The Female Olympics

By Carina Chocano, NYTimes Magazine: "One way to think about the 'Real Housewives' shows is as a kind of perverse, televised postfeminist-feminine-status Olympics. Here’s how it works: A group of highly competitive, thoroughly confused women are pitted against one another in five events: wealth, youth, beauty/body, husband and glamour career. In order to participate, the housewives must qualify in at least three of these categories. They need not have all of them in order to win, but it helps. Some categories trump others. For instance, wealth trumps beauty, and husband trumps glamour job. Kids-plus-husband trumps job, too — especially if the process of acquiring them leads to a show of one’s own. Every show features at least one aggressive instigator whose job it is to ratchet up the jealousy and paranoia and keep the interpersonal conflicts coming. All you really have to do to be a real housewife is take pride in your privilege, your leisure, your profligacy and your willingness to amplify the melodrama at every possible opportunity. You can’t win unless somebody else loses. "

How to Throw a Tantrum

I've been debating whether I should hold on to my WSJ subscription. Great articles like this certainly tempt me. The article goes over "parent management training" and how to use it to teach a child new behaviors, specifically how to have a positive tantrum. It's not about only rewarding good behavior. Instead the approach teaches using ABCs. A stands for Antecedent, the situation leading up to the tantrum, B for behavior and the teaching of new ones, and C for consequences.

The approach comes out of research done at Yale and King's College London where there is a National Academy for Parenting Research.

"The effects can be beneficial for both child and parent. A nine-year study at the Oregon Social Learning Center, a nonprofit research center, looked at single mothers and children with antisocial tendencies—arguing, hitting, tantrums, extreme unwillingness to cooperate.

After the mothers went through a version of the ABCs training, not only did the children's behaviors improve over the long term, but the mothers also exhibited gains in income, occupation and education, according to the study, published last year in the journal Developmental Psychopathology."

One of the best ways to reinforce positive behavior is to be specific in your feedback. For example, saying "I asked you to pick up that toy and you did it," rather than "You're a good girl." This is the same advice given by Faber and Mazlish in their terrific book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.

For more on how to apply these concepts to all communication, see here.

The Roots of Empathy

I know from my own experience how powerful it can be to see and interact with a baby that is not your own. My nephew has taught me a lot about empathy and love. So I was so thrilled to learn about this program: Roots of Empathy. It was started in Canada, is worldwide, but only now coming to the U.S. The program teaches emotional literacy to children by bringing babies into the classroom. 


To learn more, read the founder's words here.

What I've Learned Lately

  • There are 20,000 varieties of bees. Bees are hugely important to food, and therefore humans. As Einstein put it, "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
  • The United States is the only nation without a national e-waste policy. Yep - all those cell phones, televisions and computers that wear out or are thrown out? We have no policy mandating recycling.
  • Astronauts can eat almost everything in space with the exception of anything that creates crumbs - like baked goods. It is not possible to see the Chinese Wall from space. Further, all astronauts have to be "potty-trained" to use the toilets in space. You don't want to know but using the facilities requires a camera.
  • Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief was meant only for people with terminal illness and only applied to one's own death. It does not apply to the death of others or other types of loss.
  • 20% of Kaplan's business now comes from servicing children under the age of 4.
  • Finland doesn't teach children to read until the age of 7. They leave the early years for education through play.