Category Archives for "Parenting"

Should you talk with your child about racism? Absolutely!

Racism can be a difficult topic to discuss with adults, let alone children. Parents have a natural desire to want to protect their children from harm or the bad parts of the world and steer away from these conversations.

Children are likely already more aware of race, class, and gender differences than you realize.

Howard Stevenson, a clinical psychologist at Penn GSE has found elementary children are acutely aware of racial attitudes. Talking about injustice allows children to make sense of the things that do not go right in the world. At some point, your child will be treated differently. Or one of his/her friends will be. They will be exposed to or have a sense of unfairness or injustice that is rightfully upsetting. Instead of sheltering them, this can be a time to teach your child about social justice, while also helping process how painful these events can be for them, and for you.

While discussing racism can be an uncomfortable topic, it is vital that parents take the lead in teaching their children about this important topic. To begin, adults should take time to understand systemic racism and educate themselves.

Let us quickly define a few terms:

Systemic Racism: Systemic racism is not about an exchange of racial slurs between two individuals. It is about deep-rooted discrimination that has repeated itself again and again and becomes more and more ingrained in society during a span of generations.

Privilege: Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we are taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.

Everyday examples of privilege:

  •  Being able to walk into a store and find the main displays of shampoo are catered toward your hair type.
  •  Being able to turn on the television and see people of your race widely represented.
  • Being able to move through life without being racially profiled or unfairly stereotyped

Racial Color Blindness: A view that race does not matter, that racism is no longer a problem, and that we all have equal opportunities.  People who subscribe to colorblind explanations claim they do not see the color of people’s skin and believe everyone to be equal.

While this may seem helpful in battling racism, it is counterproductive. 

Colorblindness prevents us from seeing the historical causes of racial inequality and how racial inequalities persist in our society. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are treated differently because of the color of our skin.

Black Lives Matter: Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation., Inc is a global organization in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities.

To say “All lives matter” can be offensive, because the majority race has not experienced racism…this is a form of color blindness. 

How to talk to children: It depends on the age!

Infants and Toddlers: While children younger than three aren't going to understand what is happening on television, they will be able to pick up on the fear, urgency, or anger in people's voices and behaviors. At this age, stress shows up in fussy or unregulated behavior. To keep that from occurring, parents should read, listen to, or watch the news when the baby isn't physically there.

As early as six months, a baby's brain can notice race-based differences, and can internalize racial bias by ages two to four.  Learning racism can happen without parental input, just by the racial stereotypes that are so prevalent in society. While helpful for all races, it's especially important for white children to see brown and black kids in a positive light to fight systemic racism, experts say. Books that profile multi-racial characters are an excellent way for parents to do that. And since it's never too early to read to a baby, start right away.

Preschool and Elementary Age: This is the age when kids begin to ask questions on why other people look different than they do. This is an opportunity for parents to model the behavior they want their kids to follow. Parents who have not already, should proactively engage their kids about this topic. Ask them what they know and what they've seen. Ask them how they are feeling. Validate their feelings. Parents will also need to give their children the broader societal context of racism.  Age appropriate books and videos can be great resources (see resource list below). 

Tweens and Teens: Tweens and teens likely will be seeing all the coverage of police brutality and protests on their personal devices and smartphones. Most teens get comfort by communicating with their friends on social media. Some have even begun participating in online activism.

This age group will be able to think more abstractly about racism, injustice and violent versus peaceful protest and discuss their views with parents. One of the best approaches with teenagers is to be interested in them and ask them questions (not accusatory ones)! Find out what they’ve seen online, have they witnessed unfairness in their schools and friend groups, what do they think, and what is upsetting or motivating them. Have a conversation that allows your child to come to their own understanding and see things in a larger social context.  Parents can also make good use of movies and documentaries that can educate older teens on the history of discrimination.

Some parents feel isolated having these hard conversations with their children. When you have the chance, practice having a hard conversation with your partner or a friend before you must have it with your child.

Remember that other parents are struggling in the same ways that you are. Reach out to like-minded parents in your life at church, at your kids’ games, waiting to pick them up from camp or school. What are we trying to say? What do we think they need to hear? What feelings am I having? Can I model how to share those feelings?

It is okay to not know what to say…there are plenty of wonderful resources available to help educate yourself!

Resources: This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Common Sense Media is a non-profit that rates movies, TV shows, books, apps and other media for parents and schools.  You can find almost 80 books and videos for preschoolers and older, some of which could easily be suitable for babies and toddlers.  They also list options for how to jump start conversations about racism and how kids and teenagers can help fight it. The Brown Bookshelf is a website that supplies books that have, brown and black protagonists who deal at times with tough issues. Books are really, really fundamental, especially for younger kids." Kira Banks, a clinical psychologist whose website (Raising Equity) provides free videos and resources on how parents can fight racism and cultivate an open mind in themselves and their kids.

What Causes The “Know-It-All” Syndrome… And How To Fix It!

"Ugh, I Already Know That!"

Have you heard your child say this before?

Don't worry. Most of us have, and it's not too late to get it under control.

But first...

Very Few Things Are More Frustrating Than When Your Child Thinks He/She Is An Expert at Everything!  

These are the kids that say “I know” when being offered advice or guidance, that blame others for their mistakes, or attempt to control play with friends (“That’s not how you kick the ball, this is how you do it.”).  

At school, they may have trouble receiving constructive feedback.

If not corrected these children end up being labeled as "know-it-all" kids and "un-coachable athletes".  

The worst part about these kids is that they put themselves in the position to NOT learn. 

What Causes This Type of Behavior?

There is one common theme over the rest...

It’s likely that this child has been over praised.  

When children are young, parents tend to dote on every little accomplishment (eating their first peas, catching a ball, or reading their first book). 

While it’s exciting to watch your child learn and achieve new things, praising too much sets the precedent that they are worthy when they are “right” rather than when they have worked to solve a problem or learn a new skill.

These kids quickly learn to seek out praise and sometimes grow up thinking they should be catered to and accommodated.  Unfortunately, this type of thinking pattern won’t get them far in the “real world.”   

It’s Okay To Compliment But Take It Down A Notch

For instance, instead of praising every correct answer on their homework, focus on your child’s overall effort. If you do so less often, you'll teach your child to be happy about the work he/she did rather than your praise.

Then, when they are at school or with friends, he/she won't be shocked when their knowledge doesn't elicit a big reaction from others. 

On the field (or gym, dance or music studio):  Let the coaches coach and teachers teach!  When a coach or teacher is working with your child to accomplish a task or skill, don’t interfere.  

Undermining a coach or teacher by stepping in can cause the child to disregard their comments and only focus on your praise. 

Let the adult manage the situation and afterwards you can acknowledge the hard work and effort your child was applying.   

Be Cautious With Praising "Intelligence"

We run into trouble when someone’s sense of value comes from how smart they are, especially if “smart” means “right.”  Too much emphasis on intellect can really mess up developing minds. 

As parents it’s on us to convey that being smart doesn’t mean being right, it means wanting to know when you’re wrong.  

Parents of successful kids learn to praise in a way that encourages positive lifelong habits. 

This means praising children for the strategies and processes they use to solve problems, rather than praising them for their innate abilities

Developing a growth mindset is key for success and researcher Carol Dweck has devoted her energy into this topic.  Rather than praising the “smart” or “right” answer, consider praising the process.  

For example:

  • Don't praise a child for getting a high grade on a test; praise him/her for the studying he/she did, which led to the result. 
  • Don't praise for winning a race or a game; instead, offer praise for all the sweat he/she put in during practice--again, which led to the result. 
  • Don't say, "You're so smart!" or "You're such a talented singer!" Instead, you want to find a way to say things like, "You did a great job figuring out that problem," or, "You sound so great--all those hours of practice paid off!" 
  • Encourage your child to focus on a challenge.  Ask the question, “What was a challenge for you today?”  This allows them to develop a growth mindset and to focus on the effort they used.  If a child responds with “Nothing, I did everything right today!” or “There was nothing challenging.” Respond with “It sounds like ___ was too easy for you, let’s find something harder.” 
  • Don’t be afraid to point out something your child can do better or work harder at!  Try, “It looks like you haven’t mastered ____ yet, keep working on it.”  After a game or practice ask, “What do you want to work on for next time?” 

Last But Not Least... He or She May Be Overcompensating

Kids who feel insecure in one area may overdo it in another to make up for what they think they are lacking.  

For instance, if your child is telling a friend how much he knows about race cars (or whatever he is interested in) he may feel like he’s coming up short in another area.  

For instance, maybe his/her friend knows how to ride a bike without training wheels…and your child doesn’t. 

In this case, parents can intervene by telling their child that it is okay for people to have different areas of talent.  

His/her friends may always be better at something than your child is, but this is an okay and even needed experience.  Share some personal examples about different strengths and weakness you’ve experienced. 

To learn more about a growth mindset, consider visiting

For additional concerns or questions contact Dr. Kristin Rose at

How To Prevent After School Meltdowns

School is back in session and parents are blissfully waiting for their child’s return home from school…until a fire breathing dragon returns rather than your child! 

Meltdowns after a long (or short) school day is a legitimate problem.  So much so that it has a name: Coined after-school restraint collapse by Andrea Loewen Nair.

What’s most frustrating for parents is that these children have usually been angels at school, getting glowing reviews from their teachers. 

They have followed directions, been good leaders, helped others, and worked hard.  Then the moment they get home they become complete and total hot messes! 

The Symptoms Are Not All The Same...

Some kids withdraw or become weepy while others scream, throw things, and become generally unreasonable.  

Children who are dubbed as sensitive or intense are more susceptible to after-school restraint collapse.  

The meltdowns are more common during the first few months of school starting but can last all year.   

So Why Does It Happen?

There are a few theories out there. 

One is that children have spent all day keeping it together (following directions, learning new information, meeting new adults and peers) and are depleted by the time they get home.  

Home is also a key word: Its only natural for kids to release their emotional, mental, and physical energy in their safe space. 

Another theory is rooted in attachment.  

Attachment is formed between birth and two years.  Children become accustomed and dependent of their needs being met (appropriately) by an adult caregiver.  

They learn that this is “their person” who helps in times of need.  So, after a long day at school when their need for you can be high and you weren’t able to be there, they lose it when they see you.  

The result is a major meltdown or what’s professionally known as a defensive detachment. 

It’s important to note that these outbursts are not tantrums where your child is testing boundaries or trying to get their way.

The after-school restraint collapse is exactly that—a collapse, or meltdown, because your child is so emotionally overwhelmed that they can no longer keep it together.

How to regain sanity for yourself and your child:

  • Make room for the meltdown.
  • Validate and even label their feelings for them.  For example, “Today was a tough day.” 
  • Talk less!  Parents tend to ask too many questions after school.  Try to limit this, after all, your child probably spent most of the day at school answering questions!  Ask, “Is there anything you want to tell me about your day?” instead and be ready to accept the “No” from your child. 
  • When your child is calm try asking, “I’ve noticed that ___ (fill in the blank with the behavior or mood you are seeing) what’s up?”  This may help to get your child talking about how they are feeling or what they are thinking. 
  • Find a way for your child to decompress at the end of the school day.  Maybe it’s riding a bike, telling jokes, coloring, listening to music, or literally doing nothing.  Humans thrive off predictable routines so establish a consistent decompression routine. 
  • Hangry is a real thing!  Be prepared with a healthy snack after school.  Kids need to refuel!
  • Use screen time as a last resort to decompress. 
  • Find simple ways to reconnect or stay connected with your child during the day:
  • Leave a note in their lunch box
  • Focus on the hello not the good-bye.  This means to keep their brain thinking about seeing you again and on what happens after school.  Say something like, “Have a great day, when you get home we can go to the park (or whatever they look forward to).” 
  • Stick with a normal bedtime routine.  Schedules can get so busy that bedtime is often rushed through in order to beat the clock.  This too can stress kids out, take the time to go through the bedtime routine. 

If you want to discuss this topic further, please contact Dr. Kristin Rose at

How to manage screens in a digital world

This is a common question I hear in my practice...

“How long should I let my child watch screens?”

To date there is little research that is able to draw conclusions about the impact of screens on the brain. 

This is not for a lack of trying. The data is still in its infancy and we just don’t know what the longitudinal (long-term) results will be. 

Do You Remember When The iPhone Was Introduced?


Feels like much longer than that doesn't it?

Widespread usage of smartphones by young people didn’t occur until 2012.    

For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics had suggested a limit of two hours a day of TV for children and teens.  But when screen time started to include smartphones and tablets, these guidelines needed an update. So, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its recommendations to no more than one hour of screen time for children ages 2 to 5

For older children and teens, they caution against too much screen time, but there’s no specific time limit.  

The American Heart Association announced similar guidelines.  In December 2018 preliminary results of a study conducted by National Institutes of Health (NIH) came out. 

NIH followed children and adolescents for 10 years and then performed an MRI of their brains while they were using screens.  In the first wave of 4,500 participants, researchers noted significant changes in children’s brain development if they have more than seven hours of screen time a day. 

Screen Time Leads To Lower Scores?

​The data also suggested that kids spending more than two hours a day on any type of screen received lower scores on language and thinking tests. 

“Scientists believe screen time stimulates the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which has a pivotal role in cravings and desire.” 

There have been several articles in popular media stating that tech moguls impose far stricter rules on their children’s use of screens than a typical parent does.  This is because they know how addictive these screens are designed to be.  

Screens tap into the pleasure centers of the brain, and they do so in a way that’s hard to replicate in the non-digital world.

When a child gets accustomed to the kind of rapid-fire reward system of gaming, YouTubes, and social media they may be less likely to: read a book, which requires considerable patience and offers no bells and whistles; go outside and explore nature; do something creative; and seek out social interaction.  

What’s Scary About Screens Is... It’s Possible They Are Re-wiring The Brain!

​As children develop from birth to adulthood an important process called synaptic pruning is happening. Infants are born with huge numbers of synapses (points of contact) between brain cells.

This is inefficient, so the brain prunes the connections it doesn’t need and reinforces (through myelination) the ones it does. This process is all driven by experience – by exposure to the environment.

Repeated experiences strengthen connections. Connections that aren’t used are pruned away. This means that how children spend their time can have important, lifelong ramifications.

Repeated behaviors can become biologically compelled habits. 

Parents need to be a “media mentor”​

Without adult guidance, most teenagers would spend almost all their waking hours behind a screen. Whether they're texting on their smartphones, or they're watching videos on their laptops, their electronics use can easily get out of control. 

A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-year-old children devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media each day.

That totals more than 53 hours per week or 2770 hours each year!   

Screens don’t have to be the enemy!  

They were designed to be useful and efficient modes of information (maps and directions, quickly finding out the weather, etc.).  As said by Jean Twenge, screens should be a tool to use, not a tool that uses you. 

Let's look at strategies you can use to limit your child’s screen time. 

  1. First and foremost, the same parenting rules apply to screen time as to anything else — set a good example, establish limits, and talk with your child about it.  Adults are sometimes the worst examples!  I see more adults driving and texting than teens.  Don’t be the adult on their phone while at your child’s sporting event or extracurricular activities.   
  2. Most kids, especially younger ones, aren’t mature enough to handle free reign with their electronics.  Establish Rules: 
    • Have a set time when screens need to be turned off (at the dinner table, when getting ready for school, etc.). 
    • No screens allowed in the bedroom (including TV’s).  Do we really think that a device can charge in their room without them sneaking a peak?! 
    • Limit their use. 
  3. Treat screen time as a privilege not a right.  Maybe it's by completing chores or homework.   
  4. Consider not allowing social media until the age of 13.   
  5. Use screening tools on TV, computers and tablets to block access to inappropriate material.  You can also set timers for certain apps (You Tube).   
  6. Quality matters!   
  7. Provide alternatives to screens (card games, board games, etc.).  Encourage outdoor activities or ones that require imagination.  Let them spend time with friends.   
  8. Safety is always important.  It’s always a good idea to preview what you child is seeing or playing on the internet or screen. Talk to your child about internet safety.   

If you have questions or would like to discuss further please contact Dr. Kristin Rose at 

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year Olds. 

When well intended parents make mistakes

Parenting is one of the most difficult
and rewarding jobs around.

The ultimate goal of parenting is (or at least should be) to raise children well so they are prepared to leave our houses and live on their own. 

However, a parenting trend that has become more common is stymieing their development. That is “helicopter parenting” or over parenting. Helicopter parenting is a form of over parenting in which parents apply overly involved and developmentally inappropriate tactics to their children who are otherwise able to assume adult responsibilities and autonomy.

A few examples include, following your children on the playground “in case” they get hurt or need help, making sure it’s “safe” to play outside in front of their house, and completing assignments or projects for them.

We have all seen the amazing Valentine boxes that begin in preschool; these elaborate boxes that likely took their parents hours to complete...and left no room for the child’s imagination or independence to take place.

"In short, a helicopter parent is one who hovers over their child's every move in an effort to protect them from pain, disappointment, and failure in the process of achieving success."

This type of parent is especially prevalent in western culture because...

...we are so preoccupied with building our children's self-esteem. In fact, it didn’t become a word in the dictionary until 2011. 

Over parenting has not only impacted young children but has found its way onto college campuses. The millennials that get a bad rap were likely victims of over parenting. Young adults who have been over parented are not prepared to take on the challenges that come with college (like knowing how to manage when they are “offended” or when a person has a different view or opinion than them).

Overly Focused on Self-Esteem?

Over parenting seems to have taken force as parents become concerned with children’s self-
esteem. To build their self-esteem, parents tell them how great and special they are, coddling
them from doing anything too difficult or potentially dangerous. Therefore, it’s important to
discuss briefly the development of self-esteem. 

Self-esteem develops from being loved and secure as well as developing competence. For children to develop self-esteem they must be able to make decisions and accomplish tasks on their own. One way to foster this would be to assign age appropriate chores, letting them make decisions (what to wear, what sport or instrument to play, etc.).

Encourage your child to say, “I’ll try” rather than “I can’t.” As your child meets new challenges, the more competent and confident he/she becomes.

Properly Developing The Mindset...

In addition to developing self-esteem, researcher Carol Dweck has found that helping children
(and adults) develop an ability coined growth mindset sets them up to be better achievers.

Mindset is essentially our beliefs about learning and intelligence. When children are taught that intelligence is malleable, they understand that effort makes them stronger. 

Also, teacher and parent feedback can either encourage a child to choose a challenge and increase achievement or look for an easier way out.

Studies on different kinds of praise have shown that telling children they are smart encourages a fixed mindset which often leads to avoidance of difficult or challenging tasks.

However, when children are praised for hard work and effort, they develop a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, children take on challenges and learn from them which increases their abilities and achievement.

How To Fix These 3 Issues...

The question becomes what we can do to create confident and high achieving children and later adults. Below are some tips to consider:

1. Let them experience risk

A skinned knee from falling off a bike or a fall off the monkey bars can actually help your child in the long run. Let them experience their abilities and then improve them.

Allow them to play outside and walk home from school without constant adult supervision. They may just surprise you in what they are willing and able to accomplish.

2. Let them fail:

Parents can be too quick to rescue their kids.

Let them fail now when they are children and learn how to recover from mistakes.

Don’t do their homework or projects for them, let them experience this small failure and learn how to recover from a mistake. Failing a class in school now is far better than not knowing how to cope when they lose a job or don’t get hired.

3. Give purposeful praise:

We have gotten to a place in society where we reward mediocrity and adopted an “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.

Instead, praise their hard work and effort. Be there to provide empathy when they lose or get rejected but let them feel their feelings. Loss is hard, but a very important part of development.

4. Consider slowing down:

Children’s schedules have become quite busy. It is not unusual to see a child participating in three different activities at once.

These over scheduled children have little time to decompress or play or heaven forbid get bored. Boredom is a wonderful allows for creativity (if we don’t interrupt it).

If you have questions or would like to discuss this topic further, you can contact Dr. Kristin Rose at

Reading material and websites to consider:
Carol Dweck -
Authors of The Coddling of the American Mind book: