Words Matter: To Get Kids to Help, Try Switching How You Ask

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Maanvi Singh, NPR

Motivating children to stop playing and help out with chores isn’t exactly an easy sell, as most parents and teachers will attest. But how you ask can make all the difference, psychologists say.

“Helping” versus “being a helper.”

If you say something like, “Please help me,” the kids are more likely to keep playing with their Legos. But ask them, “Please be a helper,” and they’ll be more responsive, researchers report this week in the journal Child Development.

Being called a helper makes kids feel like they’re embodying a virtue, says Christopher Bryan, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego and one of the researchers behind the study.

“It’s really important to all of us to be good people,” Bryan says. Helping is nice, but helpers are good people.

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Mommy Wars, Redux: Let’s Hope Not

It’s the Time magazine cover that’s gone viral. A Los Angeles mother breast-feeds her 3-year-old.

Time’s Facebook page is already logging pro, con and grossed out comments.

These articles about attachment parenting have come in waves ever since Dr. Bill Sears wrote the book on the topic he named himself more than a decade ago.

The arguments — yea and nay — are the same now as they were then. But, geez that picture and provocative headline make you want to read the article, don’t they?

Alas the article is behind a paywall, but you can watch a 4 minute interview with the reporter talking about what she learned here:

Learn More:
KQED’s Forum will be discussing attachment parenting Friday, May 11 at 9am. Listen at, click “listen live.”

Parenting the Child with Autism

Eric and Cindy Everson on vacation with their sons. (Photo: Everson Family)

Eric and Cindy Everson on vacation with their sons. (Photo: Everson Family)

The emotions of new parents can run the gamut. They’re in uncharted water. Even people who have spent a great deal of time around children will likely tell you that having their own is a new experience. For Eric and Cindy Everson, it was no different. They had been around children, but when they had their son, Shane, the world changed. “We were new parents,” Eric says, “we didn’t know what to expect.”

Still, they did recognize when Shane started missing milestones. He was late to crawl. Then he was late walking and they had him evaluated. When Shane started walking shortly after the evaluation, Eric and Cindy hoped all was well. But they were seeing other issues as well. Shane was not not babbling or making any noises, a key marker for learning language. He was not responding when his parents called his name. Finally the formal diagnosis came. Shane had autism, a neurodevelopment disorder. The communication problems their son had, repetitive behavior they had seen, problems with social interaction, these are all hallmarks of autism. Continue reading

Work-Life Balance: Tips and Empathy

By Rachel Dornhelm

Karen Witham reads to her children, giving her husband a chance to recharge.

Karen Witham reads to her children, giving her husband a chance to recharge.

A friend once told me conspiratorially that there is no such thing as work-life balance. “It’s more like a work-life see-saw,” she said. “If one thing is up, the other is down.”

I talked to many parents about their efforts to integrate their work and family lives for this story that ran on KQED’s The California Report. Despite the incredible variation, one theme emerged. Often, the details of peoples’ stories – working full-time, part-time, odd hours, being a single parent – made people feel like their situation was so specific they were reinventing it all. The isolation makes it worse.

Some families are trying to change this. The Witham-Price family I profiled in my story set a goal of actively seeking out community and took action by joining a cooperative preschool and a Unitarian Universalist church. Continue reading

Bed Sharing With Infants: Dangerous or Not?

(Flickr: Megan Myers)

(Flickr: Megan Myers)

A children’s advocacy group in Santa Clara County has launched a campaign to discourage parents from sleeping in bed with their infants. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, advocates say bed sharing is not just dangerous, but can be lethal. The Mercury News cites statistics showing 20 babies in Santa Clara County have died since 2005 due to “unsafe sleeping practices.” But critics argue that bed sharing can be safe, under the right circumstances.

Yesterday’s press conference from First Five Santa Clara County included the emotional story of Karma Sunshine King, the mother of an infant who died while sleeping in bed with her.

The 33-year-old Santa Clara mother said she crawled into her bed last November with her 3-month-old son, Cash, and when she woke up, “my son did not wake up with me.”

“That was the worst day of my life,” King said. “It changed me forever.”

King said she grew up in a Filipino family where bed sharing is the norm.

That’s until Cash died, and Dr. Michelle Jorden, a county medical examiner, came to her home and conducted a baby death re-enactment with her.

Jorden strongly argues against bed sharing because children can have blankets and pillows accidentally placed on their faces.

But critics say each case must be looked at in detail.
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