Based on research, however, Tough says we focus too much on these areas. He believes that the most important qualities have more to do with character. These skills include perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control.
Tough and his wife became parents while he was writing his book. Surprisingly, the research actually made him a more relaxed parent. When his son was born, Tough was very much caught up in the idea of childhood as a race – the faster a child develops skills and the better he does on tests, the better he’ll do in life.
These days, the author is much less concerned about his son’s reading and counting ability. While he certainly believes those things are important, he’s more concerned about his character. He wants his son to be able to recover from disappointments, calm himself down, keep working at a puzzle even when it’s frustrating and be good at sharing. He also wants his son to feel loved and confident, and have a full sense of belonging. Most importantly, Tough wants his son to be able to handle failure.
It’s hard for us parents to let our children fail. Why is that? Because everything in us wants to shield them from trouble. But Tough and others are now discovering that we may actually harm our children when we try to protect them. By not allowing them to learn to manage adversity or to cope with failure, we produce kids who have real problems when they grow up. Overcoming adversity produces character. And character, even more than IQ, leads to real and lasting success.
According to Tough, scientists realize that early adversity in a child’s life affects the conditions of their lives. It can also alter the physical development of their brains. This knowledge is being used nationwide to help children overcome constraints.
Regardless of socioeconomic status, Tough contends that children with the proper support in the most painful circumstances can still achieve amazing things. But many children do not grow up with that right support. For example, there may be two parents in the home who are so bent on their child’s success that they never let him experience failure. Or at the completely opposite end of the spectrum, there’s no support to help the child get back up when he fails.
You can help children achieve their potential and live their best lives.
The Science of Childhood: Inside the Minds of Our Younger Selves is a Time magazine special edition. It examines everything from understanding child development and dealing with temper tantrums to the science of play and birth-order secrets. It’s part of an effort to help parents and other caregivers better understand how children learn – and what everyone can do to help children thrive.
Since 2015, the Early Childhood Coalition has been working to ensure that everyone in the greater Chattanooga area can access high-quality resources that support child development from birth to age 5. The plan is to engage and mobilize the community through advocacy, communication and education. The goal is for all children to achieve their potential and live their best lives.
For example, Chattanooga Basics is one of the Coalition’s initiatives. It’s built upon the reality that parents play the most critical role in providing a solid and healthy start for babies and young kids. Chattanooga Basics is closely aligned with Harvard’s Boston Basics.
The goals for the Basics are to help ensure that:
80 percent of children show up to school ready to learn.
Every parent has access to information about how to help their child thrive.
Every parent knows about the Chattanooga Basics and creative ways to engage their child.
Parents have the necessary support to be what their child needs.
The Five Basics can help all children to thrive.
While parents are their child’s first teachers, the entire community can rally around them and support them as they parent.
The Five Basics are:
Maximize Love, Manage Stress – Babies thrive when the world feels loving, safe and predictable. Affectionate and responsive caregiving develops a sense of security and self-control.
Talk, Sing Point – Babies learn language from the moment they are born through loving interactions with their caregivers, not televisions or phones. Eye contact, pointing, and real words teach the most about communication.
Count, Group, and Compare – Children are wired to learn numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes and comparisons. What they learn about math in the first few years makes a difference when they get to school.
Explore Through Movement and Play – Children are born curious about the world. They’re like scientists. Pay attention to your infant’s or toddler’s interests. Help them learn through play and exploration.
Read and Discuss Stories – The more we read with young children, the more we prepare them to enjoy reading and do well in school. Even infants enjoy the shapes and colors in books! Let them hold the book and turn the pages. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.
You can help prepare the children in our community for kindergarten.
You may be part of a faith-based community, a child-care provider, a human resources executive or a company CEO. Or perhaps you are the neighbor next door or a relative or friend. It doesn’t matter who you are!
Everyone plays a role in intentionally engaging parents, assisting them in building strong, healthy families and helping children thrive and show up to school ready to learn.
To learn more about Chattanooga Basics, the Early Childhood Coalition partners and what you can do to help, visit chattanoogabasics.org.
Brooke Womack was sure there was an intruder in their house when she heard noises coming from their family room at two in the morning. In reality, it was just their toddler, Marshall, who had escaped from his bedroom and came downstairs to watch Veggie Tales.
“After nearly having heart failure, we told him to go back to bed,” said Womack. “It is funny now, but it was not funny at the time.”
Walking through toddlerhood with your child can feel like a never-ending roller coaster ride. One moment you are laughing hysterically at something they say or do and the next moment you are ready to pull your hair out as you round the corner to find them playing in the potty. How is it possible for a tiny little being to absolutely get the best of us as parents?
Toddler Behavior is Normal.
Does it help at all to know that being in perpetual motion, throwing food on the floor, being curious and constantly saying the word “no” are all part of normal child development? The very behaviors that drive you crazy are what a child needs to do in order to advance to the next developmental stage. The stubbornness that keeps your child from minding you is the same quality that helps him or her get up after a fall and keep trying.
There is no question that parenting is tiring and often very frustrating, even more so when you lose your cool and find yourself throwing your own temper tantrum.
Coping Tips for Parents
Here are a few suggestions to help you regain your composure.
Learn the developmental stages. It is easy to take the behavior personally when you think your child is intentionally pushing your buttons, but when you know the behavior is developmentally appropriate, it’s easier to deal with the behavior without getting emotional.
Pay attention to the environment. Provide safe surroundings. Taking away things that require you to constantly say “no” encourages your child to explore and learn in safety. And, it sets the stage for desirable outcomes.
Be the parent your child needs you to be. Your child is counting on you to keep them safe, which means constant supervision. They also need you to be the adult. Constantly screaming at a child rarely accomplishes anything. The way you talk to and discipline your child teaches them about relationships.
The purpose of discipline is to teach. When giving your child direction, get on eye level with him. Use your child’s name and keep your instructions simple. Tell him what you want him to do versus what you don’t want him to do. For example, “Jimmy, please put your blocks away.” Avoid asking your toddler, “Why did you do that?” Instead, talk with them about what they did in the simplest of terms. You’ll defeat the purpose of your conversation if you are long-winded.
Surviving the toddler stage may seem daunting, but these years actually go by very quickly.
Before you know it, your little one won’t be so little anymore. Take the time now to learn and apply good parenting/relationship skills with your children. You’ll find those toddler tailspins really can turn into treasured memories.
We can help to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for kids.
Many children are exposed to abuse, neglect and family dysfunction which experts often refer to as toxic stress. But why can one child who encounters toxic stress move beyond it and lead a healthy life while another cannot?
That’s the question researchers set out to answer in one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study.
Originally, the study included more than 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California who received physical exams. The members completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences (abuse, neglect and family dysfunction including divorce, incarceration, substance abuse and mental health issues) and current health status and behaviors.
Researchers found that the effects of adverse childhood experiences hinder the formation of stable and healthy adult relationships.
Plus, those experiences increase the risk for:
Experiencing substance abuse;
Conversely, healthy relationships in the home, school and community nurture a child’s physical and emotional growth. In short, children need these types of relationships from birth forward in order to thrive and become productive adults.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a staggering 50 percent of the 73 million children living in the United States will experience violence, abuse, crime and psychological trauma before they turn 18.
The National Survey of Children’s Health, conducted by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, surveyed parents of 95,677 children age 17 and under. It asked whether their child had ever seen or heard “any parents, guardians or any other adults in the home slap, hit, kick, punch or beat each other up.” The exposure rate for children living with their two married biological parents was 19 out of every 1,000 children. For children living with a divorced or separated mother, the rate of exposure was seven times higher (144 children per 1,000). These comparisons are adjusted for differences across age, sex, race, family income, poverty status and parent’s education level.
In 2012, Tennessee conducted its own ACEs survey through the CDC to see how adverse childhood experiences affected the state’s general population. It found that about 42 percent of residents experienced two or more ACEs. And, 1 in 5 Tennesseeans has experienced at least three categories of ACEs. Emotional abuse, substance abuse and parental separation or divorce are the most common adverse experiences statewide.
There are many opportunities to learn about adverse childhood experiences and their impact on education, the workplace and our community.
In addition to learning how to help create safe and stable homes for children and recognize the signs of ACEs in adults, it’s crucial to discover how to promote healing for those who have been exposed to toxic stress.
Tennessee is launching one of the first comprehensive public policy shifts focused on prevention because preventing ACEs in young children before they experience ongoing “toxic stress” can actually lower taxpayer and community costs. Learning about the impact of ACEs can greatly benefit families, companies, nonprofits, agencies and other community and religious organizations.
Since we are all responsible for the well-being of our community’s children, we can promote healthy child development together. For starters, we can help to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments that kids need.