The week's best parenting advice: September 27, 2022
The end of cursive, what to do when your child won't go to school, and more
The end of cursive
Cursive no longer holds a place in most K-12 school curricula, and all of us will suffer the effects, writes Drew Gilpin Faust in The Atlantic. The inability to read cursive means his students can't read manuscripts, and can only take on research projects that they rely on published sources, rather than handwritten letters or manuscripts. They also struggle to decipher notes from their professors or letters from grandparents. If this trend continues, the thrill of interacting "with the physical embodiment of thoughts and ideas voiced by a person long since silenced by death," will become a privilege of trained translators, writes Gilpin Faust. "The inability to read handwriting deprives society of direct access to its own past."
What to do when your child won't go to school
School refusal or avoidance afflicts somewhere between 5 and 28 percent of school-age kids at some point in their education, and that figure appears to be on the rise in the wake of the pandemic, writes Elizabeth Chang in The Washington Post. Parents ought to be on the lookout for signs of school anxiety, such as repeated attempts to stay home from school, difficulty separating from a parent at drop-off, or excessive worrying about something going wrong at school. If you observe such behavior, don't ignore it. Instead, consult the school, which will very likely have tools to help, or can connect parents to outside aid. The remedy for school refusal will depend on the motivations driving it, but indulging the child's desire to avoid school is generally unhelpful. Instead, the focus should be on teaching children "non-avoidant coping skills," writes Chang.
Stop scrolling while parenting
It's probably best to avoid scrolling through Instagram or Twitter while your kids are around, writes Sara Novak in Fatherly. In a recent study, researchers linked screen time to "poor parenting" behaviors such as inconsistent rule enforcement, yelling, nagging, and saying mean things. "When kids are showing difficult behaviors, parents might use technology to withdraw. And when you're more absorbed in media, you might have stronger, less patient reactions to your children," said the study's lead author Jasmine Zhang. That said, not all forms of parental social media use are bad for kids. "Using media to maintain social connections — for example by texting, video chatting, and emailing friends — was actually linked to good parenting, such as cheering up your child when they're sad, providing care and attention to your child, and listening to your child's ideas and opinions," writes Novak.
How to help kids cope with losing
If you want your children to thrive in sports, they'll have to learn to cope with losing, writes Rachel Fairbank in Lifehacker. One way to prepare kids for a loss is to teach them that success isn't so much about winning as it is about putting in your best effort, said sports psychologist Frank Smoll. This isn't to say you should sugarcoat loss. Instead, try a "stop-look-listen" strategy: stop focusing on the outcome of the game, look for signs of how your child is feeling about it, and then listen to what they have to say on the matter before asking questions or offering advice. After this assessment, "focus on the aspects of the game that were independent of winning or losing the game: things like what they did well, showing good sportsmanship, exhibiting persistence, or trying out a new skill they'd been working on in practice," writes Fairbank.
Egg-freezing has a spotty track record
Egg-freezing is increasingly popular among American women, but new research suggests the procedure has a low success rate. Analyzing outcomes from a fertility center in New York, the researchers found that egg-freezing only resulted in a live birth about 39 percent of the time. For women who froze their eggs at or before the age of 38, the odds of success rose to 51 percent, and to 70 percent if they froze 20 eggs or more. "The age of the woman when she used the eggs to try to have a baby did not make a difference — all that mattered was how old a woman was when she froze her eggs and how many she froze," reports Gina Kolata in The New York Times.