things I get to do …

Alrighty … so the power of language is well documented (*never more enjoyably than in THIS EPISODE of the podcast “On Being”) and just lately I’ve been playing with “get to” instead of “have to”, or “should”.

I have to feed the calf.  I have to organise an early dinner for my kids tonight, so we can go out.  I should weed my veggie garden.  I should write that essay.

I get to feed the calf.  I get to organise an early dinner for my kids tonight, so we can go out.  I get to weed my veggie garden.  I get to write that essay.

Reminds me to have gratitude for the blessings that are wrapped up in those sentences.  Reminds me to look for the blessings.

Quick link dump, then.

Fab article here about the many and unexpected benefits of teaching kids philosophy in schools (YUM!!)  Even pro-business publications are making the case for it!

Parents want some life skills in schools, too, apparently.  Could we categorise philosophising as a life skill?  Man, teachers are going to be busy.

Good paper here, balanced and calm writing about adolescents and tech.  FLIP.   We gotta set some limits.

(OH MY GOODNESS it works here too.  Instead of “We have to set limits on our kids’ and our own tech use …We get to set limits on our kids’ and our own tech use.  Empowering.  Yeah!)

Anyway, This is a quote from that aforementioned paper:

The Pew Internet and American Life Project Foundation synthesized results from their survey of over 1000 technology stakeholders and critics in a report with the less-than-decisive, but I think ultimately accurate, title of “Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives”

 

Here is a list of scary things about the internet (with an outdated Halloween theme.  Sorry.)  And here is an article by a doctor from Harvard about what parents need to know (*Get to know!!) about children and mobile digital devices.  Kids and cellphones.  Y’know.

I read this some years ago, but it’s still great … and for some reason, this week it recrossed my path so, SHARE I shall.  Wild Play.  God, I loved the book Savage Park.

In other news, I was super proud of the kiwi doctor who has had self care put in the medical oath.  Is it called Hippocratic?

Finally, for joy’s sake:

Flower beards: I love them SO MUCH.

deep breaths and crossed eyes

oh babyat last … I’ve made it out into my glorious office and photographed the OHbaby! mag which houses my article about Technoference.  Oh, friends and gentlegeeks, if money (and courage!) were limitless I’d rush off to Rome for the World Infant Mental Health Congress in May next year.  Just to hear Jenny Radesky and her “Digital Media in the Dyad” prez.  Swoon!

But alas … I’m neither rich enough NOR am I sufficiently brave.  Travel often feels pretty daunting.  I managed a trip to Canada last year, communing with other disciples of the Gospel according to Bruce. 

But a foreign language, another whole continent away?  For a New Zealander to even think about Rome you’d have to pad it with ages either side, to justify the costs.  Both the monetary expense and the time.  Uproot the whole family for a good month.  Spend as much as it’s going to cost to fix the laundry/kitchen conundrum.

Too much, too soon for this geek.

Ah … a wise local recently reminded me: for everything there is a season, etc.

For today, I’ll stay home with an ailing teen and tend to some office time.

First … may I share some links?

I’ll start with some light reading for the nerdily inclined … a paper published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  It’s by Jenny Radesky and others, and then an awesome longread article by the Guardian about smartphone addiction … the dude who invented the “Like” button and his peers all send their kids to schools without screens.

Mark my bloody words:  To learn to think creatively enough to be able to build such immensely complex and innovative things as iPads and apps and pull-down refresh functions. … you gotta have a childhood full of relational richness and hands-on play.  Nature and sunshine and eye contact.  Opportunities to lose yourself in discovery and enjoyment.

Meanwhile … what are we like?

What are we actually like?

Honestly, I could go on all day.

Between the angsting about technoference (think of the children!  And not just to sell stuff to them!)  and the all the coveting I’ve been doing (WANT and WANT) I’ve barely had time for much else.  School holidays are over, of course, which changes things a bit.

Speaking of schools, there’s been another conversation about teaching values/life skills (dare I say it!  Social and emotional intelligence stuff!) in the classroom.  I’m kinda all for it, but remind us all that amazing things like Roots of Empathy, and the Nurture Groups, and other cool things exist.  We can call on existing ideas with evidence based results.  We can do better than dodgy posture and other forms of self harm.   We can find ways to heal.

We bloody well ought to.  Digital focus, my eye.

Life, eh!   What, ho!  What a ride.

 

articles, links and love

IMG_5134Tena koutou, e geek ma.  Here is the sweet cover picture of the latest issue of OHbaby!  I’m proud of the articles in there that I created … one is full of wisdom from my friends/colleagues (i.e., frolleagues) and the other is about play.  YEAH.

Speaking of wisdom: check out this excellent interview from Scientific American about an education system producing “smart fools”.  Robert Sternberg is talking about the situation in the US, but I wonder how different things are here in NZ?  Discuss.

You know what would help?  An emphasis on the li’l kid versions … like promoting social-emotional learning in preschools, as described by this work supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

This link will take you to an account of how infant massage just might have benefits that extend even beyond the all-important mother:baby relationship, and here is a serious set of trauma statistics.  All the more reason for solid relationships: they anchor us when the world gets stormy.  Which it does.  And probably will.

This link is from Zero to Three and has some chilling news about the impact of the most recent US budget on the lives of children, families, and the poor.  Speaking of the T-word, check out this beautiful and horrifying art installation in New York.

Now: from the Chicago Tribune … about the way that smartphones can interfere with relationships EVEN WHEN THEY ARE SWITCHED OFF, and what a surprise, more research about how tech use is interfering with relationships, this from BYU.

Those of use who’ve studied how kids grow & learn won’t be surprised to learn that all this ‘technoference’ points to problematic child behaviour … as described in this study in the journal Child Development.  The study is also reported in a reader-friendly way … right here.   

Join the resistance!  Behold: Time Well Spent.  Check out the work of Sherry Turkle (thanks, Lauren), Anil Dash, and consider a relationship with Common Sense Media.

My husband shared this cynical piece from Slate with me, on Mother’s Day … It’s kinda funny but also a bit depressing, so I will make this my final gem for the day: a link shared with me by my Big Girl, from the beautiful Flow magazine.

Waiau, Lincoln, and in between

If I were a cleverer geek I’d be able to insert a nice graphic from Saturday’s ECE Expo.  Alas, I am supremely human (ie: flawed as can be!) so I’ll ask you to just tolerate one of the ultra uncool, non-web-wonderful posts that are my default setting.

What a time it’s been.  I never reported back on the excellence of a visit to Waiau with the glorious Dr. Jackie and the extraordinary Steph from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa.  What an amazing opportunity to connect with a warm, authentic, courageous group of families.  I honour the whole darned lot of yiz.

And this weekend was also an utter treat: Libby and her crew organised a professional and enriching day and I greatly cherished being able to present.  The folks in my session were open and engaged and willing … we had some fun, eh?

If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Perry and his profoundly transformative recipe:  ”Regulate, Relate, Reason”, check out this link, which includes a podcast.  Listen while you prep dinner!

And here is a link to the Buddhify app, which is just one of a quadrillion breath/meditation type helpers.  I adore it.  And give Adriene’s “Yoga Quickies” a try, for if you’ve just got a few minutes and need a reboot.  Love her!  Amazing!

(*btw two things I should have referenced on the day: the line “set yourself up for greatness” is one of Adriene’s, and the Imaginary Extra Day activity was inspired by a book called “The Gift of Play: Why Adult Women Stop Playing and How to Start Again”, by author Barbara Brannen. )

Also I referred to the awesomeness of Dr. Rick Hanson, you can find more about him here.  I enjoy all of his writing, including his weekly newsletters, and I subscribe to his podcast, too.  Check out Episode 4 for more of that “noticing that you are already oK” practice.  SO YUMMY AND WISE.

In other news, a couple here from Scientific American, first a graphic look at the impact of poverty on the brain (ugh) and this article expands the ideas represented in the first.

Another one from the “What the HECK?” file, this is a piece from Harvard Medical School about the far reaching benefits and implications of supporting breastfeeding.  American data, but interesting nonetheless.

This episode of the podcast ‘On Being’ blew my mind, and now I’m going to have to check out more from Anil Dash, because he might be the hope for a generation.   The latest episode of On Being has an interview with Bessel Van der Kolk, he of the Body Keeps the Score.  Y’know, I keep trying to get everyone to read it!  Can’t wait to listen to that one.

Another podcast in my queue, recommended by one of my favourite gals, and from one of my favourite ‘casts!  This looks awesome, from Radiolab.

Oh, and did I share this yet?  It’s about parenting teens.  Love them!  Trust them!  Cuddle their big bodies whenever they let you!

I haven’t time for much else this morning.  But look after yourself, please.  And look after your people.  And look after our beautiful land that we love as much as we love our people!

reluctant radicalism – cell phones at school. The new smoking. Ugh.

My big girl is thirteen, she’s just started high school.  And she is one of very, very few children whose parents have not put a cellphone into her hands.

I’m hearing of subtle and insidious ways that the staff’s behaviour (interval/morning tea time is announced with “OK, phone time!”) and policies (“take a photo of the school notice with your phones”, “we will text you if there’s a change”) seem to blindly assume that more tech is better.

I’ve yet to find a representation of an opposing view, questioning or critical thinking.  I have not seen evidence of an awareness for the need for a balanced approach.  There have yet to be conversations about responsible use of the tool, or the risks associated with it.

Risks, you say?  Ummm … yup.

Let’s review a handful of studies dealing with cell phones and adolescents, shall we?

Intensive cell phone use was associated with female sex, rural school location, good family economy, smoking tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, depression, cell phone dependence, and school failure. More health education is needed to promote correct and effective cell phone use among adolescents. Factors associated with intensive use and dependence should be considered for possible intervention activities.

 

With apologies for the random and non-APA status of my references, a citation for that is here: Mercedes Sánchez-Martínez and Angel Otero. CyberPsychology & Behavior. April 2009, 12(2): 131-137. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0164.

Or check this out, from the journal of BMC Public Health, in 2011:

High frequency of mobile phone use at baseline was a risk factor for mental health outcomes at 1-year follow-up among the young adults. The risk for reporting mental health symptoms at follow-up was greatest among those who had perceived accessibility via mobile phones to be stressful. Public health prevention strategies focusing on attitudes could include information and advice, helping young adults to set limits for their own and others’ accessibility.

 

Here are some findings from another paper dealing with the mental health issues:

Measured cell phone use (CPUse) to include the device’s complete range of functions.

 

CPUse was negatively related to students’ actual Grade Point Average (GPA).

 

CPUse was positively related to anxiety (as measured by Beck’s Anxiety Inventory).

 

GPA was positively and anxiety was negatively related to Satisfaction with Life (SWL).

 

Path analysis showed CPUse is related to SWL as mediated by GPA and anxiety.

 

You can find that here: Computers in Human Behavior  Volume 31, February 2014, Pages 343–350

There are risks to the mental health of our children.  That’s not all:

There are many academic papers dealing with the development of scales to measure cell phone addiction in adolescents, (because this is a universal problem!) (eg: Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing . Dec2009, Vol. 39 Issue 6, p818-828).  We don’t even know the longterm effects on our eyesight, posture, and fine motor functioning.  There is some evidence to suggest there are negative impacts on our reproductive health (and to be clear: I really want grandchildren some day!)

This is a bit like our attitude to tobacco a century ago!  Everybody’s doing it, let’s hope for the best!!

School is where our kids are supposed to become smarter, and yet the use of smartphones has been proven to dumb us down;  OBSERVE:

Lower analytic thinking associates with increased Smartphone use.

 

Results suggest that people offload thinking to the device.

 

Supports conceptualization of Smartphone use as a type of cognitive miserliness.

That’s from the journal Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 48, July 2015, Pages 473–480, a paper called The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking.  

More dumbing down happens with excessive use of social media:

There was significant relationship between Facebook use and anxiety, while cell phone owners perceived themselves as more outgoing, cheerful, and sensitive. A significant proportion of teenagers indicated that their cell phone was inextricably wrapped with their identity and even their sense of self-worth. Results from the survey suggested a statistically significant, negative relationship between Facebook activity and math grades of the respondents.

 

That’s from a paper called: Facebook Use and Texting Among African American and Hispanic Teenagers.  An Implication for Academic Performance  It was written by E. Bun Lee and published in 2014.

This paper (Adolescent in-school cellphone habits: A census of rules, survey of their effectiveness, and fertility implications, it’s from the journal called Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 32, Issue 3, November 2011, Pages 354–359) looked at school policies, check out their recommendation at the end:

All schools banned private use of cellphones in class. However, 43% of student participants admitted breaking this rule. A high-exposure group of risk-takers was identified for whom prohibited in-school use was positively associated with high texting rates, carrying the phone switched-on >10 h/day, and in-pocket use.

The fertility literature is inconclusive, but increasingly points towards significant time- and dose-dependent deleterious effects from cellphone exposure on sperm. Genotoxic effects have been demonstrated from ‘non-thermal’ exposures, but not consistently.

There is sufficient evidence and expert opinion to warrant an enforced school policy removing cellphones from students during the day.

 

We clearly need debate, discussion, calm heads and reasonable policies that have been designed by adults (those of us with the fully formed cortexes) to protect children.

This is lunacy.  A device that is associated with a host of negative health outcomes is having its use encouraged without question.

Kids: it’s morning tea time.  Get your tobacco out.  Have at it.

 

Shout out to the kin-keepers at Christmas-time

Hello friends.

Kin-keepers: I see you.  People like me: the card-senders and list-writers and picnic-packers of the season.

Kin-keeping is all the stuff we do to maintain strong bonds with friends & family. It’s the name given to the invisible raft of tasks that supports the rich social connections required for optimal health.

It’s thinking ahead to get the ingredients for your dad’s favourite birthday dinner.  It’s remembering to call your mother-in-law on the day of her medical appointment.  It’s about making a list and checking it twice.

This is often invisible work, but it deserves to be a separate line-item in the imaginary time budget of our lives, but because it tends to morph itself into the general busy-ness of family life (pack the swimming bag, unload the dishwasher, soak the collars) even those of us who facilitate the lion’s share of the kin-keeping underestimate the demand it places on our resources: time, energy, funds.

Ideally, kin-keeping is a joy.  With a little bit of breathing room about it, a gift for a friend can be a loving creation (I love making smart-arse cross stitches for my significant ladies) and preparing a casserole for an ailing relative can be a lovingkindness meditation.  But when time is short and energy is stretched, buying the gift or making the meal can feel more like pressure – even resentment – than love.

At this time of the year, when New Zealanders are preparing for the whole world to shut down for a few weeks, with school prizegivings and work dos, let alone a massive feast to cater, it can be really hard to find that breathing room to create a joyful kin-keeping heart.

I find it much easier to take the advice about slowing down, being mindful, practicing gratitude if I identify kin-keeping for what it is.  Give it a name.  Recognise what a vital function I am performing for my family when I remember that Little Girl will need a gift for Olivia’s 5th birthday on Sunday.  (CRIKEY that’s tomorrow.  No worries.  Zero panic.  She’ll be right, etc.)

How about this for a cool name: te ahi kā.  I am told that this is what the first New Zealanders would have called the person who (quite literally) keeps the home fires burning.  There are hunters, there are gatherers, there are gardeners, and there is te ahi kā. 

I salute your work all the year round, but I especially honour you now, 8 days from Christmas with kids rattling around hereafter.  All that food, those bathroom wipe-downs, the gift-wrapping: it all happens in the service of family relationships, and that makes it such noble work.

Someone has to keep the meals chugging and the laundry flowing, and I sing a song in your name.

Arohanui, keepers of kin, ahi kā ma.

x

 

 

 

 

Playcentre, baby

Kia Ora Geeks, what’s up?  So Little Girl and I started our week with a beautiful visit to the Playcentre in Leithfield.  I wanted to follow up with a few links from our conversation there.

First: May I say how much I love Playcentre as a movement, a philosophy, and a thing in general.  It’s uniquely kiwi, supportive of families (therefore is grounded in Bioecological theories of human development, whoop whoop!) and it is a monument to play.  And play rules.  That’s that. As I told the lovely Kate, who is writing about the morning for a Playcentre publication, being in a Playcentre makes me proud to be a New Zealander.

I also happen to adore Kay Henson, who runs that Monday morning session at Leithfield Playcentre.  What a lucky little village.  And what lovely, devoted mamas all hanging out that day.  I am grateful to have spent some time with you all.

I see the way you attend so patiently, selflessly, (exhaustedly!) to your settled, loved, inquisitive children.  I see you.

Some of the things I wanted to follow up:

This is a good intro to temperament theory, and, to follow on, here is an article about the concept of Goodness of Fit.  And this article does a lovely job of explaining Self Regulation and highlights the link between it and Goodness of Fit.  Good times!

An extension of our temperament conversation led us into talking about Elaine Aron and her Highly Sensitive Person work.  Check out more here.

A couple of musical links now: first with regards to behaviour.  This is Accentuate the Positive, which is more than just a classic tune.  It’s also a great strategy for dealing with our families.  It’s a behaviour management anthem, about choosing your battles, and celebrating the bits that are going well!

The next musical link is a live version of Dixie Chicken by Little Feat, from the year of our Lord, 1977.  It’s for Dixie and her mama.

What else?  Here is a link to learn more about Madga Gerber, this is a book I highly recommend, this is one of the Buddhist inspired parenting books I wouldn’t live without (I chatted with one mama about this), and won’t you please have a peruse of my writing page for many expansions of some of the topics we discussed.

Finally, this is a random and cool link from Mothering mag about baby birds and the power of song … ooooh.

Speaking of birds, I’m off to give my poorly chook a spa treatment.  I wish I was kidding.

is jet lag an agent of disregulation, or is it just me?

 

Kia ora te whānau … whaddup homies

Got back from beautiful Banff yesterday, where I spent a little too much of the remarkable International Symposium for the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics stumbling about in an overtired state, searching for English Breakfast tea, or fighting back tears.  Oh, unless it was one of those moments where I simply succumbed and had a wee cry.

Perhaps I could apply Dr Perry’s excellent awareness of biological rhythms and accept that fluffing around with the circadian rhythm of wake/sleep (not to mention leaping across the equator and confusing summer/winter) is bound to create discombobulation.

So more links will follow when I have caught up with myself.  Right now I’m practicing compassion, and housework.  x x x

Kia Ora to the Early Years Network … here are some links for y’all

Last week I was lucky enough to hang out with a large group of caring, passionate & wise teachers.  An intersectorial party of sorts, with Early Childhood teachers and Primary school teachers all buzzing together in the name of smoothing children’s transition from EC to school.

Hautupua!

And despite our squishy time frame and our tiny chairs, we generated an atmosphere that was kinda palpable.  All things going well, e hoa ma, we are going to get to have another go!   Maybe two.  Because goodness knows there is plenty more to discuss.  Meanwhile, as promised, some links:

First up, here is a link to the big ol’ report from the Advisory Group on Early Learning, commissioned by the Ministry of Education.  It includes the list of “crucial” factors that we unpacked just a wee bit.

Next, a lovely one-pager about school readiness from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

And a few tangentially linked links.  This will take you to an excellent episode from the show “Ideas” from the Canadian Broadcasting Company.  It’s about trauma-informed discipline in schools and it does a great job of explaining key concepts we could all do with considering, even though their children are high schoolers.  Pop your laptop (or pad, or phone) near you as you fold laundry, make dinner, or do dishes.  But don’t drop it in the sink.

This link is going to whisk you to the website of Truce Teachers.  TRUCE = Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment.  Ideas for bumping up the amount of free play in children’s lives.  Enjoy.

Here is a report from the advocacy group The Center for Popular Democracy, it tells the story of transforming struggling schools into thriving schools.  Interesting.  (hint: it’s not about giant groups of kids or rampant testing!) and for dessert, an article from the Australian media about a mindfulness programme that was piloted in schools.  No prizes for guessing the outcome …

Now, bearing in mind that we’ll have the chance to meet again, I’m happy to send you a copy of the slides (Just leave me a comment below and I’ll email you a handout) BUT I very well might use those same slides as the starting point for our conversation next time.  K? x x x

benefits of bailing

mar 2016 ohbabeKia Ora geeks!  Here is the latest issue from our friends at OHbaby!  I am proud of the piece I wrote in there, about quitting, and I enjoyed many other gems, tooski.

Speaking of OHbaby!, I wrote an article for the Winter 2014 issue, about maternal anger.  Just last week, one of the mamas I interviewed at the time sent me this article from the Guardian, about expressing emotions around children.  She reckons we were ahead of the curve.  How exciting, for a reclusive hermit anti-fashionista!

Now let me share these great many links with y’all.  From the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, this is a fab resource promising real-life strategies for reducing screen time.  Next, because who doesn’t love a good infographic, this is a resource from Zero to Three summarising the impact of poverty on early child development.

And from the Child Trauma Academy (I promise not to use the word ‘resource’ again …) is this excellent slide series/video about … well, child trauma.   Similarly awesome is this report from the Berry Street whānau in Australia.  They do amazing work for children and families and they call on the CTA wisdom to do so.

Also from Australia: this news report about a Mother’s milk bank, and this from Scientific American will tell you what wee babies can see that we no longer can.  Also from Scientific American: this article describes how the wiring of your brain reveals the real you.

Some research and a grunty report now … Here is some open access research about how Mindful Parenting lowers stress in children (frankly I should flippin well hope so!!), while this research identifies types of humour exhibited by children, and links them to resilience.   This report from the USA examines what investments are needed to get kids ready for school.

Finally, this from the Independent newspaper tells us what parenting techniques have been used by parents of successful children (*would love to see a definition of what ‘successful’ means) and BOY OH BOY would I love to do some shopping at Kanikani Kids.  Tino ataahua enei!