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Five Things Every Parent Should Do for Their Young Children

Five Things Every Parent Should Do for Their Young Children

Five Things Every Parent Should Do for Their Young Children

    Babies are wonderful bundles of joy. They are easy to love. Nature has cunningly designed them to be irresistible. This helps new parents cope with the hardships of getting up at night and caring for their infant’s immediate needs, which tend to be food, drink, exhalation of wind and clean diapers. So far so good. It is the next part that is more difficult and which many parents flunk. As well as fulfilling their physical needs you have to cope with other important demands for growing children. Here are some key rules for those years from toddler to early school. As a parent you should definitely:

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    1. Spend time with your child.

    The one thing you should never deny your child is your time. You should play with him or her. Talk and listen. Children need attention, communication and stimulation. Don’t lock them in the play pen or dump them in front of TV. Treat them with respect and with a great sense of playfulness.

    2. Read to your child.

    Just playing, eating, chatting or walking together is good but it is not enough. From an early age you should sit and read with your child. Reading helps develop language, understanding, verbal intelligence and a love of books. Picture books, nursery rhymes, fairy stories and all the old favorites are great. As your children get older listen to them read and discuss the stories and what they mean.

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    3. Set rules and say ‘No.’

    Many parents indulge their kids, smother them with love and deny them nothing. But this is not doing you or the child any favors. Children have to learn the difference between right and wrong; and between safe and dangerous. You have to firmly correct them when they do bad things. You have to set rules and restrictions, explain them and make sure the child understands. Children get this quickly and they respect boundaries provided they are applied fairly and consistently.

    4. Set a good example.

    Children learn from those around them and especially their parents. If you swear, shout at your partner, kick the dog, leave a mess and don’t tidy up then why shouldn’t they? Teach them good manners and behavior through your actions as much as your words.

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    5. Encourage a healthy lifestyle.

    Many of today’s teenagers who are obese couch-potatoes started with bad habits at an early age. Give your toddler fruit, vegetables and sugar-free drinks and he or she will grow up liking them. Encourage your children to walk, cycle and play and they will love exercise.

    Children are a blessing and a privilege. Parenthood can and should be a source of happiness and wonderful fun. But it is also a duty; one of the most serious that you will ever undertake. Do it well and the benefits will last a lifetime.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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