When I asked Meaghan Martin (star of Mean Girls 2, 10 Things I Hate About You and Camp Rock among others) what was the most difficult thing about being a teen these days, she didn’t hesitate: “Being a teen has always been difficult, but today there are so many ways to be rejected. Between Facebook, Twitter, and other online sites, it seems as if every day there’s a new way to be un-friended, excluded, or picked on.”
I interviewed Meaghan about her perspectives on teen self-esteem issues and the impact that physical appearance can have on young men and women. You can listen to the edited interview here (starts at minute 12:02):
The most striking thing about Meaghan is that she is a genuinely nice person. Down-to-earth, confident, empathic – she exudes an inner peace that is downright wholesome. How did she escape her teen years relatively unscathed by hormonal angst, I wondered? The secret, she said, was loving parents.
“I was a typical nerd as a kid. I had glasses, braces, and an asthma inhaler. But I didn’t care what others thought of me, because my parents told me that I was a good person who could do anything I wanted in life. They taught me self-confidence, and supported me 100% in anything I wanted to do. I was so blessed to have parents like that.”
I chuckled as I remembered my pre-teen and teen years, sharing with Meaghan that I was a lot like her – except that I had traded the asthma inhaler for acne. For me, Read more »
An international team of researchers has developed a rather reliable test that predicts the future improvement of reading abilities in kids with dyslexia. The method uses functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) to scan the brain, and data crunching software to interpret the data. The researchers hope that the finding will help parents and therapists uniquely identify which learning tools are best for each child.
From the announcement by Vanderbilt University :
The 45 children who took part in the study ranged in age from 11 to 14 years old. Each child first took a battery of tests to determine their reading abilities. Based on these tests, the researchers classified 25 children as having dyslexia, which means that they exhibited significant difficulty learning to read despite having typical intelligence, vision and hearing and access to typical reading instruction.
During the fMRI scan, the youths were shown pairs of printed words and asked to identify pairs that rhymed, even though they might be spelled differently. The researchers investigated activity patterns in a brain area on the right side of the head, near the temple, known as the right inferior frontal gyrus, noting that some of the children with dyslexia activated this area much more than others. DTI scans of these same children revealed stronger connections in the right superior longitudinal fasciculus, a network of brain fibers linking the front and rear of brain.Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*
Diagnosis of any mental disorder at this young age is subject to debate. No one wants to pathologize a typical preschooler’s tantrums, mood swings and torrent of developmental stages. Grandparents are highly suspicious; parents often don’t want to know. “How many times have you heard, ‘They’ll grow out of it’ or ‘That’s just how he is’?” says Melissa Nishawala, a child psychiatrist at the New York University Child Study Center.
And some in the field have reservations, too. Classifying preschool depression as a medical disorder carries a risk of disease-mongering. “Given the influence of Big Pharma, we have to be sure that every time a child’s ice cream falls off the cone and he cries, we don’t label him depressed,” cautions Rahil Briggs, an infant-toddler psychologist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York. Though research does not support the use of antidepressants in children this young, medication of preschoolers, often off label, is on the rise. One child psychologist told me about a conference he attended where he met frustrated drug-industry representatives. “They want to give these kids medicines, but we can’t figure out the diagnoses.” As Daniel Klein warns, “Right now the problem may be underdiagnosis, but these things can flip completely.”
“Play, Incorporating Animistic and Magical Thinking Is Important Because It: Fosters the healthy, creative and emotional growth of a child; Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth. Provides a way in which children get to know the world and creates possibilities for different ways of responding to it. Fosters empathy and wonder.” — Rachel Carson, “A Sense of Wonder”
Remember “Red Light, Green Light,” “One-Two-Three,” “Tag, You’re It,” “Mother, May I?” or “Kickball?” These are just some of the good old-fashioned outdoor games kids used to play, and they are making a comeback. There’s nothing better than the sound of kids playing outdoors. Even kids playing outside making up their own games can bring them a lot joy and can be great exercise. With all the technology that surrounds us today, it’s great to see kids playing in the park and in their backyards.
It’s no secret that outdoor play and fresh air are great for kids’ overall physical and emotional well-being. In fact, a study in the journal Pediatrics concludes that children ages 8 and 9 who had more than 15 minutes of recess had better classroom behavior. This study suggests that school children in this age group should be provided with daily recess. Read more »
Spring and standardized school testing become synonymous in many areas of the country for many public school students, including for my own children attending schools in Massachusetts.
As this annual rite of passage rolls around, I’m reminded of how important it is to help our kids remember that they’re so much more than the sum of their grades, test scores, and project results. Think back on your childhood: What do you remember? Is it the grades, the teachers, the homework amount? Did you have standardized tests and, if so, do you remember the results?
I recall blips of taking tests and filling out scantron sheets for all sorts of tests throughout my educational life. I recall being in class when graded papers, projects and tests were handed back to us. But the moments I recall the most were the times I overcame a challenge or a hurdle that seemed insurmountable at the time — and grew from it in unimaginable ways. Read more »
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