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Child Development

Toxic Stress: Issue Brief on Family Separation and Child Detention [immigrationinitiative.harvard.edu]

By Jack P. Shonkoff, Immigration Initiative at Harvard, October 2019 Background The separation of children from their parents and their prolonged detention for an indefinite period of time raise profound concerns that transcend partisan politics and demand immediate resolution. Forcibly separating children from their parents is like setting a house on fire. Preventing rapid reunification is like blocking the first responders from doing their job. And subjecting children to prolonged...

Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity [nationalacademies.org]

By National Academies of: Science, Engineering, and Medicine, July 25, 2019 Early experiences and life circumstances shape prenatal and early childhood development, with powerful impacts on the developing brain and body that shape health outcomes across the life course and can span generations. The preconception, prenatal, and early childhood periods are critical phases of development that help set the odds for lifelong health and well-being. All children deserve the opportunity to meet...

Parents talking to kids may blunt negative impact of adversity on schoolwork [physiciansweekly.com]

By Lisa Rapaport, Physician's Weekly, July 8, 2019. Children who suffer adverse experiences tend to do worse in school than kids who don’t, but a U.S. study suggests parents may still help improve academic outcomes by simply talking to their kids. Adverse childhood experiences, commonly called ACEs, can include witnessing parents fight or go through a divorce, having a parent with a mental illness or substance abuse problem, or suffering from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. ACEs have...

Growing Resilient Kids

Resiliency is defined as the ability to bounce back from stressful events we encounter in life. When something we encounter is so overwhelming to us that we become stuck in it, that is one definition of trauma. Resiliency can be viewed as the antidote to trauma. In fact, when we effectively process trauma we have experienced, we often come out the other side far more resilient than before. Our nervous systems have a higher stretch capacity, so to speak. How do we help our kids stretch and...

Infancy and early childhood matter so much because of attachment (theconversation.com)

We are born to connect. As human beings we are relational and we need biological, emotional and psychological connection with others . Attachment is the relational dance that parents and babies share together. You can think of this when you see a baby look at their parent and they catch each other’s eyes in a wonderful gaze: the parent smiles and the baby smiles and then the parent kisses and the baby coos. Or, when an infant cries to tell their parent they are hungry, and the parent picks...

5 Steps for Brain-Building Serve and Return (Center on the Developing Child)

Serve and return interactions are fun, easy, and an excellent way to build a strong foundation in a child's brain for future learning and development. Is a child pointing at something? Babbling or moving those little arms and legs? That's a serve! By returning a serve with a simple acknowledgement or smile, you are rewarding a child's interest and curiosity. Want to learn how serve and return can be a part of your daily interactions with children? Check out our new, practical, how-to video...

Parent Handouts: Understanding ACEs, Parenting to Prevent & Heal ACEs (now available in English, Dari & Spanish)

The updated parent handouts are now available in Spanish as well as English and Dari. Here's the blog post with links to all three versions of each flyer. All versions of the Understanding ACEs and Parenting to Prevent & Heal ACEs parent handouts can be downloaded, distributed, and used freely. Both flyers were made with generous support from Family Hui, a Program of Lead for Tomorrow, who is responsible for making the Spanish and Dari translations available. These are updates of the...

“I Like to Move It, Move It!” – How Dance and Rhythm Can Reduce the Impact of ACEs (stresshealth.org)

As it is, more and more researchers studying the healing power of rhythmic movement on people who’ve experienced trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or parental mental illness or substance abuse issues. Among these researchers is Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist and senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy in Houston who advocates dance, drumming, walking and other rhythm-based movements to help kids with trauma. In a book about trauma and the power of...

Resource: Guide for Early Childhood Development

Healthy development in the early years of life provides the building blocks for lifelong health, educational achievement, and responsible citizenship. What can we do during this incredibly important period to ensure that children have a strong foundation for future development? This guide explains how children develop in their earliest years, why that time period is so important, and the practical ways we can support early childhood development (ECD) and improve outcomes for children and...

Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood [npr.org]

The experience of natural spaces, brimming with greenish light, the smells of soil and the quiet fluttering of leaves in the breeze can calm our frenetic modern lives. It's as though our very cells can exhale when surrounded by nature, relaxing our bodies and minds. Some people seek to maximize the purported therapeutic effects of contact with the unbuilt environment by embarking on sessions of forest bathing , slowing down and becoming mindfully immersed in nature. But in a rapidly...

Resource: What is epigenetics?

How does epigenetics relate to child development? New resource from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child explains. Science tells us that the interactions between genes and environment shape human development. “Epigenetics” is an emerging area of scientific research that shows how environmental influences—including the experiences we provide for children—actually affect the expression of their genes. This means that the old idea that genes are "set in stone" has been disproven. Nature...

Even Toddlers, Preschoolers Need Trauma-Informed Intervention [youthtoday.org]

Benjamin Franklin once said; “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nowhere is this axiom truer than in the field of children’s mental health. My years of education, training and experience as a school-based clinical social worker at The Guidance Center , working with children, their families and educators, has led me to realize the value of a trauma-informed lens. This means I have an understanding of how the brain forms and functions in relation to the environment, and that...

Among preschoolers, bullies who get bullied are at high risk for depression [hechingerreport.org]

It turns out the old saying about sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting is bunk. According to research newly published in the peer-reviewed Early Childhood Research Quarterly, emotional bullying in the preschool years hurts quite a lot. When a child both bullies and gets bullied, the findings are especially clear: Depression symptoms begin to appear as early as age 3. Depression in early childhood increases the risk of depression in later childhood, which predicts...

What Exactly is a Toddler Tantrum?

Several years ago NPR had a story about temper tantrums, describing a study showing that the sounds children make during a tantrum indicate that they are primarily sad rather than angry. The written version of the story opens with description of tantrums as " the cause of profound helplessness among parents." I thought this was an interesting choice of words, as I have always thought of tantrums as representing a sense of helplessness in children. In fact, in my over 20 years of practicing...

Five Ways to Help Kids Manage Frustration [greatergood.berkeley.edu]

When parents hold their newborn infants, they naturally want what’s best for them. They want to protect them, nurture them, and give them all the opportunities to have a happy life. At the same time, however, children must learn to cope with frustrations and disappointments. Luckily, there are frustrations from the very beginning of life, such as when babies want a bottle and have to wait even a few minutes while you are preparing it. Later, as toddlers, they have to wait until they can get...

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