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Entries in Toddler (3)

Monday
Nov142011

Why You Should Be Thankful When Your 2-Year-Old Lies

Hemera/Thinkstock(TORONTO, Canada) -- Kids as young as age two can and do, in fact, lie -- but a new study says that's not a bad thing.

A recent as-yet-unpublished study by Dr. Kang Lee, the director of the Institute of Child Study in Toronto, found that about 20 percent of 2-year-olds lie to cover up transgressions -- i.e. peeking at a toy when researchers expressly told them not to, and then lying about peeking at said toy.

The proportion of liars to non-liars gets higher as children get older: 36 percent of three-year-olds Lee tested in an earlier study lied and so did the majority of those between age four and seven.

After you’ve let these stats sink in consider this: If you child’s metaphorical pants are on fire, it could actually be a good thing.
 
Lee and experts have determined that if a child can lie, that means he or she is also capable of understanding other people’s minds -- what psychologists call “theory of mind” -- and also has developed the ability to perform such psychological feats as employing a strategy.

There is one caveat that Lee is quick to point out: When children grow up in punitive environments -- ie. getting pinched for peeking at that toy -- they may become ready liars for the sake of their own survival, as Lee found when he tested lying in children at a West African school that endorsed corporal punishment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

'Ums' and 'Ahs' Help Toddlers Learn Language

Creatas/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) --  "Look at the, uh, zebras, honey," a mom might say to her two-year-old during a visit to the zoo. While the stumble or hesitation may seem like the most unimportant part of the conversation, it can play a major role in the toddler's language development.

So says a new study from the University of Rochester published in the journal Developmental Science. Researchers found that young children used those "ums" and "uhs," technically known as speech disfluencies, to acquire new words.

"Around the age of two, kids start being able to use speech disfluencies to anticipate what the speaker is likely to talk about," said Celeste Kidd, the lead author of the study.

Kidd, a fourth-year doctoral candidate specializing in language development and attention in infants and children, said people mostly use such sentence fillers when the word being sought is not used often or has not yet come up in the conversation.

"Perhaps the most important aspect is that the study shows it's not just the words toddlers are attending to, but it's these nonlinguistic cues as sources of information," said Kidd.

The study included 16 children between 18 and 30 months old. As the researchers did their work, the children sat on their parents' laps in front of a screen with an eye-tracking machine. On the screen, two images appeared: One was a picture of a familiar item, such as a car or book, and the other was a made-up image with a made-up name, like "biffle" or "spad."

A voice recording then talked about the objects in simple sentences. When the voice stumbled and said, "Look at the, uh ..." the children turned their eyes to the made-up image 70 percent of the time.

Significant differences were found only in children two years old or older.

"The most important finding [here] is that children at about age 2 are highly sensitive to features in the environment that help them learn language," said Dr. Heidi Feldman, a professor of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, children can usually put together basic sentences of two to four words. Infants learn to recognize the language of their environment depending on how often sounds occur together, Feldman said. And toddlers learn words and concepts according to the number of words they hear, learning grammar from the kinds of requests their parents make.

"Word learning is typically thought of as a map, where there is an object in the world and that gives a map to some spoken set of sounds," said Kidd. But the study, she said, suggests that very young children seem to understand words in a broader, more general way too.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar282011

Doctors Baffled By 132-Pound Toddler in China

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Lu Hao, a three-year-old toddler in China, weighed less than six pounds at birth.  But he gained weight rapidly, and today tips the scales at an astonishing 132 pounds -- five times the normal size of a child his age.  He's also a medical mystery, with doctors in China unable to diagnose just what's behind the youngster's abnormal weight gain.

"It's obviously an extreme form of obesity," said Dr. Stephen Cook, a fellow in pediatrics at the Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester.  "I don't think I [have] ever seen anything quite like it."

Hao's parents, desperate for medical answers, said forcing him to eat less has been met with drama.

"We have to let him be, as if we don't feed him he will cry non-stop," Hao's mother, Chen Yuan, told Britain's Sun newspaper.

She said Hoa throws angry temper tantrums when they attempt to curtail his massive appetite, which includes devouring huge plates of ribs and rice.

"At some level, the parents are being semi enablers," said Dr. Cook.  "It's, of course, extremely difficult to put a child this young on any kind of a diet, but he needs limitations on his intake."

Cook called the condition "partly behavioral" and said the parents will need to set healthy limits on what he should eat.

Hao's severe weight problem is being aided by his aversions to exercise.  His parents said he hates walking, so they take him to kindergarten on a motorcycle.

Yet his parents do push him to be more mobile.  Though Hao hates walking, he does like swimming.  His parents also installed a basketball hoop to encourage him to exercise.

But exercise just makes Hao hungrier and that typically results in him gaining even more weight.

Hao's parents took him to see several specialists in China.  Doctors at the Guangdong Children's Hospital told the parents their child's weight gain could be caused by a hormone disorder.  Meantime, some experts said the child has signs of Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that's not very well known to the public or some in the medical field.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio