Elephant Parenting

elphants standing on brown soil

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.)

The Recency Effect in children

When Fleur is done with dinner, she often exerts her displeasure at not having food in front of her. Such bad parents that we did not ensure she has just the right amount of food. Basically, if she has more than she wants to eat of something, then she throws it on the floor.

My wife often just gives something else. I prefer to provide options between two different kinds of food. So, this finding that children have a preference for the Recency Effect caught my eye.

Suspecting she might be picking left or right, the first several times I did switch them to see if she picked the same one. (She did.) My goal was to better understand her preferences.

Now, I know I need to design my choices for whether she is picking the second choice being a victim of this bias. Of course, she is not having to overburden her working memory capacity in these decisions. So, it probably does not apply.

Smile timing

Fleur makes us work at times to get great smiles for photos. As she has gotten older, it seemed like she has gotten more crafty about getting more. Then I ran across this nugget of confirmation bias:

The research team found that by timing their smile precisely, babies can elicit maximum smiles with little effort on their part.

My wife fills up her phone trying to get the perfect smile because the toddler is manipulating the adults to get entertained enough to bestow upon us a photo worthy one.

Proud of her.

Being a Musician Is Good for the Brain

Highlights from an Inc article on the benefits of music on the brain caught my attention:

  1. Musical training reorganizes neuron structures in the brain, specifically the corpus callosum which integrates the two sides plus areas involving verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy.
  2. It improves long-term memory, in part because it teaches the hippocampus how to store memories and recall them on demand.
  3. It improves executive function, things like processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving
  4. Musicians tend to be more mentally alert with faster reaction times.
  5. They tend to have better statistical use of multisensory information, so they are better able to integrate inputs from the various senses.
  6. The earlier a musician starts, the more drastic the changes.
  7. Music reduces stress and improves happiness.*
  8. Increases blood flow in the brain.

* Wonder if all this singing we do with Fleur plus Galahad’s piano practice is part of why she is a happy child? After all, we’ve been leveraging singing as a way to distract Miss Wriggly.

 

Swallowing button batteries

Recently, I shared a funny story about doctors swallowing LEGOs for science. This is a darker story about children swallowing more dangerous things. The number of foreign objects swallowing deaths is up in part because of a proliferation of button batteries which stomach acids can rupture.

Kids under six tend to swallow things. As electronics have gotten smaller, button batteries have become more common to power them. Several hundred thousand kids are estimated to have swallowed something enough to warrant an ER visit. Thousands of cases are fatal.

The recommendation is to give the kid older than a year honey to help neutralize the stomach acid and take the kid to the emergency room.

Singing as a baby wrangling tool

brown rabbit

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I never thought I would sing this much. I mean Disney princess movies and musicals are not my interest. But, a fragment of a song works to calm the baby, so I do it. I prefer it to the authoritarian Dad Voice. I use specific songs during specific tasks. And she really likes certain ones, so I’ve settled on them. Some examples:

  • A bastardization of “Stayin’ Alive” that is “Stayin’ Dry” while changing the diaper
  • Old MacDonald when she is bored in the carseat or resisting having to wear clothes
  • Little Bunny Foo Foo when she wants Mama who is occupied (she anticipates my bonks on her head)

I’ve kind of gotten into a rut. I need to pick up some new songs. Please suggest your favorites.

The authoritarian magicalness of Dad Voice

There is that moment where you say the child’s name but an octave lower. It gets the child to pause and look at you. Really, the whole point right now is to create a pause long enough to complete corrective action. Once Fleur is older, we can look at using it like Adrienne Hedger demonstrates in her comic.

Back on an early date with the wife, we were with a group on a night hike. A mother called out a girl’s name who ignored her. I called out her name but in the Dad Voice. She stopped. And slowly turned around. I told her her mother wanted her. The guy behind me said he was glad his name was not the little girl’s.

I did not expect to be using it so soon. But, occasionally Fleur gets wiggly when I am changing a soiled diaper. The Dad Voice gets her attention long enough to get the next step when the sweetly cooing doesn’t.

Pleading? Ineffective.

Bargaining? She doesn’t understand yet.

The authoritarian name drop? It works.

It doesn’t make me feel great. But, I only pull it out when I really need to finish something important. Like, I don’t when she is just being active in a family space. Or about to eat a leaf or trash. Those get a normal distraction of “look at this” to get the second I need to get to her hand. I don’t want to acclimate her to this tool and ruin its efficacy.