The science of toilet training: What research tells us about timing

© 2007-2021 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved When is the best time to start teaching children about toileting? Infancy? 18 months? 24 months? Or even later? What does the science of toilet training tell us? There is surprisingly little research addressing the question. And, as I note elsewhere, each age is associated with its own Read More »

Bedwetting in scientific perspective: Debunking destructive myths

child sleeping bed at night

© 2010 – 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Myths about bedwetting? There are several, and they aren’t helpful. Ever heard the claim that kids wet the bed out of laziness? Or that kids require counseling — talking therapy — in order to break the “habit?” Or how about the idea that wetting the Read More »

Hunter-gatherers subsidize families…for the benefit of everyone

Lake Eyasi Hadza women with child, black and white image by Papa Bravo

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Egalitarian, cooperative, and fiercely-protective of their personal freedoms, hunter-gatherers are also very practical. They know that parents can’t afford to raise kids without help. So everybody pitches in — and society thrives. Family subsidies. Childcare help. Support for parents struggling to make ends meet. We sometimes talk Read More »

Traditional Chinese parenting: What research says about children and why they succeed

© 2011 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Why people are interested in traditional Chinese parenting “Chinese Americans are overrepresented in many of the nation’s elite universities” note Yong Zhao and Wei Qiu. The kids get higher SAT math scores, and are disproportionately represented among U.S. National Merit Scholars (Zhao and Qiu 2009).  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 »

Praise and intelligence: Why telling kids they are smart make them act dumb

© 2008 – 2013 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Years ago, Americans were reluctant to praise their kids’ intelligence. Like many people around the world, Americans believed that fawning over children would make them arrogant or narcissistic. But then something happened. American educators were seduced by the Self Esteem movement. They started promoting the Read More »

Adolescence doesn’t end until you’re 28? How the media got it wrong.


© 2010 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved As I’ve noted elsewhere, false or misleading stories about scientific research are pretty common. There are several reasons for this. In some cases, the problem is that writers fail to read the studies that they are reporting on. In other cases, writers have dutifully read the original Read More »

Teen brains lack empathy? Not! How the media got it wrong

warm, face-to-face talk between grandmother talking and teen girl

When I searched the web today, I found a batch of stories with headlines like “Study: Teenage brain lacks empathy,” and “Teen Brain: It’s all about me.” These stories describe a brain scan study, but key facts are incorrectly reported. Contrary to the headlines, the study didn’t actually measure empathy. Nor did researchers observe any Read More »