occupational therapist & child development specialist

Month: March 2012

Our children: To praise or not to praise them?

“Of course,” you’re probably thinking. “Parents should absolutely praise their children!” Interestingly, research shows that it’s not whether or not you praise your child, it’s HOW you praise them. Studies have shown that children praised for their effort as opposed to their ability tend to work harder and are more motivated. For example, say “You worked so hard on that project! I’m very proud” rather than “You are so smart. That’s the best project in the class.”

The children in the study who were told that they were smart did not tend to do as well on subsequent tasks and seemed more concerned about their specific performance and scores than they did about learning. There seemed to be a fear of failure with these children.

The students praised for their efforts selected more challenging tasks and were more motivated to put forth effort on future tasks. So the bottom line is…praise your child for effort rather than ability.

There is another important point that must be made when it comes to praise. Don’t go overboard. We want our children to know that they are appreciated and loved, but we don’t want them to expect praise and encouragement every step of the way. If a child begins to feel entitled to praise, they will probably be sorely disappointed out in the real world where praise isn’t thrown our way constantly!

Transform your parenting skills!

Do you ever feel that your approach to parenting is average? Are you constantly searching for parenting resources or looking to improve your parenting skills? What if you could transform your parenting skills from ordinary to extraordinary in just 21 days? I have written a simple to follow program for DailyOM.com called Transform Your Parenting Skills in 21 Days, that teaches exceptional research-based strategies for addressing common child-rearing challenges and problems. Just work through the program and you’ll see a transformation in how you approach parenting, and you will see a drastic change in how your children respond to you.

Not only does the course include 21 incredibly effective lessons to improve parenting skills, I provide daily exercises and activities to ensure that you and your family get the maximum benefits from the course. You will develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your children, and you will acquire the skills needed to be an extraordinary parent. Click here to check it out!

These are just some of the topics that are covered:

  • Discipline Musts that Every Parent Should Know
  • The Value of Teaching Responsibility to Children
  • Why Parents Should Require Respect
  • The Importance of Emphasizing Empathy
  • The Secret of Tapping into Your Child’s Creativity
  • Effectively Communicating with Your Child
  • The Art of Apology

Is Crawling Really Important?

I recently wrote an article on the importance of crawling for the website babble.com. I had no idea that this article would stir up such controversy! The article has only been published a couple of days, and there are already 16 comments from angry parents as well as supportive parents, professionals, and therapists. My intention was not to frighten or alarm anyone, only to share the information and research that I’ve gathered on the topic.

As I said in the article, I understand that not every baby who skips crawling will have developmental problems. However, I do believe that there is a relationship between crawling and many of the skills that I discuss in the piece, so it can’t hurt a child to experience these movement patterns, even if it’s just while pretending to be an animal, or crawling through a tunnel or an open-ended box during play. If you’re interested, click here to read the article. By the way, the title, “Crawling is Crucial,” is not the title that I submitted with the article. I suggested, “Help! My Baby Isn’t Crawling,” which I think is a better reflection of the contents of the piece.

For any parent or professional interested in reading the research used for the article, I’ve listed it below.

  • Bai, DL & Bertenthal, BI (1992). Locomotor status and the development of spatial search skills. Child Development, 63, 215-226.
  • Benson, J. B. (1990). The development and significance of crawling in infancy. In J. E. Clark, & J. H. Humphrey (Eds.),    Advances in motor development research. New York: AMS Press.
  • Benson, JB, & Uzgiris, I C (1985). Effect of self-initiated locomotion on infant search activity. Developmental Psychology, 21(6), 923-931.
  • Campos, J. J., Bertenthal, B. I., & Kermoian, R. (1992). Early experience and emotional development: The emergence of wariness of heights. Psychological Science, 3, 61-64.
  • McEwan MH, Dihoff RE, Brosvic GM (1991). Early infant crawling experience is reflected in later motor skill development. Percept Motor Skills, 72(1):75-9.
  • Zachry, AH. (2009). Emotional transformation in the infant following initial experiences with independent locomotion,      Unpublished Dissertation, The University of Memphis.


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