Do bad boys equal bad grades?
This week the parenting world is abuzz about the New York Post report that actor Steve Martin recently became a dad for the first time at age 67 (with his 41-year-old wife). Great news, no doubt, for the happy couple. But why is it that no one bats an eye when a man in his 50s, 60s or even 70s fathers a child, while it still raises disapproving eyebrows for a woman as young as her forties to become a mom? Enough with the double standard!
In other news:
Bad boys, bad grades? You know they can be rambunctious in the classroom, maybe even disruptive, but it doesn’t seem fair that boys being boys should affect their grades. However, a new study [PDF] has found that that is often the case. Researchers analyzed data from about 6,000 elementary school students and discovered that when teachers were handing out grades, they routinely took classroom behavior into account. That usually meant that the boys earned lower grades than their test scores would dictate.
When toddler knows best: Surprisingly, even children as young as 3 know when grown-ups are wrong about something. Researchers found that 3-year-olds will ignore an adult’s request for an unhelpful item and go out of their way to bring them something more useful. In an experiment, if the adult asked for a toy phone to make a call or a dried-out marker to draw a picture, the kids sought out a better option (a real phone, a working marker) and brought it to them. Interestingly, the children would gladly bring over the dysfunctional item -- like the toy phone -- if told that the adult wanted to use it for a purpose other than placing a call (say, to hold down papers).
Girl Scout cookies under fire: This year, in addition to Thin Mints, Samoas and other perennial favorites, the Girl Scouts are hawking a confection called Mango Cremes with NutriFusion. The new cookie is being marketed as “a delicious way to get your vitamins,” saying that the fruit filling has all the “nutrient benefits” of eating real fruit. But The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is urging the Girl Scouts to drop what it calls “bogus claims.” The cookie drive may be a huge money maker for the girls in green, but CSPI would like to encourage the group to promote healthy eating -- rather than cookie consumption.
Mom as meal-time role model: You are what you eat, as the saying goes, and apparently, so are your kids. If mom eats badly, her preschool child will have a higher risk of obesity, according to new research. Moms who eat when they’re full, eat unhealthy foods or eat in response to emotions can negatively influence their kids’ eating behaviors. The best approach for both mom and kids is to dish up small portions of healthy foods for snacks and meals, going back for seconds only if you really are still hungry.
Music for the brain: Think you have a budding musician in the family? Inherent talent or not, it may pay to sign your kids up for music lessons early on. A new study suggests that learning to play a musical instrument before age 7 can improve brain power. According to the research, music training at an early age affects brain development to produce long-lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. But starting those music lessons later in life does not appear to increase the brain’s neural connections -- probably because young brains are much more sensitive to change than older ones.
Food safety saves lives: A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control found that contaminated salad greens cause the most foodborne illnesses, but contaminated poultry has caused the most food-related deaths. Both bits of news are good reminders to practice proper food safety at home -- including washing all produce thoroughly, using separate cutting boards for produce and raw meats, defrosting meat in the refrigerator rather than on the counter and using a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked to a safe temperature. For more tips on keeping your family safe, go to www.homefoodsafety.org.
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