Stress in babies: How to keep babies calm, happy, and emotionally healthy

closeup, black and white father kissing a smiling baby - by Kathy Tegtmeyer / flickr (creative commons)

© 2015 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Why should we care about stress in babies? Nobody wants a stressed-out baby. The stress is contagious, making everyone miserable. And when the stress is chronic — a regular feature of everyday life — children face long-term health consequences. If babies are exposed to high levels Read More »

Working memory in children: What parents and teachers need to know

young boy holding chin in contemplation, image by Personal Creations (flickr)

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Working memory is often likened to the RAM in a computer. The more you have, the faster you can process data. But young children have smaller working memory capacities than adults. And some kids face special challenges. What’s at stake? How can you tell if a child Read More »

Teaching self-control: Evidence-based tips

closeup of young girl writing by ND Strupler flickr ccby2

© 2011 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Teaching self-control? Studies confirm that it’s possible. Kids benefit when we remove temptations and distractions, and create environments that reward self-restraint. Kids also need timely reminders to stay on track, and concrete, practical advice for staying motivated, overcoming obstacles, and sticking to a plan. Here Read More »

Correcting behavior: The magic words that help kids cope with mistakes

sad, thoughtful toddler, head down, looking into the middle distance

© 2011 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Sometimes children disappoint us. They make mistakes, misbehave, or simply fail to meet our standards. How to handle these disappointments? You might be candid and tell kids how you feel. “I’m disappointed in you.” But experiments suggest this is not the best approach. The trouble Read More »

Nightmares and night terrors in children: How to identify the problem, and help kids sleep more peacefully

artist's rendition of a ghostly horse - a night mare

© 2008 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Night terrors in children–also known as “sleep terrors”–are sometimes confused with nightmares. Both cause distress and disrupt sleep, and though terrors are less common than nightmares, they are hardly unusual–particularly among young children. What’s the difference between nightmares and night terrors, and what can be Read More »

Spanking children: Why does it happen, and what are the effects?

sad toddler among flowers by Guian Bolisay

© 2010 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Spanking children doesn’t help them learn self-control or social skills, and studies consistently show that spanking increases a child’s risk of developing behavior problems. But how can we be sure that spanking is harmful, and what can parents do instead when their children misbehave? “Spanking” Read More »

What’s wrong with classroom behavior charts: Why shaming backfires

mock classroom behavior chart by Parenting Science

© 2019 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Imagine you’re at work when you see it: Your name on the wall, with a note from the boss that everyone can see. Your behavior is “unsatisfactory.” We can think up different versions of this scenario. Maybe it’s a simple visual message – your name pinned to Read More »

Positive parenting tips: Getting better results with humor, empathy, and diplomacy

Example of positive parenting - mother and child discovering something together during lunch (the sounds of chewing)

© 2018 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Who needs positive parenting tips? What’s the fuss about, anyway? Positive parenting means slightly different things to different people. But the core idea might be summed up this way: Positive parenting emphasizes warm, positive family interactions, and guides children by rewarding and reinforcing their better impulses.  The Read More »

When bullies get bullied by others: Understanding bully-victims

© 2008 – 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Bully-victims: A special type? Some kids occupy the middle of the bullying food chain. They get bullied by dominant individuals, but they also perpetrate bulling themselves. Rejected, victimized, and aggressive, these “bully-victims” tend to have more psychological problems than either “pure bullies” or “pure victims.” We Read More »

Taming aggression in children: 5 strategies for effective parenting

Angry toddler girl in black and white by Luis Marina Flickr

© 2016 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Aggression in children can take many forms: Angry tantrums; hitting, kicking, or biting; hot-headed outbursts that destroy property; cool-headed bullying; verbal attacks; attempts to control others through threats or violence. What sets children off? In some cases, kids lash out because they’re frustrated by a Read More »

How to prevent bullying: What studies tell us about empathy and laying blame

© 2008 – 2017 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How to prevent bullying? We need to change the behavior of bystanders, and we need to understand what causes kids to repeatedly intimidate, harass, or physically harm their peers. What works? Condemning the behavior, and arousing empathy for the victims. What doesn’t work? Condemning the bully as Read More »