Evidence that spanking alters the brain

toddler in profile, eyes closed, with a view of his brain superimposed over his head

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved As disciplinary tactics go, spanking is ineffective, and it may be harmful, too. A new study suggests that spanking alters the brain, making kids more reactive to potential threats, and more at risk for developing behavior problems. Over the years, I’ve followed the research on spanking, and Read More »

ADHD in children: What parents need to know about attention and hyperactivity problems

friends talking - two boys in conversation

© 2021 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved The difficulty of identifying ADHD in children Diagnosing ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is intrinsically problematic.    The symptoms—distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity—are consistent with the normal behavior of young children. So when young children are diagnosed, the implication is that they are more distractible, impulsive, or hyperactive than Read More »

Why kids rebel (and what we can to encourage cooperation)

© 2018 – 2021 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Is childhood rebellion inevitable? Not really. Most kids are ready to be cooperative. But they recognize limits to our power: They resist when they perceive us as trying to control their personal lives. So what’s the solution? Be fair-minded. Listen to their requests. Give kids Read More »

When does peer pressure start? Early. Very early in life.

long line of identical yellow rubber ducks

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, all rights reserved Peer pressure and social conformity starts long before adolescence. When faced with a choice between telling the truth and backing a popular falsehood, even 4-year-old children will buckle. You and three other people are sitting in adjacent booths, and you’ve each got a copy of the same book. Read More »

Working memory tips: How to help kids focus and stick to a plan

toddler in profile, eyes closed, with a view of his brain superimposed over his head

© 2017 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Working memory (or “WM”) is the system we use to keep information immediately available in our thoughts. We use working memory when we perform calculations in our heads, track the meaning of a conversation, and remember what we’re supposed to do next. As you can Read More »

Raising helpful kids: Tips for teaching generosity and kindness

young boy helping his friend on roller skates stand up - by Pahis / istock

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How do you teach kids to be helpful?  To be generous and kind? Studies suggest we should avoid heavy-handed tactics and bribes. Instead, we need to respect — and nurture — our children’s natural inclinations to do good. Helpful? Generous? Caring? Psychologists call these behaviors “prosocial,” and Read More »

Infant crying, fussing, and colic: A thinking parent’s guide

father conforts crying infant

Are you coping with infant crying, fussing, or colic? Babies everywhere cry, especially during the first 3 months after birth. Even chimpanzees follow this pattern (Bard 2004). Like it or not, crying is a universal mode of communication for our species. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless to improve the situation. Parents can have an important Read More »