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The Harm of Screen Time

Nellie Bowles reports in The New York Times:

Screen exposure starts young. And children who spent more than two hours a day looking at a screen got lower scores on thinking and language tests, according to early results of a landmark study on brain development of more than 11,000 children that the National Institutes of Health is supporting. Most disturbingly, the study is finding that the brains of children who spend a lot of time on screens are different. For some kids, there is premature thinning of their cerebral cortex. In adults, one study found an association between screen time and depression.

A toddler who learns to build with virtual blocks in an iPad game gains no ability to build with actual blocks, according to Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on screen time.

The kids get way too much screen time, especially when the cousins get together. It is easier for the adults to just throw them the iPad. Everyone else seems to be fine with it, but I feel guilty as hell.

Meeting With Xuân’s Teachers

After dropping Xuân off at his daycare, I sat in the lobby reading and waiting to meet with his teachers for a brief conference. He spotted me when his class went outside or a morning walk. I tried to hide, but he already looked right at me. He didn’t cry or anything. I waved at him and pretended to continue to read. He didn’t spot me when they went back inside.

His teachers told me Xuân is calm and creative. He invents his own way of playing with blocks, cars, or magnet stiles. He gets along with his classmates and they respect him when he wanted to play by himself. He follows direction and listens to to his teachers. They would like him to speak up more in group activities.

I don’t worry much about Xuân. He is a sweet and bright kid. When he knew that I was not happy with his behavior, we would always asked, “Daddy, are you happy?” It melts my heart every time. I love this kid.

Snowplow Parenting

Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich defines snowplow parenting in The New York Times:

[C]learing the way for their children to get in to college, while shielding them from any of the difficulty, risk and potential disappointment of the process.

In its less outrageous — and wholly legal — form, snowplowing (also known as lawn-mowing and bulldozing) has become the most brazen mode of parenting of the privileged children in the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation.

They also wrote about A Vietnamese student:

Cathy Tran, 22, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, is the daughter of people who immigrated from Vietnam who did not attend college. “They do give me a lot of emotional support, but they haven’t really been able to tell me about what I should be doing, like next steps,” she said.

Clearing her own path to college had some benefits, Ms. Tran said. “I actually think that I have a sense of independence and confidence in myself in a way that some of my friends whose parents attended college might not have,” she said. “I had some friends who didn’t even know how to do laundry. I guess in some ways I feel like I was forced to be an adult much earlier on.”

For parents, the entire article is worth-reading.

Đán is not into Reading

About two months ago, I stopped doing our daily reading with Đán. He fought back and screamed every time I asked him to read. It felt as if he were forced to do it. I just have to accept that he is not a reader and I need to let him do it on his own term.

On Saturday, I asked him to read and he can read most of the words without sounding out. He has shown improvements even though we have not read together for a while. Unfortunately, he simply got bored two minutes later. So we stopped again. He now has the basic knowledge of reading. It is up to him to continue. I wish he would read more like Đạo, but each kid is different. I don’t want him to hate reading because he has to read.

Xuân has been wanting me to read with him; therefore, I am going to focus on him next. I obviously learned an invaluable lesson with Đán.

Suicide Instructions Embedded Into Kids’ YouTube Video

Beth Mole writes Ars Technica:

Four minutes and forty-five seconds into a video, the cartoon cut away to a clip of a man, who many readers have pointed out resembles Internet personality Joji (formerly Filthy Frank). He walks onto the screen and simulates cutting his wrist. “Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,” he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon.

We must keep our eyes on what our kids watch or simply take the iPad away and play outside.

Nội và Ngoại

Thằng con thắc mắc tại sao grandma chữ Việt lại có bà nội và bà ngoại? Tại chữ Việt mình phong phú thay vì phải nói mẹ của mẹ (mother’s mother) thì gọi là bà ngoại hoặc mẹ của ba (father’s mother) thì gọi là bà nội. Như thế dễ phân biệt.

Nó hỏi tiếp, vậy nội và ngoại nghĩa là gì? Từ nhỏ đến bây giờ tôi không để ý nhưng cũng trả lời theo dự đoán của mình. Nội là bên trong (inside) còn ngoại là bên ngoài (outside). Truyền thống của mình thường thì mẹ phải về ở nhà chồng làm dâu. Các cháu ở chung với mẹ của ba nên gọi là bà nội. Còn mẹ của mẹ ở riêng nên gọi là bà ngoại. Tôi cũng chả biết giả thích như thế có đúng không.

Nó lại hỏi tiếp, vậy mẹ của mẹ đang ở chung với chúng ta thì phải gọi là bà nội chứ? Ừ ha, cũng có lý. Thôi thì gọi grandma đi cho chắc ăn.

Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parent

Pamela Druckerman writes in The New York Times:

In the “Hidden Tribes” survey published last year by the nonprofit group More in Common, respondents who valued self-reliance in children more than obedience, and creativity over good behavior — staples of both authoritative and permissive parents — were more likely to have voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Those with more authoritarian views on parenting were more likely to have voted for Donald Trump.

An authoritarian parent voted for an authoritarian president? That makes perfect sense.

Embracing Boredom

Pamela Paul opines in The New York Times:

Of course, it’s not really the boredom itself that’s important; it’s what we do with it. When you reach your breaking point, boredom teaches you to respond constructively, to make something happen for yourself. But unless we are faced with a steady diet of stultifying boredom, we never learn how.

When Đạo and Đán weren’t allowed to watch TV or play on iPads, they complained that they were bored. My response has been, “Bored is good. Find something you like to do.” They would go and build their imaginative world in Lego, do some sketching, and read a book. It’s good to be bored.

Ms. Paul goes on:

But surely teaching children to endure boredom rather than ratcheting up the entertainment will prepare them for a more realistic future, one that doesn’t raise false expectations of what work or life itself actually entails. One day, even in a job they otherwise love, our kids may have to spend an entire day answering Friday’s leftover email. They may have to check spreadsheets. Or assist robots at a vast internet-ready warehouse.

I was bored when I was a kid, but I didn’t appreciate it. Now I wish I have all the time in the world to be bored again.

My Second Child’s Behavioral Issue

Đán still drives everyone nuts. He snatches toys from Xuân. Despite the little fellow screaming, he wouldn’t give it back until I intervened. He plays rough with Đạo and chases him with a toy fishing rod. Even though he wouldn’t hit him with it, he scares the crap out of the older brother. He ignores his mom’s and grandma’s words, which outraged them. What irritates me the most is the classless things come out of his mouth, like “you eat diarrhea.”

A couple of days ago, Đán and Đạo were arguing. Đạo got mad and told him that his friend’s mom does not want Đán to come over for playdates anymore because Đán is “inappropriate.” I could see the sadness on Đán’s face because he loves hanging with Đạo and his friend. Last week when I came to pick them up at the friend’s house, his mom invited me for coffee. We talked and I asked her how they were behaving and she told me they were great. She even told me that because her son is the only child he loves to play with Đán and Đạo like brothers. Then again kids do not know how to lie. Even though I know how Đán could be really annoying, I felt bad for him. I took him to Popeyes for his favorite popcorn shrimp. He was happy again.

I don’t know what to do with his behavior other than constantly reminding him. Sometimes I feel so frustrated and irritated, I just give him the silent treatment until I could calm myself down. Maybe he’s the second child and just wanted attention. He has changed so much in the past two years. He was so caring and charming. I just hope this stage will pass soon.

How to Get Preschoolers to Share

Malia Wollan shares some tips on teaching kids to share:

For better or worse, children are watching you for cues on how to behave among human groups. Let them see you be bighearted. Find ways to embody generosity. Donating money is great, but with very young children, it doesn’t really count as teachable, imitable behavior unless you’re collecting it in a jar and carrying it with your child down to the homeless shelter.

Noted!