The week's best parenting advice: July 12, 2022
The power of teenage friendships, here's why your kid keeps lying, and more
The power of teenage friendships
When it comes to helping your teen thrive, it's easy to focus on academics or sports, but friendships are just as important, writes Emily Laber-Warren in The Washington Post. Having strong friendships as a teenager predicts academic success, better mental and physical health, and more rewarding romantic relationships in young adulthood. This isn't to say that kids need to be popular in order to succeed — in fact, research suggests that teens who prioritize popularity are more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, and struggle to form meaningful relationships as young adults. "It's not who is the life of the party" who thrives, says psychologist Joseph Allen, "It's more likely the two ninth-graders that [are] spending Friday night sitting around their basement watching YouTube videos and eating cookies but forming a friendship that is durable."
Here's why your kid keeps lying
Lying is a sign of intelligence. Or at least, it's a sign that your child's brain is developing properly, writes Melinda Wenner Moyer. Dishonesty requires theory of mind skills, executive function, and empathy, so "kids who lie are demonstrating important cognitive and emotional skills," writes Wenner Moyer. At the same time, because children are impulsive, they struggle to follow rules — and then lie to avoid the consequences. If you'd like to encourage honesty in your child, practice what you preach: don't lie about your child's age to get them into a museum for free unless you want them to follow suit. If you catch them lying, stay calm and respond to the lie separately from whatever misdeed it was meant to cover up. And don't punish them too harshly for it, because that will only encourage them to learn how to lie more effectively.
Now is the time to help your child recover lost skills
If your child fell behind educationally, socially, or emotionally during the pandemic, summer is a great time to recover lost ground, writes Sara Novak in Fatherly. "Educational opportunities over the summer make a big difference, and they don't have to be expensive or time-consuming," writes Novak. Math can be incorporated into baking, shopping, or board games. And plenty of libraries offer summer reading challenges, which offer a fun and low-stakes way of boosting literacy skills. Seek out plenty of opportunities for your child to spend time with other kids. If a social problem arises, don't rescue them from the awkward circumstance — help them to navigate it on their own. And utilize the summer to rebuild family connections that were strained or weakened during the pandemic. Family rituals — Friday game night, or taco Tuesdays — "can go a long way in giving kids a sense of belonging."
Why babies love water
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a baby in the presence of water will want to splash in it — and there's a reason for that, writes Tiffany Eve Lawrence in Romper. "Water play presents a rich sensational experience for babies," says pediatrician Gary Kirkilas. The dynamics of water — how it sounds, how it feels, and how light reflects off of it — may seem mundane to adults, but they are fascinating to babies just getting their bearings in the physical world. And because babies spent nearly a year in amniotic fluid, the feel of water is also soothing and familiar. So while it can be messy, offering your child plenty of opportunities for water play is a great way to encourage their development in a manner that appeals to them.
Sleep is important, even during summer
It's easy to let bedtime routines slide during the summer, but it's not a great idea, writes Elizabeth Chang in The Washington Post. If you allow your child's sleep schedule to get too far out of whack, it will be very difficult to get back on track come September. Sleep psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg recommends a "school plus two" rule-of-thumb: allow your child to stay up two hours later than they would on a school night, but no more. Carrying on with all of the usual elements of a child's bedtime routine, such as brushing teeth, reading, and keeping phones and tablets out of the bedroom, can help maintain this standard. For teens, it likely makes more sense to focus on getting them out of bed in the morning, which will help ensure they fall asleep at a reasonable hour the following night.