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!

overthinkers anonymous

Dear www.baby.geek.nz

You are a dear wee website.  You have given me a place to file my thoughts and preserve a gigantic number of links (* or portals to wonderlands of learning and discovery, as I like to think of them).

You’re a bit of a secret, though, which is cool, but there is this thing I love to imagine you doing.  Just quietly.  I love to imagine that you, www.baby.geek.nz, have improbably become a useful launchpad, catapaulting conversations between thinking parents and scattering chat among other assorted family-folk.

In a world gone bonkers, only you manage to somehow bring together a pot pourri of links that is JUST SO MY CUP OF TEA.  Which shouldn’t surprise me, because I posted every darned last one of them.  Beginning with THIS, my very first blog post.  Awww, cute.

I do love you, darling website, and I promise I can change.  Please, baby(geek), just give me a little more time.  I dream of a bright future for us,

love,

Me xx

End scene.

Anyway, I’m obsessing more than usual about these notions of communication and internet and purpose because last week I went to a Social Media 101 training day.   Holla, Enterprise North Canterbury!  Tumeke, Simplify & Amplify!

It’s all very fascinating, and I kinda dig learning about the psychology of marketing, and why people do stuff and how to get them to do the stuff you think they oughta, I am horrified by what my dear late mother would’ve called the Coca-colonisation of the world.  The blatant and aggressive enslavement of populations by corporations too slick and sneaky to be outfoxed.  Really, I think we should all buy less.  Use less.  Do more for ourselves.  

And the whole technology of twitter and facebook and all their chums is flippin amazing.   As a tool, it’s the way to find all the peoples who care about the things.  Nana over here has to do some work … cos I’d love to find some thinking mamas and I think that’s where they are and yet I FEAR the lure of the devices.  Both for myself and for all of us!

Pads and Macs and smart phones and regular (dumb?) phones … OH … behold these amazing ads from China about resisting the phone addiction FOR THE CHILDREN …

… here’s the thing …. I’d love it if we could all get the fact that societies of useful adults – that is, adults who are kind, competent, smart, healthy, capable, or at least not incompetent dicks – those sorts of adults are more likely if they were gifted responsive, warm, calm, loving care while they were babies.  There.  It’s that simple.  I said it.

Not just me.  Heaps of people.  Like Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child.  Heaps.

And you cannot tell me, not even for a second, that the brains of human young will be as effectively nurtured by distracted adults whose faces glow from their device du jour than they will be by an adult available to meet their gaze, respond to their vocalisations, and make up lame songs.

Ladies and gentlegeeks, I think we gotta unplug more.  For ourselves, and sure as the dickens for our babies.

I mean, I’m all for the flow of mindfulness teaching, (at school!  Love it.)  I am generally very Mindful of Mindfulness, but I can’t help but think we wouldn’t need quite so much mindfulness training if we just spent a wee bit less time skittering between devices and leaping between operating systems.

It’s like how we eat tons of fatty food and then obsess about weight loss.  I’m talking about us as a culture, not YOU.  Or ME.  Just all of us, you know?  Truly: if we did like Michael Pollan … “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and then went for walks and did some yoga then VOILA!  Wellness.

Sorry.  I’m a bit didactic and grouchy tonight.  I’m angsting.

Yeah, I angst about encouraging folks deeper into the digital world and further from the juicy messy deliciousness of real life.  And yet I love the handiness of a magical box that sings the commercials of my youth and finds me amazing recipes and connects me to people I love, all over the world.

What the flip.  Modern life … I need me my online yoga before bed.  Love you, Adriene, my electronic friend!

Irony, she lives.

linkin’ like a maniac

Kia Ora geeks, friends, and onlookers,

Snow all over the ground at my place.  Winter wonderland, etc.

Let’s get cracking with a variety of juicy links, shall we?

First: our chums from the CBC in Canada have a story here about the fun and beauty of a crocheted playground.  Enjoy!

My three-year-old is currently obsessed with birthing (*specifically, umbilical cords.  She keeps asking for hers back …) and she loves nothing more than to watch this amazing video from TED.  I know I’ve linked to it before, but here it is again.  It’s sensational.  Also from TED – this summary of the ACE study, giving more reason for deliberate care of our youngest.

This is a write up from the Daily Mail in the UK about the summary of Happiness research completed by the Mayo Clinic.  LOVE this.  The 5-3-2 thing is revolutionarily simple and deluxe.  To contrast, here is a summary from Health.com of some of the worst habits for your mental health.

A couple of treasures from Early Childhood Australia now – this one about bringing the benefits of mindfulness to the classroom, and this stunner is from the most excellent Anne Stonehouse about the challenges of documenting learning in ECE.

More from our Australian cousins: a link here to some research confirming that mandatory naps for older children (ie in childcare settings) leads to less nighttime sleep.  Which is just what parents need … (how I long for a sarcastic font!)

This link will lead you to a piece that considers the ways that bullying from peers can be more damaging than abuse from parents, and meanwhile, here is some writing from Scientific American describing how harsh parenting will likely contribute to anxiety.  Sigh.

From the good folks at Hand in Hand Parenting comes this little article about Sharing, here’s an article about the super power that comes from being raised in a bilingual home, and a cautionary tale about the potential damage from cellphones being more intense for children.

From Slate now: a piece about how doing good unto others will bring benefits onto ONESELF.  Bonus!

And FINALLY … the Washington Post bring us the data around how the top few hedge fund managers (*which I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with topiary) earn more than all the kindergarten teachers in the US combined.  We live in crazy, beautiful, messed up times.