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 »

The effects of praise: 7 evidence-based tips for using praise wisely

smiling mother and young son riding piggy back by William Prost flickr

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What are the effects of praise? It depends. Praise can boost good feelings and increase motivation. It can inspire children to be more cooperative, persistent, and hard-working. But some kids bristle in response to praise, and even those who like praise can experience negative effects. Here’s how Read More »

Permissive parenting: An evidence-based guide

© 2010 -19 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Permissive parenting seems to be the “no discipline” approach to discipline. Does it damage kids? Threaten to destroy civilization? The research suggests that permissiveness isn’t the best approach to parenting–at least not in places like the United States. But much as we might get annoyed by Read More »

The permissive parenting style: Does it ever benefit kids?

daughter imagining something happy while loving mother watchers over her - by KJ Roelke creative commons no derivatives

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some studies have linked the permissive parenting style with optimal child outcomes. But the results depend on how researchers define “permissive.” Kids don’t benefit when parents ignore anti-social behavior. But being supportive of autonomy? That’s different. Studies suggest that kids thrive when parents are less bossy and punitive, and more Read More »

Secure attachment relationships protect kids from toxic stress

Secure attachment relationship - mother kissing infant by DieselDemon

© 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Parents can help children recover from stress by offering physical affection and words of support. But is there more? Maybe secure attachment relationships also help kids develop the ability to self-soothe. What happens when you soothe your baby’s tears? When you make eye contact, engage your baby 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 »

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 »

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 »

Postpartum depression symptoms: When is it more than the “baby blues?”

black and white mother lying in bed with newborn

© 2018 – 2019 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Postpartum depression symptoms overlap with symptoms of the “baby blues,” the mood swings that mothers experience in the first few days after childbirth.  But when symptoms persist beyond two weeks — or take a more severe turn — it’s time to get screened for depression. Read More »

The authoritarian parenting style: What does it look like?

authoritarian parenting style in action - silhouette of father scolding son

© 2010-2018 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The authoritarian parenting style: Little nurturing, lots of psychological control You might have a good handle on what it means to favor authoritarian government:  The blind submission to authority. The stifling of autonomous, critical thinking. The attempt control people through threats and fear. But how does this compare with Read More »

Growth mindset: Can a theory of intelligence boost your ability to learn?

young girl investigating pond life with a net

© 2008-2018 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What you believe about cognitive performance – the theory of intelligence that you adopt – can have brain-altering effects, and enhance your ability to learn. Yet programs designed to promote the right, “growth mindset” in students haven’t always worked.  Why not? I think the answer has to Read More »