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Entries in Child Development (15)

Wednesday
Aug172011

Creepy or Cute? French Company Sells Lingerie for Girls 4 to 12 Years Old

Used to be "dress up" meant putting on a pair of Mommy's shoes. Ryan McVay/Thinkstock (PARIS) -- Little girls, clad only in bras and underwear, pose carelessly cool, wearing sunglasses and heavy makeup, in an online photo gallery of Jours Après Lunes' new clothing line. They're far from the age where they might need bras, but the "loungerie" line is meant for girls as young as 3 months.

While the French company's babywear consists of typical onesies for infants, click on the fille (girls) section of the site and find little girls dressed in lacy, frilly, silky undergarments with tousled beehive updos and mascaraed stares.

The Jours Après Lunes website says it is the first designer brand dedicated to "loungerie," calling it an "innovative" and "unexpected" brand in the current realm of teenage and children's fashion.

Some call it fashion. Others call it appalling.

"This kind of marketing does sexualize young girls, it does serve as a model that inspires very young girls to think that minimizing what they wear and revealing as much of their body as possible is appropriate, and 'fashionable' and 'cool,' and that this is the way that they should think of themselves," Paul Miller, associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Phoenix, wrote in an email to ABC News.

Jours Après Lunes' did not return calls from ABC News requesting comment.

"The cultural message goes beyond 'lingerie' but to girls' self-image, body image, and what it takes to build a 'good' image of one's self," continued Miller.

But the "loungerie" line is only the latest kiddie fashion craze to cause public outrage.

Two weeks ago, 10-year-old French model Thylane Loubry Blondeau made headlines when she graced the cover of Vogue France. Many believed her high-fashion posing put her in an exceptionally mature position that was too sexual for her age.

This week, clothing retailer American Eagle drew ire after marketing a push-up bra that promises to add two cup sizes to girls as young as 15.

American Eagle's website has one review of the bra, claiming that "it gives so much push-up that other bras don't let me show off," reported ABC affiliate WTVD.

"Girls want to look pretty, but they do not want that icky sexual attention," Ann Soket, editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, told ABC News. "They just want to feel good in their clothes, they just want to feel pretty, and that's what these bras are about."

But many child development experts would disagree with Soket. The American Psychological Association recently created a task force to respond to the "increasing problem" of the sexualization of girls in the media, which it found could influence a girl's well-being.

"We don't want kids to grow up too fast," Shari Miles-Cohen, senior director of women's programs for the American Psychological Association, told ABCNews.com earlier this month. "We want them to be able to develop physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially at appropriate rates for their age."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Toddlers Know Why Toys Don't Work, Researchers Report

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Infants are attracted to toys by color, shape, size, texture or the sounds they make. Authors of a MIT study published in the journal Science found that children as young as 16 months seem to be able to figure out whether a toy does not work as it should because something is wrong with the toy or because of the way they're playing with it.
 
Researchers showed toddlers the same toy in the colors green, yellow and red. The green toy played music when the experimenter pushed a button. They gave some infants the green toy, others the yellow and they placed the red toy on a cloth near the infant.
 
When the toddlers with the green toy were unable to make it play music, they would hand it to their parent, implying they thought their own actions were the problem.
 
Those given the yellow toy were more likely to reach for the red one, suggesting they thought something was wrong with the yellow.  
 
Authors concluded that infants learn whether to ask for help or explore on their own.
 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Roughhousing with Dad Crucial for Development, Say Researchers

Jack Hollingsworth/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Dads roughhousing with their young children is crucially important in the early development of kids, according to a study by Australian researchers. Sunday is Father's Day and as the annual tribute to dads approaches, experts say the gift that keeps on giving -- for years to come -- is for kids to play a little rough with their fathers.

"We know quite a lot about how important fathers are in general for a child's development. Over the last decade, for example, that it's mainly mother that interacts with children and that's how they develop, and that's the important bit, that's changed. We know fathers are important," Richard Fletcher, the leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle in Australia, told ABC News.

"Father's Day reminds us parents that we have no more solemn obligation than to care for our children," President Barack Obama said Wednesday in calling for fathers to be more involved with their children. "But far too many young people in America grow up without their dads, and our families and communities are challenged as a result."

The percentage of fathers who live with their children has doubled in the past 50 years, and dads tend to spend more than twice the amount of time with their children than they did in the 1960's, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Australian researchers watched film of 30 dads while they roughhoused with their children, usually through a game where the child would try to remove a sock from their father's foot, to see what effect it might have on children.

"Rough and tumble play between fathers and their young children is part of their development, shaping their children's brain so that their children develop the ability to manage emotions and thinking and physical action altogether," said Fletcher. "This is a key developmental stage for children in that preschool area between the ages of about two and a half and five. That's when children learn to put all those things together."

Although boys were more likely to encourage the start of roughhousing with their dads, researchers did not see a significant difference between boys and girls once the play started. But for the kids, it's not just play.

"When you look at fathers and their young children playing, you can see that for the child, it's not just a game. They obviously enjoy it and they're giggling, we know that's true, but when you watch the video, you can see that child is concentrating really hard…I think the excitement is related to the achievement that's involved," Fletcher told ABC News. "It's not about a spoiled child not wanting to lose, I think that child is really striving for the achievement of succeeding."

The researchers believe that the most important aspect of this play is that it gives children a sense of achievement when they 'defeat' a more powerful adult, building their self-confidence and concentration. However, fathers who resist their children, can also teach them the life lesson that, in life, you don't always win.

These kinds of lessons can be crucial in child developmental stages as they begin to build their outlook on the world. "We think it has implications for children's resilience. So, if parents want their children to grow up and not get into drugs and not get into trouble, if they want them to do well academically, than this is probably a good thing to do," said Fletcher. "We did find a correlation so that the dad's whose play was much better coordinated according to our measures, those children had less problems."

Fletcher admits that more research needs to be done, but he is hopeful that his team will eventually be able to help fathers know how to best interact with their child in their formative periods to ensure them a successful future. "It's a new area, but we're excited about the possibilities," said Fletcher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun092011

Preschool Helps Inner-City Kids Get on the 'Right' Path

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Getting kids engaged in school and other organized activities early on in life has been shown to enhance their subsequent well-being, particularly among economically disadvantaged kids.

The authors of a University of Minnesota study measured the long-term effects of a federally funded preschool program in the Chicago Public Schools that was first implemented in 1967, the Child-Parent Center (CPC) Education Program.  They assessed the lives of over 15,000 adults who were born in 1979 or 1980, 1,000 of whom participated in the CPC.  

They found that participation in the CPC preschool programs was associated with higher educational attainment, greater income and socioeconomic status, health insurance coverage, as well as lower rates of justice-system involvement and substance abuse.  Interestingly, the authors found that the length of time spent in the program didn’t seem to affect the benefits seen later on.  

They conclude that the long-lasting impacts seen in this study “provide a strong foundation for the investment in and promotion of early childhood learning.”

This study's findings were featured in Science.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

Nurse Visits to Low-Income Mothers Improve Child Development, Study Shows

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- A program providing home visitation by nurses to low-income first-time mothers in the two years following the birth of their child is helping to reduce "rapid second pregnancies," according to a study by PolicyLab at The Philadelphia Children's Hospital. 

The study, which was published Monday in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, reviewed clients living in 17 urban and six rural areas of Pennsylvania where the program was implemented between 2000 and 2007. 

The study showed no immediate effects in the program's early years, however, program participants whose first children were born after 2003 had fewer second pregnancies.  Study leaders said the reduction in rapid second pregnancies was "two-fold" in rural areas compared to urban locations.

"The continued effectiveness of the program following implementation was encouraging, but particularly striking were the strong effects among young rural mothers," said study leader David Rubin, M.D., M.S.C.E., a pediatric researcher at Children's Hospital.

The project, supported by a grant from Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare, paired nurses with low-income families "to improve the child's health and development" and lower the family's dependence on federal assistance programs such as welfare.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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