The week's best parenting advice: November 16, 2021
What to do if you drop your baby, how to tell if your angry teen is depressed, and more.
You dropped your baby. What now?
No parent wants to drop their child, but unfortunately, it happens to even the most attentive among us — and it's what you do after the fall that makes all the difference, writes Aaminah Khan in Fatherly. "When a baby falls, the most important thing to do is calmly assess the damage and watch for the signs of serious injury," said pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg. She advises taking a deep breath and attempting to soothe the child in the same way you would in any other circumstance, which will help them to feel secure. "If the baby calms down after a few minutes and is playing, smiling, and distracted by toys as per usual, they are probably in the clear." A trip to the emergency room is only necessary if the baby is vomiting or inconsolable, or has bumps, bruises, and isn't acting like themselves.
How to tell if your angry teen is depressed
Irritability is a symptom of both adolescence and depression, which can make it tricky to assess a teenager's mental health, writes Rachel Fairbank in Lifehacker. The difference comes down to two main factors: duration and environment. It's normal for teenagers to be irritable one day and themselves the next. It's when it persists for days or weeks at a time that it may signify a deeper problem. And it's not unusual for teens to be sullen at, say, school, but not at home, or vice versa. "If they are irritable in multiple environments, though, particularly while doing activities they once enjoyed, that's a sign something more might be going on," she said. Parents should also be on the lookout for major downshifts in their teen's engagement with school, extracurriculars, or their friendships, which could be a sign that something is wrong.
The importance of conversation for raising curious kids
A new study suggests that engaging in conversation with your child while they are watching television may mitigate some of the negative effects of excessive media exposure on child development. Researchers at the University of Michigan assessed the link between daily television exposure and curiosity among 1,500 little kids and found that the more parents engaged in conversation with preschoolers during shared TV time, the more curious their children were by the time they reached kindergarten. "Curiosity is an important foundation for scientific innovation, joy in learning, and numerous positive outcomes in childhood," said Prachi Shah, the lead author of the study. "Our findings suggest the importance of parents finding opportunities to foster conversational exchanges in daily routines with their young children — including while watching television."
What to do if social media is making your child feel left out
Social media has added a new level of torment to the age-old problem of children being "left out" by peers: they often witness proof of their own social exclusion on Instagram or Facebook. Though painful, such a circumstance offers parents a chance to strategize with their teens about how to set boundaries that minimize the distress social media causes them, Emily Edlynn argues in Parents. It also provides an opportunity for reflection about what it means to have (and be) a good friend. Ultimately, Edlynn writes, "feeling excluded by friends is a fixture of growing up, with or without social media." A parent's goal should be to help their children identify the emotions they feel in response, and then use that information to make better decisions in both areas of life.
When typical parenting advice falls short
Sometimes the typical strategies parents use to calm explosive, inflexible children just don't cut it, writes Rachel Fairbank in LifeHacker. Often, excessive inflexibility in children is an attempt to regain a sense of control and safety. Contrary to conventional wisdom, parents should avoid saying "no" and instead engage the child in a discussion of what they want, and if possible, help them make a plan to get it. Likewise, over-the-top emotional outbursts may be a sign that a child is going into sensory overload, in which case, nothing you say to correct or punish the behavior will help them snap out of it. Instead, "slow down and meet your child where they are in that moment." And if the behavior persists, don't be afraid to seek help, as it could be an indication of an underlying learning or developmental disorder.