Durable Human (2 book series)

Yearly Archives: 2021

How to Boost Children’s Mental Health

Being in nature can boost children's mental health. Girl looks up at sky as walks through woods.

Encouragement, structure, and media management can improve children’s mental health and boost their brain development. So say multiple mental health experts, even as a mental health emergency rages on among U.S. children and teens.

Matt Miles, a high school teacher in suburban Washington, D.C., sees the crisis playing out.

“The number that’s exploding are the kids with moderate day-to-day inability to cope.” They can’t handle the pressure they used to, he says, “like two tests in a day.”

Children’s mental health practitioners are also concerned.  

Continue reading

Child Psychiatrists and Advocates Condemn Dish Network Prime Video Ad

Grandparents on couch next to baby read parent written instructions on paper

Psychiatrists who care for children and teens are demanding the removal of a Dish Network Prime Video ad because it gives the impression it’s OK to park an infant in front of a TV.  

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Media Committee writes in a letter to Dish:  

“Infants and toddlers need hands-on exploration and social interaction with their caregivers to adequately develop cognitive, motor, and social-emotional skills. These abilities cannot be learned by infants and toddlers from two-dimensional impersonal digital media.”

The “Babysitting: Prime Video” ad goes like this: Continue reading

Mental Health Emergency Declared for U.S. Children and Teens

Teenager looks despondently at phone, hand on face

American kids are in a mental health crisis and need much more help, according to a coalition of the nation’s child health providers.

“Across the country we have witnessed dramatic increases in Emergency Department visits for all mental health emergencies including suspected suicide attempts,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) stated in a joint press release.

The pandemic made an already bad situation much worse. Continue reading

Travel with Baby: To Screen or Not to Screen?

Shannon at car door and Cooper in carseat get ready for a trip

Successful travel with a baby is possible without using a device for distraction. Child development experts explain why tech-free travel is a boost to a baby’s brain, psyche, and relationship with you.   

My daughter Shannon, her 5-month-old son, and I had just finished a successful 8-hour car trip south and back. It wasn’t always easy, but we cajoled Cooper with chatter, songs, books and toysnone of which had a cord or battery.

The best moment was on our ride back home.

It was pitch dark when Cooper began to howl. We’d been driving for hours and I thought we were out of ideas, but Shannon had one more. She began to “read” The Very Hungry Caterpillar—completely from memory. Softly and gently, like so many times before, she recited every page.

Coop soon quieted down and was asleep before the caterpillar became a butterfly.

A few days later, Shannon clicked on a YouTube video claiming to have the inside scoop on how to travel with a baby. As she recalls:  

“First, the mom-fluencer, who was sitting in the back seat, showed her husband up front behind the wheel. Then the mom panned a little bit further to reveal an iPad, already playing a video, secured by a plastic case fastened to the back seat about a foot in front of the baby’s face. I had to laugh. Ohhh. That’s the big secret?”

Why Parents Turn to Tablets

Although our trip was sans tech, Shannon considered the alternative. Continue reading

Video Feedback Shown to Parents May Help Preempt Autism in Their Babies

Photo of hands on a video camera trained at a child and mother playing on the floor. Photo courtesy Australia Infant Communication and Engagement Study

Can autism be stopped once it appears to be started? Yes, according to an Australian study, if parents are taught through video feedback how to best engage with their babies. 

“We are helping parents fine-tune their parenting to the unique abilities of their baby,” says the study’s lead researcher, Andrew Whitehouse.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.” 

Autism rates have jumped dramatically in recent years. According to CDC data, 1 in 54 American children are now identified with ASD, while the number in 1975 was 1 in 5,000.

Typically, a child receives an autism diagnosis at about age 3 or 4. Until that time, babies are monitored for changes in behavior and receive usual care.  

Researchers at the University of Western Australia wanted to try a different approach: to preempt the condition. Continue reading

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