The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • Bin Laden Dies, America Celebrates, a Parent Grapples
    May 4, 2011 Parent Dish

    The beginning of Tom Henderson's blog post about the death of Osama bin Laden is venomous and somewhat shocking, but the emotions he describes are familiar to many Americans. Henderson writes that his son still wants revenge:

    He thinks Americans should kick and spit on Osama bin Laden's dead body before it is hung upside down on meat hooks at Ground Zero—mirroring what Italians did with the body of Benito Mussolini at Piazza Loreto almost exactly 66 years ago.

    Henderson sympathizes with his boy's views—albeit a little queasily. It isn't hard to understand why children, particularly those who grew up in the shadow of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, would feel strongly about bin Laden, even after his death. Young children tend to view the world through black and white lenses which cast people as either heroes or villains, and their perspective was bolstered by adult displays of feverish celebration that happened everywhere from the White House lawn to college campuses across America (not to mention on Facebook).

    But when Henderson asked his son how he'd feel if he was also talking about the desecration of bin Laden's body, his son said that he would hate it. "That's not you," the boy explained. His response made sense to Henderson, who reasoned, "Like children, we want those we trust to mete out justice to be above such bitter motivations. We expect better things from our parents ... and our nation."

    It's reassuring, then, to know that the government has decided not to release gory photographs of bin Laden's dead body. "We don't trot this stuff out as trophies," the president said. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, confirmed with a familiar response, saying it's "not who we are."

    Know More:  Talking to Kids About Osama Bin Laden

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  • Duerson’s Brain Trauma Confirmed
    May 3, 2011 New York TImes

    Researchers have confirmed that former NFL star Dave Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that has been linked to concussions. Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who examined Duerson's brain, says she found indisputable evidence of CTE in Duerson's brain tissue samples, and "no evidence of any other disorder."

    Duerson killed himself in February, at the age of 50, after complaining of headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, poor impulse control, and uncharacteristically abusive behavior toward loved ones—all telltale signs of repetitive brain trauma. In a note to family members Duerson requested that his brain be given to the NFL's brain bank for study. 

    In an interview DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players association, said Duerson's diagnosis of CTE "makes it abundantly clear what the cost of football is for the men who played and the families. It seems to me that any decision or course of action that doesn't recognize that as the truth is not only perpetuating a lie, but doing a disservice to what Dave feared and what he wanted to result from the donation of his brain to science."

    Know More:  What Parents Should Know About Concussions 

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  • Dr. Koplewicz Gives Tips On Talking With Kids About Bin Laden’s Death
    May 3, 2011 CBS

    CMI's President Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz was interviewed by CBS on how to talk about Osama bin Laden's death with children. Koplewicz calls this a teachable moment for kids of all ages, and reminds parents to consider their child's developmental age when discussing bin Laden. Children aged 6 to 11 are at a good age to begin discussing religious tolerance, says Koplewicz. However, younger children should be sheltered from disturbing news and images that may be on television. For older kids, Koplewicz cautions that teens are often impulsive in their reactions, and benefit from parents who model a calm example.

    Know More:  Talking to Kids About Osama Bin Laden 

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  • High Schoolers with Jobs Less Likely to Finish College
    April 29, 2011 USA Today

    A new study shows that high school students who work more than 15 hours a week are less likely to finish college than their peers who work fewer hours. The odds get proportionally worse the more a student works, and in the study only about 20% of high school students who worked 31 hours or more during the week finished college. Working in the evening after a spending all day at school can put significant strain on students and make focusing on academics difficult. School counselor Steve Schneider explains, "It becomes more than just attitudinal disengagement, it becomes almost a physical disengagement. The ultimate disengagement would be, 'I'm just not going to come to school tomorrow.' " Schneider recommends that parents and employers help students establish good priorities.

    Know More:  When Anxious Children Become Anxious Adolescents

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  • How to Obtain Guardianship for Adults With Autism
    April 29, 2011 Parent Dish

    After people with autism turn 18, some will need their parents to go through the courts to ensure that their legal guardianship continues. Each state has its own process to navigate, but the Parent Dish has compiled a list of basic tips for all parents who are trying to obtain guardianship.  

    Know More: Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • Autism Screening for Babies
    April 28, 2011 CNN

    Researchers have developed a new questionnaire that helps detect autism in children as young as one. Using a checklist of 24 questions, researchers say that any pediatrician will be able to screen children for early signs of autism during a normal checkup. Early intervention has long been considered a priority in autism treatment, and right now the average age of diagnosis is around five years old. Diagnosing autism during infancy could drastically improve the success of a child's treatment. Dr. Karen Pierce, the lead author of the study says that identifying language and development delays in babies may also help scientists better understand the neurological processes of autism.

    Know More:  Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • Uniforms for Preschoolers
    April 28, 2011 Wall Street Journal

    Some preschools and even childcare programs are now requiring toddlers to wear uniforms. Kimberly Morey, the executive director of one such preschool, says that when kids come wearing uniforms they are "comfortable and prepared to focus. They're not worried about what their neighbor is wearing or what their mom didn't let them wear today." Parents like the uniforms too because they're cheaper, simpler, and, according to one grandmother, a great way to signify, "This isn't playtime, this is school now." But for others, preschool is supposed to be a time when young kids begin expressing their own individuality, and learning to pick out clothing plays an important part in that. Mom Julie Ryan Evans, who blogs on The Stir, thinks that school uniforms are a great idea—just not for preschool.  Evans writes, "Life gets too serious too quickly anyway, and I don't want my preschooler getting down to business. I want her to learn, yes, but I want her to learn through play and expression and creativity—like many studies say is the best."

    Know More:  Developmental Milestones

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  • A Parenting Nickname Handbook
    April 27, 2011 New York Times

    Lisa Belkin over at the Motherlode blog has posted a primer on the many nicknames coined to describe parenting styles. Starting with the clash between working parents and stay-at-home parents and working all the way up to the latest zoomorphism trends (Are you more of a tiger mom or a koala? How about a hippo?), Belkin defines the major nicknamed parenting trends of recent memory.

    Interestingly, the blog post also addresses the larger national trend of calling our own parents "mom and dad" instead of the more formal "mother and father" that once signified a coming of age. Rev. Michael P. Orsi laments the change, which he calls tantamount to "baby talk," and argues that it is "indicative of a growing problem in which offspring deem themselves to be perpetually dependent children."

    Maybe so. But at least calling your mother "Mom" sounds more adult than calling yourself a koala.  

    Know More:  Helicopter Parenting: How Much Is Too Much?

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  • In Fighting Anorexia, Recovery Is Elusive
    April 26, 2011 New York Times

    For many people struggling to overcome anorexia, it can often be unclear what constitutes a true recovery. Some consider a patient recovered when she reaches a normal weight (which is defined as 85 or 95 percent of a person's ideal weight) and resumes menstruation. But this definition doesn't take into account the mental dimensions of the disorder, and although the damaging behaviors associated with anorexia may have stopped, the self-criticism, perfectionism, and self-abuse that accompany the disorder often continue. According to Dr. Katharine Halmi, "About 50 percent of people with anorexia will be able to reach and maintain a normal weight, but most of them are very preoccupied with the calorie content of food." Aimee Liu, the author of "Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives" calls this anorexia's “half life,” and says it can last for years without good treatment. Like many alcoholics, some with anorexia prefer to consider themselves in a perpetual state of recovery.

    Kathleen MacDonald, a policy assistant at the Eating Disorders Coalition, is more optimistic. MacDonald struggled with anorexia and bulimia for 16 years, but now considers herself entirely recovered. "People always said once you have an eating disorder, you're always going to have an eating disorder," she says. "I tell people, 'There was a time in your life when you didn't have an eating disorder, and if that's possible, anything is.' "

    Know More:  What Are the Early Signs of an Eating Disorder?

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  • Predicting Bipolar Mood Swings
    April 26, 2011 US News & World Report

    New research suggests that it may be possible to predict mood swings in people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to the study's lead author, Warren Mansell, "Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods—for example, that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure—developed more mood problems in a month's time." In contrast, people who were able to moderate their moods had far fewer mood problems in the next month. Says Mansell, "These findings are encouraging for talking therapies—such as CBT—that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them."

    Know More:  What Medications Are Most Effective in Children With Bipolar Disorder?

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