Do early swimming lessons give kids the best start?

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Parents who want to give their children the best start possible will be fascinated by the news coming out of a study of children who learn to swim at an early age. Preliminary findings from the study of 7000 children under five from Australia, New Zealand and the US suggest that early swimmers are gaining a range of developmental skills earlier than other children. The impact may extend into all areas of a child’s development, including their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development

The research is being coordinated by Griffith University’s Institute for Educational. According to leader of the research Professor Robyn Jorgensen, many of the skills are those that help young children into the transition into formal learning contexts such as pre-school or school:

The research also found significant differences between the swimming cohort and non-swimmers regardless of socio-economic background. While the two higher socio-economic groups performed better than the lower two… click here to read whole article and make comments



Black Friday makes for a black hole

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Black friday

"Black Friday" 2012 has been proclaimed a wild "success," with its 247 million shoppers spending $59.1 billion in the U.S. alone. Of course, something like this must start in the U.S., and, of course, it must be placed the day after we give thanks for all the stuff we got last year.

But why delay getting more stuff at the end of 2013? Let's skip the thanks and make Thanksgiving Day "Black Thursday."

No wait: I didn't mean that. Besides, I can't take credit for the suggestion that we ease the blackness backward into Thanksgiving. Retailers already did that this year, with some shoppers springing into action only moments after filling up with turkey and pie.

You'd think that this would be the perfect recipe for a bad case of indigestion.

The only people who seem happy about this are the"they" in the retail world who get to make these sorts… click here to read whole article and make comments



Parents urged to intervene in teens’ online life

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internetBy now, most parents are aware of the online excesses that school kids are indulging in on social networking sites like Facebook, but many are shocked when they find it in their local school or their own home.

That is the message coming out of conferences around the globe, along with warnings that parents need to take a more proactive approach with their children’s internet activities.

In the United States, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently hosted a conference in New Orleans at which it empasised that "growing media platforms touch on virtually every health concern pediatricians have about young people: aggression, sex, drugs, obesity, self-image and eating disorders, depression and suicide -- even learning disorders and academic achievement".

Chairman-elect of the Academy’s Council on Communications and Media, Dr. David Hill offered some advice to pediatricians that clearly should also be embraced by parents. He said to "help children behave in ways that… click here to read whole article and make comments



Daycare linked to overweight kids in Canadian study

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Researchers never stop studying the effects of out-of-home care on very young children, and that is just as well, since governments in many countries are encouraging mothers to farm out their little ones while they go to work. Research results are mixed; some find a link between daycare and better knowledge and language skills (though not always); others find increased levels of stress in young children, and a tendency to aggressive behaviour as the children get older.

The French-Canadian province of Quebec has a big stake in this information because 15 years ago it rolled out a province-wide, $7 a day childcare scheme which was aimed at helping the poorest children, as well as make it possible for women to stay in the workforce and have babies and thus lift a dangerously low fertility rate. You can read here what one commentator had to say about the fiscal results… click here to read whole article and make comments



18 ways to be a better father

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Parents of six children Brett and Kate McKay have drawn up what they call "The Awesome Dad Cheat Sheet", offering "18 Fatherhood Tips They Should’ve Handed Out at the Delivery Room".

Even for fathers (and mums) who think they already know it all, the list could prove to be a good refresher. I was certainly reminded of a few flagging resolutions.

For those who don’t have the time to read through all 18 tips – some of which are quite lengthy – we offer the following mini-guide.

Some of the tips are well known – even obvious, but can still be among the easiest to overlook. For instance: "Above all, show your children love", "Practice patience" and "Model good behaviour".

Then there are the ones that can be difficult to enforce, like "Limit TV and video games" and "Set boundaries".

For young parents, particularly new fathers, reading to a child can seem like an… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hoovering can lengthen your life, ladies

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vaccuumI’m not sure why I keep being drawn to headlines about housework; maybe I’m subconsciously trying to psych myself up for pre-Christmas housecleaning. “Can Housework Help You Live Longer?” by Gretchen Reynolds, appeared recently on the New York Times Wellness pages, so naturally I took a look.

It’s not news that physical activity can increase wellness and longevity, but new studies are giving more precise detail about what types and amounts of exercise are most beneficial.

Researchers in Europe accessed a large database of health information that followed British civil servants (ages 35 to 55) for about ten years. At intervals workers filled out questionnaires about their health and physical activities. These ranged from “mild” (washing dishes or cooking), to “moderate” (gardening or brisk walking), and “vigorous” (swimming or mowing the yard).

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that any physical activity was better than none, and correlated with longer life.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Early Childhood experts say genes hold clues to child abuse

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Experts on early childhood development in Canada are pressing for advanced genetic techniques to be used to help identify children who may be most sensitive to abuse. The Canadian experts also believe that genetic research can help to develop therapies to reduce the impact of abuse before it occurs. A report in The Vancouver Sun by Michael Tutton of The Canadian Press, says the suggestion has been made by a panel of experts on early childhood development convened by the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Their views are drawn from some of the latest global research on genetics and the emerging field of epigenetics, which studies how environmental factors like parenting can affect a child’s genetic development. For instance, research on mother rats shows links between how frequently a mother rat licks and grooms its offspring and the development of stress regulation systems in its babies.

A… click here to read whole article and make comments



Analysing parenting attitudes

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If you have ever wondered what might be in the mind of the parents who are moulding the attitudes of the younger generation, you may be interested in a three-year study of the “Culture of American Families” that has just been released by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. Many parents - not to mention politicians, journalists, academics and public servants - will be fascinated by the insight that this study offers into the divisions that are shaping the future of the United States and that will inevitably flow on to other “advanced economies” as well.

The report identifies four types of family cultures which it labels “the Faithful”, “the Engaged Progressives”, “the Detached” and “the American Dreamers”. (They could just have well have reduced it to the “religious”,  “liberals”, “cynics” and “social climbers”.) It is based on a national survey of 3,000 parents of school-age children, which… click here to read whole article and make comments



Battle of the messy bedroom

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messy room

As a mom who has waged the Battle of Clean and Tidy on many different fronts –and against numerous foes—for more than two decades, I found this NY Times “Home and Garden” article about kids’ messy rooms to be both entertaining and enlightening.

How I can relate to the “fury and frustration” of venturing into a child’s bedroom (or playroom) to observe that not one square inch of the floor is visible. Or finding a long-forgotten drinking glass tucked beside the sofa with something black and fuzzy growing inside it.

I chuckled at passages such as this:

After consultations with dozens of parents, teenagers and professionals who specialize in adolescent mess, there is some good news: although teenage tidiness may be too much to hope for, sanitation is a possibility.

I laughed again (but sardonically this time) at the following: “sometimes teenagers really don’t know how to pick… click here to read whole article and make comments



The surprising mental health effects of gender equality parenting

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FIA logoA couple of weeks ago we noted some Swedish research that showed the adverse mental and physical effects on mothers with dependent children of working outside the home. Here is another report from The Family in America journal about the mental health benefits -- or otherwise -- on adolescent girls and boys of oarents who hew to the gender equality model of domestic and working life.

When parents embrace the ideal of gender equality, their children enjoy the best possible mental health. They must. All the progressive commentators say so. Unfortunately, empirical science has just delivered a rude shock to the progressive dreamers, as public-health officials in left-leaning Sweden established that gender-equality between parents fosters mental pathology in adolescent children.

This linkage was the last thing the researchers were looking for. Indeed, the researchers began their study with the understanding—fostered by their colleagues’ scholarship—that “gender… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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