Christmas in Small Pieces

Maybe lots of small traditions are better than striving for that one perfect moment

The Average Person Spends Two Weeks of Their Life Kissing

Snapple's Real Facts say that people spend an average of two weeks of their lives kissing. You wouldn't think that would get a bunch of psychology students arguing.

Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order?

My husband rolled over in bed the other morning. “I was dreaming about the periodic table. I wonder if the alphabet is in the right order.” (Sometimes I feel like Ms. Frizzle, without her Magic School Bus.)

Teasing and Bullying, Boys and Girls

Bullying and teasing may sometimes feel the same to the victim, but they function very differently.

Does Time Fly When You're Getting Old?

Everyone says time rushes by faster and faster as we get old. But does it? New research suggests that the answer is 'no'.

When Kids Miss the Point: Rubrics

Rubrics are a useful tool to help students understand teacher expectations and develop their own skills. But if students just see them as a way to get graded, the benefit is lost. Maybe we should explain rubrics to them.

What Middle School Parents Should Know Part 3: Adolescents Are Like Kindergartners

Every day when my youngest's school bus rolled up to the driveway, we'd have to wake him up.  He would be sound asleep, exhausted by the long half-day of school.I was reminded of that yesterday when he dragged himself into my office after school and we started the short walk home.  By the time we had gotten down the stairs and past the bike racks, he was already raging.  A few blocks later, he was crying.

What Middle School Parents Should Know Part 2: Adolescents Are Like Lawyers

In many ways, middle schoolers think like stereotypical lawyers. They like to argue. They fit facts to their theories instead of theories to facts. They anticipate your arguments and twist them in ways you never thought they could. And they build arguments that just defy common sense.

What Middle School Parents Should Know Part I: Adolescents Are Like Toddlers

During their growth spurt, middle schoolers are growing as fast as toddlers. And like toddlers, they can melt down if their bellies aren't full and they haven't had enough sleep. Practical tips on meeting those needs.

Can Parents Help College Students Too Much?

The transition to college lets students bond with peers, learn new skills, and meet adults who will help them figure out who they are, where they want to go, and how to get there.  How can parents be supportive, but let their kids feel that triumph of making it on their own?

Moms Recruit Aliens to Protect Babies

Babies are born both completely vulnerable and readymade to evoke protection from a hostile world.  Mothers have also evolved unique systems to help their babies protect themselves.  And they've enlisted the aid of aliens to do it.

Back from College with the Introjected Parent

Graduating from college marks the true beginning of adulthood for many youth.  Ironically, the first thing they do is often moving back home with mom and dad.  Old issues and new ones can surface as parents and their now adult children try to squeeze back together into the nest.

Why Parenting Isn’t Fun

Most people will say that they love their children beyond reckoning and that they bring immeasurable joy into their lives. But study after study shows that people without children are as happy - or HAPPIER - than those without them and parents rate parenting as one of the least satisfying parts of their lives. What's going on?

Moving is tough for kids

The effects of moving a lot as a child can be seen all the way into adulthood. But moving isn't just tough on the kids who go - it's tough on the ones who stay as well. How do you cope when your best friend leaves?

“I’m bored!” Kids in the Summer Part II

One reason that kids are bored in the summer is that they haven't had the opportunity to learn (a) what they like to do (b) what aspects of those experiences produce positive affective states and (c) that it's their job to make those experiences happen. Ironically, boredom can be a great teacher.

“I’m bored!” Kids in the Summer Part I: Screen time

Five tips for turning kids' summer video and computer time into something fun, relaxing and (dont' tell the kids) maybe even developmental.

Chalk Up One For Mom

“Can’t we PLEASE go out for some ice cream . . . . “  Holding out against those the irresistible pleading eyes - and worses still - persistent whining - can help them realize that maybe what they've got isn't so bad after all.

The Science of Intervention: When Trying To Help Hurts Kids

There are times I wish I were a chemist.  Real data can tell us when our well-intentioned interventions can really harm the kids we want to help.  Psychology is full of common sense cures that hurt.

Letting Perfection Go

Letting go of perfection is necessary to sustain the sense that you are doing well enough.  This may also be one of the reasons that people who focus on their improvement, rather than on absolute performance standards, keep on going when the going gets tough.

Facebook and the Strength of Weak Ties

Facebook is a lot more like a small town than a living room full of close friends.

What Makes Kids Flock to Nasty Networking Sites?

Formspring is like Facebook, except your name and information is public and everyone else is anonymous. Kids go there to snark about each others' clothes or sexual behavior or to tell each other why they didn’t get invited to the big party. Why do kids do this to themselves?

Raising Quitters

Excellence comes from hard work and practice, not from talent. Carol Dweck's research has shown us that kids who think success stems from natural ability quit when things get tough. Are we raising a generation of quitters? Or am I naive in telling my son to take hard courses and stick them out?

Are Intro Psych Students Lab Rats?

Studying Intro Psych students limits us to knowing how smart, academically oriented, and possibly angst ridden or hung over people behave. But it has its advantages.

Of Robotic Vacuum Cleaners and Free Range Children

People love to see kids engage in purposeful activity where they're really learning something and getting things done.  But there are real advantages in just letting them play.

How To Give a Presentation Part III: The Kid's Version

A few weeks ago, I put up two posts that talked about how to give a presentation.  Those posts came out of a handout that I use when I talk to college students.  Next week, I'm giving the same workshop for 5th graders. In some ways, it's a better handout, because it's shorter, clearer, and to the point.  Maybe there's something to be learned there.

Mean Girls: Pathologizing Bad Behavior

Media coverage of the 15 year old Irish immigrant hounded to suicide by her classmates has focused on how violent today's girls are.  But it's just not true.  Pathologizing aggression makes it harder to stop. 

Nobody Becomes a Psych Major to Study Statistics: Part I

Undergraduate psych students take more statistics and research methods than majors in almost any other field.  The first part of this series talks about the paradigm that psychologists share, what we believe, and what we just don't.

Mindfulness in the Garden

Last Saturday, my spring assault on the garden began. I cleaned out the two small fishponds.  And I would have missed the whole thing if I had brought my iPod.

When we last left our heroes . . . Psychology Meets D & D

When my 5th grader and his friends decided they wanted to throw themselves into Dungeons and Dragons, it gave me both reason to pause and a great opportunity to watch kids in action.

Parenting as Propaganda

My take-home message from the Society for Research in Adolescence this year: parenting teens takes a light hand and a talent for propaganda.