DIFFERENT BREASTMILK FOR BOYS AND GIRLS?
Researchers at Michigan State University and other institutions found that among 72 mothers in rural Kenya, women with sons generally gave richer milk (2.8 percent fat compared with 0.6 percent for daughters). Poor women, however, favored daughters with creamier milk (2.6 versus 2.3 percent). These findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in September, echo previous work that showed milk composition varying with infant gender in gray seals and red deer and with infant gender and the mother’s condition in rhesus macaques. The new study also follows findings that affluent, well-nourished moms in Massachusetts produced more energy-dense milk for male infants.
Together the studies provide support for a 40-year-old theory in evolutionary biology. The Trivers-Willard hypothesis states that natural selection favors parental investment in daughters when times are hard and in sons when times are easy.
From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes total sense. I find the last bit of the article very interesting too – Dr. Katie Hinde from Harvard talks about how infants can use the milk differently, so different milk leads to different uses and may affect infant growth and development. Of course, the last sentence about implications for formula bothers me. I know it will be used to create sex-specific formula, but the fact that it’s so dependent on environmental factors tells me there’s still more to this than we currently know. And as Dr. Hinde points out, we still don’t know how infants are using the different milk. Perhaps there’s an evolutionary advantage in the lower fat content we aren’t considering for females given the environment they are in? We won’t know until more research is done and in my opinion, it should be done without the idea of formula trying to change. I wonder what happens though if a mom has opposite-sex twins in hard times?
PRESCHOOLERS AS SCIENTISTS?
When kids incessantly ask “Why?,” mess around in the dirt and run their hands over everything within reach, they’re not just being kids. It turns out they’re also being scientists.
Until recently, preschoolers were widely believed to be irrational thinkers. For most of the 20th century, the prevailing theory pioneered by cognitive development expert Jean Piaget held that children roughly ages 2 through 7 cannot understand concrete logic or other people’s perspectives.
Although young children are the only ones who truly know what they ponder, research conducted over the past decade has led many psychologists to see infants and toddlers as, in fact, capable of thinking logically and abstractly.
In other words, children who were led rather than turned loose didn’t devise the more creative solution – an “example of how, ironically, direct teaching … can sometimes sort of backfire,” Gopnik said. “It leads to a kind of narrowing of what children are thinking about, instead of an extension or broadening of it.”
I know this is probably a no-brainer for most of us here, but I do love when mainstream media gives us more reasons to accept the dirty, the frustrating, and the repetitive as something good in our children. They are not trying to make us mad, they are not trying to break things, they are trying to learn. And when we can accept that, it should help parents see their children in a new light, avoiding unnecessary punishment, and accepting that their child will learn about the world in an exploratory manner and that’s a good thing. And as the article finds, letting kids loose to learn actually helps them be MORE creative. Isn’t that a good thing?
Do you try to teach your child or are you able to let them learn on their own? How hard is it to let them loose?
BEING BULLIED CAN CAUSE TRAUMA SYMPTOMS
This study of 963 children aged 14 and 15 in Norwegian schools found a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms among bullied pupils. These signs were seen in roughly 33 per cent of respondents who said they had been victims of bullying.
“This is noteworthy, but nevertheless unsurprising,” says psychologist Thormod Idsøe from the Universitiy of Stavanger (UiS) and Bergen’s Center for Crisis Psychology. “Bullying is defined as long-term physical or mental violence by an individual or group.”
Like the researcher said, this isn’t really too surprising; however, it should definitely bring home the idea that we need to be far more proactive as a society and as parents when it comes to bullying. It isn’t benign and it shouldn’t be excused as just typical child behaviour. It only becomes typical when we allow it to proliferate. Unfortunately the people who can have the biggest impact are the parents of the children doing the bullying and sometimes you can’t get them on board. So we need to find ways around that. And most of all, we need to find ways for parents to support their children through it when schools and other parents aren’t there. We can’t depend upon others to protect our children for us.
Were you bullied? How did you overcome it? Was your school or parents or other students supportive?