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7 Mistakes That Damage Childhood

7 Mistakes That Damage Childhood

Your children only gets their childhood once. There are no repeats or do-overs. It is amazing how those years of growing up can affect the rest of their lives. As adults we ponder, analyze, and reflect on all that our childhood had to offer us, both good and bad. It’s a parent’s responsibility to protect their child so that the preventable bad stuff doesn’t happen during childhood. Not all bad can be prevented, such as the death of a parent or a debilitating illness, but there are some things that can be prevented or avoided. It is up to the parent or caregiver to help avoid these damaging factors that afflict so many during childhood.

1. Treating Children As Though They Are Adults

I have heard parents refer to their kids as mini-adults. They are not mini-adults. They are children. They don’t have the same ability as adults to process information or even think abstractly. Children don’t have fully developed brains, so they are not emotionally or mentally mature. The expectation of parents or adults for children to be anything like an adult is absurd. Taking your toddler to a fancy restaurant and then getting upset with them because they are acting their age is silly. Don’t expect your toddler to act older than they are because you will be disappointed every time.

Don’t take them places where you know toddler’s behavior isn’t accepted or tolerated. If you have to, for example be on a plane ride, prepare to keep the child entertained with age appropriate toys and videos. Anticipate that they will act their age, because when they are two years old they will act like a two year old. They only get to be a child once in life, so embrace it and let them be a child.

2. Over Scheduling

Far too many kids are getting burned out before they even head off to college. There are many kids who are over scheduled, over schooled, and over worked on a weekly basis. How did we get to this point where kids go to school all day long, have after school activities/sports for several hours every night, and then hours of homework once they get home?

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At the end of the day they have zero free time to just be a kid. They end up being stressed out just trying to get it all done and keep up with a crazy schedule. It’s time to rethink the amount of activities that we have enrolled our kids in.

Many kids these days start activities from the time they are babies. From music classes to toddler sports activities, to play dates to learning sign language. Many kids are doing too much and being pushed too hard, too fast. They have their entire lives to run the rat race of life. Childhood is the time when they need extra rest as their bodies and minds grow. It’s great to stimulate minds and bodies for growth, but over scheduling happens far too easily these days.

Kids need time for plenty of free play and to allow their imaginations to thrive. Part of development is allowing kids the time to be creative, time to pretend, and imagine. Those activities fall by the wayside when kids are overschuled and don’t have free time to play. Limiting a child’s play time because of overscheduled activities can negatively affect the child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics clearly explains the important of playtime: “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.”

3. Physical Or Emotional Abuse

It is a no-brainer that physical abuse is damaging to a child. Emotional abuse is just as damaging and some parents don’t even realize they are doing it. Words stick like glue. They can’t be erased once they are said. When you call your child dumb, bad, ugly, or anything derogatory those words can’t be unsaid. It hits to the core of the child, especially when they are said by a parent. There isn’t anyone’s words who can harm a child more than the words of a parent. Be careful with words and if you need to correct your child speak to their behavior, not who they are as a person.

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4. Expecting A Child To Handle Adult Problems

Don’t expect your child to carry the burden of your problems. It is the job of the parent to shield and protect their child from adult problems. Alcoholism, drug abuse, and addictions are just some of problems of which a child shouldn’t be exposed to.

A very common way that parents are damaging their children today is in divorced situations. When a parent tries to pit their child against the other parent this causes major emotional strain to a child that can damage a child emotionally. If you are divorced don’t speak ill against your ex in front of your child. The child will internalize those words, as they are made up of half of you and half of their other parent.

5. Pressure To Succeed

The pressure to succeed is way too high these days. Parents wanting the best for their kids is one thing, but wanting their kids to be the best is another. There will always be someone who is better at whatever it is your kid is doing. Let them do their best on their own will. There is a big difference between encouragement and pressuring. Know that difference so that you can be your child’s encourager.

Psychological Researchers say that pressuring your child to succeed can actually backfire: “When parents are overly invested in performance, kids are less likely to develop their own, more sustainable, motivation”. Encourage, don’t pressure, as the pressure on your child to succeed can end up actually thwarting their sucess.

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6. Social Isolation

Kids need to be around other kids. Being around adults and only interacting with adults can damage a child’s future ability to interact with their own peers. They need to be around other children their own age on a regular basis in order to develop good social behaviors. Those first few years of life are an important time when children need to be around other children, as it will affect their ability to be socially accepted later.

Research from Child Encylopedia states that  “Peers play important roles in children’s lives at much earlier points in development than we might have thought. Experiences in the first two or three years of life have implications for children’s acceptance by their classmates in nursery school and the later school years. Children who are competent with peers at an early age, and those who show prosocial behaviour, are particularly likely to be accepted by their peers.”

Help your children early in life by planning play time with other children their own age. Their proper development depends on this interaction with their peers.

7. Poor Role Models

Having positive role models is very important. If a child looks up to someone who abuses drugs and alcohol, they will think that behavior is permissible or even encouraged. Parents are the most important role models for a child. Are your behaviors worthy of your child’s admiration? Would you want your child to repeat your behaviors? Parents are role models for their children whether they want to be or not. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states the following:  “A role model is a person whose serves as an example by influencing others. For many children, the most important role models are their parents and caregivers. Children look up to a variety of role models to help shape how they behave in school, relationships or when making difficult decisions.”

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Are your behaviors ones that you would want your child to emulate? Be a positive example for your child, as they are watching all that you do in life.

Featured photo credit: Magdalena Battles via livingjoydaily.com

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

Fortunately, meditation can help.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

    Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

    Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

    • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
    • Don’t eat too late
    • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

    Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

    However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

    3. Challenge Your Brain

    When was the last time you challenged your brain?

    I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

    To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

    Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

    There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

    • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

    If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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    Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

    4. Take More Breaks

    When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

    At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

    However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

    Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

    One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

    This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

    When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

    It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

    Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

    5. Learn a New Skill

    I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

    “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

    From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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    Let me give you an example of this:

    Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

    Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

    The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

    Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

    It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

    Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

    If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

    6. Start Working out

    If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

    Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

    Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

    Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

    Interested in getting started?

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    Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

    • Join a gym
    • Join a sports team
    • Buy a bike
    • Take up hiking
    • Dance to your favorite music

    7. Eat Healthier Foods

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

    This applies to your brain, too.

    The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

    Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

    Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

    If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

    • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
    • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
    • Nuts – Improves memory
    • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
    • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

    Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

    Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

    Final Thoughts

    I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

    You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

    But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

    More on How to Improve Memory

    Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

    Reference

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