Category Archives: Kids

Information and useful news about different pathologies, illnesses, and disorders that affect children. Treatment, help diagnosing, forms, prevention, tricks, ideas, etc.

Early Childhood Mental Health: 7 Tips For Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

Traumatic events in early childhood have prolonged effects on the mental health of an individual. Brain, in early childhood, is the most vulnerable. Bad experiences negatively impact its development, increasing the risks of early life adversities. These adversities are a major risk factor for the development of various behavioral and psychological problems in later life. Research studies report that children who experience maltreatment have a higher rate of developing depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidality, and other mental health disorders.

Also, distressing early life events contribute to higher drug dependence in later life. This is the reason why healthcare experts urge parents to focus on the early childhood mental health of their children. Healthy early childhood mental health is very beneficial for the healthy psychological and behavioral development of an individual. The greater the start, the more pleasant will be life later on.

This article is presented exclusively for a comprehensive understanding of our readers regarding early childhood mental health, why is it important, and how can it be improved. So, let’s begin.

What is early childhood mental health?      

Early childhood mental health refers to the social, emotional, and psychological development of children in their early life. Early childhood mental health means the ability of a child to explore, learn, make relationships, communicate, or express their emotions, and finally respond to relationships and the care given to them.

The word early-childhood refers to the first 3-4 years (or maximum 5) of a child’s life. It is the time when he/she is learning to function both, socially and emotionally. Whatever the children see or experience is likely to stay with them for a lifetime. It is the time when their brain and especially mental health is developing. The treatment they get and the interactions they make will shape their brain and mental health. They are at the age of exploring and learning, they’ll perceive the world through the actions and treatment of the people around them.

Experts from the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University say that the early experiences of a child, whether negative or positive, affect his/her brain development. The first three years are the most crucial time because children are growing both physically and mentally. By three to four years, the child has made enough connections to draw a picture of the world. Therefore, it must be made sure that a child, at this age, has most of the positive and compassionate behavior so that his brain and mental health nurtures well.

What happens when a child has poor early childhood mental health?

Early childhood mental health is a key area in the overall health and happiness of a child. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

As mentioned before, early life experiences shape the mental development of an individual. Pleasant experiences lay the foundation of sound mental health and unpleasant ones are likely to impair the mental capabilities of an individual. They are likely to have lifelong implications affecting the cognitive, learning, and memory-related abilities of a child. The child may not show up with mental health disorders at a younger age but clear characteristics of various mental health disorders can be seen in later life. Some of the disorders that commonly appear as a result of poor early childhood mental health are; 

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Neurodevelopmental disabilities like autism (visible at an early age)

You must be wondering how early life events can promote such situations. Well, experiences leave a chemical signature on the genes. This “experience-gene expression” intervention affects childhood mental health. Genes carry instructions telling our bodies how to work. However, the chemical signature due to stressful experiences prevents the genes to carry out their functions successfully which lays an unstable groundwork for mental health. The common stressful events causing such conditions include poverty, recurrent abuse, chronic neglect, substance abuse, domestic violence, parents’ mental health, parents’ unhappy relations, etc.

Since the damage caused by poor early childhood mental health is much severe, you must work on the healthy development of your child’s early mental health. To help you with this, we present some amazing tips to nurture early childhood mental health.  

Tips to nurture early childhood mental health

How can we promote early childhood mental health? Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

There is neither any prescribed medicine for improving the mental health of a child nor a super trick that can do this for you. It requires careful and sincere efforts to nurture your child’s brain and support their mental health. Most of the time, it is the everyday activities that can significantly help you with it. Always remember it is both a time-and-energy-consuming process but it will all be worth it in the end.

Here is what you need to do.

Teach your child to recognize his feelings  

The “language of feelings” is the first step of your child towards a healthy mental state. You have to make him/her identify what they are feeling. Teach them words for different emotions so that they can tell you. Most of the children cannot let their hearts out because they are confused about how they feel about a particular thing.

They don’t know whether it is actually a problem or it is just a mixed feeling. Many of them think that feelings other than happiness are bad and shameful but you’ve to tell them that it is normal not to be happy all the time and have different feelings. Tell them to express themselves, no matter how they feel. The more they’ll express, the lesser will be their stress.  

Empathize to build trust

Sympathies are never enough, you need to empathize with your children. You need to put yourself into their shoes, pause, and realize how your child is feeling. Getting angry at once and giving advices without listening to them won’t work.

Help your child to put their trust in you. For that, you have to listen to them openly so that they know somebody is there for them. Observe your child’s behavior, notice what upsets them, reach out to them, validate their feelings, know their viewpoint first, and then present yours. There are chances that your child may be overreacting to something but still, hear them out to reduce their defensive reaction.

Make your child do what he/she loves to do

Creativity is a natural way to express yourself. Similarly, children are likely to express themselves when they are doing something they really enjoy. It can be anything like playing games, sports, drawing, dancing, photography, role-playing, their favorite toy, etc. You need to find out what your child loves to do and then encourage them to do it often.

Try to do it with them. In this way, you can spend maximum time with your child. You can talk to him/her about their thoughts, what they want to be in the future, and how they feel. Most importantly, you’ll know what your child is up to. Most of the parents leave their children to TVs and Smartphones which is very bad for the development of their brain. So, try to encourage the creativity of your child and allow them to pursue it.  

Model good behavior

Children imitate what they see. If they’ll see violence around, they’re likely to practice it in life. If they see their parents or care-givers fighting and abusing each other, they’ll perceive it as normal behavior and will continue with it through life. Therefore, it is necessary that people who are raising a child model good behavior. They need to be polite and careful with each other and the child as well. Good and kind acts positively affect the brain and provoke the child to do good as well. Remember that you are your child’s best teacher. If you want your child to do something, do it yourself first.

Appreciate them for their little efforts

This is the simplest yet most effective technique to nurture your child’s mental health. Recognize their small efforts and appreciate them. It will encourage them to work even harder next time. Give them constructive feedback. Highlight the goods and then tell them how they can improve more. Your appreciation is going to build their self-esteem which raises their confidence and resilience.

Create stimulating, playful environments

Young children are full of curiosity, playfulness, and thirst for knowledge and understanding of their surroundings. They are constantly observing, probing, and testing gulfport pharmacy how their environment works and how the people around them interact with it and with each other.

Promoting learning and mental stimulation in this early phase of discovery is vital in promoting a lifelong love of learning. Ensuring that children have access to stimulating environments including colors, sounds, shapes, and interactive activities helps the brain to build connections and reinforces the child’s curiosity and inquisitive nature.

Interactive toys and stimulating games and activities serve as an integral part of this rich learning environment.

Consult a medical professional

Mental health is an important and sensitive part of overall human health. So, consulting a specialist is a must. For that, you should talk to a pediatrician or a psychiatrist. You should ask them about the mental health skills and behaviors appropriate for different ages and any emotional and behavioral changes that can be looked forward to as a child grows. If you notice anything unusual in your child’s behavior, report it to the doctor, look for a plausible cause, and ask for a solution. A medical professional can guide you the best in this regard.

Conclusion

Early life experiences affect the mental health of a child to a great extent. Poor early childhood mental health increases the risk of developing mental disorders in the long run. Therefore, parents should focus on the early mental health of their child as much as possible. They should do whatever it takes to help their child grow mentally strong. The above-mentioned help tips can potentially serve to promote healthy mental growth in children. All they require is your dedication and efforts!

Mathematics & Mental Health: How Are Our Children Coping with Returning to School in the Age of Coronavirus?

Students Return to School After Quarantine. Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

Sanitizer, medical masks, and…colored pencils? As the summer heat starts to wind down and schools begin to open up and air out the classrooms after an extended break from in-person lessons, parents and students alike are beginning to confront the topic of returning to the classroom after what has been a very strange, to say the least, academic year that ended this past Spring.

Even in a typical year, going back to school after the summer break can bring with it a mix of emotions for students: the joy of seeing their friends, the anxiety of whether they will like their teachers or classmates, a bit of sadness that they can no longer sleep in until noon every day… But this isn’t a typical year, and this won’t be a typical back to school.

On top of the usual emotional rollercoaster that comes every fall semester, this year, students are having to deal with the possibilities of becoming infected with COVID-19, including the fears of bringing the disease back home to their parents, siblings, and even grandparents.

How are students supposed to handle the complex emotions brought on by returning to school in the midst of a global pandemic, and what are schools doing to help them prepare?

Our Children Are Returning to School in A Very Uncertain Time

How is Back to School During COVID-19 Affecting Student Mental Health? Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

After nearly six months of online learning—and in some cases, even more—students all around the world are preparing to head back to the classroom to have in-person lessons with their teachers and classmates.  

In many instances, governments and school administrators still haven’t put in place plans for minimizing infections or for dealing with outbreaks when they inevitably do occur.

Teachers, many of whom have preexisting health conditions or who are in an age group that puts them at higher risk for Coronavirus, are concerned about returning to the classroom, but also understand the importance of in-person classes on the learning outcomes of their students, especially the youngest and most vulnerable.

Parents—who have been forced to work from home and take on dual duties of office worker and ad hoc math, science, and literature tutor, or who have been thrust onto the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, either as healthcare professionals or essential workers, who now have had to worry about not only putting in their time at work, but also how to care for their children when sending them to school was no longer an option—must now grapple with the impossible decision of whether to send their children back to school and return to some semblance of ‘normal,’ though with the ever-present specter of Coronavirus infection hanging over their heads, or keep their children safe at home and try to keep their heads above water as they navigate an increasingly stressful work-life balance.

Throughout all of this, students are looking on with confusion and uncertainty. They see parents, teachers, administrators, medical professionals, and even politicians discussing plans to open school or continue with distance-learning measure, or both, or neither…

How are our children, the future of the world, handling the prospect of returning to the classroom—whether on campus or online?

Student Mental Health Triple Threat: Quarantine, COVID, & Back to School

For students of all ages, this has been an exceptionally challenging year. The global spread of the novel Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and the ensuing quarantines which shut down much of the economic and social activities in countries around the world, has presented unprecedented challenges for nearly everyone.

Still, it could be argued that it is the youth who will be most affected by this pandemic. The youth who are seeing their sports seasons, proms, and graduations moved online; The students who are now forced to attend school from home; The students who are now seeing what very well may be their primary source of healthy meals, psychological support, and a sense of community and belonging disappear almost overnight.

These students who have had to deal with the complete upheaval brought about by the virus are still reeling from the loss of stability so many of us took for granted, complained about, and even mocked in movies and television, yet which we relied on for so much of our success and understanding of who we are, are now being forced to confront returning to those same classrooms, starting a new school year knowing full well that the danger is far from over.

Now, as these students—still carrying the emotional weight of a year defined by uncertainty and fear—return to the classroom, they are being asked to act as Guinea pigs on the front lines of the pandemic, while at the same time being unsure whether the education they are receiving will be as effective as what came before.

This return to school is going to be difficult for even the youngest backpack-toting pupils, but for students old enough to understand the full magnitude of the pandemic, dealing with the ‘normal’ emotional turmoil which often accompanies the first days and weeks of class may simply be too much to handle.

How Can Parents & Teachers Support Mental Health When They Are Suffering, Too?

But the students aren’t the only ones affected by this transition back to the classroom, which has no equivalent in contemporary history.

We often hear the African proverb which posits that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but what happens when the parents, teachers, and village elders we have always looked to for teaching our children how to navigate the complex relationships and emotions they deal with in the classroom and beyond are feeling just as lost and confused as the children they are meant to be raising?

Parents, who undoubtedly want what is best for their children and their children’s future, are confronted with impossible choices where what is best for their academic and professional future may also put them at risk of becoming infected with a deadly disease, calling their very future into question.

They are, at the same time, dealing with the emotional consequences of working from home or working a job where they are forced to venture out into the world every day into communities where the virus is still far from being under control.

The issue is even more acute for many teachers, especially those who work with the youngest cohort of bright-eyed students. For those who have dedicated their lives to a vocation who often value the hugs and thank-you cards they receive at the end of the year more so than the checks they receive at the end of each month, the thought of returning to the classroom brings with it its own set of emotional challenges.

Parents and teachers, as they always do, will try their best to give these students the support they need—a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand to pull them up, and a stern but loving push to get them to step out of their comfort zones and reach their full potential—but without additional resources, it simply may not be enough.

Schools Are Investing More in Mental Health, but Is It Enough?

Schools are Trying to Protect Students from Coronavirus. Photo by Andy Falconer on Unsplash

School districts, universities, and local governments are already voicing concern about the mental health needs of students returning to campuses this fall. Regional and national governments around the world are providing frameworks and guidelines for returning safely to the classroom, some are even earmarking additional funds for students’ mental health for the coming academic year and beyond, but even with the increased focus on students’ wellbeing, schools, which have never truly had the resources to provide the full support their students need, are beginning to question how to meet the increased demands of returning to reading, writing, and arithmetic in the shadow of Coronavirus.

In some places, governments are launching programs aimed toward providing additional mental health training for teachers and educators—turning thousands of history, science, and art instructors into an army of counselors for their students. But can we really expect to rely on teachers, who were already pushed past their limits before the coronavirus upheaval, to bear the brunt of the responsibility for ensuring our children are capable of managing the complex emotions of returning to the classroom while at the same time ensuring they are capable of using the Pythagorean theorem correctly?

The issue isn’t merely that students are feeling anxious about starting the school year and they need a comforting word from a trusted adult. We aren’t just dealing with preteens who are feeling down because they think they aren’t going to be able to keep up their academic profile and may not get into a good university.

What is so problematic about the situation in which we now find ourselves is that we are facing all of these same issues we have struggled with for so long while simultaneously having to deal with the complete disintegration of the social structures upon which these children have typically relied. Children and adolescents, who often benefit significantly from the structure and predictability of the traditional school setting, are having their routines and interactions with their peers turned utterly upside down.

The real issue is that we still don’t understand the full extent of the mental-health damage that the Coronavirus outbreak has had on our children or how returning to school may exacerbate these and other mental health issues. Even though teachers, parents, politicians, and mental health professionals are doing the best they can with the resources at their disposal, the question remains: will it be enough?

Conclusion

While many talk about how children are incredibly resilient and capable of bouncing back from hardship, the truth is that even when they do bounce back, they often carry with them emotional scars that can affect them well into adulthood.

There may be no easy answers for how to open up our societies, economies, and schools after one of the worst disease outbreaks in living memory, but what is certain is that if we aren’t able to find a way to support the students, as well as the parents and teachers, as the school year kicks into full swing, we may be at risk of trading a medical crisis for a mental health one.

Positive Discipline: 23 Techniques

All parents want the best for their children, but sometimes we don’t have the knowledge to act properly. Educating is not an easy task. For this reason, it is essential to have resources to help us act out of understanding and kindness. Positive discipline is that tool for educating children through cooperation and mutual respect between parents and children.

Positive Discipline

What is positive discipline?

Positive discipline was developed by psychotherapist Alfred Alder and his apprentice Rudolf Dreikurs. Later, Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott (founders of the American Association of Positive Discipline) regulated its principles and techniques.

Many times, when we hear the word “discipline” we associate it with negative factors, but the true meaning of this word is “disciple”. We could see our children as disciples who need our help during their development, in order to be free, happy and independent in the future.

Firm & Kind

Several studies have shown that children need to create significant relationships with the people closest to them, such as their parents, friends or teachers. The children who maintain these strong bonds generally behave better. Positive discipline is based on the premise “Firm & Kind” and reinforces these bonds through respect, understanding, self-esteem, communication.

Basic principles of positive discipline

  • Communication and understanding
  • Mutual respect between parents and children
  • Kindness and firmness
  • Strengthening bonds
  • Children’s active participation
  • Emotional and independent development

Positive discipline and why children misbehave

Children are children and sometimes they can make us despair when they don’t do what we expect. Perhaps that is the first mistake: “to expect something from them”. First, we shouldn’t expect their behavior to be one way or the other. We must understand that they don’t communicate like adults communicate, therefore we must the message they are trying to get across.

Positive Discipline To Educate

Rudolf Dreikurs mentioned: “When children don’t behave well, they are trying to say something in a different way than an adult would and therefore, we perceive it as the wrong way, without stopping to think that maybe it is the only way they can/know how to express themselves”. The reasons can be several; to claim our attention, boredom, hunger, etc. This is why important to empathize with our children to know the real reason their behaviors.

Positive discipline is not the same as being permissive

Positive discipline does not mean of it or of permissiveness. Nor does it resemble punitive discipline (based on punishment), since it makes children learn by feeling bad and by feeling afraid. With positive discipline, we are looking for long-term results. The objective is for children to understand why certain things are wrong and why they shouldn’t do them. We don’t impose punishments without knowing if children have really understood why they shouldn’t act in certain ways.

23 positive discipline techniques

Positive Discipline
  1. Self-monitoring
    Many parents lose a lot of energy trying to control their children, but the only behavior we can really control is our own. It’s up to us to adopt an attitude that benefits our mental health and not let difficult situations overwhelm us. We can redirect our children’s behavior and/or tell them what they can do, instead of focusing our attention on what they shouldn’t do. Transmitting safety and calmness will benefit the relationship with our little ones.
  2. Communication
    It’s the basis of every relationship. We must try to look for moments to connect with our children. For example, going for a snack after school, having breakfast together every morning before going to school, or even holding family gatherings. Keeping in touch with our children and up to date on possible problems they may have at school, after-school activities, etc., will help us understand their behavior.
  3. Showing interest
    Ask about our children’s interests, hobbies, and preferences. Making children feel valued strengthens their self-esteem and well-being. Avoid asking “Have you done your homework?” questions. If you know he hasn’t done his homework. We can replace it with phrases like: “I realize you haven’t done your homework”. That way we’ll prevent children from feeling trapped by our questions.
  4. Listening
    No matter how small they may be, they have their own feelings and emotions, listening to what they tell us will help us understand their behaviors. Through them, we have the opportunity to turn the world in a new and surprising way, like when we were children.
  5. Understanding
    Try to understand what is behind a bad behavior; it can be fatigue from school, after-school activities, being hungry, having a bad day, or being uncomfortable with something in particular. Finding out what is really happening to them will help us adopt effective solutions.
  6. Firm & Kind
    Be firm in your decisions but kind at the same time. Show understanding for them but do not give in. For example, the child wants to play video games when they get home but has homework to do. A “Firm & Kind” attitude would be: “I know you want to play video games, but first you have to do your homework and then you can play”.
  7. Be an example
    Children have many ways of learning, one of the best known is by imitation. If we try to keep our children from behaving in certain ways, we should be an example to them and make our words coincide with our actions. That is to say, we can’t tell them not to use their phones when we are eating but then use it ourselves. Being an example is fundamental for them to develop principles and positive values, so it is also important to constantly ask ourselves what mistakes we’re making and try to improve every day.
  8. Pay attention to effort rather than success
    It is very common to focus on success rather than on the efforts made. We all want our children to be the best in school and other activities, but this requires time and effort that must be valued even more than success. Imagine our child fails an exam. We agree that it is not a very high grade, but we must bear in mind that the child has improved, so we have to focus our attention on that.
  9. Seek solutions that involve children
    Let us imagine that our child is playing in the room. When we are going to call them to sit at the table for dinner, we notice that they have painted the wall with colored pencils. One solution that involves the child would be to tell them to clean the wall, or to clean it together.
  10. Taking Responsibility
    Teach them to take responsibility for their own actions. In this way, they learn to relate actions with consequences. We can try phrases like: “As you have done all your homework now we can go to the park”.
  11. Redirect actions
    Redirect actions that are not appropriate in a gentle and subtle way. Imagine that you are in the park and have been swinging for a long time and other children want to get on the swing. We can kindly invite our child to leave the swing and take them to the slide.
  12. Limits
    Limits are necessary to protect our children from danger and help them adapt to the world around us. It is important that children participate in these if they are 4 years and over. The decision should not be unilateral, as in this way we promote power and this can sometimes result in rebellion. For example, decide together when to go to bed or curfew hours.
  13. Natural consequences
    They are those that occur without the intervention of an adult. For example, the child does not want to eat the food and if they don’t eat it later they will be hungry (natural consequence). It is a matter of the child learning them by themselves. Avoid phrases such as “I told you so” or “I warned you”. These kinds of phrases can make a child feel humiliated. Do not forget that the main objective is that children learn and do not repeat the same mistakes, not that they realize that adults know everything.
  14. Logical Consequences
    Logical consequences require adult follow-up. For example: “If you go to bed late, I won’t have time to read you the story. Therefore, we decide a consequence for their actions directly related to unwanted behavior.
  15. Follow-up
    When we apply logical consequences, we must keep them constant. If we deem it appropriate, we can give them a new opportunity to fulfill them later.
  16. Avoiding rewards and punishments
    Prizes and punishments are arbitrary. The consequence is not directly related to the cause and promote authority and power, without regard to mutual respect. Try to replace them by applying logical consequences, as they are based on choice and understanding.
  17. Error = opportunity
    The word crisis in Chinese is composed of two characters, the first means danger and the second opportunity. A mistake is an opportunity to learn. We can let children make mistakes and learn for themselves. When they make mistakes, we will not give them the solution immediately. We can brainstorm and discuss the pros and cons together.
  18. Never use physical violence
    It is not advisable to use physical violence when children misbehave, as this teaches them that violence is okay. When we are very angry, we need to try to calm down and then adopt logical consequences from serenity. We must remember that no one is perfect and that we have all made mistakes.
  19. Time
    Devoting exclusive time to our children is fundamental. This will help to avoid tantrums, focusing too much on electronic devices or even waking up at night in search of our attention. It is advisable to quality invest with them, read them a story before going to bed or take advantage of meals and dinners to share with them.
  20. Tone of voice
    It is beneficial to address them in a friendly and loving tone, that will make it easier for them to pay attention and really listen to what we want to say to them. Perceiving the “sermon tone” will make them want to disconnect and not pay attention to our words. It is important to educate without shouting.
  21. Words
    Choosing the right words accompanied by the right tone of voice is essential for communication between parents and children to reflect respect and affection.
  22. Autonomy
    Although we sometimes have the instinct to protect them, it is not advisable to do so if we want them to grow up safely and independently. Children should be allowed to experience consequences based on their own actions and/or decisions (using common sense, of course). We should not do things that they can already do for themselves, so we will help them to be more autonomous.
  23. Patience
    Accumulated fatigue, stress, or self-demanding can easily cause us to lose patience. We are human and it is normal that sometimes we feel overwhelmed and lose patience with our children. We should not blame ourselves for this, we can look for activities that make us disconnect like sports or simply dedicate time to ourselves.

Piaget Cognitive Development: A Quick Guide

Piaget Cognitive Development. From infancy through childhood, parents physicians place great emphasis on physical milestones. Walking, crawling, and the first tooth peeking through pink gums are the tangible manifestations of growth. However, the mental aspects are just as significant. Although the inner workings of the brain are invisible to the naked eye, promoting a child’s cognitive development is essential to their thought processes, memory, problem-solving, and decision making well into their adult years.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive Skills To Piaget Cognitive Development

To understand Piaget cognitive development, one must first be aware of cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are skills pertaining to cognition—the way we acquire knowledge about the environment and the world that surrounds us. Processing information is possible because of the various cognitive skills that allow us to interpret perceptions of the five senses: what we hear, see, touch, taste, and smell. Cognitive skills consist of the following:

These skills are involved in all daily tasks such as answering the phone, responding to a friend’s message, or even watching television.

What is Piaget Cognitive Development?

Cognitive development is the neurological and psychological development of the various functions of thinking. It entails applying cognitive skills to consciously interpret one’s surrounding environment. As a person matures, so does their ability to engage in higher thinking processes like problem-solving, emotional regulation, learning, and remembering. The term describes the brain’s development as it pertains to cognition.

According to Piaget cognitive development, there are set age-appropriate milestones spanning from infancy into adulthood. Reaching these milestones on time indicates optimal development. The concept first originated in the early 1900s when IQ tests were proposed as an accurate measurement of intelligence.

Areas of Piaget Cognitive Development

Cognitive development includes basic components of thinking. For optimal cognitive development, it is best to focus on the areas of information processing, intelligence, reasoning, memory, and language.

  • Information Processing—As the brain works in a sequence, it receives input through the senses, processes that information, and then receives output.
  • Intelligence—The mental capacity to learn, reason, plan, solve problem and comprehend complex ideas.
  • Reasoning—Applying and establishing facts, beliefs, and information.
  • Memory Part of the brain that stores and retrieve information as needed.
  • Language—The process in which children understand and communicate language.

Piaget Cognitive Development: 4 Stages

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss psychologist who constructed the most widely accepted theory of cognitive development known as Piaget Cognitive Development. While there are numerous theories, Piaget Cognitive Development provides an accurate depiction of the evolution of a child’s thinking processes. His theory was inspired by observing his children. He assumed that children’s intellect develops through accommodation, which is the process of taking in and altering information from their environment, and assimilation, which is how humans relate new information to previously existing information. It is concerned with all children and focuses on the progression of development instead of learning miscellaneous behaviors. A series of four stages mark the progression of cognitive development beginning in infancy and throughout childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood.

Sensorimotor Stage – Birth to 2 Years

The sensorimotor stage of cognitive development starts at the time of birth and ends as a toddler. Cognitive growth happens rapidly as the infant familiarizes itself with their reality. Cognitive abilities remain limited, but the child learns to separate their bodies from the environment through their senses and reflexes. In the sensorimotor stage, they respond to the sudden influx of new stimuli: noises, movements, people, and emotions.

The sensorimotor stage is divided into six substages:

  • Reflexes: Birth to One Month—A child’s intelligence is rooted in action. The child acquires knowledge in the reflex stage by adapting to their environment. This includes all natural “instinct” behaviors upon birth.
  • Primary Circular Reactions: One to Four Months—Reflex actions, like sucking a thumb, are intentionally repeated after the child realizes they are pleasurable. Primary circular reactions refer only to reactions within the body.
  • Secondary Circular Reactions: Four to Eight Months—Actions that are not reflex based originate in the child’s behavior. The child’s action results in a preferred event in the environment, rather than their body, and they seek to recreate the event by engaging in the behaviors that precipitated the event.
  • Coordination of Secondary Circular Reactions: Eight to Twelve Months—Cause and effect relationships are correlated with the child’s behaviors in the previous stages. They intentionally interact with the environment to fulfill their needs.
  • Tertiary Circular Reactions: Twelve to Eighteen Months—Minor change to cognition comes about as the child purposefully alters their actions to solve problems. Tertiary circular reactions have a trial-and-error foundation.
  • Mental Combinations: Eighteen to Twenty-four Months—Mental combinations concludes the period in which children understand their environment solely through actions. They associate symbols and language with their environment and form basic sentences.

Pre-operational Stage – 2 to 7 years

The pre-operational stage starts as a toddler at age two and continues until seven years of age. This stage is characterized by the child’s eventual expansion towards logic, but they still are unable to think logically or separate ideas because the egocentric mindset which surfaces in this stage limits their intellectual abilities. Children in the preoperational stage think in a manner that is primarily concerned with self. Their thoughts, perceptions, and ideas are indistinguishable from those of other people. They only see the world through their own point of view and cannot consider differing perspectives. Ecocentrism is the reason why young children experience conflict with their peers. While language is central to the pre-operational stage, the children do not use language to communicate with others and resolve conflict, but to make their thinking known.

The pre-operational stage is divided into two substages.

  • Symbolic Function— Children possess the ability to think about an object that is not in their immediate view. They attach symbols to their toys and caregivers in which they have associated with comfort.  Attempts at art and expression through play are manifestations of symbolic function.
  • Intuitive Thought—Thinking changes from symbolic to intuitive with the use of primitive reasoning. Intuitive thought refers to the vast knowledge children learn yet struggle to apply. They become curious about the world, asking many questions.

Concrete Operational Stage – 7 to 11 years

The concrete operational stage is the turning point in a child’s cognitive development. It begins at roughly seven years of age and is defined by the development of organized and rational thinking. Children begin to understand rules and use operations to logically solve problems. As children mature in the concrete operatorial stage, they apply logic exclusively to physical objects. They cannot turn their thinking towards hypothetical situations, only their concrete experiences.

The cognitive development during the concrete operational stage is cornerstone to the education of school-age children. They refine their cognitive abilities to remember information, and then to organize that information logically. Selective attention keeps them focused on a single task, despite distractions. Egocentrism that was previously prominent is eliminated in the concrete operational stage. Children start to see multiple viewpoints.

Although there are no substages, other processes (known as operations) in the concrete operational stage are:

  • Decentering—Considering all aspects of a problem in order to solve it.
  • Seriation—Sorting objects according to its characteristics (i.e. color, size, shape, etc.).
  • Transitivity—Recognizing logical relationships between objects in serial order.  
  • Classification—The ability to identify objects by their size, appearance, or characteristics.
  • Conservation—The length or quantity of an object does not dictate the appearance and arrangement.

Formal Operational Stage – 12 and Up

The formal operational stage is the last stage in Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. It begins in adolescence around the onset of puberty and lasts into adulthood. These young teenagers in the formal operational stage undergo rapid transformations in their cognitive development. This stage introduces the potential for abstract thought. They think about objects and situations hypothetically, which entails making inferences about situations that are “possibilities.” The former trial-and-error thought process is abandoned for problem-solving through deductive reasoning. They test solutions based on hypotheses.

How To Promote Piaget Cognitive Development

Each child develops at his or her own pace. However, they are not entirely on their own in their progress. Interactions with adults who serve as role models and other children facilitate cognitive development. Despite the child’s stage, incorporating these key activities into a daily routine are conducive to cognitive development.

“Play” with the 5 Senses

Sensory play is any hands-on learning activity that stimulates the five senses—seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling. This form of play of the five senses strengthens the neuron pathways in the brain. A neuron is a specialized brain cell that sends chemical messages to the nerves throughout the nervous system. Sensory play refines the efficiency of the pathways. As a result, the brain responds to the environment and can successfully complete more complex skills.

Exploring the environment through sensory play can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Playdough, building blocks, simple puzzles or board games, singing and reading aloud are some examples.

Sensory Play For Cognitive Development

Establish Routine

The technical definition of routine represents the steps taken to complete the tasks scheduled throughout the day. Waking up and eating breakfast before going to class, and later returning home to finish homework and watch television constitutes as routine. Everyday routines differ depending on the activity. Routines are crucial to cognitive development because it teaches children how to observe transition cues, predict, and become flexible when routines deviate from the norm.

Open-ended Questions and Statements

 Typical questions and statements are closed-ended—requiring only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer or a one-word response, whereas open-ended questions require in-depth answers. Thought out responses encourage children to partake in conversation. Children must think creatively, broadening the use of language and the cognitive skills.

Open-ended questions and statements begin with:

  • “Why do you think…?”
  • “What if…?”
  • “Tell me about…”

Visual Aids

Visual aids such as illustrations, charts, and three-dimensional models improve cognitive development help the child understand the information presented. Visual learning allows the brain to more easily recall details, as they are concrete.

The type of visual aid provided should be catered to the developmental stage. Drawings and illustrations are best for toddlerhood and early childhood, while three-dimensional models in middle childhood. The visual aids increase in complexity throughout adolescence.  

Communication

Language is an integral part of cognitive development. Consistently communicating language skills to children fosters their cognitive development. Speak to children ages five and up in complete sentences with challenging vocabulary words. Ensure to explain the context of the words to demonstrate proper use.

Respect: What is it, types, examples, learn and teach respect

Respect: a useful guide. Learn what it is, why it is important, types and examples. Discover interesting tips on how to teach it. What to do when we are disrespected? How do you learn to respect yourself? How to respect others? In this article, we answer all these questions.

Respect

What is respect? Concept and definition

The word respect comes from the Latin word “respectus” meaning attention, regard or consideration. It can be defined as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability“.

It is a very important component of both personal identity and interpersonal relationships. To feel respected could be considered a basic human right. Disrespect is a very important thing that can lead to break-ups and even violence.

It is a concept that refers to the ability to value and honor another person, both his or her words and actions, even if we do not approve or share everything he or she does. It is accepting the other person and not trying to change them. Respecting another person is not judging them by their attitudes, behaviors or thoughts. It is not expecting for someone to be otherwise.

Our differences are positive because it creates our identity. This means that individual differences exist, but above all to understand that as members of a society we are equal. All people are due respect for the simple fact of being people. Equality is in balance. That is why it is very important to teach children from an early age the value of it. The best way to teach respect is to become a role model for our children.

Respect for others is very important, but for yourself is fundamental since you will value others to the extent that you are able to value yourself.

“don’t do what you don’t want to be done to you,” and “respect and value.”

Some synonyms of respect would be deference, obedience, attention, courtesy, tolerance, compliance or admiration.

Why is respect important?

Without it, interpersonal relationships will be filled with conflict and dissatisfaction. If we don’t respect others, they will not respect us, and if we don’t respect ourselves we will not be respected by others either.

It is essential to feel safe, to be able to express ourselves without fear of being judged, humiliated or discriminated against.

Being respectful of others, being respected and respecting ourselves increases our self-esteem, self-efficacy, mental health, and well-being.

Types of respect

There are many types, the most important of which are: self-respect, for others, for social norms, for nature, for values, for laws and norms, for culture and for the family.

It is learning to tolerate, not discriminate and avoid actions that may offend others. Some examples of consideration in everyday life are: greeting or speaking to others in a kind and respectful way, giving up your seat in public places, treating others as you would like them to treat you, etc.

  • For self: This kind refers to the ability to respect oneself, to value and appreciate oneself. Accepting oneself regardless of what others think.
  • For others: This kind refers to the act of tolerating accepting and considering another person, even though there may be differences between them, or between the way they think. Some examples would be; respect for parents, men and women equally, teachers, older people, other’s religious beliefs, respect for people of different sexual orientation (lesbians, transgender, gay, bisexual, intersex, etc.), etc.
  • For social norms: This kind refers to the ability to respect all the norms that govern society. Some examples of this type of respect would be: respect for courtesy rules, working hours, other people’s belongings, letting them speak and listen, respecting others opinions.
  • For nature: This kind refers to the appreciation of the environment (animals, plants, rivers, etc.). Some examples of this type of respect would be; not throwing garbage in rivers, forests, or fields, not tearing up plants or mistreating nature, not wasting water, not harming animals or insects, recycling, using environmentally friendly means of transport, etc.
  • For the family: This kind implies being able to understand and respect each other within the family, and implies being able to follow a set of rules of coexistence.
  • For values: This kind refers to the ability to honor our own principles.
  • For culture: This type of value refers to the ability to recognize that there are other beliefs and be able to respect them. Some example of this kind of respect would be; not trying to impose our beliefs on others, avoid making judgments about the opinions of others, etc.
  • For national symbols: This kind refers to the ability to value and appreciate the symbols of a nation. For example, the anthem or the flag.
  • For human beings: This type refers to the ability to comply with legal norms, respect laws, etc.

How to teach respect?

This atribute is a two-way street. Hal and Yates studied respect through words and found out that between parents and children and teachers and students respect is the main aspect of the relationship between them.

These authors learned that it is about reciprocity, meaning that we get back what we receive, therefore if parents respect their children, they will receive the same respect back. The important aspect of this study was that parents and teachers were the ones responsible for teaching respect.

You can start teaching respect to children, maybe this song and tips might help:

1. Respect your children

Take into account your child’s tastes and preferences. Don’t make him do something he doesn’t want, just like you wouldn’t make an adult do it. Suggest, encourage, advise, but don’t force. If your child has their own way of doing things, let your child do it. Don’t pretend to have complete control over your child’s behavior or preferences. Accept their decisions and let them make their own decisions as well.

When we accept children’s differences, they feel listened to and respected. They learn in their own flesh how to treat others who have different opinions and to respect others despite their differences.

2. Stay calm and don’t shout

If you want to teach respect, it is important to set an example and always keep a calm tone. Shouting at a person is disrespectful, too. Although it can be difficult when you feel frustrated, try not to shout.

3. Don’t use negative labels or insults

Telling our child, “you’re a bad boy” or “you’re useless” is very harmful to self-esteem, but it also encourages a disrespectful attitude. So, when he/she behaves badly, it is better to say: “What you have done is wrong”, focusing on his action by not judging the child”. Discover the power of effect. Prophecies come true.

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4. Understand why he/she disrespected you.

When your child is disrespectful, it’s best to understand why he or she has done it and help them explore their feelings. For example, if your child calls you “bad,” we’ll ask why he or she said it, whether it’s because they’re angry or sad. We need to think about what might have upset him, and say, “Are you angry about this?” We must be empathic to their anger and make them understand that not because of that anger a person is bad and that hurting others is not a way to solve problems. Once they understand this, we can negotiate with them how to solve their anger.

5. Don’t let them disrespect you.

Don’t let your children or anyone else disrespect you. Be a good role model for them, not letting anyone take advantage of you or accepting yourself.

Portraying respect goes hand in hand with self-esteem. The higher the self-esteem the lower the possibilities you will accept disrespect. Remember that us humans strife to achieve respect but we have to focus on providing ourselves with the respect we deserve.

6. Set limits

When teaching respect, it is important to set limits on what is right and wrong for children. When they behave disrespectfully, point out the behavior, calmly, without shouting, as we have mentioned before. However, if there is a lot of emotional activation, if the child is very upset, it is better to wait for him to calm down, or even help him to do so.

7. Apologize when you’re wrong.

When you’re wrong, you don’t keep your promise or you’re too hard on your child, it’s important to apologize to them. Not only will we convey humility and the importance of asking for forgiveness, but we will also teach them respect.

8. Congratulate your children when they are respectful

It is important for them to learn the actions that are right and respectful. Let them know that what they have done is right because then they are more likely to repeat it.

Respect at the workplace

Globalization has made that most of our workplaces have diverse people, from different races, religions, etc. This is very important because having a diverse workplace helps boost productivity. However, what is most important in a diverse workplace is to maintain respect among coworkers to reduce job stress.

To keep respect at the workplace it is important to be polite with each other, don’t judge people, control your anger, inspire others, etc. Practicing humility, respecting other people’s time, trying to be empathic are important variables at the workplace.

Learn to respect yourself

Sometimes it’s hard to get others to respect us if we don’t do it ourselves.

1. Treat others the way you want to be treated

It’s a pretty cliché phrase, but it’s true. If you want to be respected, start by respecting others. People tend to be reciprocal.

2. Respect yourself

If others see that you have this, they will also consider and appreciate you and your needs. Consider yourself a priority.

3. Use body language

Body language is very important because it helps to transmit a lot of information. Although many times the information we send with the body is contradictory to our words. Therefore, if we give our opinion but with a faint voice, it is more likely that no one will take into account what we are saying. But on the contrary, if we express what we think in a firm voice, looking into the other’s eyes and confident in ourselves, they are more likely to respect us.
Discover here tips for effective communication skills.

4. Speak positively

Even if you do not behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, do not underestimate yourself, or play down.

5. Surround yourself with the right people

Some people are just always disrespectful and no matter what we do they will always disrespect others. These people we should keep further away from us as possible. If you can’t keep them away then learn to ignore their comments.

6. Defend yourself against disrespect

If they disrespect you or don’t take you seriously, defend yourself. Don’t allow it. Don’t attack or respond in the same way either. With a “What you said has hurt me”, “That comment was inappropriate” or “I won’t allow you to speak to me like that”, these phrases will help for this behavior not to repeat again.

7. Boost your self-esteem

Many times we are not respected because we don’t consider ourselves worthy of it. This may be conscious or unconscious. Even if we rationally know that we do deserve respect, sometimes unconsciously we don’t end up believing it. That is why it’s important to work on your self-esteem.

8. Develop assertiveness

Assertiveness is a way of defending our rights while respecting those of others. By being assertive, we will avoid others taking advantage of us, besides increasing our self-esteem. To do this, it is important to learn to say no when something doesn’t feel right or doesn’t suit you.

Respect Others

What to do with lack of respect?

Do you feel that others don’t respect you and take advantage of you? Here are a few tips to help you overcome disrespect.

  • Value your educational trajectory or other forms of education that you have had. If you are not fortunate enough to have a formal education, value your life experience and life skills.
  • Honor your body and listen to it. Take care of it without forcing it, do physical exercise and eat properly.
  • Listen to yourself, attend to your needs, whether they are a need for rest, disconnection or fun.
  • Learn to communicate assertively, as mentioned above.
  • Stay away from people who don’t do you any good and from toxic relationships.
  • Find out what your goals and objectives are in life and work to achieve them.

How do we respect others?

  1. Listening to the other person.
  2. Being empathetic, understanding each other and putting ourselves in their shoes.
  3. Using assertive communication, that is, defending our rights while respecting the rights of others, in an educated and non-aggressive manner.
  4. Keep in mind that our approaches, ideas, and opinions may differ from other people and none is wrong. No one has the absolute truth.
  5. Apologizing to each other when we make mistakes.
  6. Keeping other people’s secrets.
  7. Complying with and respecting laws and regulations
  8. Taking care of the common spaces and the environment.
  9. Interest in others, their everyday life and how they feel.
  10. Respecting the privacy and intimacy of others.
  11. Respecting others spaces and belongings, not to invade or use what is not ours without permission.
  12. Respect personal space.
  13. Make sure we include rather than exclude others.
  14. Helping others when it is in our power to do so.
  15. Being grateful.

Associative Learning: Learning from association or relating several things

Associative Learning: How do punishments and rewards affect us? Have you ever wondered how we learn that something is dangerous or beneficial to us? What is associative learning? What is it for? What types are there? Discover here the answers to these questions and much more. In this article, we will explain in detail and give numerous examples to one of the most popular approaches to learning.

Associative Learning

What is Associative Learning?

Regardless of the environment, the method we use or our motives, learning consists in relatively stable changes in our behavior or our mind produced by experience.

How does our brain learn? Answering this question is a great challenge for psychologists and professionals from other disciplines dedicated to education. Experts strive to develop learning theories. In this article, we will talk about one of the most successful proposals.

The definition of associative learning encloses several different types of cognitive processes and events. It is a learning that takes place when two elements are connected in our brain. For example, if we associate the alarm clock to get up early, we will find out what this instrument is for and how little we like it.

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What is Associative Learning for?

Learning new content and constantly adapting to the circumstances is fundamental in all life stages. Progress in understanding this process favors the advancement of better educational methods and increase the common welfare. If we were not able to associate different ideas, we would be forced daily to ask how we get to our house or exposing us to dangers like fire after ignoring that it burns. We would have what is commonly called “three-second memory” or “fish memory”. Fortunately, we are able to connect the dots and associate different things for example, that water quenches thirst or that eating certain foods can give us allergies. 

How does associative learning take place?

The processes related to associative learning takes place through experience. Our experiences teach us what benefits us and what is harmful to us. Although we don’t always get the same results with the same acts, past events are a fairly reliable guide for our future actions.

Associative Learning: Types and examples

Animals have been the main protagonists in the experiments dedicated to deepening associative learning. Ivan Pavlov developed one of the most famous experiments in associative learning and psychology in general. In the 1980s this Russian physiologist observed how dogs salivated (unconditioned response) after seeing the food (unconditioned stimulus). He then decided to sound a neutral stimulus like a bell (conditioned stimulus) when presenting food to animals. The result was that the dogs began to salivate upon hearing this instrument (conditioned response). They had associated the sound of the bell with food.

The hippocampus role in associative learning

Strong learning-related patterns of neural activity are provided within cells in the hippocampus and they participate in the initial formation of new associative memories. There may be gradual recruitment of a network of hippocampal neurons during the formation of new associative memories. Other brain areas may be involved in associative learning including the prefrontal cortex (Asaad et al., 1998), frontal motor-related areas (Brasted and Wise, 2004; Chen and Wise, 1995a; Chen and Wise, 1995b; Mitz et al., 1991) and striatum (Brasted and Wise, 2004).

Associative learning: Types and examples

1. Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a type of associative learning based on the association between a neutral stimulus with another that is significant for a person or an animal in order to generate a similar response. It is the process we have seen previously with Pavlov’s dog.

A representative experiment in classical conditioning is that of Little Albert. It took place in 1920 and was carried out by Watson and Rayner. They felt that fear, anger, and love were the original patterns of emotional reactions in children and developed as they grew older.

Therefore, they decided to experiment with Albert, a small nine months remarkably undisturbed and in good health. Albert only reacted with fear to a thunderous sound caused by a steel bar being struck behind him.

Subsequently, they began to present white rats while causing noise. There was a firm association between these two stimuli that was generalized to others like soft cotton or a seal coat. Albert had developed a phobia of white or hairy objects or living things. Currently, it is absolutely forbidden to carry out research like this for obvious ethical reasons. The following video is the Little Albert experiment.

Imagine that you have dined your favorite dish. Then you lie quietly in bed. But for some reason totally foreign to your dinner, you vomit several times throughout the night. Most likely, your favorite food will start to look disgusting. This is an example of a process of classical conditioning. Has it ever happened to you?

Generalization and discrimination

Generalizing and discriminating helps us to adapt better to all kinds of contexts. For example, little Albert generalized his fear of several similar stimuli. Instead, a demonstration of discrimination occurs when we learn that we can only cross the street when the traffic light is green.

Extinction

It consists of not associating the conditioned response with the unconditioned stimulus. For example, imagine that we associate exaggerating our qualities so people praise us. However, if one day our friends stop praising us regardless of the exceptional anecdotes we report, then we will stop using this technique and our behavior will be extinguished.

2. Operant or instrumental conditioning

This type of associative learning has many similarities with the previous one, like the existence of similar procedures of generalization, discrimination, and extinction. However, in operant conditioning, the individual is less passive than in the classical conditioning and his responses are not automatic. It is that the consequences of a person’s behavior produce changes in their learning, favoring the repetition of their actions or ceasing to occur. Skinner was an influential behavioral psychologist who continued to work on the ideas of Pavlov and Watson. He created the famous Skinner boxes, which were used to experiment with rats. A small dose of food was offered to these animals each time they hit a bar. At first, the rats pressed the bar out of curiosity or casually. However, when they realized that whenever they acted like that they were rewarded, they began to perform this act voluntarily. If you want to know more you can watch the following video.

Reinforcement and punishment

Reinforcements or prizes increase the likelihood that we will act in a certain way. On the one hand, there are positive reinforcers, which are the rewards given for performing certain behaviors (increased rat behaviors in the previous experiment). Another example is to make a compliment to a person who has done us a favor.

Associative learning- Operant Conditioning– Photo by Pet Education Committee

Negative reinforcements, on the other hand, are based on not presenting an unpleasant event. An example is avoiding a subject of conversation with a friend that you know will feel bad if you bring it up.

A punishment is an annoying consequence due to our acts. Its purpose is to reduce the likelihood that we will behave this way again. If we fail for studying at the last minute an important subject and we have to retake the test, it is quite possible that we try to improve our study habits and try to overcome procrastination.

Associative learning: Characteristics 

  •  Cognitive Processes are often overlooked: The main theorists of associative learning and their followers prefer to stick to observable events, such as behavior and the environment. Everything that is linked to cognitive processes remains relatively hidden and not analyzed by them.  
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  • It was investigated and explained by behaviorists: Behaviourism is one of the main focuses of psychology. Behaviorists discarded introspection to study this process. They were particularly concerned about achieving quantifiable results.
  • It is studied scientifically: The main theorists of associative learning worked laboratories under extremely rigorous conditions, relying especially on experiments with animals.
  • It is one of the bases in education: Rewards and punishments are often used while teaching. However, teaching is not the only profession that uses associative learning.

Associative learning: Applications

1. Examples of associative learning in the classroom

Associative learning in children has been and continues to be studied in depth. Teachers often use positive reinforcements such as putting star stickers on children who have behaved extraordinarily well. On the other hand, not reinforcing children who shout deliberately for attention or punish those who annoy their peers.

2. Examples of associative learning in therapy

There are several therapies based on associative learning. For example, systematic desensitization is a technique based on the principles of classical conditioning. It was created by Wolpe in 1958 and is used in therapy to reduce anxiety symptoms and avoidance behaviors manifested by people with problems such as phobias.
If a person feels an intense fear of heights (acrophobia), the psychologist can apply this technique. You will choose an answer that is incompatible with anxiety, such as relaxation. He will then ask his patient to imagine situations in which he progressively approaches the object of his fear.
The affected person should imagine their approach as clearly as possible and assess their anxiety. Meanwhile, you have to try to relax to be able to gradually face your phobia. Ultimately, the end of this procedure is for the patient to stop associating negative feelings with the object of his fear.

Systematic desensitization-Associative learning– Photo by SimplyPsychology.org

3. Day-to-day examples of associative learning

If you are listening to a particular song while telling you bad news, it is very likely that when you hear it again you immediately remember that event and how you felt.

When teenagers need to clean their rooms, parents almost always offer a reward or reinforcement in exchange. This is a perfect example of associative learning.

Examples of associative learning can be found in virtually every area of our lives.

Associative learning bias

Associative learning can also be viewed from a more cognitive approach. For example, it is possible to analyze cognitive biases (which are deviations in the usual process of reasoning) from this perspective. They originate when we associate one idea with another without adequately taking into account all relevant information.

For example, if a redhead steps on us by mistake in the subway and since then we consider that all redheads are clumsy, we will be acting under the effect of a cognitive bias. On the other hand, if we learn to blame ourselves for any negative events that take place, it is possible to give rise to biases so negative that they become cognitive distortions.

Associative learning: Authors

– Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

This reputed physiologist won a Nobel Prize in 1904 for his studies on the digestive secretions of dogs. We have previously commented on his experiment with animals.

– Edward Thorndike (1874-1949)

He was a famous psychologist dedicated to research on education and learning from an instrumental conditioning approach. He designed problem boxes to examine how cats managed to get out of them by trial and error. He also enunciated the law of effect, which states that behaviors that report benefits are more likely to remain.

– John B. Watson (1874-1958)

Watson was a behavioral psychologist firmly convinced that anyone can be trained successfully to behave in a certain way. In fact, he was the author, along with his assistant, Rosalie Rayner, of Little Albert’s experiment.

– Edwing Guthrie (1886-1959)

This philosopher dedicated to psychology did not believe that the reinforcements were absolutely essential for the conditioning to take place. Inspired by Pavlov, he argued that the connection between a stimulus and a response was established from the first time they happened together.

– Burrhus F. Skinner (1904-1990)

He was an influential behaviorist psychologist who developed the ideas of his predecessors. He created the Skinner boxes used to investigate operant conditioning. He also insisted heavily on focusing on observable behavior to achieve a totally scientific and rigorous psychology.

– Joseph Wolpe (1915-1997)

He is the creator of systematic desensitization, which we have explained previously. He felt that you can’t feel two opposing emotions at once. Therefore, their goal was to relax people to lessen their anxiety reactions and that way fear is unleashed.

Finally, we want to add that there are other explanations that seek to clarify how we learn such as meaningful learning, social learning theory, cognitive learning, etc. 

We invite you to look up these approaches as well since each one has a different way of looking at reality.  However, many also complement each other. In fact, associative learning theorists now contemplate new, more inclusive perspectives.

Thank you very much for reading this article. Do not hesitate to comment if you have any questions or if you want to share some experiences with us. We will be happy to answer all your questions.

This article is originally in Spanish written by Ainhoa Arranz Aldana, translated by Alejandra Salazar. 

Cognitive Development: A Complex Process

The process a child makes between making little sounds to talking, from crying at everything to maturing is incredible. That process is known as cognitive development. What is cognitive development? What are the four big stages of cognitive development? What are the theories of cognitive development? What are the cultural influences and history of cognitive development? What are some tips to help parents with cognitive development during different stages of development?

Cognitive Development

What is cognitive development?

Cognitive development, also known as intellectual development, is defined as the construction of thought processes- this includes decision making, memory, and problem-solving, throughout life from childhood to adulthood. Cognitive development is the topic of scientific study of fields such as psychology and neuroscience. It focuses on one’s cognitive development throughout the growth process. For example, it takes a specific look at language learning, information processing, perceptual skills, and conceptual resources to other processes that develop more in an adult brain. Another example could be that how a child wakes up and the process of waking up for a child is different than that of an adult.

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What are the 4 big stages of cognitive development?

Sensorimotor: Birth – 18-24 months.

The sensorimotor stage is the stage that lasts from birth to two-years-old. In this stage, behaviors don’t have logic or make sense. For example, crying because a child can’t find their blanket. The behaviors move gradually from acting upon the inherited reflexes and behaviors to interacting with the surrounding environment more reasonably. The sensorimotor stage is commonly broken down into six mini-stages depending on the child’s age.

Cognitive Development

Birth to one-month-old: everybody is born with innate and inherited reflexes that they use to gain understanding and knowledge about their surroundings. For instance, sucking and grasping.

Between one and four-months-old: Children repeat behaviors that happen due to their reflexes. For example, their reflex is to grasp the raddle and then they simply repeat that gesture. Children try to create schemes, groups of similar actions or thoughts, to create assimilation and accommodation to adapt better to the world around them.

  • Assimilation means when a child responds to a new situation in a way that is already consistent with an existing scheme. For instance, when a child gets a new toy such as a teddy bear, they often suck or put the toy in their mouths. Sucking is an existing scheme that the child is applying to the new situation of having a teddy bear
  • means when a child modifies, changes, or creates an entirely new scheme to deal with a new situation. For instance, an infant opens its mouth wider than usual to make way to the paw of the teddy bear.

Between five and eight-months-old:- When a child has with external stimuli that they find pleasurable, they naturally try to reenact and recreate that experience. For example, when a child hits the mobile above them and it spins or makes noise, that’s pleasurable to the child and they repeat the action because the result is fun. This is the point in which habits are formed from general schemes. However, at this stage, children still can’t focus on multiple things at once.

From eight to twelve-months-old-: Behaviors happen for a reason rather than by chance. A child can begin to understand that an action causes a reaction. The child can also begin to understand object permanence. That is to say, if a baby is playing with a raddle and you put a blanket on top of the raddle, the baby begins to understand that the raddle is still there, under the blanket, rather than thinking the raddle completely disappeared.

From one-year-old to eighteen-months-old- At the stage, actions happen deliberately with a slight variation. For instance, a baby can drum on a pot of object with a wooden spoon but also drum on the table or on the floor.

From eighteen-months-old to two-years-old- children begin to pretend play and construct mental symbols. For example, a child is mixing together some ingredients but they lack a spoon. They find something else to use as a makeshift spoon. Infants begin to act with intelligence rather than habit.

Preoperational: Toddlers (18-24 months) -early childhood (age 7)

The preoperational stage begins once a child gains the mental ability to grasp reality and lasts from age 2 until ages 6 or 7. There are two ways to characterize this stage according to Piaget. In his earlier works, he described a child’s thought process in this stage as having egocentrism, animism, and the like in charge and governing the child. In other words, the child, being egocentric, acts in his own favor or sees a situation only in their point of view and doesn’t understand the perceptions of others. The child, being animistic, believes that inanimate objects are lifelike with human emotions, intentions, and thoughts which is why children love playing with dolls and adults often don’t. Children also often use symbols in this stage which can be seen when they play and pretend.  

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Concrete operational. Ages 7 to 12.

The Concrete Operational Stage lasts from ages 6/7 to ages 12/13 depending on the child. Within this stage, a child’s cognitive ambition is characterized by reality. According to Piaget, it’s the same principle that can actually be used to discern many behaviors. Another big achievement cognitively in this stage is conservation. For example, a child looks at two beakers filled with the same amount of liquid, but one beaker is shorter than the other. A child in the preoperational stage could probably say that the taller beaker has more liquid, but the concrete operational child could say that both beakers contain the same amount of liquid. The ability to reason also begins to develop in this stage because of the principle of conservation.

 Formal operational. Adolescence through adulthood.

In the Formal Operational Stage, which lasts from age 12/13 until adulthood, is when people advance from logical reasoning with concrete examples to logical reasoning with abstract examples. Young adults tend to view themselves more in the future rather than the “here and now”. Some scientists believe that this stage can be further broken down into the early formal operational stage in which thoughts are fantasies or the late formal operational stage in which life experiences change how realistic those fantasy thoughts are.

Theories of cognitive development

Piaget’s Theory

The founder of Piaget’s Theory, Jean Piaget (1896-1980) thought that people go through different stages of development that allowed them to think in more and new complex ways. These stages include the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage, and the Formal Operational Stage. There is some criticism for Piaget’s theory many that his theory has fallen out of favor. For instance, Piaget said that a young child cannot conserve numbers. However, many parents know and many experiments have proven otherwise. Furthermore, Piaget’s stages end in young adulthood whereas there are further stages of adult cognitive development given by other scientists in the field such as Robert Kegan.

Neo-Piagetian theories

There are, of course, non-Piagetian theories concerning cognitive development which emphasize the roles of information processing systems and mechanisms such as the working memory and attention control. These scientists suggest that the Piagetian stages work more a strengthening of control mechanisms and amplifying the storage capacity of the working memory.

Core Systems of Cognition

There are several skills that are involved in and are necessary to the cognitive development of a brain. Empiricists study how these “advanced” skills are learned in such a little amount of time. There is a debate that they are learned either by domain-specific cognition or general cognition learning devices. These researchers have set a number of “core domains” that suggest children have an innate ability to develop these.

  • Space. Young children can have navigation skills. There is evidence that these navigation and directional skills are connected to language development skills between 3 and 5 years old.
  • Numbers. Infants have been shown to have two different mechanisms to confront numbers. One deals with the larger numbers in a more approximate way while the other system deals with smaller numbers, known as subitizing.
  • Essentialism. Young children think of animals, plants, and other biological entities in an essentialistic way. They expect these things to have certain traits which gives them a certain “essence”.
  • Language Acquisition. A widely studied field, the traditional way to view it is that language is developed due to the deterministic, human-only genetic make-up and processes. The other theories believe that social interaction and experience is what helps us develop language.
  • Visual Perception. There is evidence that a child who is only 72 hours old has a depth perception for complex things such as biological motion. However, the evidence isn’t clear as to whether the visual experience within the first 72 hours contributes to this ability to whether it’s already developed when the baby leaves the womb.

Whoft’s Hypothesis

Benjamin Whoft, who lived from 1897 until 1941, thought that a person’s thinking depended on the content and structure of their language. That is to say, Whoft hypothesized that language determines how we think and perceive things. For instance, it’s thought that the Egyptians who wrote right to left thought quite differently than the Greeks who wrote left to right even though the countries are not far from each other in geographical location. Whorf’s belief was so strict that he thought that if a word didn’t exist in a language, then that person had no idea of that object’s existence. This theory went so far as to play a role in Goerge Orwell’s famous book, Animal Farm when the pig leaders eliminated words from the citizen’s vocabulary in order to render them incapable of realizing what the citizens were missing. The criticism is that people can still be aware of a concept or object even if they don’t have the vocabulary to describe it.

Quine’s hypothesis

Willard Van Orman Quine, who lived from 1908 to 2000, believed that there are biases that are innate and conceptual which enable language acquisition, beliefs, and concepts. His theory goes by nativist philosophical traditions which other philosophers, such as Immanuel Kant, also went by.

Cultural Influences of cognitive development

Cognitive Development

Culture shapes and changes everything including perspective, thoughts, and more. Culture can influence so far as to have an effect on brain structure which then influences our interpretation of culture. There is research that has previously shown that one’s level of independence differs on cultural context. For instance and in general, Eastern Asia cultures are more interdependent compared to Western cultures which are more independent generally. Another study compared the brain of Japanese-English bilingual to American-English monolingual brains and responses in children while the child tried to understand another’s intention through cartoon tasks and false-belief stories. The study found universal activation in the bilateral region of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The study concluded with the suggestion that the brain’s neural activities are culturally independent, not universal.

Tips on cognitive development

  • Sing songs and encourage the child to sing with you. This helps to create associations between images and words as well as promotes memory development.
  • Use the Alphabet Game. This involves cutting out alphabet pieces and taping them throughout the house. Have the child search for the alphabet pieces in order. Have them then tape up the alphabet while singing the song to associate image and word identification.
  • Shape Practice is using colorful, fun, or ball games which can help your child manipulate shares such as puzzles or playing with Legos.
  • Noise Identification helps teach a child to distinguish and identify sounds throughout the world- which differ greatly. It could be a tap running, birds singing, owl cooing, or a dishwasher grinding. Ask the child to identify which noise is what and then to relate them to actions in their daily environment.
  • The decision Game is all about making decisions. Ask the child if they prefer a burger or pizza for dinner; the brown sweater or green coat. By giving the child choices and enabling them to make decisions, they will feel more independent and this will facilitate their overall cognitive development as they grow.

History of cognitive development

The history of cognitive development goes a little something like this… Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher, wrote On Education in 1762. Within the writing, he discusses childhood development as being three different stages. In the first stage, which goes from 0 to age 12, a child is guided by their impulses and emotions naturally. The second stage, which lasts from age 12 until age 15, is when the child’s reason begins to develop. Afterword, in stage three, which is from age 15 and up, a child begins to develop into an adult.

After Rousseau came along James Sully, an English psychologist, who wrote numerous books on childhood development. Two of these books, The Studies of Childhood and Children’s Way from 1897 used actual detailed studies he did himself.

After Sully comes Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, came up with a theory known as “the zone of proximal development”, also known as ZPD, which says that a child’s main activity should be to play in order to develop their emotions and cognitive development.

After Vygotsky, Maria Montessori had her fundamental research published in her book, The Discovery of the Child in 1946. She discusses the Four Planes of Development: from birth to age 6, 6-12, 12-18, and 18-24. She developed the Montessori Method to help teach in each cognitive developmental stage.

After Montessori, Jean Piaget came along and tried to be the most successful in cognitive development. Piaget was the first psychologist to make a name for the scientific field of cognitive development. His biggest contribution to the field of study was his stage theory of child cognitive development. Sadly, he died in 1980.

Lawrence Kohlberg, who died shortly after Piaget, wrote the stages of moral development which took a look at Piaget’s findings and incorporated Kohlberg’s ideas, too. His notable works were Moral Stages and Moralization: The Cognitive-Development Approach (1976) and Essays on Moral Development (1981).

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Motion Sickness: An explanation to travelling nausea

As a kid, I never felt motion sick- ever. I would go on the craziest of carnival rides and not feel dizzy one bit. Then a few years ago, I had a severe concussion and suddenly, I felt motion sick anytime I would get in a moving vehicle, train, airplane… even a moving walkway made me feel motion sick. But, why? Turns out it all has to do with the fluid from the inner ear. Check out everything about motion sickness here! What is motion sickness, the different types, symptoms, causes, and treatments? How does it affect the body? How does it affect the brain? What are some tips to prevent it or overcome it?

Motion sickness

 

What is motion sickness?

Kinetosis, the official medical term for motion sickness, is a disagreement between how the body visually perceived movement and how the body’s sensory system senses movement. Essentially, a disagreement between two sensory systems, also known as vestibular systems, within the body.

Motion sickness is known for how ill, nauseous, or bad it can make someone feel and dates back all the way to Greek and Roman times… meaning it isn’t just a new thing. It can affect everyone at different levels of severity. Depending on the cause of the motion sickness, it can also be known as air sickness, sea sickness, car sickness, and simulation sickness.

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Types of motion sickness

There are three types of motion sickness:

1. Motion that is felt, but not seen. This type of motion sickness is sensed by the sensory system which is why the motion is felt. However, the visual system doesn’t detect much, if any, motion. Examples would be car sickness, air sickness, sea sickness, visual reality, and rotating devices (such as a centrifuge).  

2. Motion that is seen but not felt. This type of motion sickness happens because the visual system detects motion, which is why the motion is seen. However, the sensory system doesn’t detect much, if any, motion. It happens due to situations which are known as visually induced motion sickness (VIMS). Examples would be movies/films, visual reality, and space sickness.

3. When both systems feel motion but they don’t correspond. This type of motion sickness happens when one is in an environment where gravity is affected and simulated with centrifugal force. This is known as the Coriolis effect and it causes a sense of motion within the sensory system that doesn’t correspond to the motion that is seen by the visual system. For example, when a vehicle is on a badly maintained road for a long period of time while going slowly, the two senses (sensory and visual) don’t match up. This is because the bad road can jerk a body around which give the sense of extreme motion to the inner ear, but due to the slow speed, the eye doesn’t feel the same amount of motion.  

Symptoms of motion sickness

If you feel motion sick, you’ll know right away that something doesn’t feel right. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Nausea. Interestingly enough, “nausea” means “sea sickness” in Greek, “naus-” means “ship”.
  • Vomiting
  • Increase in saliva production
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Hot flashes

Motion sickness- carsickness

Causes of motion sickness

Motion sickness is caused by a conflict between the different senses that are responsible for registering motion in the brain, the inner ear, the eyes, and the sensory nerves in the skin are all sending different signals to the brain. These different signals are what create dizziness. After a while, these signals create what we know to be motion sickness.

Some people begin to feel motion sickness while reading in a moving vehicle. This is because the eyes are focused on the non-moving, “steady” object while the inner ear senses motion. The brain becomes confused with all of the different brain signals sent and the person begins to feel dizzy.

The reason that people who often feel motion sickness while in a car don’t feel motion sick while driving is because they can anticipate what’s coming next. For example, they see the cars brake ahead of them, they know when a turn is coming up, they see the stoplight turn red, etc. Drivers have a more accurate internal estimate than passengers which makes them less reliant on their external senses. The anticipation that the driver feels replaces the sensory experience in the brain which prevents motion sickness.

How does motion sickness affect the brain?

Motion sickness is due to the body tried to get rid of neurotoxins. Essentially, the brain thinks it’s being poisoned so it tries to get rid of the toxins. This is thought to occur because humans weren’t made to be in moving vehicles. We have only recently started traveling on boats, cars, and trains. Our brains just haven’t adapted yet. Our bodies have been tied to walking for as long as we have had the motor ability to walk.

Our bodies use the motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls our conscious muscle movement) and the proprioception (the physical sense of ourselves) which help us know, for example, where our arm is behind our back without looking at it. We can sense it. Each of these parts of the brain supply signals to the rest of the brain about our movement.

Even though we may be traveling in a car at 50 miles an hour, our bodies perceive that we are stationary because technically, we are just sitting there not moving. At the same time, our brains know that we are going forward at a certain speed because of the balance sensors, little tubes of fluid, that are in the inner ear. When the liquid in these tubes splashes and sloshes around your brain gets mixed messages because the sloshing liquid indicates movement, but in reality, you’re just sitting still. The thalamus takes this information and tries to understand what is really going on. However, it usually comes to the conclusion that it’s being poisoned and often that leads to the feeling of nausea and actual vomiting. That’s simply the brain trying to rid itself and the body of the “apparent toxins”. Our motion sickness comes from our brain’s worry about being poisoned.

Motion sickness

Treatments for motion sickness

There are many options for treatment and remedies for motion sickness :

  • Medication can be used, such as meclizine (Bonine) or Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), that is over the counter and is meant to reduce inner-ear sensitivity. However, these medications can only be preventative and have the tendency to cause drowsiness and dry mouth.  
  • Patches are also used. These patches are called scopolamine patches and are available by prescription. However, they can be addictive because people go overboard with them and are designed for only three-day use at a time. This study proves that it’s more effective than the placebo effect.
  • Bands, such as Psy bands, are bracelets designed to target a pressure point in the wrist that is believed to help tell the body’s senses to straighten out.  
  • Training. The U.S. Department of Defense and NASA have their employees go through intense training to prevent their fighter pilots and astronauts from getting motion sickness. While that training isn’t for the average person or the faint of heart, it is an option is the motion sickness gets in the way too often.

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  • Try cutting out migraine triggers from your diet. People who suffer from migraines often are actually more susceptible to motion sickness. If you grew out of motion sickness and now it’s back, or you have terrible migraines, try taking a look at what triggers the migraines to know how to deal with the motion sickness.
  • Ginger in pill form, chews, tea, or even ginger ale is effective in terms of anti-nausea. One study found that ginger works even better than the placebo effect.
  • Papaya isn’t the most scientific treatment, nor are there any studies on the subject, but it’s theorized that papaya is effective in taking away motion sickness. It’s thought that the enzymes from the papaya relieve morning sickness and nausea. If all else fails, might as well try it!
  • Other medications include valium (diazepam) in low doses, Phenergan (promethazine) and Zofran (ondansetron) for anti-nausea.

Why do only some people get motion sick?

Motion sickness affects everyone at different levels, and we are all capable of it,  but some people are prone to it. Why? No one knows for sure why some people are more prone to motion sickness than others, but it’s thought that some people are more sensitive and reactive to the dissonance happening between reality and the body than others. Some scientists believe that motion sickness is acquired or can be eliminated with enough practice. Others believe that it’s genetic and that it runs in the family. In fact, children born to a parent who is prone to motion sickness are five times more likely to inherit that trait, as well.

Think for example about the fact that native Chinese people have the tendency to get train sick while Chinese-Americans don’t have that tendency. This is because there is less opportunity in China for the body to become accustomed to the sensations that cause motion sickness. Also, think about the fact that ice skaters are actually less likely to feel car sick. Why? Because the ice skaters are used to, like that group of Chinese-Americans, the dissonance that happens between what the body is experiencing and what the body is used to.

Motion sickness

It’s easy to feel motion sick on the metro/subway because you aren’t sure where the next turn is, when the train stops, etc. Your body can’t predict it, and your sensory and visual systems don’t line up.

According to this study published by Oxford Academic, roughly ⅓ of the overall population are highly susceptible to motion sickness. The other ⅔ can get it under extreme conditions. Women are more likely to be affected by motion sickness than men. It’s also probable that it will decrease with age. A 2013 study found that people who sway more, even when they are just sitting, are actually more likely to get body sick than those who remain rather stationary. The bad news is that this study found that if you have a healthy sensory system, you’re susceptible to motion sickness.

Tips to prevent or lessen motion sickness

  • Look out the window. Looking out the window while in a moving vehicle actually helps the brain understand that you are actually moving and that everything is okay.
  • Don’t put your head between your legs– that’s only used for low blood pressure, not dizziness.
  • Sit shotgun if you can’t be the driver. Shotgun, a.k.a. the passengers’ seat, is good because you’ll be able to not only look out the window, but be able to anticipate the twists and turns, and the starts and stops of the road.
  • Don’t reach for water. It can make you feel even more nauseous.
  • Reach for a carbonated drink. Reason being that when the stomach is upset due to nausea, the carbonation from the drink can dilute the acids and relieve the gas buildup that causes the uneasy stomach feeling.
  • Eat a light meal that is high in protein before the trip to ensure that the stomach is as calm as can be during the ride.
  • Stop the car or whatever is making you motion sick and rest a bit.
  • Find something still if stopping isn’t an option.

How do you deal with motion sickness? Let us know in the comments below!

Piaget Theory: Childhood cognitive developmental stages

Piaget theory. How can I tell if my child is developing properly for his age? How do children think, and what are the stages of their cognitive development? Is it normal for my daughter to make mistakes when she talks or tries to reason? The Piaget Theory explains the different developmental stages of children. Find out if your child is developing properly for their age. We’ll help you find the answers!

Piaget theory

Piaget is one of the most well-known psychologists of our time because to his discoveries about childhood development and intelligence. Piaget dedicated his life to investigating the different stages of development and to understanding how learning and thought patterns developed throughout childhood, as well as cognitive development. This article explains the Piaget Theory and offers an explanation for the different childhood development stages.

Piaget Theory

The Piaget Theory affirms that children go through specific stages according to their intellect and ability to perceive mature relationships. These childhood stages occur in the same order in all children, across all cultures and backgrounds. However, the age at which the stage comes may vary slightly from child to child.

Piaget theory started out with two main concepts, accommodation, and assimilation.

  • Accommodation is the process of taking new information in one’s environment and altering pre-existing information in order to fit in the new information. This is important because it establishes how people are going to take in new concepts, schemas, knowledge, etc.
  • Assimilation, on the other hand, is how humans perceive and adapt to new information. It is when we are faced with new information but we look the old information we have stored in order to interpret the new one.

Both of these concepts Piaget said were essential and couldn’t exist without the other. To assimilate an object into an existing mental schema, one first needs to take into account or accommodate to the particularities of this object to a certain extent.

Parting from these concepts on how the world is processed, he decided to explore how do children develop cognitively.

It’s quite common for young children to have trouble empathizing as an adult might, and they will likely have egocentric thinking depending on their age and abilities, just like it’s normal for them to make mistakes.

During childhood, children will have a natural cognitive development stage where the child “learns to think”, or interact in the world in which they live. Doing this requires a series of evolutionary changes in the child’s life, marked by stages throughout all of their childhood, from the time they’re born until pre-adolescence. These stages, where certain cognitive abilities will be developed, are known to be divided according to the Piaget stages.

What is the Piaget Theory? Jean Piaget (Swiss psychologist and biologist) conducted a number of studies about childhood, dividing it into stages called Stages. Piaget Theory classifies the stages during the cognitive development of a child into different ages.

Piaget stages are a set of stages in the human development process that occurs in time. For example, the type of language that children use will depend on their age (cooing, made-up words, pseudowords, using the third person, echolalia, etc.), as well as their thinking (self-centered, in that everything happening in the world is happening in front of him or her), or physical skills (mimic, crawling, walking, running, etc.). All of this cognitive process development happens continuously and progressively in the Piaget stages, depending on the approximate age.

Will every developmental stage happen at the exact same time, according to the Piaget Theory?

No, not all children will hit the same stages at exactly the same age, but there are “sensitive periods” for all ages, where it is more probable that a child will develop certain cognitive skills. Developmentally, it is easier to learn a determined skill at a specific age, like learning the beginning of language at about age one and perfecting it at about age 7.

Cognitive development stages in children according to Piaget Theory

Piaget proposed four childhood development stages: 1- Sensorimotor Period (0-2 years), 2- Preoperational Period (2-7 years). 3- Concrete Operational Period (7-11), 4- Formal Operational Period (11 and older, until about 19 years old). We will look at these stages in depth below.

1-Piaget Theory: Sensorimotor Stage (children 0-2)

This developmental stage is characterized by how the child understands the world, bringing together sensory experience with the physical activity. This is the period where the child improves innate reflexes.

  • Children at this age like bright, shiny, moving stimuli with lots of contrast.
  • They construct schemes by trying to repeat an action with their own body, like making noise by hitting their toy, throwing something, or moving a blanket to get something that’s on top of it. At this age, children repeat actions randomly, experimenting with their own bodies.
  • First contact with language: The first time the baby has contact with language is when it is still in the mother’s womb when it starts getting familiar with the parents’ voices. Research shows that during the baby’s first few months of life, they prefer the sound of human voices to any other sound. It’s surprising how used to the language they are since from when the baby is born, they have an exceptional ability to distinguish spoken language. Research from DeCasper and Spence show that children are especially attracted to their mother’s voice, which they can recognize better than the voice of a stranger.
  • How do children age 0-2 years communicate? After a baby is born, its main form of communication is crying, as they’re still not able to produce other sounds. During the first few months of life, their communication will be primarily pre-linguistic, using smiles and crying involuntarily. These actions will later become voluntary when they learn to use them in a communicative manner. However, the parents are able to understand a cry or a smile from their baby, making it an unintentional form of communication. At about 6 months, the baby will learn to babble and make consonant-vocal sounds like “da da da”. The first appearance of words is at about 12 months.

Piaget Theory during this stage establishes six sub-stages that are:

  1. Simple reflexes: From birth to 6 weeks the baby will have three primary reflexes (sucking of objects in the mouth, following moving or interesting objects with the eyes, and closing of the hand when an object makes contact with the palm) As time goes by the reflexes will become voluntary actions.
  2. First habits and primary circular reactions: From 6 weeks to 4 months the child is now starting to be more aware and classical and operant conditioning begins in this phase. Imitation or reproduction of certain reactions with his own body begin.
  3. Secondary circular reactions:  From 4 to 8 months the child starts to develop habits, they are more object-oriented, repeating actions with a purpose that bring pleasurable results. He can now reproduce certain reactions but with external objects.
  4. Coordination of secondary circular reactions: From 8-12 months the child consolidates hand-eye coordination and intentionality. His actions are now goal-oriented.
  5. Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity: From 12-18 months, the infant start exploring and investigating objects that intrigue them. It’s the stage of discovery to meet new goals. Piaget called this stage the young scientist.
  6. Internalization of schemas: From 18-24 months the infant can now use primitive symbols to form lasting mental representations. It is when the creativity stage begins and gives passage to the preoperational stage.
Piaget Theory What can we do to promote the cognitive development of the child in the sensory-motor stage (from 0 to 2 years old)?
  1. Boost circular reactions: Have you noticed your baby sucking his thumb? Or the sounds it makes when it wants to sleep? That he/she shakes the rattle and repeats this action over and over again? When a baby repeats the same behavior over and over, we are faced with circular reactions. When a baby shakes his rattle over and over again, it’s because he likes the sound and wants to hear it again. At this point you can, for example, take the rattle and shake it on another surface to make a different sound. This way the baby learns that by modifying the stimulus the sound changes and this will lead to exploring.
  2. Let the baby play and explore different objects and toys: This way the child will explore beyond himself.
  3. From 1.5+ years you can play at hiding objects:  Play Peek-a-boo where you show her a toy/your face/any object and then hide it and “find it again”.  Repeat the procedure but let the child attempt to find it.

2- Piaget Theory- Preoperational Stage (2-7 years-old)

  • This the second stage of Piaget Theory. Schooling generally starts at about 3 years-old, which brings about an important social change and causes significant social development.
  • The child will start relating to other children and people, especially peers. Before this age, the interaction was generally with family.
  • How do children aged 2-7 communicate? While between the ages 3-7 the child will largely expand their vocabulary, they are still guided by an “egocentric thinking”, meaning that the child will think according to their individual experiences, which makes their thinking and thoughts starts, intuitive, and lacking logic. This is why children until the age of about 6 will misunderstand events and will have trouble expressing them.
  • Talking in the third person is very common in this stage because children still don’t fully understand the concept of “I” or “me” that separates them from the rest of the world.
  • Children between 2-7 will be curious and want to learn, which is why they so often as “why”.
  • Children of this stage often give human characteristics or feelings to objects. This is called personification.

“Egocentric” thinking, according to Piaget Theory: Why do children in this stage have such a hard time putting themselves in other people’s position? This may be related to the “Theory of the Mind”, which refers to the ability to put yourself in someone else’s mind or in “someone else’s shoes”. Children won’t be able to do this until about 4-5 years old, which is why until they reach this age, children will think that others think how they do. This theory helps explain why children don’t know how to lie or use irony until about 5 years-old.

Each of these limitations of the pre-logical stage will be overcome at about 6 or 7 years-old, in the next cognitive developmental stage, and will consolidate until about 14 or 15 years-old.

Piaget Theory What can we do to help the cognitive development of the child in the pre-operational stage (from 2 to 7 years old)?
  1. Adjust to your child’s cognitive development: Keep in mind your child’s development stage and adapt to their thinking.
    2. Put symbolic play into practice: Through this activity, many of your children’s skills are developed and they allow them to form an inner picture of the world. Through play you can learn the roles and situations of the world around you: pretend to eat or drink, pretend to drive, pretend to be a doctor and help someone else, etc. You can practice any activity that helps your child expand his or her language, develop empathy, and strengthen his or her mental representations of the world around you.
    3. Encourage exploration and experimentation: Let him discover colors and their classification, tell him how some things happen, plants or animals, convey curiosity to learn.

3- Piaget Theory: Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years-old)

The second-to-last stage of Piaget Theory is when children start to use logic thinking, but only in concrete situations. It is at this stage that the child will be able to do more difficult and complex tasks that require logic, like math problems. However, while their ability to use logical thinking has advanced, their logic may have certain limitations during this period: the “here and now” will always be easy. Children at this age will still not use abstract thinking. In other words, they will be able to apply their knowledge to a subject that they don’t know, but it’s still difficult at this age.

Piaget considered the concrete stage a major turning point in the child’s cognitive development because it marks the beginning of logical or operational thought. The child is now mature enough to use logical thought or operations but can only apply logic to physical objects. He established a series of operations pertinent to the concrete stage.

Conservation: it is the understanding that something stays the same quantity even though its appearance changes. Watch the following video for examples on how to test conservation.

Classification: It is the ability to identify the properties of categories, to relate categories or classes to one another, and use the categorical information to solve problems.  For example, group objects according to some dimension they share.

Seriation: The ability to mentally arrange items along with a quantifiable dimension, such as height or weight.

Reversibility: The ability to recognize that numbers or objects can be changed and returned to their original condition. For example, during this stage, a child understands that a favorite ball that deflates is not gone but can be filled with air again and put back into play.

Transitivity: The ability to recognize relationships among various things in a serial order. For example, when told to put away his books according to height, the child recognizes that he starts with placing the tallest one on one end of the bookshelf and the shortest one ends up at the other end.

Decentering: The ability to consider multiple aspects of a situation. For example, a child is given the chance to choose between two candies, he chooses one according to his favorite flavor regardless of the fact they were both the same size and color.

Piaget Theory What can we do to help cognitive development in the specific period (7 to 11 years)?
  1. Help strengthen your reversible thinking: Practicing these exercises can help you develop your logical and reasoning skills. Important for the management of numbers and mathematics, but also for the development of their adult life. For example, ask what is the result of adding two numbers together. If the result is 8, we can ask them to help us find two numbers that add up to 8. Reversible thinking can be exercised in almost any situation of everyday life. For example, when you are in the supermarket and you estimate the price of what the purchase will cost you. Or when you do it the other way around, and you estimate how much each food you are about to buy costs to get to you with the money you carry.
    2. Ask him or her to help you answer questions and ask questions: For example, how would you help a lost animal find its owner? How do we keep the food from getting cold? How do we get to Grandma’s house if the car’s in the shop?
    3. Help him understand the relationships between the phenomena that happen in nature or social life: Why do you think your grandfather might be sad if we don’t go to visit him, what do you think will happen if it doesn’t rain this winter?
    4. Strengthens his reasoning capacity: Help him to question concrete facts.
    5. Use validated Brain Games or cognitive stimulation programs for children: CogniFit is the leading program for brain enhancement in childhood. It takes advantage of the great neuroplasticity that happens in the early years of development to stimulate and enhance intellectual performance in childhood and adolescence. The brain exercises proposed by CogniFit consist of attractive therapeutic activities, rehabilitation and learning techniques aimed at helping retrain and improve the cognitive skills. With this program we will also be able to compare the child’s results with those of other children of his or her age. How to start using it? It’s very easy, you just have to register.

4- Piaget Theory: Formal Operational (11 years and older)

  • This last period is characterized by the acquisition of logical reasoning under all circumstances, including abstract reasoning.
  • The new aspect of this last period in relation to intelligence is, as Piaget mentions, the ability to hypothesize about something that they haven’t learned specifically.
  • This is where learning starts to take place as a “whole”, rather than a concrete form like in the previous stage.
Piaget Theory What can we do to help the cognitive development of children and adolescents 11 years and older?
  1. Try to motivate them to ask questions: Use everyday facts and try to get them to reason about the factors that have caused a certain outcome. Help him to consider deductions or hypotheses.
    2. Discuss with the child or adolescent: Try to help him/her express him/herself and explain his/her way of thinking to you when faced with different issues. Expose your way of seeing things and find the positive and negative points of each point of view. You can also address ethical issues.

Developmental theory- Piaget

Piaget Theory: Should you be worried about a delay in your child’s development?

  • First, be patient. It’s true that some periods or stages are more sensitive to learning language, as well as other skills like motor skills, cognitive development, attention, reading, etc., but according to Piaget Theory, you have to keep in mind that it’s a continuous process that may take some child more time to reach, while others hit their milestones ahead of time. Sometimes children will take longer to reach a certain stage, and that’s OK.
  • If, for example, when the child is starting school, the child shows noticeable delays in either communication or another area (playing, learning, trouble fitting in with other kids), you may want to think about bringing them to see a specialist (either a school counselor or pediatrician can give you some answers).
  • If the child doesn’t have any type of developmental or learning problem, if they are delayed, or if they have difficulties in any specific area, it’s important to reinforce skills at home and at school. Remember that a slight delay isn’t a cause for panic, and just because a child takes longer to learn something doesn’t mean that there is any problem. Not following the timeline of Piaget Theory doesn’t mean that the child won’t later develop their cognitive skills properly with the help of support and patience.
  • Remember that a 3-year-old can’t lie (that’s where the saying “kids always tell the truth” comes from), they can only talk about the small part of the world that they know. As such, you have to remember that they’re not adults and that they are learning to develop in a world where they will be more independent in the future.

Piaget Theory of Moral Development

Piaget not only studied children’s developmental stages, he also recognized that cognitive development is closely tied to moral development and was particularly interested in the way children’s thoughts about morality changed over time.

Piaget established that morality is one’s ability to distinguish between wrong and right and to be able to act on this distinction. He established that there are three stages of moral development in children.

Piaget Theory Pre-Moral Stage (0-5 years of age)

In this stage, children have little to no understanding of rules. It’s difficult for them to carry out mental operations, therefore, the behavior is regulated from outside the child, by a parent, caretaker, etc. This stage happens simultaneously with the Sensorimotor and Pre-operational stage.

Piaget Theory Heteronomous Morality Stage/ Moral Realism (5-9 years of age)

In this stage, rules are rigid and are made by adults. Rules will determine what is right and what is wrong. Children in this stage are completely obedient to authority. The rules are inflexible to these children. They also judge how wrong something might be by its immediate consequence or punishment not by intention. Adults tend to feel more comfortable during this stage since the rules are handed down to the children without discussion. This stage happens during the preoperational and concrete operational developmental stages.

Piaget Theory Autonomous Morality/Moral Relativism (10+ years of age)

Here the emphasis is more towards cooperation. Rules are changeable under certain circumstances and with mutual consent. Piaget states that children learn to critically evaluate rules and apply them based on cooperation and respect for others. Different from the previous stage, now the intention is an important concept. They judge how wrong an action might be by the intention of the person and the punishment is adjusted accordingly. They also begin to understand that the difference between right and wrong is not an absolute but instead must take into account changing variables such as context, motivation, abilities, and intentions.

As they grow, children begin to realize that when situations are handled in a manner that seems fair, reasonable, and beneficial to all, it becomes easier for people to accept and honor the decision. This concept of fairness is called reciprocity. They later switch to ideal reciprocity which refers to a type of fairness beyond simple reciprocity and includes a consideration of another person’s best interests and feelings, applying a bit of emotional intelligence.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”

It’s the best description of putting yourself in another person’s shoes. According to Piaget, once ideal reciprocity has been reached moral development has been completed.

Piaget Theory, aside from explaining the different stages of development in children, also talks about the magic of children, which their egocentric thinking, their curiosity for the works, and their innocence, which can help us, as adults, reflect and understand how the child sees the world.

This article was originally written in Spanish and translated into English.

References

Hughes, M. (1975). Egocentrism in preschool children. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Edinburgh University.

Rathus, S. A. (2011). Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Santrock, J. W. (2004). Life-Span Development (9th Ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College.

Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2012). Life-Span Human Development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Development of Cognitive Skills; Piaget’s theory.

Crawl before you walk, walk before you run! When it comes to development, this phrase is certainly true. Before children learn to talk and are taught to problem solve at school, right from birth, they begin to develop novel ways of communicating and exploring the world around them. They cry to tell you they’re hungry, and go through a stage where it seems they’re trying to eat everything (I’m sure the parents reading this can relate)! These practices enable babies to make sense of the world. As they get older, their way of exploring rapidly evolves. As well as developing the ability to walk and talk, our development of cognitive skills (memory, attention, language, reading comprehension, fine motor and gross motor skills) are developed throughout our childhood.

French Psychologist Jean Piaget, proposed the development of cognitive skills during childhood occurs in 4 distinct stages. Each stage builds upon the previous one. Piaget’s theory was ground breaking at the time, as it was previously thought that children didn’t develop cognitive skills until they began to acquire language. Piaget challenged this, as he found that children explore the world around them before they acquire language by using their different senses. This is known as the sensorimotor stage, which is one of four stages that classify a child’s learning stages. The other three stages are known as the pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. During each stage, children acquire new cognitive skills, whilst developing skills they have acquired in previous stages.

Cognitive development

Development of Cognitive Skills: Sensorimotor stage

This stage lasts from birth to 2 years.

In this stage, children learn about the world using their senses and manipulating objects. Here a child’s intelligence is based on their motor and sensory knowledge. During this stage, children learn of object permanence, i.e. although a toy is out of sight, it still exists. This information is extremely important as it prepares children to be able to name objects.

3 months– Infants are able to recognise faces and imitate facial expressions (above).

6 months– Infants can imitate sounds, recognise their parents and display fear towards strangers. They understand the difference between animate and inanimate objects. Between four and seven months, children begin to recognise their own name.

9 months– Infants imitate gestures and actions. The understand simple words like ‘no’ and begin to test their parents’ response to their behaviour.

12 months– Infants can follow moving objects. They can speak between two to four simple words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’. They can imitate animal sounds and begin to display attachments to objects such as a toy or blanket. At this age, they will also begin to display separation anxiety.

18 months– Vocabulary increases to around 50 words. Children begin to identify body parts and display sense of ownership. They can follow simple instructions (e.g. picking up toys and putting them in the box). They begin to show an understanding of discipline and have knowledge of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

Development of Cognitive Skills: Pre-operational stage

This stage lasts from 2 – 7 years.

A child’s vocabulary is around 150 words. Around this time, children learn around 10 new words a day, and begin to understand emotions such as love, trust and fear. Children also begin to learn through pretend play, or “make believe”. However, their view of others and logic isn’t well understood, and children have a self-centered view of the world. In this stage, children begin to use their imaginary and memory skills, and begin to develop their social interaction skills and play cooperatively with children their own age. They will begin to develop their cognitive abilities. Children learn to read, develop routines and display an increased attention span. At the beginning of this stage, children develop their attention, long term and short term memory. As children get older, they learn to control their attention and use their cognitive abilities to help them solve problems and achieve their goals. Also during this stage of development, auditory processing is further refined. This is highly important in improving reading skills.

Imaginative play

Development of Cognitive Skills: Concrete operational stage

This stage is from 7-11 years.

During this stage, children learn to be less egocentric and self centered. They begin to think about the thoughts and feelings of others, and they are more aware of their own thoughts and feelings and the rules around sharing them with others. Children are also able to think in a more logic manner and see the world from the view of others. However, at this stage, a child’s thought is often rigid, therefore they tend to struggle with abstract concepts. Here children learn that things, such as volume and weight, can stay the same despite changes in the appearance of objects. For example, two different glasses can hold the same volume of water. Also, at this stage, children’s attention span begins to increase with age. At the age of six, the child may be able to focus on a task for around 15 minutes. At the age of nine, children can focus on a task for around an hour.

Concrete operational stage

Development of Cognitive Skills: Formal operational stage

This stage is from 11 years and upwards.

Children are able to better understand logic and abstract ideas. They will start to reason and think about abstract ideas, and implement these ideas into their lives. They are also able to see multiple solutions to problems, and begin to look at the world in a scientific manner. During this stage, Adolescents display independent problem-solving skills, and are able to understand abstract ideas such puns, proverbs, metaphors, analogies, philosophy and maths. Children also learn to apply general information to specific situations. During adolescence we undergo cognitive transition, which means that the way we think becomes more advanced, more efficient, and more complex. Thought is no longer limited to what is real, it is expanded to include the hypothetical. During this stage we begin thinking about the process of thinking, known as metacognition. Thought becomes multidimensional; we are able to look at multiple outcomes to a specific problem, which allows us to think rationally and analyze the problem. This will hopefully help us to make well-informed decisions.

Every child will progress through each stage in order, but it’s important to remember that each child is different, so that manner or time that it take a child to develop these skills may vary- and that’s OK! Progression through the 4 stages of development can occur at different rates; some faster than others. We all have a unique cognitive profile, some cognitive skills can be weaker than others. A cognitive assessment can help us to identify which of our cognitive skills are weaker. This enables us to tailor our cognitive training, and improve our weaker skills. If you are looking to strengthen your cognitive skills, why not try some brain games! If you are concerned that about your cognitive abilities or the development of a child, it is important to seek professional advice.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, get in touch below! 🙂

Pregnancy and the brain: How does it change you?

You might know how the relationship between the brain and the menstrual cycle, but what about pregnancy? With all the hormones surging through your veins throughout pregnancy, it’s no surprise that your brain function might change a little. Find out more about pregnancy and the brain below!

Pregnancy and the brain

Do you have “pregnancy brain”? Take the test below to find out!

1. How often do you walk into a room meaning to do something, only to forget what you were supposed to do?
  • The surge in hormones directs your attention elsewhere, which may cause you to forget things more often than usual!
2. How often do you forget common, everyday things (Ex. forgetting to put on shoes, forgetting names of family members)?
  • Sleep depravation combined with all of your hormones can contribute to memory loss. But fear not, brain games can help you bring back some of your usual clarity!
3. How often do you feel overwhelmed?
  • It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed, especially if it's your first child! There's a lot to worry about between preparing for the new baby and caring for your own health. Just remember to take a deep breath every once in a while, and try out the tips below.
4. How often do you feel frustrated about not remembering as much as you used to?
  • It's common to feel frustrated, especially when you don't feel like your normal self. Check out the tips below to learn how you can combat this, and feel more like yourself!

Pregnancy and the brain

As you already know, the brain gets flooded with hormones during pregnancy. During the first trimester, it’s common to feel a mix of happiness, anxiety, or even upset after an unplanned pregnancy. These feelings can intensify in the second trimester. And as you grow more uncomfortable in the third trimester, your feelings of anxiety might grow as well. For some mothers, these emotions can be more intense than usual, leading to severe anxiety or depression. And while some of the blame can be placed on the stresses of becoming a parent, we can also blame the hormones for changing the chemical balance in the brain.

But this all helps the mother to prepare for childhood by being less responsive to stress and more responsive to her child. Although it seems like all it does is change your cognitive function, it’s really helping you to be a more sensitive mother. For example, some studies actually show that when a fetus moves, the mother’s heart rate, emotions, and skin conductance increase, even if she’s not aware of the movement. A hormone, called oxytocin, also plays a major role in pregnancy. It helps to contract the muscles of the uterus during birth, and is actually used by doctors to slow down bleeding during birth. And during pregnancy, the hormone helps the mother feel calmer, get more sleep, and to get more nutrients, to help with her energy levels. Once the baby is born, oxytocin is released by both mother and baby, which helps to create a sense of euphoria and to foster the mother-child bond. Want to read more about the types of neurotransmitters?

Some women can experience what is known and “pregnancy brain”, which involves frequent forgetfulness. We could place some of the blame on the hormones, but only some studies show cognitive deficits during pregnancy. In fact, other studies actually show that pregnant women perform just as well as other women in cognitive tests. So what really is to blame? Well, while the hormones are preparing you for motherhood, it’s directing your attention away from things you would normally pay attention to. Combine that with worries about the baby, your health, and sleep deprivation, it’s a wonder you can even function at all! So the bottom line is, just because your brain feels a little “foggier” than usual, doesn’t mean you’re losing any IQ points. It just means that your brain is getting you ready to be the best mom you can be. Luckily, you can still train your brain with brain fitness programs, which will help you keep your cognitive skills in top shape throughout your pregnancy!

Pregnancy and the brain: Your brain after birth

The fogginess felt during pregnancy eventually goes away after birth. And while your brain is trying to rebalance its chemistry, it’s also directing its activity to places that will help you as a mother. For example, during pregnancy, activity increases in areas controlling social interactions, empathy, and anxiety. In the postpartum period, these changes are amplified by even more hormone surges. In addition, a mother will start to feel overwhelming emotions of love, protectiveness, and worry about raising a baby. You can see the crazy effects of pregnancy and the brain!

Some research has shown that there is growth in the amygdala and the hypothalamus. This helps with emotional regulation, survival instincts, and the production of hormones. This growth increases weeks and months after birth. This has been linked to mothers having a positive view and positive feelings towards their baby. It also allows a mother to wake up in the middle of the night when their baby is crying, without getting too frustrated.

Knowing about all of these emotional changes allows us to understand things like postpartum depression, obsessive compulsions, and anxiety. In fact, amygdala damage is associated with higher depression rates in mothers. Studies also show that reward centers (such as the thalamus and amygdala) in the brain actually light up whenever a mother just stares at her baby. This causes the attentiveness and the affection a mother feels towards her baby. But in depression, this activity isn’t as prominent.

How to keep your brain sharp- Pregnancy and the brain

All of these changes can be overwhelming, and it can add greatly to your stresses. Follow these tips to keep your brain sharp, and to keep you mentally healthy!

  1. Sleep deprivation can lead to much of the forgetfulness experienced during pregnancy. Not having enough sleep prevents the brain from focusing on caring for your baby. So the answer is obvious, get more sleep! This might seem like an impossible task, but getting at least 8 hours a night can really help you feel back on your feet. Fight the urge to be productive while the baby is napping and instead, opt to take a nap. And when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night, try to trade it off with your partner, so you feel less groggy in the morning.

  2. Write things down. Or more specifically, write everything down. Writing will help you greatly in trying to remember things. Not to mention, having everything in one place will keep you sane. Invest in a planner or notebook, and carry it with you everywhere, so you’re always on top of things.

  3. Try playing some brain games. Brain games allow you to use your cognitive abilities and stimulate your brain using specific training exercises. CogniFit offers a large variety of free online mind games, which are specifically designed to target your overall brain health.

Pica Disorder: What is is? Discover everything about this eating disorder

Pica disorder also called “pica” is not well known but has serious health implications. It is a type of eating disorder in which there is an irresistible desire to eat or lick non-nutritive substances such as toothpaste, cigarette butts, detergent, mud, hair, plaster, chalk, condoms, paper, things that have no food value. It is a strange food illness in which the person is affected physically, mentally and even culturally. We explain more about this curious and unknown eating disorder that affects not only children but also adults.

What is Pica Disorder?

Pica Disorder is characterized by the urgent desire to eat non-nutritive substances without nutritional value in a compulsive way.

Usually, if we think about this disorder we associate it with children. There is a stage in the development of the child whose curiosity leads him to put objects in his mouth. However, when it occurs in children who are older than 5 years old, the alarms should set off.

When we talk about adults with Pica disorder they often have intellectual disabilities. This disorder is also associated with people who have some kind of nutritional deficiency, such as a lack of iron, and pregnant women or individuals with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxious patients or as a way to attract attention.

It is closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder since individuals suffering from OCD as well as those suffering from pica disorder are often aware of their behavior but can’t stop even though it is unhealthy and unreasonable.

History of Pica Disorder

The term “pica” comes from the Latin word that means “magpie”. The magpie does not show a preference for food or non-food substances.

In some modern cultures, the pica behavior happens in a ritualistic way. In the nineteenth century in the southern United States, this behavior was common among slaves and this practice is still accepted in some cultures. It has been part of religious ceremonies, magical beliefs, and healing attempts. In many cultures, the clay ingestion is used for its medicinal properties.

Risk Factors in Pica Disorder

It is not known exactly what are the causes of this alteration, but there are a series of risk factors that make it more likely to suffer from this disorder:

  • Stressful and Chaotic Family Environments
  • Having addictive behaviors or an addiction
  • Lack of a social support
  • Parental negligence
  • Mother-child separation
  • Epilepsy
  • Brain damage
  • Culture: In African countries, pica is more common among women and children. In a study conducted in Nigeria, the incidence of pica in adolescents and boys was between 25% and 46%.

Hypothesis on Pica Disorder

The causes of this eating disorder are unknown. To explain pica disorder experts have proposed some hypotheses that include cultural factors, low socioeconomic status, psychological disorders and other diseases.

1. Nutritional Facts

Nutrition deficiencies are the most common theories to explain why Pica Disorder appears. Lack of minerals such as iron and zinc are common. Although malnutrition is often diagnosed at the same time as pica, a link has not been established.

2. Sensory and physiological

These theories are based on the opinions of patients who claim to enjoy the taste, texture or odor of the substance they are ingesting. It has been discovered that people with this disorder have a reduced activity of their dopaminergic system in the brain. Low or abnormal levels of dopamine may be related to this disorder.

3. Neuropsychiatric

There is evidence that certain brain lesions are associated with abnormal feeding behaviors.

4. Psychosocial

As previously stated one of the risk factors for the development of this eating disorder is the existence of a pattern of behavior similar to anxiety disorders. In this disorder eating non-food substances relieves the stress they feel.

Symptoms and Complications of Pica Disorder

Pica disorder symptoms may vary according to the non-food substance ingested. Often individuals with pica disorder suffer from the same symptoms as anorexia such as mineral deficiency, unhealthy nails, hair and weight loss. Symptoms due to ingestion of non-food substances are as follows:

  • Sand/soil consumption produces gastric pain symptoms and occasional bleeding.
  • Biting ice causes teeth decay.
  • Clay ingestion leads to constipation.
  • Swallowing metal objects causes intestinal perforation.
  • Eating fecal material causes infectious diseases.
  • Lead intake causes kidney damage and mental retardation.

The complications associated with pica can be divided into five groups:

  1. Inherent toxicity.
  2. Obstruction.
  3. Excessive calorie intake.
  4. Nutritional deprivation.
  5. Others (parasites and teeth damage).

The clinical consequences of pica disorder may have wide and very serious implications. Lead poisoning in children can lead to serious impairment of intellectual and physical development. Individuals with pica disorder also have a higher risk of developing very serious health problems such as abdominal pain, intestinal and colon obstruction.

The most extraordinary and serious case is the Rapunzel Syndrome (a mass of hair anchored in the stomach) has been observed in children, in people with mental retardation, people with malnutrition and halitosis.

Pica Disorder Diagnosis

For this disorder to be diagnosed by an expert the person has to meet a number of requirements that are included in the DSM-5 (diagnostic manual developed by the American Psychiatric Association). The criteria for diagnosing Pica Disorder are:

  1. Persistent eating of non-nutritive, nonfood substances for a period of at least one month.
  2. The eating of nonnutritive, nonfood substances is inappropriate to the developmental level of the individual.
  3. The eating behavior is not part of a culturally supported or socially normative practice.
  4. If occurring with another mental disorder, or during a medical condition, it is severe enough to warrant independent clinical attention.
Pica Disorder

It can be difficult to recognize a person who is suffering from this disorder because sometimes they feel embarrassed to tell you what is going on. It is necessary for the doctor to ask directly about eating habits and pica disorder behaviors.

If you believe or suspect that your child is suffering from this disorder, contact your doctor immediately. 

Treatment for Pica Disorder

There is no standard treatment. A multi-professional team of experts should take into account biological, psychological and social factors. Behavior modification has shown some effectiveness in some cases and in short follow-up. As a type of eating disorder, clinical intervention is focused on cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy.

  • Behavioral interventions have proven effective in treating children with a developmental disorder. Re-education therapies are conducted for parents to see how they supervise their children while playing and to guide certain behaviors in the home such as avoiding any type of toy that can be toxic, avoid play dough, lead-based paints or if they have pets at home pick up the feces so the little one can’t access them. Although the sporadic appearance of symptoms in young children may be normal, when it persists in time, appropriate measures must be taken.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very effective and is applied in people with intellectual disabilities, behavioral problems, individuals with autism and other disorders. This type of therapy teaches new behaviors through the reinforcement of positive behaviors and the punishment of unwanted behaviors.
Pica Disorder- CBT therapy

If it is due to a nutritional deficiency due to a lack of minerals, a blood test will be carried out, and transfusion therapy will restore its levels back to normal as well as a cognitive-behavioral intervention will be performed with follow-up sessions.

Few studies have attempted to examine the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatments, so psychopharmacology experts believe there is no specific drug to treat pica. Doctors don’t have any particular medicine but do advise opting for serotonin inhibitors.

This article is originally written in Spanish by Noemí Vega Ruiz, translated by Alejandra Salazar.

Anger management for kids: Teach your child to deal with frustration

Anger management for kids is one of the most daunting parent tasks. In the following article, we will explain what is frustration and anger and how to teach children to manage it.

Anger Management for Kids

Anger Management for Kids: Frustration

When we speak about anger management for kids it’s important to know what is frustration.  Frustration can be defined as a psychic state that we often experience in life when we are deprived or unable to satisfy a desire right at that moment. It is often accompanied by feelings such as sadness, or, in the worst case, anger.

From the moment we are born, our brains are engineered to meet our needs and seek survival. Thus, a baby cries, to capture the caregiver’s attention so that they can meet their needs.

At the beginning, the baby only demands the satisfaction of his most basic needs (he cries when he is hungry, when he is uncomfortable with his diaper, when he is sleepy and when he feels unprotected). But as his nervous system matures and brain structures unfold, the child acquires new achievements such as intentionality in his actions, thinking, language and greater autonomy.

Behavior then becomes more complex. He now shows anger and frustration when there is something he dislikes.

Anger Management for Kids: Tolerating Frustration

Teach children to tolerate frustration. Tolerating frustration means learning to delay gratification or desire. In our culture, it is important to understand that you can’t always have what you want whenever you want. We are limited by the functioning of a social structure, which determines how we should proceed to be and have what we want.

You can’t buy a car if you can’t afford it, nor can you be an engineer if you don’t get your degree, you will have to pay taxes and sometimes even fines you might deem unfair. This is how society works, things happen that are not always going to make us feel comfortable. 

Therefore, do not doubt that an indispensable tool to ensure the good future is to teach anger management for kids. This will help them deal appropriately with frustration and anger when faced with unfair situations. Let us not forget that childhood is when kids must prepare themselves so that they can function successfully and autonomously in our society when they become adults. Therefore, we must make childhood a simulacrum of real adult life, adapted to the needs of each evolutionary stage, where there is room for happiness and joy, but also for sadness and dissatisfaction.

During child development, children must prepare themselves so that they can function successfully and autonomously in our society when they become adults. Therefore, we must adapt childhood where there is room for happiness and joy, but also for sadness and dissatisfaction.

Anger management for kids is teaching them to postpone some of their desire and help them feel integrated into their peer group. This gives them more realistic expectations about reality and when they become adults they will be able to follow a logical sequence that will allow them to achieve greater success than those who have not achieved a good anger management for kids. Imagine all the future problems we can avoid if by anger management for kids we avoid impulsive behavior and manage to deal with frustration.

Anger Management for Kids: Overcoming frustration

Anger management for kids is no easy task so do not despair in the attempt, because sometimes results are not immediate or might not be noticed until some time. Try not to frustrate yourself in the process.

I dare say that educating is probably the most difficult tasks that human beings can face, so let’s get air and try to decipher with our son what he is feeling.

  • First thing is to help him name what he feels maybe even help him detect his discomfort somewhere in the body.
  • With emotion, usually, other symptoms can appear like chest tightness, tummy ache, etc. So a good way to begin to understand what he might be going through could be to help locate his discomfort in some part of the body.
  • We have to learn to contain his emotions and frustration. We must not forget that when our son behaves in anger, we continue to be, without realizing it, models that he will learn to imitate. Therefore, if we want our kids to learn self-control, we must show it ourselves. We must behave firmly without forgetting that he is not an adult and that his behavior escapes all intentionality. Empathy,
  • Empathy, firmness, and affection are three basic qualities for anger management for kids.
    • Empathy: to try to put ourselves in the skin of our son, to understand, to see and to feel like he does.
    • Firmness: educating is always being aware that an inappropriate behavior is followed by a consequence. 
    • Affection: even when we reprimand him, we must manage to make him feel wanted and accepted.
  • We want to convey that this particular behavior is unacceptable and not that he or she is unacceptable or misunderstood. We don’t need to raise our voices or punish, but rather keep consequences simple, always explaining why.  
  • We should remember to fulfill their desires or needs in the appropriate amount of time. We want to show him that there is room for desire fulfillment but at the right time. The values that they obtain during childhood should be seen as the foundation for adulthood.  
  • Each time we help our child to determine what happens to him, we help him overcome child frustration and teach him other ways to express anger. By helping with anger management for kids we contribute to his emotional intelligence and help him self-regulate (to understand what happens to him and to use an appropriate solution to the overflowing emotion). 

Anger Management for Kids

Anger management for kids: An example

Perhaps a real example of child frustration can guide us through the process of anger management for kids:

Anna is the mother of Christina, a 7-year-old girl, whom her mother defines as charming but irritable when something is denied to her. Christina is an only child and her mother says they have tried to give her as much affection as possible. However, Christina gets angry easily and doesn’t tolerate frustration well.

Often, parents tend to fear scolding or reprimanding their children when they see their kids having an angry tantrum. Therefore, they use other strategies such as giving them what they want. This is a mistake since life rarely gives you want immediately and children must be exposed to these elements to learn how to tolerate frustration.

Anna: “I was in the supermarket with Christina when she, who was walking around, took a doll and asked me to buy it. I told her that it was not possible, that we were in a hurry and that we would buy her another day. Christina began to shout that she wanted the doll while I insisted that we weren’t buying her today. People started staring and I felt so mortified I agreed to buy her the doll.”

Without realizing it, Anna rewarded Christina’s behavior, so once again, the child learned that by screaming she will get what she asks for.

What can Anna do to stop Christina from acting like this? Here are some tips:

1- The fact that Christina hasn’t yet learned how to express her emotions properly doesn’t mean that Anna is bad at parenting. Children will learn how to express their feelings better with our help. Anna, regardless of Christina’s actions, should’ve continued to deny buying the doll. Her attitude should be firm, without raising her voice but maintaining our position.  

2- Give an alternative option. In this case, Anna should suggest another day to purchase the doll and inform Christina: “Next week is your birthday and we will come back and buy it” or “this afternoon if you do your homework, tomorrow we will come back and buy it.” Always keep in mind: If you say it, you have to do it. Otherwise, I am teaching kids that words don’t mean much.

3 – If Christina is out of control and does not listen to Anna’s words: a simple and firm “no, come on we are leaving!” Should be enough. Let us not waste so much effort in gaining our son’s understanding when he is frustrated because he won’t be able to calm down. Anna might have to walk without him for a few feet, or go back and pick her up while she continues crying.  

4 – When anger dissipates then both Anna and Christina can speak about what happened. 

Anna: “I am angry at how you behaved, I understand that you want the doll, and I have already said that (tomorrow, next week, …) we will come back to buy it. But I do not like you crying and shouting like that “. Also, Anna should reassure Christina of her feelings ” I know you’re angry because you wanted the doll, but that is not the way to behave. Next time, calmly try telling me you what you want and I will see what we can do.”

Remember that you are dealing with a child and that sometimes their words don’t have bad intentions but rather they are trying to express something. Empathy is very important in this case, instead of paying attention excessively to the words.

To phrases like “I don’t love you mom, you’re not nice“, should follow expressions that convey acceptance and affection at all times. Being angry at how he behaved should not mean a withdrawal of affection.

The message that should always be: “I’m angry about how you’ve behaved, but I still love you and there are many reasons why I’m still proud of you because there are so many things you do well.”

5 – Making an agreement should always be followed through with what we promised. Therefore, always try to agree to things that are 100% sure to happen. If the agreement between mother and child was that for her birthday they would come back to buy the doll, then on her birthday make sure to make that desire come true. If the child notices that when he behaves correctly and waits she will get what she wanted or a positive consequence then that behavior will be reinforced and it will continue throughout development.

Anger management for kids means establishing age-appropriate limits, negotiating and granting what is promised. It also means being firm but empathic to our child’s needs and keeping in mind that affection must always be present.

This article is originally in Spanish written by Samuel Fascius Cruz, translated by Alejandra Salazar. 

Blended Learning: Why It’s Taking The Lead In Education

We have all used different methods of ‘blended learning’ models when being educated in our classrooms and trained in the workplace. Whether we realized it or not, blended learning has been incorporated in most institutions and companies through various technology platforms designed to enhance the learner’s needs since the term was coined in the late nineties. Learn more about blended learning in this full guide. 

Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

Although the term is quite ambiguous, it can extensively be defined as: ‘any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace’ (Blended Learning Universe, 2016). Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before. The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods

Children are born into this digital world and are already exposed and using technology as early as the age of 1. According to a study presented at the 2015 U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, more than one in three children have used a smartphone or tablet device before the age of one meaning that children today are more tech-savvy than ever before.

The development of blended courses has been based on a strategy that encourages the use of technology along with face-to-face instruction. Studies predict that by 2019, 50% of high school courses will be available and delivered online. The blended learning approach is flexible in presenting content, has proven potential to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of learning experiences, and is personalized making it easier for students to contribute and learn at their own pace. It is not surprising that blended learning methods are benefiting as an integrated learning experience throughout the U.S.

Horn and Staker (2015) define Blended Learning as “…any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”

The approach of blended learning is to utilize the use of technology in the classroom to optimize student education through online and face-to-face interaction. The usage of blended learning gives us an opportunity to reform the traditional school model and to express student-centered learning.

How does Blended Learning Work? What is being ‘Blended?’

When educators implement a new learning program, it is important to recognize the learners’ needs and abilities in order to make learning a meaningful and emotional experience.The complexity of our neural networks allows us to have unique individual preferences and learning styles. Blended Learning can be applied right in the traditional setting of a classroom.

Depending on the teacher, different models are used to support the use of technology to expand learning materials and discussion both inside and outside of the classroom. A true ‘blend’ of instruction uses elements that help students and teachers communicate inside and outside of the classroom. Using digital tools for learning such as Google Docs and Word do not necessarily apply to this method.

Instead, blended learning is an integrated learning experience that provides modules to blend the course of study with a teacher being active in the process. An example would be students attending class face-to-face and then go home to have a virtual meeting lecture on the computer and coming back the next day to discuss everything in small groups during a lab.

There is almost always a type of tracking system implemented on the site to track students’ progress. Sometimes it is easy to confuse the blended learning method with a “technology-rich” classroom. Both share the usage of technology and digital tools but are certainly not the same thing. Teachers using only digital textbooks, learning apps, online lesson plans, and Google Docs do not qualify as the blended learning curricula. Students must have some type of control at their own pace for individualized learning. Presently, blended learning does not have one main authority definition. The combination of intellectual methods are made up of information technology, video conferences, and the use of online activities and learning support systems such as self-paced lessons.

Six common models being used today are explained below.

What are the Types of Blended Learning Models?

There are six standard models of blended learning used for teachers. Three models address the different cognitive and social-emotional abilities of students. The six types are identified as:

  • Face-to-Face Driver is represented as the most traditional by having a physical teacher present or to employ online learning.
  • Rotation means that students will alternate between self-paced online learning and being in the classroom with a teacher. This model includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation. In the ‘flipping’ method, professors and teachers use online media to deliver lectures, notes, and feedback. Students can study and review the material at their own pace. The model is implemented with a student-centered perspective which allows students to learn individually.
  • Flex is the online platform used.
  • Online Lab delivers the course in a brick-and-mortar (traditional) setting.
  • Self-Blend model, more commonly known as A La Carte, gives students the freedom to choose remote online courses to supplement their school’s curriculum with something that is more individual. The students can take multiple courses either entirely online at home or in a regular classroom.
  • Online Driver program is also known as Enriched Virtual is used completely online where students can divide their time between a traditional classroom and at home. Unlike the Flipped classroom, the Online Driver does not require daily school attendance. Teachers can apply their programs to have available or mandatory face-to-face check-ins. The Enriched Virtual program is a complete blend of online and brick-and-mortar classroom sessions.

How Does Blended Learning Differ from Traditional Learning?

The rise of blended learning programs represents a shift from traditional instruction in education to optimize student learning in multiple ways. The mixture of this learning experience has allowed learners to recall information so that it can be remembered and combined with new knowledge bases.

Personalized learning is excellent for students who feel lost and overwhelmed in the classroom. The old brick-and-mortar classroom with students learning from one textbook is long, long gone. Blended learning methods help students learn at their own cognitive level of functioning. The Face-to-Face Driver model works best in all classrooms since most students are functioning at different levels of ability. Teachers deliver this model appropriately by allowing a traditional classroom experience and integrating technology. Students who do not feel confident in their work can access the course from home and study at their own pace while students who have mastered the subject can practice and challenge themselves more effectively.

The Rotation model is the most common and allows teachers to switch instructing online and physically face-to-face. Students can be separated based on skill level such as starting instruction in-person before rotating online. More individual assistance is also given to students feeling left behind on a topic. Another model that is viewed as highly successful is the Online Lab school model. It involves students going to a physical classroom that only provides online educational delivery for its courses. The Online Lab is flexible and benefits students who have other responsibilities either at home or they need to move at a much slower pace than traditional classrooms provide. One of the main goals of a blended classroom involves the mission to capture the learners’ attention.

Many instructors design their teaching to acquire the use of both long-term memory and short-term/working memory. Working/short-term memory has to do with what you are actively doing at the moment and temporarily storing information, such as solving math problems.  Long-term memory helps us remember rules and knowledge that is ‘declared.’ An example of declared memory would be having the order of operations memorized. In virtual classrooms, instructors must make sure there is harmony between working and long-term memory. An information overload in a blended approach can cause anxiety and stress. It is important for instructors to design their programs with a few facts in mind:

  • Humans have a working memory limited to five to seven ‘chunks’ of information
  • Humans must have their attention refreshed frequently
  • Recalling information requires more cognitive effort than recognizing information (Marchionini, 1991)

Teachers can add more drop-down menus, touch panels, and clearly marked buttons to put the students’ minds at ease. More information on some challenges of blended learning can be found in the Research in Learning Technology journal. E-learning specialists are taking neuroscience into consideration when developing visual aids for learning. According to Zabisco, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. When learners are connecting with the content, they are going through a cognitive retention process. The medial temporal lobe, where emotions are processed, is also where visual memory is encoded. Students will have a better chance at remembering when text is combined with visual stimuli.

Students can also develop stronger social-emotional learning (SEL) skills when interacting in a blended program. SEL skills are linked to technology use since students can first develop self-awareness and responsibility online to work better in teams when in person. Aside from the traditional objectives in school systems, the new integration of technology and teaching helps bring teachers and students closer together and establish higher quality learning.

How are Blended Learning Environments Created?

Educators should first seek out different strategies to use when designing which type of content would fit best in their classroom. They can use different frameworks such as Content Domain Analysis and Content Level Analysis before going about choosing their blended learning approach. Content Domain Analysis determines the main objectives of the content. It is necessary when it addresses the learners’ needs emotionally, cognitively, and physically. Content Level Analysis is used to clarify the sequence to achieve overall learning goals. One study that consisted of using a blended learning platform (video game-based learning) composed of classroom and e-learning, found that knowledge was increased 14% for procedural and 11% for declarative knowledge (Sitzmann, Ely, 2009).

Declarative knowledge refers to factual knowledge and information that a person knows. Procedural knowledge, on the other hand, has to do with knowing how to perform certain activities (Bruning, 46). These two types of knowledge are useful for determining how to blend face-to-face and self-paced learning courses. An example would be using self-paced and e-learning for developing declarative knowledge while having face-to-face instruction in small groups for procedural knowledge. That way, students can expand on their ‘factual’ knowledge and perform what they have learned with other students and instructors in a classroom lab. Margaret Driscoll (2002) believes that the blended learning paradigm consists of four concepts: combining a variety of networking technologies, self-paced learning, collaborative learning, and streaming videos. The teaching methods used should incorporate many types of psychologyconstructivism, behaviorism, and cognitivism. In order to produce the best outcome, the combination of the blended techniques (web-based, film) with face-to-face training followed by students completing an actual task in-person, can equally create a balance between learning and working.

Blended Learning: A Student-Centered Education

Over the past decade, educators in both secondary and higher educational institutions have realized that students all differ in skill sets and learning abilities. The Whole Child Approach (2014) ensures that each child will be treated as a whole with their socio-emotional, physical, creative, and cognitive capacities being just as important in their overall educational growth. In order to see where a student’s skills lie on the spectrum, a cognitive profile screening can be implemented before selecting the appropriate learning model. Children can be screened at a young age so that their personal learning abilities can be catered to. Developing a blended learning approach in all educational institutions is one step in the right direction to help every child succeed. The models also build upon Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983) by selecting strategies to trigger the strength of the students’ multiple learning preferences.

The blended learning paradigm of e-learning with a person-centered approach aims to achieve social and personal development by combining online instruction and face-to-face encounters. Student-centered learning brings out the best in a person’s cognitive functioning. Studies show that it can help with better problem-solving, increased self-confidence, and improve interpersonal skills. Person-Centered Learning was developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers (1902-1987) to address the learner’s intellect, social skills, and personality.

One study targeted the fundamental impact of interpersonal attitudes on the motivation and learning outcomes of students. The study suggested that a blended learning paradigm in which there is room for social and personal processes leads to improved learning only if instructors are perceived as personally well equipped to fill this space (Pitrik & Mallich, 2004). From a perspective of learners, blended learning can be obtained from all options of equipment, tools, media, technology, etc. to match their previous knowledge and learning style to reach current learning objectives.

Blended Learning in the Workplace

There are many advantages to applying blended learning approaches in corporate settings. Face-to-Face instruction and using technology hands-on offers employees a customized training experience. This method allowed employers to track performance goals and concentrate on what skills need further development.

Employees can work on their training off-the-clock to catch up on certain things they need to know for their job duties and reduce job stress. Guides such as tutorials, online forums, and customer-based simulations are all great examples of types of blended learning approaches in the workplace. Organizational learning programs can build employees’ confidence level to improve their job performance and benefit their teamwork skills. In 2015, a Training Magazine learning survey reported that 31.9% of all training was delivered in a blended format. Employees should be encouraged to work on specific skills needed in their workplace.

Companies can help fill skill gaps by determining which eLearning curriculum is needed. An example would be a person working on his or her communication skills at in a web-based seminar that depicts eLearning characters with different personalities. Collaborative activities are also becoming popular to improve teamwork skills.

Blended Learning: The New Future of Education 

A one-size-fits-all educational model does not exist, however, blended and hybrid classrooms are shown to be more effective than traditional teaching methods. While students are becoming more digitally-orientated, educational institutions should be using this as an advantage to further students’ educational success.

A successful classroom includes a range of meaningful activities, assessments, and methods used for the sole purpose of giving every student chance to excel at their best abilities. The elements that make blended approaches so effective are using multiple technology tools, small group work, and freedom of choice. In this study by the Christensen Institute, education researchers said that 4 million elementary through high school student participated in online learning in 2010. The statistics have only shown an increase since then.

Technology and education go hand in hand when teaching and improving cognitive abilities. CogniFit’s brain training program allows not only for students and anyone to train cognitive processes but allow for teachers to keep track of their students through our education platform for school and teachers.

CogniFit- Blended Learning

There must be more blended learning research to gain insight on how it is making an impact through the years. Educators will continue to invent new methodologies for personalized learning models by collaborating our knowledge of individualism with our digital culture.

5. Which isn't one of the four sub-models of Rotation?
  • Hint: Look at flow chart!

References

Ark, T. V. (2016, April 27). Blended, Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning at Thrive Public Schools. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2016/04/blended_project-based_and_social_emotional_learning_at_thrive_public_schools.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news3

Assisi, N. (2014, November 24). The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning in K-12 Education. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://nextgenlearning.org/blog/importance-social-emotional-learning-k-12-education

Bruning, R. H. (2010). Cognitive Psychology and Instruction (5th ed.). Pearson.

Draffan, E. A., & Rainger, P. (2006). A model for the identification of challenges to blended learning. Research in Learning Technology, 14(1), 55-67. doi: 10.1080/09687760500479787

Marchionini, G. (1991, October). Psychological Dimensions of User-Computer Interfaces. Retrieved August 17, 2017, from https://www.ericdigests.org/1992-5/user.htm

Mylavarapu, L. (2016, September 30). The Power Visualization Adds to E-learning. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://www.elearninglearning.com/blended-learning/cognitive/?open-article-id=5625428&article-title=the-power-visualization-adds-to-e-learning&blog-domain=commlabindia.com&blog-title=commlab-india

Staker, H. (2011). The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models. Innosight Institute.

Willen, L. (2014, May 12). The Learning Accelerator on blended learning: `In the future, we’ll just call it learning’. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from http://digital.hechingerreport.org/content/learning-accelerator-blended-learning-future-well-just-call-learning_1462/

Peer Pressure: Why We Feel It, How to Overcome it, and Can It Be Positive?

Peer Pressure. When we hear the phrase ‘peer pressure’ we often think back to grade school. We might think of the pressure children and adolescents feel to fit in or appear cool. The phrase may even evoke images of a group of kids cruelly pressuring another kid to do something he or she doesn’t want to do, such as drinking or drugs. But does this pressure carry on into adulthood? How can it be resisted? What mechanisms are responsible for it, and can it be a positive force?

Peer pressure

What is Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure is the influence an individual feels from others in their peer group. The individual may be encouraged to change their behavior, attitudes, and even values to match their peers. People are susceptible to peer pressure because of a desire to belong as well as for a fear of not belonging.

Peer pressure presents itself both explicitly and implicitly, or alternatively, directly and indirectly. Explicit, or direct peer pressure involves an individual behaving in a way that pressures others to change. This can be as simple as a middle school student making fun of another student’s clothes. Implicit, or indirect peer pressure stems from the individual who is feeling the pressure or influence. For example, another middle school student observes that those who appear to have high status wear certain clothing. Because they are eager to fit in, they may start to wear similar clothing.

Peer Pressure in Childhood and Adolescence

The term “peer pressure” most popularly refers to the influences felt by adolescents. This is because adolescents are the most susceptible age group. Susceptibility to peer pressure increases during early adolescence, peaks around the age of 14, then decreases as adulthood approaches.

In childhood, imitation is a core developmental tool. Children observe those around them for useful skills and behaviors they can copy. It is no surprise that, once a child has reached an age where peers are a central part of their life, this strategy of imitation can translate into a susceptibility to peer pressure. Even young children are keenly aware of social hierarchies, and therefore have a strong tendency to defer to adult authority figures and majority opinions. In 2011, Daniel B. M. Haun and Michael Tomasello, from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, demonstrated that preschool children could be influenced by a group of peers to change their answer to a wrong one. Every child was handed a book with pictures of animals on both pages and asked to indicate the size of the animal on the right-hand page. Every book was identical except for the last child who would sometimes get a different sized animal. When this child was asked to report their answer last in the presence of the other children, they would often give the same answer as their peers, even if it was incorrect. When they were asked to privately share their answer, however, they were likely to give the correct one regardless of their peers’ answers.

As a child enters adolescence, they tend to spend more time with their peers. Children entering adolescence also become fully aware of the unique perceptions of others around them. In fact, this tendency to think about, or even obsess about what others think is central to the adolescent experience. At this age, people are preparing to find their place in the world on their own. To aid in this process, hormonal changes prompt their brains to focus intently on others’ perceptions. Naturally, peer pressure has a pronounced effect on individuals in this age group.

Peer pressure in relation to adolescence is commonly associated with risky, or otherwise negative or impulsive behavior. It is true that peer pressure plays a large role in these behaviors; connection to peers who engage in risky behaviors has been found to be a strong predictor of risky behaviors in adolescents themselves. Furthermore, risky behaviors most often occur in the company of peers.

Peer pressure

Strategies to Overcome Peer Pressure

While peer pressure may play less of a role in adulthood, often presenting in indirect and implicit fashions, it certainly does not disappear. Here are some strategies to overcome these pressures:

  •  Everyone has a set of values that are unique to them. Think about what your core values are, why you have them, and what they mean for your future.
  •  Be mindful of your own reactions and feelings. When something goes against our set of values, we can often feel it in our gut.
  • Be assertive. Practice confident individualism. Make use of sentences that start with phrases such as “I think”, or “I like”.
  • Don’t be afraid to associate with a wide range of people. Interact with people who are old or young, rich or poor, or of any religion. We are all different, and you might discover values that resonate with you among people you wouldn’t expect.
  • Once you find people that affirm your values, stick with them. If you feel like people no longer share values with you, don’t be afraid to let certain relationships go and seek out new ones with those who do.
  • Don’t focus on critics. They will always exist, regardless of whether you are being true to yourself. People who put others down are likely doing so to soothe their own internal anxieties.

Neural Mechanisms of Peer Pressure

The brain is involved in all of our actions in life. The brain parts that play the biggest role in peer pressure are the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Both structures help determine the value of certain actions. The medial prefrontal cortex covers the front part of the frontal lobe and has been implicated in the planning of complex behavior and decision making, as well as personal expression.

The striatum is located in the forebrain and is critical to motor and action planning and reward perceptions. In the context of peer pressure, the medial prefrontal cortex determines which objects or actions peers have an expressed opinion about, while the striatum determines the value and potential rewards of these actions.

Positive peer pressure

Can Peer Pressure Be Positive?

Peer pressure commonly carries negative implications, but it can also be a positive or neutral force. Positive peer pressure occurs when peers support and encourage constructive actions for one another. A typical example would involve grade school students feeling pressured by their peers to perform well on tests. Often based in competition or team work, positive peer pressure like this is commonplace in people of all ages. Positive peer pressure can also come in different forms, such as an individual being put into a position where they feel pressured to donate to charity. In this case, the individual wants to avoid the shame and negative judgment that would result from refusing to behave in a helpful manner. Neutral peer pressure describes pressures to conform that are not harmful to others. This type of pressure occurs most frequently in adolescence and can involve conformity of fashion, speech patterns, and other neutral behaviors.

So, although peer pressure is often a destructive force that needs to be overcome, it can also encourage people to behave in ways that are beneficial to themselves and others. Peer pressure is an important part of the social life that is central to the human experience, which frames our experiences and development in many ways.

We hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to leave a comment below!

References

Mason, M. F., Dyer, R., & Norton, M. I. (2009, November). Neural mechanisms of social influence. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from

Haun, D. B., & Tomasello, M. (2011, October 24). Conformity to Peer Pressure in Preschool Children. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01666.x/full

Sensory Processing Disorder: What is it? What are the symptoms, treatments and does my child exhibit any signs? Take the mini quiz!

“Sometimes the noise in my life bothers me. It hurts my ears.” These are common things people with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder tend to say when describing what is happening to them. Find out more about what is sensory processing disorder, its signs, symptoms, treatments and take a mini quiz on different signs of over responsive sensory processing disorder.

Sensory processing disorder

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder or sensory integration disorder is a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Some experts like A. Jean Ayres, PhD, linked SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents the brain from receiving signals or information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. Whether if you are biting into your favorite New York style pizza, driving a car, or simply texting, the completion of the activity requires precise processing of sensation and attention.

Sensory processing disorder may affect one or more of the senses like hearing, touch (tactile), smell or taste, movement (vestibular) and body awareness (proprioceptive sense). Some children may even seem unresponsive to the things they have difficulties with. For example, the sounds of a lawn mower may cause a child to experience headaches, then nausea, dizziness, confusion, trembling or panic. They may scream when touched or shy away from certain textures of foods. However, others may also seem unresponsive to anything around them. They may fail to respond to extreme heat, cold or even pain. This is very common among children with autism.

Sensory Processing Disorder- Symptoms 

Symptoms may range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

  • Hypersensitivity: Hypersensitive (or oversensitive) children may notice sounds that others do not, or have an extreme response to loud noises. They may be fearful of large crowds, unwilling to play on playground equipment or worried about their safety (falling).
  • Hypo-sensitive: Hypo-sensitive (or under sensitive) children, as mentioned above, may lack sensitivity to their surroundings. For example, because they might have a high tolerance for pain, they are known to be “sensory seeking” meaning they have a constant need to touch people or things, even when it’s not appropriate. Some may be gustatory/oral seeking (crave certain textures and flavors excessively), olfactory seeking (crave certain smells excessively), auditory seeking (often speak louder than necessary), and visual seeking (crave bright lights). 

Often, children with sensory processing disorder show signs of both hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity. They may reach in one of both ways:

  • Extreme response to change in environment: Kids may be fine in settings they are familiar with, however, in crowded environments like a wedding, they may experience a sensory meltdown such as throwing a tantrum and screaming.
  • Fleeing from stimulation: children who are undersensitive might get a fight or flight response from something that is too stimulating. For example, if a child flees from a playground or parking lot, oblivious to the danger, this indicates they may be heading away from something upsetting.

Sensory Processing Disorder-Skills Affected

  • Resistance to change and inattention: they may be struggling with adapting to change and new surroundings. Some cognitive skills might be affected by this.
  • Problems with motor skills: the child may seem awkward and clumsy, an activity such as running or jumping may be hard for kids who may have difficulty knowing the orientation of their body. They may either move slowly or avoid activities they find challenging.
  • Lack social skills: oversensitive kids will most likely get anxious around other children and will avoid playing, making it hard for the child to be socially friendly. Under sensitive kids also lack social skills because they may be too rough which in turn may lead other kids to avoid them and exclude them from activities.

Sensory Processing Disorder-Diagnosis and Causes

There have been many assumptions and speculations about the causes of sensory processing disorder or sensory integration disorder; nothing concrete has been identified just yet. However, many researchers say some causes of SPD could be:

  • Coded into the child’s genetic material
  • Prenatal and birth complications (low birth weight or prematurity, etc.)
  • Environmental factors (an adopted child who was might have had poor prenatal care)

Sensory processing disorder has yet to be classified as an illness in the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which is often used by psychiatrists and many other clinical professionals such as pediatricians and psychologists in diagnosis. However, it is identified as part of the assessment in the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood-Revised in the first clinical axis. Sensory processing disorder was first identified by occupational therapists as a source of distress for many children and for inexplicable behaviors. Sensory integration disorder can be often misdiagnosed due to its confusion with autistic children and their problematic sensory responses.

Below is a small quiz with common situations that may happen when a child has a over-response to sensory stimuli and may have sensory processing disorder.

6. We have to avoid public loud spaces such as malls, parks, etc. because the noise seems to hurt my child's ears.
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

7. My child doesn't like to be hugged or kissed and when I do it seems like it hurts (not to be confused with shyness or social difficulties)
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

8. My child has a hard time falling asleep and wakes up crying to any noise, change in temperature or minimal stimuli with high level of discomfort and it's difficult to comfort him back to sleep
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

9. When we buy clothes we have to take all of the tags off because my child can't stand the touch on his skin (not to be confused with normal discomfort).
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

10. Sounds, lights, movements, smells, tastes and any other sense seems to be heightened to the point where my child feels great discomfort or even pain while being exposed to these stimuli
  • A red X indicates that your child may have this symptom of sensory processing disorder. A green checkmark indicates that your child does not have this symptom

*IMPORTANT: While this mini quiz can’t diagnose a child with sensory integration disorder, it can be a helpful guide to see if additional testing should be done. 

Sensory processing disorder symptoms

Sensory Processing Disorder-Treatment

For diagnosis and treatment, it’s generally recommended to see an occupational therapist. The therapeutic approach for occupational therapy, in this case, includes the use of sensory integration, which was originally created by A. Jean Ayres, PhD, and is formally known as Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI).

An occupational therapy session using the Ayres Sensory Integration system begins with an evaluation, and once it’s complete, the therapist will develop a plan aimed at enhancing the child’s ability to utilize their sensations. When the occupational therapist is using ASI intervention techniques, some core elements include:

  • An ASI intervention will challenge the child to develop ideas about what to do, allow the child to plan out these ideas and then successfully carry out the plans
  • The environment is rich in tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular opportunities and that creates both physical and emotional safety for the child
  • Many therapeutic activities will promote postural control and balance, which may include the use of special equipment such as suspended apparatus, scooters, and balls.

Sensory processing disorder- treatment

Tips and Creative Forms of Therapy

There are also many creative ways to help your child manage SPD in their daily life. The Ayres Sensory Integration system has created something called “Sensory Diet”, which refers to an individualized set of sensory based activities in which the child will participate throughout the day. Think of a “sensory diet” in the same way that healthy eating habits are distinguished by feeding our bodies the nutrients we need; a sensory diet “feeds” the child the right sensory needs of the child. A sensory diet allows the child to re-train the brain to process sensory information, which will then promote self-control. An example of a sensory diet would be:

  • A child who is an avoider and under-sensitive may be overwhelmed by loud sounds and stressful stimuli. In this case, the child would need breaks from distressing sounds, unpleasant tactile stimulation, etc.
  • A child who is not as aware of their body would need to incorporate lifting, pushing and pulling heaving objects as an activity into their everyday life. These activities will help the child gain an understanding of their body.
  • For children who have tactile issues, it is sometimes recommended to have the child drink seltzer water to experience bubbles in their mouth.

Overall, there are many forms of sensory diets that are individualized based on the child’s needs. You can create a sensory diet by working alongside your occupational therapist that will provide the correct form of activities to help the child.

Now that you know how to identify Sensory Processing Disorder and how to treat it, I hope you find this article useful and can become more aware of your child’s behavior. Feel free to leave a message below.

 

References:

Impact and Treatment of SPD. Retrieved from https://www.spdstar.org/basic/impact-and-treatment-of-spd

Understanding Sensory Processing Issues. Retrieved from  https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/understanding-sensory-processing-issues#item2

Dr. A. Jean Ayres, PhD. (1972). Ayres Sensory Integration. Retrieved from https://www.siglobalnetwork.org/ayres-sensory-integration

Attachment styles: How to appropriately connect with others?

How many attachment styles are there, how are they developed, what consequences do they have in adulthood, why is it important to build an appropriate emotional bond as soon as we are born? Here you will find answers to those questions, advice for parents and so much more. Discover this useful guide about different attachment types.

Attachment styles: complete guide

Attachment style theory has uncovered humanity’s need to establish profound and long-lasting bonds with our peers in order to ensure our survival. Bowlby explained the qualities a caregiver should have to establish a healthy bond with an infant, child or dependent person these being:

  • Empathy: the ability to put oneself in another persons shoes and feel what they are feeling, however with enough distance to know its not their own problem or emotion.
  • Sensitivity: ability to detect even the smallest signs of a basic or non basic need in a child.
  • Availability: in order to satisfy the child’s needs adequately the caregiver has to be available.

The presence and absence of these elements in the set of interactions between the child and the caregiver are key to establish internal models for future relationships of the child, or attachment style in which the child will build its relationship with others.

Following J. Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and her coworkers in Baltimore, were able to establish three attachment styles included into two main categories: secure attachment (type B) and insecure attachment which she divided into avoidant (type A) and ambivalent/resistant (type C). They did this by exposing the child to an unfamiliar place with the aim of seeing their reaction when the mother left the room and the child was left with a stranger. They observed the behavior before and after the mother came back. Finally, thanks to another research group insecure attachment got another category called disorganized/disoriented attachment.

Finally the attachments styles defined were:

What color does he see the world?- I question myself every time I’m in front of a patient and I’m trying to navigate his brain in order to give some sense to how he feels.  What does he think of others? Does he protect himself by avoiding, or is he outgoing and open to life?- These are other questions I wonder about when he is telling me his life story and I try to figure out what attachment style he might be.

Attachment Styles: Secure Attachment

“It’s living with the feeling that people have my back. That whenever I need someone, they will encourage me to continue with a smile or will get sad if I’m crying. No matter what, I know they will be there, offering me comfort”.

Ainsworth defined secure attachment as the absence of concern of the availability of the caregiver. In a unfamiliar situation, children that had a secure attachment with their caregiver would explore the world with curiosity and joyfulness. When their parents left, children would cry and exhibit signs of angst, however they were easily calmed when they came back.

Children with secure attachments are happier and have parents who have been able to satisfy their needs in the different developmental stages. They have made the children felt loved and part of the family, through empathy, availability and sensitivity. In each encounter between the parent and the child, the parent has been capable with love and unconditional acceptance to regulate the child’s emotion even if before the child was crying or uncomfortable. The well being for one is the satisfaction of the other.

Thus, with every interaction, the child has modulated his representation of others as predictable and optimistic. He defines himself as: worthy to be loved, with positive self-esteem, confident in his abilities and self-worth as well as capable of expressing and communicating his emotions.

Therefore, they grow with the idea that the world is a safe and trustworthy place, living each life experience as a challenge and an opportunity to learn new things.

Children that developed a secure attachment tend to become emotional steady and coherent adults, with well integrated life narratives, confidence in themselves and others and have long lasting bonds with others. They use empathy and interpret their experiences with optimism and positivism.

In my opinion, people with secure attachments are the people we meet in life that make us feel comfortable, happy and filled with optimism.

Attachment styles: secure attachment

Attachment Styles: Insecure Attachments

What happens with parenting is not satisfactory or when one of the essential elements is missing in order to create a secure bond? Then is when insecure attachments are usually formed. These are distinguished by profound significant ties that generate great discomfort, due to lack of empathy and sensitivity that turn into an unreliable and unpredictable view of the world. 

At best in this category are children whose parents did a their job raising them with empathy and concern but failed understanding their needs or offering solutions. For each time they searched emotional warmth, security and understanding they might have failed, leading to pain and feelings of confusion towards the world.

Imagine we just landed in a new unknown and strange planet and around us the people can’t read our facial expressions, let alone the fear we feel by being there. Some might even out of curiosity get close to examine us while others just ignore our presence. We might be so scared we won’t have any idea of where to go, our brain will be trying to figure out an infinite number of unknown stimuli, leading us to be bewildered and mistrusting towards that world.

Children with insecure attachments have lived their relationship with others as unsatisfying, be it because they felt ignored or because their parents have tried inconsistent educational guidelines usually relying on their mood or their own needs. These are parents that seem genuinely worried about their children, however when analysed its discovered that the motivation for being worried is an egocentric one, more based on their personal needs than the children.

Hence, these children grow up with a negative emotional model that generates high levels of anxiety.  Their interactions have taught them that there is nothing beneficial from them but great amount of disappointment and pain. Thus, they develop defensive strategies such as isolation, avoidance, in an attempt to lessen the pain. Likewise, they develop a lack of understanding, ignorance and undervalue that has in turn lead to a non-defined fragmented identity, coated with sadness and high levels of loneliness. 

As adults, they have low self-esteem and expect very little from life. In any interaction they seem restrained, withdrawn and suspicious of good actions. They tend to be deep-rooted in security, fearing independence, occasionally having anxiety symptoms when they feel their safety is being threatened.

Some of them spend their lifetime avoiding relationships, meanwhile others manage to establish random relationships with different people however not rooted in a meaningful profound connections.

Attachment styles: insecure attachment

Ainsworth was able to give specific characteristics to the different attachment styles:

  • Avoidant attachment style: children that don’t show any type of negative emotion with their mother’s absence. When the mother returns, the child avoids all contact with her not showing any emotions towards her, foreseeing his needs won’t be satisfied.
  • Ambivalent attachment style: children with doubtful and inconclusive feelings, on one hand they search for their mother’s comfort but at the same time they feel a deep pain displayed as rage, irritability and it becomes very difficult to comfort them.
  • Disoriented/Disorganized: this is the most serious one out of all three. They are traumatized children from young age. They don’t have a defined specific behavior established, therefore they swap from showing a strong attachment to avoidance or even remain paralyzed. They swing from anguish, to searching for comfort in the mother, to anger, to fear and avoidance. They think of their parents as scary and unpredictable because the latter have unpredictable educational guidelines. Thus, the child has a chaotic and disorganized view of the world, and in an attempt to protect himself a series of erratic behaviors are developed. Children with this attachment style have difficulty regulating their emotions and keeping healthy relationships. This attachment style is related to many psychological disorders.

Advice: How to build a secure attachment?

Attachment styles are very difficult to keep in mind when raising a child, however its possible build a secure attachment. What do we have to do to build a healthy bond and create a secure attachment? As caregivers, we have to ensure our child’s healthy development. As you may have been already understanding with this article, the bond or link between caregivers and the child are the key to our future relationships. Thus, I don’t want to conclude without giving some advice on how to build a secure attachment:

  • Establish well-defined rules and limits. Children need rules because they will face a world filled with rules and norms. Its important that within our educational scheme we include specific rules making some negotiable with our children.
  • Maintain high levels of communication. Answers such as “do it cause I say so” should not be used to get children to do something. Its important to first explain the motivations behind the rule or norm. This helps children develop a critical thought process about their behavior and how he feels about it. We can always help the process with words and expressions he may not know. Communication is an essential part of educating, particularly education values. Even when the behavior is not the most appropriate, its important to find a place where to speak and think about what happened and how it can change. This exchange in point of views between a parent and his child leads to better understanding of each other. A good communication requires active listening. We need to let the other person speak and we listen intently to what they are trying to transmit even if we don’t initially agree. Its not about who is wrong and who is right but rather help the child have introspection.

“There are no irrefutable truths, just stories, then, Why not listen to his story? And in case parts of his story include us, give our fragment of his story to complete it. “

  • Let your child know you love them. It’s an essential part of childhood, more than food, is receiving lots of affection. A good emotional development will help them create relationships, develop empathy, communicate and understand others. Even when explaining the rules or scolding it should be done with warmth and care.
  • “Sanction behaviors not people”. The child must be aware of the wrong behavior without it interfering or having a negative connotation with his identity. We have to explain clearly what exactly was the behavior didn’t like and measure our words in order not to hurt the child. Its very different for example if I said with a firm tone: “I didn’t like the way you threw that ball at your sister” than “you are a bad child for throwing the ball at your sister”. The second option is packed with negative emotions and brands the child a “bad person”.
  • Heal your own wounds. We have to let the past go in order to focus on the present. Attachment styles tend to be intergenerational, that is, they are transmitted from parents to children through imitation, modeling, etc. A child that grew up without empathy, as a parent may not have that tool to teach his or her own children. The same happens with irrational fears, they can be passed from parents to children, thus it’s important for parents to let their past behind and apply new strategies with their children.

Remember to always keep in mind the three essentials elements: empathy, sensitivity and disposition. These elements are the key to developing a secure attachment and will allow us to understand our child’s point of view and way of looking at life.

People can develop secure relationships with some people and insecure with others, or even a secure relationship can turn into insecure in a different moment in time. What is assured is that young experiences play an important role in our brain development and from there how we relate to others and ourselves.

Maybe by reading this article you are now aware of your attachment style. Maybe you might even adventure in asking yourself what color do you see the world? What style do I have? What relationships are secure for me and which aren’t?.

Thank you so much for reading. If you have comments feel free to leave them below.

 

This article is originally in Spanish written by Samuel Facius Cruz, translated by Alejandra Salazar.

 

Pathological Liars: How to Identify, Help, and Prevent It from Happening

Telling the occasional white lie doesn’t change who your are and it doesn’t make you a bad person. However, there are some people who relate to the world solely through lies, who feel the need to lie for no reason. These people are called compulsive or pathological liars, and below you’ll see how to identify one, and how to help them if you do.

Pathological liars: What is a pathological liar?

Aside from some ethical and moral problems, lying isn’t really a problem. The problem takes shape when telling a lie is out of our control, when we need to lie to feel good. This is a type of addictive behavior. Pathological liars might not even know when they’re telling a lie, and probably won’t recognize that they’ve lied.

What is a Mythomania?

Mythomania, or a pathological liar, is a person who lies, hides, or exaggerates the truth without thinking and without gaining anything form it. The aren’t able to control it and they can’t stop. Mythomania can be related to several personality disorders including severe ones like psychopaths. Pathological liars are subconsciously looking for attention and admiration from those around them, and are hoping to get people to look up to them and think they’re “cool”. This is the reason most of their lies are personal lies. They lie for the sake of lying, without thinking about the consequences of what they say.

Why do compulsive liars lie?

In general, people lie or tell “half-truths” to benefit them in some way, whether it be about coming home before curfew or not breaking the priceless vase. This is why lying is a reinforcing behavior. It clearly keeps us from getting into deeper trouble, so why not tell a lie and get out of it?

The negative effects from lying may or may not ever happen, as others may never even find out about the lie. They may also find out much later, which loses some of the negativity and makes whatever punishment that comes later seem much less important. However it happens, it’s very probably that this lying behavior happens more than once.

Aside from trying to avoid negative consequences, these people lie to get attention and affection. They exaggerate, embellish, or make up a “reality” that they’ve created in order to seem more interesting. However, this only works in the short-term, because with time, people around them will start catching them in lies and distance themselves.

1- When a pathological liar is caught in a difficult situation, they get stressed.

2- They use another lie to “solve the problem”, and their stress subsides, reinforcing their behavior. On one hand, their stress subsides, and on the other, their problem “disappears”

3-Through this reinforcement (or “benefits”) (getting attention and avoiding uncomfortable situations), this lying behavior becomes a habit over time.

Compulsive liars are generally insecure and have low self-esteem. They aren’t very social, and they don’t know how to talk to people without lying. They don’t feel interesting enough, which is why they alter reality to make themselves look better.

They are addicted to lying. They can’t stop lying even if they wanted to, or it will leave them to feel defenseless. Over time, this addiction will become stronger and stronger, and their ability to control their behavior will become more and more difficult.

How can you tell if someone is a pathological liar?

Your friend who likes to embellish his stories isn’t necessarily a pathological liar. Lying pathologically is an addiction, they lie constantly because it’s a habit that they do without realizing it.

We usually catch on to these lies because things don’t quite add up or they seem too far-fetched, but when you confront the liar, they’re cool and collected, not nervous. They might be inexpressive and control their actions. If they look nervous, they’re not a pathological liar.

These people don’t lie to reap benefits or keep something from happening, but it’s possible that their habit started this way (and the subconscious search for approval). They lie systematically, without any apparent reason, which is another way to tell a simple lie from a pathological liar.

Some common aspects of pathological liars are:

  • Lies are believable and may have truthful elements. For example: a person has stomach flu but may exaggerate and tell a co-worker its a serious illness like cancer.
  • They tend to always show the person lying in a positive light.
  • Pathological liars can continue to lie for long periods of time. People who have long term affairs tend to start lying and may become pathological due to the pleasure of keeping the secret.  

How can you help a pathological liar?

How can you help a compulsive liar? It’s not as easy as you might think, because part of overcoming any addiction is recognizing that you have one, and pathological liars don’t recognize their problem. Trying to get them to change or bringing them to a psychologist won’t help, because if they don’t think they have a problem, they won’t want to get treatment.

It’s important to show them that you know that they have a problem and try to get them to understand that overcoming their addiction will improve their quality of life. Once they are able to recognize that they have a problem, you can try to have them see a professional, but be careful not to push them.

How can you keep your kids from becoming pathological liars?

This disorder generally starts in adolescence, which is why it’s important to teach your children good values.

It is especially important to raise their self-esteem and talk to them kindly. Tell them when they’ve done a good job and reinforce their good behavior. Remind them that having people like them isn’t the most important thing, but that having morals and treating others nicely can go a long way.

If anyone you know tends to lie a lot don’t rush into any conclusions, remember to always be objective and never push anyone into getting help when they don’t want to.

Hope you enjoyed the article, feel free to leave a comment below.

15 Ways to Train Your Brain Before School Starts

Summer is coming to a close soon for many of us. Going back to school can be exciting for those of us who love to work our minds to the fullest every single day. However, the majority of us tend to suffer from “Summer Brain Drain,” where our brains become lazy due to severe learning loss after the school year finishes. This feeling of inner lethargy overtakes most of us as we spend our vacation months in full relaxation mode. If you feel you have suffered from the pains of summer brain drain for the past few months, then don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time to train your brain before school starts so that we can enter into the new school year with a productive attitude and a strong brain ready for success!

11. How long is the normal summer vacation?
  • In the US, most schools have a 3 month summer vacation

12. How long does it take students to forget almost all of the information they've learned?
  • We start forgetting information as soon as 1 day after learning new information, but after 30 days we only remember about 2-3% of what we've learned!

13. When students return back to school after summer vacation, how long does it take them (on average) to re-learn all the material they were taught the previous school year?
  • According to Dr. Harris Cooper, a psychology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, students lose about 1-3 months of learning during summer break. This means that teachers must invest at least 4-6 weeks in order to re-teach past material that students should already know coming into the new school year. Therefore, if students return to school at the beginning of September, they might be spending all their school days re-learning old material until Halloween.

14. Which of the following activities DOESN'T keep your brain sharp?
  • Watching TV is a passive activity and requires very little work on our brain's part. Do something that makes your brain work!

15. Is sleep good or bad for our memory?
  • Sleep is always good, as long as it's restorative and not out of boredom. Our bodies need sleep to help us integrate all of the new information we've learned!

One great point to note is that anyone can strengthen his or her brain power at any age! Many people have the misconception that only adolescents and adults in their 20s to 30s have the potential to increase their brain stamina, but this is not true. Due to neuroplasticity, where the brain gradually forms new neural pathways and reacts to changing circumstances, our brains have the ability to adapt to any situation, even in old age.

Neuroplasticity is what will guide our brains to reach its ultimate manpower. Once you build positive learning habits and regularly engage in beneficial activities for your brain, the neurons in your brain will increase and the pre-existing ones will be strengthened even more than before. This will help you to improve in your cognitive abilities, enhance your learning potential, and widen your field of memory.

Here are 15 Tips to Train Your Brain Before School Starts:

1. Exercise

Probably one of the most important ways to keep your brain in tip-top shape is to exercise! Working out your body will increase the levels of oxygen flowing to your brain and will reduce your risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It can even prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Usually, for patients suffering from many physical and mental illnesses, their first suggestion for wellness is to exercise. Even if you’re not really into cardio or heavy-weight training, a simple 30-minute jog will do just the trick!

Exercising regularly enhances the release of special neurotransmitters called endorphins. These include dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which contribute to your overall mood and reduce your stress and anxiety levels.

Also, exercise contributes to neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new interneuron connections.

2. Read

If you want to improve your brain functioning on multiple levels, then you should read more in your spare time. Whether it be from fictional novels to real-life narratives to articles in your favorite magazine, reading is one of the best ways to strengthen the higher-order thinking processes of your brain. Plus, reading allows you to become more creative in your thoughts, your actions, and your conversations with others!

In a study performed at Emory University titled, “Short and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain,” researchers found that becoming immersed in a fictional novel enhances connections of neurons in the brain and improves overall brain function. Also, they found that reading fiction was found to strengthen a reader’s ability to put himself in another person’s shoes, empathize, and imagine in a way similar to actual visualization (meaning, the readers were able to imagine the stories read as though they were actual movies being watched).

To find out more about how reading enhances brain functioning, check out this article: “Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Functioning,” by Christopher Bergland.

3. Learn a new language

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It is never too late to diversify your tongue with a new language! In a study led by Dr. Thomas Bak at Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences, he found that young adults proficient in a second language performed significantly better on attention and concentration tests than their counterparts who only knew one language, irrespective of whether they had learned that language during infancy, childhood, or adolescence.

If you feel it might be difficult to learn a new language, then there are plenty of easy resources available today. Programs like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Mondly by ATi Studios and more offer apps that can be downloaded on your smartphone so you can gradually work your way into different languages. You can tune-in to videos on the Internet with instructors who specialize in various languages. Also, foreign films are great to watch if you really want to pick up a second language like a pro! Try watching a foreign film with the subtitles on once or twice, then watch it again a few times without the subtitles and see how many phrases and expressions you understand.

4. Old-Fashioned Puzzles

If you want to increase your cognitive abilities, then regular puzzles are great! They train your brain so that you become better in problem-solving skills and recognition of minor details. To get working, you should try your hand at jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, and even games of “Where’s Waldo?”

5. Get involved in a brain training program

Many companies today have developed amazing resources for you to use to boost your brain power. To cater to your convenience, CogniFit brain games offers personalized brain training programs that will target your specific cognitive needs. They also have programs available to help with some learning disorders that may affect your little ones!

6. Challenge your learning capabilities!

Find a subject you are really interested in or a topic that you want to learn more about. Immerse yourself fully into the subject by utilizing all the free assets available at your fingertip. If you register with Coursera.org, they provide many college-level courses that you can follow in a variety of fields, either free of charge or for a small fee. You can follow special channels on social media pages like Crash Course or TedEd to gain plenty of useful knowledge. Also, subscribe to magazines and online newspapers that specialize in your favorite fields, like Psychology Today, Live Science, The New Yorker, and more.

7. Find an artsy way to express yourself

Dig deep down into your inner feelings and look for a means of bringing out your unique soul. Try a hand at drawing, painting, poetry, writing short stories/prose/spoken word, or just vent away in a journal! It will help to boost your creativity levels and diversify your brain wave patterns

8. Visit as many museums and live performances as you can

Museums and exhibits increase our exposure to different forms of art, innovative ideas, and great skills of fellow human beings. Do some research on local museums and try to devote a few hours in your free time to see what is available. Whether it be from fine art to photography, anatomy, feelings, or poetry, there are so many sites to visit. Museums, spoken word café nights, operas, or even high school orchestras are great to awaken the mind and get your creative juices flowing.

9. Recreational outdoor activities

Work your body in ways you have never done before. Become more in-tuned with nature or just try new activities. This will stimulate neuroplasticity in your brain so that you can adapt to new environments and enjoy yourself in the process. Try hiking, rafting, canoeing, rock-climbing, skiing, jet-surfing, and any other fun activity you can think of!

10. Memorize

One of the best ways to increase your brain’s potential is to learn how to memorize. Whether it be from a religious text, any special author’s quotes, song lyrics, poetry verses, you name it, try to memorize. That way, you will gain experience in what methods are best for you in retaining information. Some practical ways of memorizing particular statements, concepts, or ideas are:

a. Rote rehearsal

This involves repeating a phrase over and over again till you can recite it fluently without the help of others

b. Writing

Some people learn better when they copy information over repetitively!

c. Mnemonic devices

Come up with acronyms, cool and catchy phrases, or special tricks to try to remember special material

11. Take on a new hobby/learn a new skill

Challenge your brain so that it really works its neuroplasticity features by doing something that you either have never done before or you’re not so great at. Some suggestions are cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, weight-lifting, getting involved in a sport, writing, drawing, and more. The list is endless!

12. Eat healthy

Of course, your diet impacts the way your body functions, especially your brain! The right foods will impact how much energy you have and how much command your brain has over you. Eating a diet full of healthy nutrients such as those rich in greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds can support mental acuity and alertness.

Certain foods have shown to increase brain strength. For example, foods filled with Omega-3 Fatty Acids like salmon can improve brain function by increasing activity in your prefrontal cortex (which is associated with your working memory).

13. Get enough sleep

Sleep is extremely important to maintain a strong brain. Research suggests that the average adult needs 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep in order to avoid sleep deprivation. If this amount is not reached, then creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are all compromised!

Studies have shown that even missing one night of sleep will increase the concentration of NSE and S-100B in the blood. These are biomarkers that are released as an alert signal that your brain is in an injurious condition and cannot function properly. When the blood is consumed with these substances, then this means that a severe amount of brain tissue has deteriorated.

14. Spend time with loved ones

Humans are social beings. We thrive on the relationships we have because they keep us well-grounded and motivated to be productive. Research shows that having meaningful friendships and a strong support system are vital to brain health. Studies from the Harvard School of Public Health found that senior citizens with the most social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline.

15. Be happy!

In our fast-paced society, one key factor that many of us forget to take care of is our emotional health. Stress, anger, worry, and anxiety are the brain’s worst enemies, yet many of us fail to realize that. Over time, chronic stress and anxiety destroys brain cells and damages the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved with forming new memories and retrieving old ones. To prevent stress from conquering your life, let go of all the major stressors in your life and just be happy! Positive and humanistic psychologists emphasize keeping an uplifting spirit as a way to reach one’s full potential (This was mainly emphasized in the works of Carl Rogers). If you want to stay happy and content with your lifestyle, then smile and laugh more. This will increase your levels of oxytocin secreted, which contributes to your overall feeling of satisfaction. Spend time with fun, carefree, and interesting people. Surround yourself with positive reminders to help lighten up your difficult days. Keep a list of all the things you are thankful for and don’t sweat the small things!

Sources: Source 1, Source 2, CogniFit

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

A relationship between a child and their respective caregiver is a very special one. Because of its specialty it has been investigated by many researchers and scientists. They try to figure out how does that relationship form and how it’s maintained, what reasons are there for that attachment of the child and the person that takes care of them? What they have figured out so far is that it is very important for the child and their caregiver to form that relationship. The critical period of development of every human being is, not surprisingly, in early childhood and caregivers play a crucial role in helping the child develop properly and hit all the vital developmental milestones. The caregiver and the child form an emotional bond with one another, an attachment of sorts. It develops very early on but it is not present when the baby is born. At such an early stage of a child’s development he cannot talk, however, that doesn’t stop him from communicating. Children at an early age communicate and share their emotions and needs in various ways and that communication is crucial in the development of the attachment bond between them and their caregiver(s).

How Do Children Express Their Needs?

  • Interactional Synchrony: infants will coordinate their body movements according to their caregiver’s language.
  • Bodily contact: of course any type of physical contact helps to form the attachment between the caregiver and the infant. This is especially vital in the periods right after birth.
  • Reciprocity: the way caregivers and infants produce similar behaviors and responses to one another.
  • Mimicking: imitation of facial expressions
  • Caregiverese: a ‘language’ of the infants that adults used which includes high-pitched sounds.

All of these form and strengthen the attachment bond between the caregiver and the child. Children are able to form attachments with multiple people but do experience stranger anxiety which is one of the most crucial things scientists study when they try to research attachment. Stranger anxiety includes the distress that the infants show when they are in the presence of people they do not know.

So why does attachment form?

Caregiver And Child Relationship: Attachment

There have been a lot of theories trying to decipher the origin of attachment and why do infants need the attachment bond? Many scientists say that it is due to the fact that children cannot provide for themselves so they use their caregivers as their primary providers and as a result develop an attachment bond with them.

Because the caregivers are able to provide children with food which the children cannot obtain themselves, these theorists believe that the infants are conditioned to attach themselves to their caregivers in order to get their reward, in this case it being the food. The theory does make a lot of sense, however, there has been a lot of dispute about it and many scientists argue that there must be something more to it than just the provision of food. In fact, studies have been done to show that the attachment between the children and the caregivers goes way beyond the food factor.

In one popular study done by Harry Harlow (a highly unethical study), he tested rhesus monkeys (infant monkeys that were separated from their mothers and they were raised in isolation and in cages) who were presented with a ‘surrogate mother’ that was made purely of wire and another one that was made with a soft blanket. He found out that the monkeys preferred the ‘mother’ with the blanket to the wired one when the blanketed mother was available and if not, the monkeys showed very serious signs of distress. This experiment showed that food is not the only reason infants (monkey infants in this case) form attachments with their caregivers.

A lost native language may have a lasting effect on the brain

A lost native language may have a lasting effect on the brain

If someone asked you to think back to your earliest memory, you might remember something from when you were three or four. However, a study published in the journal Nature Communications shows that our brains remember so much more than we thinkTech Times talks about the lasting effects that a language can have on our brain.

Scientists at McGill University in Canada have shown that monolingual and bilingual children use different parts of their brain. This has been studied and proven through different methods for a while. Being raised in an environment with more than one language causes you to have a bilingual brain, which develops language processes differently from other children who only speak one language.

However, this study went beyond bilingual and monolingual children, and looked at adopted Chinese children who, since their first year of life, have not spoken or been around the Chinese language. Using fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), researchers were able to see that when these children spoke, the didn’t process language as a monolingual as might have been expected, but instead as a bilingual.

What does this mean? Children or babies that were exposed to more than one language in the first few years of life will later process language as a bilingual person. This information is important to know, not just because it’s interesting, but also because it means we can look at brain plasticity to make better teaching plans for learners of one, two, or multiple languages, even if they don’t know it.

Brain changes in kids learning math

Brain changes in kids learning math

Many kids ask their math teacher why learning a particular mathematical concept or skill is important. When helping kids out with their homework, many parents may wonder the same thing. Now scientists are unraveling the earliest building blocks of math — and what children know about numbers as they begin elementary school seems to play a big role in how well they do everyday calculations later on.

The findings from the National Institutes of Health have specialists considering steps that parents might take to spur math abilities, just like they do to try to raise a good reader. This is not only about trying to improve the nation’s math scores and attract kids to become engineers. It is far more basic, such as how rapidly can you calculate a tip? Do the fractions to double a recipe? Know how many quarters and dimes the cashier should hand back as your change?

About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lacks the math competence expected of a middle-schooler, meaning they have trouble with those ordinary tasks and are not qualified for many of today’s jobs. “Experience really does matter,” said Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which funded the research.

Healthy children start making that switch between counting to what is called fact retrieval when they are 8 years old to 9 years old, when they are still working on fundamental addition and subtraction. How well kids make that shift to memory-based problem-solving is known to predict their ultimate math achievement. Those who fall behind “are impairing or slowing down their math learning later on,” Mann Koepke says.

But why do some kids make the transition easier than others? To start finding out, Stanford University researchers first peeked into the brains of 28 children as they solved a series of simple addition problems inside a brain-scanning MRI machine.

Kids from seven to nine years old saw a calculation flash on a screen (e.g. 3+4=7) and pushed a button to say if the answer was right or wrong. Scientists recorded how quickly they responded and what regions of their brain became active as they did.

In a separate session, they also tested the kids face to face, watching if they moved their lips or counted on their fingers, for comparison with the brain data. The children were tested twice, approximately a year apart. As the children grew up, their answers relied more on memory and became faster and more accurate, and it showed in the brain. There was less activity in the prefrontal and parietal brain parts associated with counting and more in the hippocampus.

Next, the team put 20 adolescents and 20 adults into the MRI machines and gave them the same simple addition problems. It turns out that adults do not use their memory-crunching hippocampus in the same way. Instead of using a lot of effort, retrieving six plus four equals 10 from long-term storage was almost automatic, the team said.

In other words, over time the brain became increasingly efficient at retrieving facts. Think of it like a bumpy, grassy field, NIH’s Mann Koepke explains. Walk over the same spot enough and a smooth, grass-free path forms, making it easier to get from start to end.

If your brain does not have to work as hard on simple math, it has more working memory free to process the teacher’s brand-new lesson on more complex math.

While schools tend to focus on math problems around third grade, and math learning disabilities often are diagnosed by fifth grade, the new findings suggest “the need to intervene is much earlier than we ever used to think,” Mann Koepke adds and even offers some tips:

Don’t teach your toddler to count solely by reciting numbers. Attach numbers to a noun — “Here are five crayons: One crayon, two crayons…” or say “I need to buy two yogurts” as you pick them from the store shelf — so they’ll absorb the quantity concept.

Talk about distance: How many steps to your ball? The swing is farther away; it takes more steps.

Describe shapes: The ellipse is round like a circle but flatter.

As they grow, show children how math is part of daily life, as you make change, or measure ingredients, or decide how soon to leave for a destination 10 miles away,

“We should be talking to our children about magnitude, numbers, distance, shapes as soon as they’re born,” she contends. “More than likely, this is a positive influence on their brain function.”

CogniFit offers you an online platform to assess and train the cognitive abilities of children such as their concentration, memory and attention: CogniFit for Families. CogniFit personalized brain training program helps boost reading skills and cognitive functions. The program also includes a specific training for mental arithmetic.