist to age 12.

That said, I was pretty defiant of adult authority in school. It did persist from elementary through high school. I guess I can only hope that Fleur keeps it up? That won’t stop me from having her do what I want her to do. I just perhaps might be a bit proud of her doing it.

Also, the article basically seems to be saying that after controlling for IQ, parental socio-economic status, and educational attainment, this rule breaking and defiance of parental authority seemed to be the best predictor of higher income. But, they admit that they don’t really have a good, non-ad hoc explanation so the causality needs to be explored. (Basically, don’t train your kid to have these behaviors until psychology understands why.)

Elephant Parenting

elphants standing on brown soil

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It feels like I am constantly struggling with whether my response was the correct one. On the one hand, a particular reaction was perhaps not the best. On the other, that one reaction is probably not going to permanently damage the kiddo for all eternity.

So, then the question is… What is important? I completely agree with this:

If you’re wondering what ‘elephant parent’ means, it’s the kind of parent who does the exact opposite of what the tiger mom, the ultra-strict disciplinarian, does… Parents who believe that they need to nurture, protect, and encourage their children, especially when they’re still impressionable and very, very young.

The “especially when very, very young” is appropriate. I envision it as an adding of responsibility over time. Let the kid be a kid. As the kid matures, add more to their plate over time such that they are growing into the roles.

Of course, parents disagree over what is and isn’t appropriate. They probably did or would do something different. Is it better? Maybe for their kid. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it didn’t really matter.

The troll: Roll Tide! (It is funny because the University of Alabama mascot is an elephant. And the college town where I live currently hates their football team more than their “official” rivals.)

Cousins

My cousins were geographically disparate. I had quite a few of them. They came to visit during Christmas or during the summer. We played together during these periods, often getting into trouble over our misdeeds. Or getting heated while playing video games. Being an only child for about half my childhood, my cousins were my “siblings.” They were who I thought of as family my age. In middle school, one family of cousins lived in town for a short while, which was amazeballs. (Yes, that is a technical term.) They came back to permanently stay in high school.

Researchers found that individuals responded they were far more likely to help kin, including cousins, before they would help out friends. This remained true even when the researchers controlled for emotional closeness, suggesting that even if there was not a close emotional bond with the family member. the likelihood of offering help was still high. They called this a “kinship premium.”

We get to choose our friends, but we are stuck with family. I consider myself lucky to have a good family. If anyone considers me intelligent, then I point to aunts and cousins and brother and parents who routinely destroy me at board games requiring advanced thinking. My ability to speak on any subject came from having to hold my own at after dinner conversations. (At some point it was more important to win a debate than win Mario Kart.)

My family is also pretty politically diverse, which helped see and understand different sides. And my practices of ingesting information came from wanting to hold my own in such discussions.

Kid jokes

I love reading about the incongruity of the kids of friends. Part of why I started this is in hopes of reporting on the best of Fleur’s. The Atlantic has a good article “Knock Knock. Who’s There? Kids. Kids Who? Kids Tell Terrible Jokes.“:

“Even when their parents are feeding them ‘dad jokes’ to try to teach them about humor, half of the jokes that kids hear, they don’t quite get.” So it’s only natural, Dubinsky says, for some children to believe that a couple of absurd or mismatched concepts assembled into a familiar “knock-knock” or “What do you call …” structure adds up to a joke.

“Kids say, ‘Oh, jokes are about incongruity. I’ll show you some incongruity,’” Dubinsky says. “But they haven’t got the sophistication to construct an incongruity that’s going to be resolvable.”

Which, coincidentally, sometimes results in jokes that resemble a more advanced form of humor: an “anti-joke.” Anti-jokes deliberately deny the audience a clever or satisfying punch line, and they often serve as edgy or sophisticated commentary on jokes themselves.

Poor Fleur will suffer from “dad jokes.” She already hears them. She just has no idea she is inundated with them. And I love me some incongruity. So much of my attention is analyzing rules from social behavior to code to business process rules. I am always interested in the how and why to tease out mismatches to learn from them. Maybe that is why I love “dad jokes” so much?