Tag Archives: Parenting Advice

FOR PARENTS: Can Twitter Prevent Teen Suicide?

r-IPHONE-ADDICTION-large570We’ve all heard tragic stories about online bullying and teen suicide. But, a new study suggests Twitter can be used to in suicide prevention. Researchers from Brigham Young University created an algorithm that scanned through millions of tweets across the nation looking for terms like suicide, dying, and other key words linked to depression or bullying. What they found was amazing. The suicide talk showed up in state-by-state numbers that closely mirrored each state’s actual suicide rates. In other words, early warning signs are available, if only every person were identifiable on Twitter.

The researchers suggest that, at the very least, suicide hotline groups could use the algorithms to respond via twitter instead of waiting for an old fashioned telephone to ring. Or, schools could have students register their twitter accounts (no privacy concerns, as tweets are public anyway) and the technology would give school counselors a ping when a student’s Tweets become concerning.

In the meantime, it’s important that all parents follow their teen on twitter and friend them on Facebook. Adolescents will write things on social media that they won’t say out loud. Following them as a quiet observer can help parents get inside their kids heads. However, I don’t suggest interacting with them much on social media unless you are prepared for the other kind of suicide — social suicide!

FOR PARENTS: Hug Your Kids For Their Longterm Health

black-girl-hugging-father If you didn’t have affectionate, loving parents, I’m sure you are aware of the consequences in your longterm relationships. But now research out of UCLA has made a link between abuse, neglect, lack of love and physical health.

The study, available online at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that adults who have had toxic childhood stress have physical arousal systems that are not only hyper-sensitive to threats, but simply don’t turn off easily. In other words, negative early life experiences amp up a regulatory system and high levels of stress are linked sickness. For the study, more than 700 adults completed a survey about their early family life called “The Risky Families Questionnaire” and then were given a battery of physical tests that included measuring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, waist circumference, heart rate, blood sugar, etc. And, surprise, surprise, those who had unloving, non-affectionate parents — those with attachment injuries — tended to have much higher risk factors for serious disease.

Of course, linking two factors together, in theis case, bad parents and bad health, doesn’t always mean causality, but it would certainly be fair to infer that those with unloving parents may grow up to self medicate their emotional injuries with unhealthy lifestyle choices — like over eating, alcohol, smoking, or drugs.

The big take away, besides reminding good parents to keep up the good work, is for governments to not underestimate the importance of parenting. Both parenting classes and early childhood programs as part of the national healthcare debate. Breaking the cycle of abuse by giving support to parents who could use some tools, can ultimately reduce longterm national healthcare costs.

FOR PARENTS: Singing Kids Behave Better

100801015413913_1The Sound of Music was a movie beyond it’s tine. Linking baby mozart to math skills may not have held up to research scrutiny  but there is new promise that music can do something else for kids: Make them behave better and solve problems.

Researchers from the University of West London School of Psychology examined how music made young children, aged four, more helpful and sociable. Dr. Maddie Ohl, Dr. Anne Manyande and undergraduate student, Rie Davies split 24 girls and 24 boys into two groups, ‘Music’ and ‘No Music’. Children in the ‘No Music’ Group listened to a story, while children in the ‘Music’ Group sang and played small percussion instruments. After the sessions, the children were tested for problem solving abilities with a ‘Helping’ game.  The results found that children who were in the ‘Music’ group, boys and girls, were more helpful than children in the ‘No Music’ Group; they were 30 times more likely to help than their music-less counterparts. Results also showed, girls were greater than 20 times more likely to help than boys of the ‘Music’ Group. The ‘No Music’ Group also showed less co-operation than the ‘Music’ group, whose co-operation was six times greater than their counterparts. Girls excelled again, and demonstrated more co-operation than boys. But when it came to problem solving boys in the ‘Music’ Group were four times more likely to problem solve than their peers.
            The results of this study show that pre-schooler music class isn’t a useless endeavor forced on kids by uber mommies. And the researchers suggest that even singing can be highly beneficial.  So, belt it out babies!

FOR PARENTS: Nutrition Deficit Blamed for Teen Violence

Mixed fruitYou might think that with obesity so prevalent in America, few people are starving. But there’s an invisible kind of starvation that is affecting millions of people in the worst way — brain function. Many people are being stuffed with empty calories that are loaded with sugar, salt and bad fats, and while bodies balloon, brains are actually starving. The end result: depression, anxiety, and even an increase in aggression.

A new article in Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, makes a startling case between vitamin deficiencies and increasing violent behavior in teens. Specifically, the researchers say that vitamins A, D, K, B1, B3, B6, B12, folate and minerals iodine, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and chromium, all play a role in an increase in aggression and violent behavior.

Of course, nutrition is but one piece in a complex puzzle of teen violent behavior. Other research has pointed to violent video games, absentee fathers, reduction in physical education programs and increasing housebound children, but Sylvia Onusic, Ph.D,, the study’s lead researcher says malnutrition is an overlooked component.

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