Saturday, February 26, 2011

Praise Effort not I.Q.

Recently I read a very interesting book on which talked about a study done on children where half were praised for the effort they put into something and the other half were praised on being clever and bright. Each group of children were given progressively harder problems to solve. The children who were praised for effort would give each problem a go the children who were praised for IQ were 10 times more likely to give up because they believed they were already bright and had reached the top. When presented with a tougher problem did not want to try because of fear of failure and could not bring themselves to even try to solve the problem believing that if it did not come easy to them that they wee incapable of solving it.

It is interesting because the children who were praised for IQ believed that their smartness came from an innate ability that they had. If they could not solve the problem straight of the top of their head it meant that they were no longer smart. All they had to do is encounter a few problems difficult to solve or make a few mistakes and whamo they gave up. This is called fixed-mindset praise and children who are exposed to this,
1) Believe that success is due to an innate ability that they have, and begin to believe that any mistakes they make are failures. Not because of lack of effort but lack of ability
2) Want to appear smart to the people that have told them so rather then be involved in what they are actually learning (e.g cares more about passing the test than what is actually being taught)
3) Are less likely to ask for help, less likely to want to make an effort because the fear of failure and not looking smart to others becomes the child's greatest fear.

Now I know as a parent I have to constantly be on guard to not say to dd1 Oh, you are so clever. I have to say Wow look what you did, you put a lot of effort into that. Oh, good job DD you worked really hard on that card for Daddy. There are many a times where I say your so clever, and I think oops better praise the effort next time. Sometimes as a parent you have so much going on in your day that it is easy to slip up.

What I try an remember is that by praising the effort that she makes I am giving her a "Growth Mind-Set" and if she does fail at something she is more likely to "Get back up on the horse" and try again. They do not mull over their mistakes they shrug it off and try again. They are more likely to give something harder a go because their effort is praised not their intelligence because they realise that if they give something ago and fail it is not the end of the world.

It is also not surprising that the children who are praised for effort do better as adults to. They adjust more quickly from their failures and are able to move on.

So remember the next time little Johnny or Suzy do something that surprises you praise the effort that they put in to it. You will be giving the a brain boosting gift that will last a lifetime.


Most of the above information came from the book Brain Rules for baby by John Medina. I highly recommend this book. A book that recommends a man pick up a vacuum cleaner wins to help his partner win hands down for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The impact of early education on future generations

I was watching a talk on Ted the other night when one of the talks really struck a chord with me. The lady was speaking of a very good friend who was part of a Native American Tribe. She said when the Elders of a tribe went to make a major decision that would affect the tribe today they would meditate on how the decision would effect 7 Generations to come as they understood while they a the stewards of the earth while they are here the future generations would inherit the earth from them and have to live with the decision that they have made today.

 So, how does the decision of many parents today to educate their babies and toddlers impact the future generations to come. I have wondered about this over the past couple of days. I thought well the chance that my children will then go on to teach their own children is quite high as they will hopefully see the benefit of being taught to read and do maths early.

Will they have a deeper compassion and understanding for others as they have been exposed or taught 2nd or 3rd languages at home and therefore understand others from different cultures by being able to converse with them or at least understand what they are saying.

Will the emergence of these children whose parents have taught them at an early age push the government/child care centres to think about education in a completely new and different way. Could we teach children to read at a younger age and start them at age 3 instead of 5 and by the time formal schooling begins we could focusing on other things and therefore have children finishing school earlier and entering the workforce earlier? and if we can teach such a huge amount of information to the under 5 in a very short space of time does that mean there is more time for play, art and craft, drama, sport and music? Things that have been cut or reduced from the school curriculum as the academic load increases.(and also found to have a huge positive affect on the brain) If a child has time to pursue its own interests after the academic stuff is done then we are giving them a gift that lasts a lifetime and that is the love of learning rather than an obligation to learn.

I remember being at school having to read a book for English and it usually being some dry, boring book and then usually reading the comprehension questions first then skim reading the book to find the answers rather than really sitting down and enjoying the book or getting out of the book what the author intended.

I also think of what the future generations would be like if they could pursue what truly interested them because they had been given the chance to learn everything they could early and had techniques to learn quickly. What would those future generations be like and how much would they know the subject they were interested in? More than likely they would be experts.

As we speak today the first time we are given any real choice in what we would like to study is University or if we take an apprenticeship. By then because we have a huge amount of choice it is hard to know what to pursue because you might have alot of things you would like to try? If we gave children the choice and trusted in the fact that they would learn and gave them the freedom to learn by the time they are ready to leave school  they would more than likely know what there interests are and are likely to follow them with a passion. Which would drop university drop out rates significantly and leading to a happier and more peaceful society.


PS the above blog is my opinion and none of the above has been proven scientifically.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies | Video on

Tonight I thought that I would post a video from TED for you to watch on how a child aquires a language. Patricia Kuhl has been reseaching how a babies learn a language and how a baby can differentiate the sounds of a language over an adult. It is a very interesting talk and lasts for about ten minutes

Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies | Video on

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some FAQ's about signing

I just loved teaching my dd1 sign language out of all the things I have taught her this is probably my favourite and the one I enjoyed the most. This allowed me to communicate with her from a very young age but there are many myths about signing with your child so I thought I would give you some of the facts from a sign language researcher from Australian baby hands for you to read for yourself.

Baby sign language;
Can empower your baby to communicate with those around them
before they are able to speak.
This means that your baby may be able to communicate what they want when they want it. It may also enable them to initiate a conversation about topics that interest them. Furthermore it bridges the gap between no language and spoken language.
Can reduce frustration for both you and your baby.
Sign language may allow your baby to tell you what they want, what’s wrong or what hurts. Therefore your baby may experience less frustration, tantrums and crying. If your baby is able to communicate their basic needs to you, it means you do not have to try and interpret their cries. Sign language can help reduce those tear-filled frustrated moments.
Can enrich the parent-child relationship.
By introducing baby sign language into your home, you are enhancing the bond with your baby. The nature of Baby sign communication leads you and your baby towards responding to each other in turn and this is a really valuable skill. Signing involves daily interactions with your baby that will eventually lead to a two-way conversation.
Can provide an insight into your baby’s mind and who they really are.
Baby sign language allows your baby to initiate a conversation with you about what they are interested in. It allows you to see what they are thinking, what they are interested in and what the world looks like from their view. All this before your baby can talk!
Can stimulate intellectual development and improve memory.
Children are fascinated with sign language and often pay greater attention to what is being taught when it is involved. It has also been shown that when children learn a word in conjunction with the sign, they are more likely to remember the meaning of the word.
Can accelerate the speech process.
Research has shown that children who use sign language may acquire spoken language faster than non-signing children.
Can enhance a baby’s confidence, self-esteem and selfexpression.
Due to a baby’s ability to communicate their needs, wants and interests through signing, a baby may become more confident.
Baby sign language can stimulate brain development and potentially
increase your baby’s I.Q.
Teaching sign language can stimulate your baby’s brain development. Research has illustrated that signing babies achieve higher scores on future I.Q. tests (up to 12 I.Q. points higher) than children who learn to speak in the traditional manner. Signing can stimulate brain development as when learning sign language you use both the right and left hemisphere of the brain compared to learning a spoken language, which only uses the brain’s left hemisphere. This use of both hemispheres results in the brain building more synapses.
Children who keep up sign language are effectively bilingual.
By introducing your baby to signs from Australian Baby Hands, you are introducing your baby to a second language. Brain research suggests that language skills are acquired best in the first years of a baby’s life. Also, by introducing Auslan to your baby and continuing to use this wonderful language after they can speak, you are giving your child the gift to communicate with the Australian deaf and hard of hearing community in sign language.
  • Please feel free to re-publish this article on your website including the authors bio details below in full.
Article written by Ja dd2 ckie Durnin:
Introduce baby signing into your home today by downloading a free baby sign chart from You can also read stories from parents who have introduced baby sign as well as more about the benefits of having a signing child

I hope that this has answered some of your questions. Teaching sign language to my dd1 and soon to start with dd2 has been a wonderful experience and I hope that the above answers to your questions, eases your mind and you to can start this wonderful communication between you and your baby.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is tv really bad for children under two?

Hi Everyone,

In the media recently there has been alot of talk about the evils of TV for the under 2 and that it can delay speech development and the best and only interaction a child should have is that with the parent or adult.

I have always been intrigued by this study done by Monash University in Melbourne, because not once did they elaborate on what these children actually watched on TV. We seem to forget that the television is only a medium and it is the CONTENT of the programme that makes all the difference. Now I know as well as you know that there is alot of crap on television these days and alot of it is touted as educational and wonderful for your child but majority of it is actually crap and too fast and too flashy and not interactive enough and really there to just pacify you child for half and hour without really teaching them much.

Now do not get me wrong, I have used the TV as a babysitter so I can cook tea or have a shower and even sometimes recoup after a night of interrupted sleep with the kiddies I am human after all but my husband and I are very wary about what our children watch and anything that is said to be educational.

When we look at a TV programme or educational DVD we look for something that is

1, The characters in the show speak correctly to each other no programmes where the characters speak in a baby language or talk to each other in gobbledygook.

2.  The DVD is interactive, it asks the child to participate in some way by asking the child to do a sign or an action within the programme.

3. Engages and entertains the child but does not necessarily has to entertain the adult.

4. The educational content is high quality.

5. There are children in the programme that are of similar age of your child having fun with what they are learning. (This anecdotal as this is something I have observed in my dd1 as she seems to respond to the programmes with children in it  a similar age over a cartoon)

Now as a parent I know that all children are different and not all children will respond to all DVD or TV programmes. Some kids are just not interested in TV at all, but before you go out and spend your hard earned cash on some DVD that is touted as educational by some marketing hype, do a little research first and ask around because some DVDs are just a waste of time and money and deserve to stay on the shelf.

Kim xx

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Today was one of those days where I was pushed to my limits with dd1. So much so I sat down on the couch and just cried and cried. Today I felt like a true failure as a mother. Today I had to muster all the energy to keep going.  How can a 2 year old push you so much? They are so tiny and have such little knowledge of the world and I am supposed to be the adult and have infinite patience and the ability to ignore such behaviour but yet she manages to push me to my absolute limits by just saying  'no'. For the ump teenth time that day. I'm so ashamed I just lost it. DD1 is just going through a stage and while I know this logically it doesn't make it any easier when I'm trying just to get her to do something, It is just so hard some times

So I decided for my own sanity to throw both the kids into the car and get out the house and take a break from our routine. We went had lunch with their dad at his work and then went to the shops (something my daughter loves to do) and looked at the clothes and the shoes and the toys and did something different. Sometimes a break in routine is the best thing and okay restart tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day and  hopefully the patience tank has been refuelled.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Why a happy marriage = a happy child = Great brain development

My Grandmother and I were recently having a chat about raising children and just how difficult it is to raise children no matter what generation you were living in. I confided in her how I felt about always feeling like the villain who had to dish out the discipline all the time and how envious I was of my husband when he walked in the door and it was nothing but love and wonderful behaviour from my dd1 after I have had a horrible day with her.

My Grandmother confided in me that she had felt the same way towards my grandfather he was the wonderful knight in shining armour and she had done all the work all day and he got all the reward. She remembers clearly after having her first daughter how she felt towards him even at times hostile about the changes she felt had all happened to her the sacrifice that she made and how his life went back to normal and hers was changed forever and how she felt she never got a break and was expected to keep going and going and going. I took some comfort that in 50years not really much had changed in child rearing and most of it was still up to the woman. (By the way I do not condone the notion that child rearing is the whole and sole responsibility of the woman I think men need to pick up the slack a little more)

I had forgotten about that conversation until I picked up the book Brain Rules for Baby and it had a whole chapter dedicated to relationships and the importance of a happy marriage in brain development of the newest member of the family. John Medina the Author of Brain Rules for Baby stated a statistic from a study done of marriages after the first child was born and 83% of couples stated that they had experienced mild to a major crisis in their marriage when they transitioned to parenthood so if you are reading this and you have just brought home your first child you are not alone.

This is something that is rarely talked about. Who would anticipate that in all the excitement leading up to the birth of your first child and the wonderful joyous occasion that it is that this precious little someone could bring such turbulence to a marriage. It is no wonder though it does. You are sleep deprived, your exhausted by the end of the day. You have 1/3 of the time for each other, its hard to go to the toilet or even shower when you want to and usually there is one parent left to do the majority of the caring as well as all the house work. This can quickly breed hostility towards one another and in some people's cases it can lead to divorce.

But how does this affect the baby's brain development 
Little babies are not the blank canvas we initially think they are. A little baby like all humans seeks safety above all, and numerous studies have shown that babies will do this. A baby in an environment where they feel unsafe they begin to feel stressed. A baby in an emotionally unstable home will not be able to respond to new stimuli, calm themselves or even learn to regulate their own emotions. While a baby/toddler might not understand what the argument is about they certainly understand that there is something wrong. I always liken it to this think back to when you were a small child and your parents were arguing. Think about how that made you feel. Did you feel safe that maybe the only world you have ever known might be coming to an end? Did you hide in some place? Did you want your parents to stop arguing? You can probably feel the emotions inside you rising up again. If you can feel that emotion again remember that your baby can to and it will do anything to make itself feel safe again. Once a baby has safety attained it can begin to develop its potential.

Relationships before Results 
This is the motto of the Right Brain Kids and while it generally relates to your bond with your child I think it can also relate to the relationship you have with your significant other. If your relationship with your significant other is not good or could be better look for ways to fix it and give your relationship the time it deserves. (Easier said than done, I know when you are exhausted in the evenings) I know how tired I am after a day with my two dd's. I have also learnt to speak up and ask for more help from my significant other and have tried very hard not to be a superwoman because I can't do it all and let's face I didn't create my two children on my own either. My husband and I also aim to dedicate one night a week to each other and as the kids get older hopefully we will have more time for each other and we always try but not necessarily succeed all the time by being on the same page with discipline with the dd1 especially which helps cause less arguments.

By reducing some of the stress factors that may be causing the relationship to be stressful, can help make you a better parent and therefore teacher for your child  and your child will be happier for it. I understand that conflict within our relationships is inevitable but finding a way to communicate will help towards a nice living environment for everyone and a baby far more willing to learn.