June PsychNotes • Summer with the Young ‘Uns

June PsychNotesMy nine-year-old daughter is pretty gloomy these days. She loves her school and she’s sad the year is over. Me, I’m pretty happy about it. We get to go places and do things together. We’re even going to build an arcade machine this summer. She’s going to teach me how to use tools and arrange electronics.

If all goes well we’ll be zapping space invaders by August. I’ll keep you posted. Here are a few articles about those small humans home for the summer.

1. Dangerous Things Children Should Do
Looking for activities this summer? Think danger. Gever Tulley heads The Tinkering School, where he helps kids build their ideas. Here are five dangerous things he thinks every child should do, like playing with fire and driving a car. “When we… eliminate every sharp object, every pokey bit in the world, then the first time that kids come in contact with anything sharp… they’ll hurt themselves.” (Video)

2. Teens’ Stinky Bedrooms
You know the smell… that delightful melange of old cheese and gerbil cage. A professor of sleep hygiene at Oxford wants to help kids feel and perform better by cleaning their rooms and cracking a window. “The smelly teenager’s bedroom is a byproduct of the fact that the room is full of rebreathed air, which is low in oxygen and high in nitrogen.” I don’t know about that. Nitrogen is odorless; teenagers are not.

3. Praising Effort and Missing the Point
Psychologist Carol Dweck has long said parents should praise effort rather than intelligence. The problem is, she says, we’ve begun praising children for empty effort and we’re missing the point. She wants kids to learn that intelligence is malleable. Struggle against a problem and your brain will grow. It works for grownups, too.

4. From Bad Habits to Discipline
From my own archives, discipline is a muscle that can be strengthened. When Michele asked me how to give up video games I suggested she stop fighting with herself and learn to beat her mind at its own game. “Most of us have some belief that we must change our thoughts before we can change our behavior, but that strategy can backfire.” Yep, works for grownups, too.

5. “But I Really Want It”
Have you ever fallen into a circular conversation with a child? Sean Williams has. His piece won’t offer any advice, but it might make you chuckle.

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Speaking of which, it’s been a while since I posted but there are big things coming. I hope you have a grand month! See you in July.