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Child Development | Who's Your Daddy? | giggle Blogs

Archive: Child Development

December 15, 2010

Santa Is Still Coming!

 The Little Man is now eight years old.  I’ll now do my obligatory parental moaning about how old that makes me feel.  Yes, I am old.  With that done, on to the more important fact that the Little Man still believes in Santa (and those wonderful elves that peek in the window at just the right moment).  When I was a kid way back when, it wouldn’t be that exciting that an eight year old still believes in Santa.  But in this age of early maturing, internet crazed, media savvy kids, it feels like a bit of a Christmas miracle.  Read more…

May 18, 2010

It’s No Myth – Kids Have Boundless Energy

The Fitbit Experiment data is in and the winner is the Little Man in a landslide.  After compiling data for three days, I had to say uncle.  It is no myth, kids in fact do have boundless energy.  In case you missed my last post (The Fitbit Experiment), last week I set out to try to catch lightening in a bottle and measure the energy of a seven year old. I figured, “hey, I live in New York and walk just about everywhere, I can hang with this kid.” I though that maybe it was just a myth and we adults move just as much as these kids. After three days, the results (steps and Fitbit Active score) looked like this: 

  Little Man Dad
Day 1 20,897 steps (1848) 11,865 steps (1073)
Day 2 18,359 steps (1290) 11,900 steps (1102)
Day 3 14,818 steps (1124) 7,682 steps (721)

You can see from the numbers that those little feet are moving.  It is even more telling if you look at the Fitbit graph that they keep for each day to show you activity in five minute increments.


I guess I’m not surprised by these results, but at the same time, they are startling in how clearly they show the constant motion and boundless energy of kids.  If only we kept it as we aged… 

May 13, 2010

The Fitbit Experiment Day 0 (Kids In Constant Motion)

Have you ever been around small children and thought to yourself, “that kid never stops moving, I wish I had their energy!”  Of course you have, everyone has.  As parents, we recognize kids’ boundless energy as a universal truth like gravity or stinky French cheese. 

Let me take you back to November 2009 when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal (Fitbit Sees How You Run, Walk and Sleep) that was about a new gadget (Fitbit) that tracks both your activity level throughout the day and your sleep at night.  A bit like a pedometer, but better because it can track and calculate much more than just your number of steps and distance traveled.  I was intrigued, so I ordered two, one for me and one for Who’s Your Mommy.

Fast forward to today and a few weeks after getting our Fitbits (they had a serious backorder).  It’s been an interesting exercise to see how far we walk each day and how much (or little) we sleep each night.  And we’ve joked, wouldn’t it be funny to put one on the Little Man and track his boundless energy?  Is measuring that kind of energy even possible or is it like cold fusion, a scientific myth?  Would this be like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters and result in “total protonic reversal”?  I say, let’s find out!

So consider this the first entry in a not so scientific experiment to measure the boundless energy of a seven year old and compare it to the not-so-boundless energy of a forty year old dad.  We’ll be using Who’s Your Mommy’s Fitbit and run the risk of loss or destruction of that Fitbit in the name of science.  I’ll track the following data:

Daily Activity
Number of Steps Taken Per Day
Fitbit Activity Score (see here for explanation)

Sleep Activity
Hours In Bed
Times Awake

So check back later this week for my first report!

March 17, 2010

Did You Use Your Brain?

As parents, we’ve all had moments where our kids pull a stunt that we simply can’t believe. Anywhere from a playground “incident” that ends up with a kid having sand somewhere they shouldn’t and you profusely apologizing to some angry parent to the time you find yourself standing at your front door talking to a police officer about your teenager (not that my parents would know anything about the latter). While you’re knee-deep in the cleanup of the aftermath, you’re thinking, or perhaps even saying to them, “didn’t you think about that before you went ahead and did it???”

Before today, I always thought that babies, kids and teenagers are mostly products of their experience and education, so hopefully by the time they’re out of the house they’ll have some sense. Of course their bodies, including their brain, are developing along the way, but that is more for learning stuff, right? Turns out, some of the silliness and bad judgment might not be totally their fault.

While at the doctors office today, the doctor and I got off on quite a tangent and she mentioned how our brains are still developing into our twenties, yes I said twenties. She alluded to how some of the stunts our kids pull is just because they haven’t developed the ability to fully reason yet. I was surprised and of course immediately thought about how I could have used that as an excuse all through high school. I had to know more.

After some research, it turns out (not surprisingly) the doctor was right. I’m not an MD but the basic idea is that as we develop from children all the way to our early 20s, the brain continues to develop in significant ways. The latest one to the party is the frontal lobe which is the part of the brain that, among other things, controls reasoning, including evaluating the consequences of actions. So basically as our frontal lobe develops, so does our ability to make thoughtful and logical decisions. Before that, the amygdala is more actively involved in decision making resulting in more gut reactions.

Think about this and imagine a world where it was reversed and our frontal lobe fully developed first. Then came all the other stuff, including puberty. Our jobs as parents would be so much easier! But then again, high school would have been so boring without all those gut reactions. Either way, next time you find yourself looking at your child of any age wondering, “what were you thinking” just remember when they look at you with a sheepish look on their face and say “I don’t know”, they’re probably telling you the truth.

For More Info:

March 9, 2010

Too Much Dad?

I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “that’s just ridiculous! It’s impossible to think that there could be too much ‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ coming at me. Stop that crazy talk!” Just cool your heels there my friend because I know that is crazy and not what I’m talking about.

I’ve been wondering lately about the balance of “involved dad” vs “over-involved dad” (in my case in sports) and where that line might be. I’ve coached the Little Man now for his first two soccer seasons, plus a season of indoor soccer plus being a de facto coach for his first year of little league. I’m now signed up to actually coach his second year of little league and this raises the question, “too much dad?”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy coaching and the Little Man seems to enjoy having me as his coach (most of the time). But I worry that it might be getting a little too comfortable for him and if he can learn as much from me. In my experience so far, it seems that your kids (especially father and son) sometimes have a hard time taking coaching or advice from their parents. This was never more evident to me than last summer when the Little Man became truly interested in golf. Almost every attempt to help, fix or coach by me was completely rebuffed. When he took a lesson, the exact same information from the golf pro was taken without question.

As with everything else, there is a balance there somewhere. So I ask you, could we be entering the territory of “too much dad?”

February 2, 2010

Dads In The Night

While the Little Man may be well out of diapers, he still is a child of the night.  Lately, we’ve had many nights requiring bathroom breaks, glasses of water and dreams requiring extra tuck-ins.  As every parent knows kids move through phases as often as shoe sizes, so as soon as you think you’ve got one covered, it changes.  So with each wake up, wanting nothing more than our restful night sleep, we help the Little Man back to bed with reassurances of good dreams and the fact we’re right down the hall.  I’ve been told I’m not the most patient when it comes to multiple middle of the night wanderings of a seven year old as evidenced by the stealthy tip toe to mom’s side of the bed.  Too bad for the Little Man, I’m generally a light sleeper, so despite his best efforts, more often than not he is stuck with a return trip to bed with dad.  So, as we shuffle back to another bleary-eyed tuck in, I try to recall my own younger years requiring hall lights on all night and think, this too shall pass.  Right?

November 18, 2009

Couch Pillow Fort Fun

As a kid, I remember building some crazy indoor forts out of couch pillows and blankets.  While they probably drove our parents crazy, there were some good times to be had in those indoor forts.  You’d never have two that were the same and each time seemed to be two great activities built into one (three if you count cleanup!). Couch Fort

One was the great construction project that is required of a truly special couch pillow fort.  You need to make sure all your pillows are balanced to hold a roof.  You need it to be big enough to escape into when the enemy is coming, but not so big and open that you can’t find refuge. 

Second was the great games that are played in and around a couch pillow fort.  Hide and seek, camping, cops and robbers, reading a great book by flashlight and the list goes on.  The fort could be knocked down and rebuilt all as part of the great playtime. 

So, as winter approaches, keep in mind those great couch pillow forts for your kids.  You might even find yourself crawling right in to relive a bit of your youth.

October 21, 2009

Our Little All-Stars


Soccer season has kicked off and now is in full swing.  As coach of my son’s U7 team I get to be in the front row for the amazing show that is youth sports.  As coaches, parents, relatives and friends, I’m sure we all wonder what is going through the kids’ heads sometimes.  Most of us were probably young athletes but don’t recall (or don’t care to) much beyond hopefully fond memories of running around the field or court and maybe even picking a flower or two out in center field. 

I am lucky enough to be friends with a very experienced, championship winning, long time NBA coach (now retired).  I recently asked “Coach” about coaching and he shared a youth sports story from personal experience, namely one of his granddaughters.

Coach’s granddaughter has recently started playing volleyball in middle school.  She is a gifted athlete, tall for her age and has coaches drooling at her prospects.  Her first game was a gem with her in the front line blocking, spiking and generally ruining her opponents’ day.  Coaches, parents, teammates were all excited and looking forward to a great season. 

As the second game begins, she immediately seems more hesitant.  Unenthusiastically moving around the court without her previous fire in the belly and nothing like the tornado of arms at the net like the last game.  The game ends and her supporters are puzzled.  Her mom approaches her after the game to see if she is feeling alright.  She gives that distant “yes” that we are all familiar with from kids.  Her mom beautifully explains that she shouldn’t feel any pressure to play and that everyone just wants her to be happy.  If she decides, though, that she does want to play, she should give her all every time.  Her coaches, friends and teammates deserve that from her. 

As the discussion moves along, she explains she does want to play, today was just a unique day.  When moms gently probes deeper, she answers, “I forgot to shave my armpits today and didn’t want everyone to see.”  Enough said.

So to all your youth sports coaches, parents and friends out there, cheer those kids with all your heart.  But remember, we all have days where we forget to shave our armpits.

October 19, 2009

You Didn’t Lick That Off The Grass

Every family has its little sayings and catchphrases.  I suppose they are a combination of cultural and geographical influences plus the personalities that make up your family.  Not as disgusting as it sounds and my all-time favorite saying.  That’s how I would describe “you didn’t lick that off the grass.” 

“What does that does that mean?” you’re probably asking with a horrified look on your face.  Loosely translated, “the apple didn’t fall from the tree.”  My grandparents lived in eastern Canada where my mom also spent her formative years before heading south to the warmer lands of California (explains a lot).  I have many childhood memories of visits to Canada.  I would be sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen in Renfrew (no you’ve never heard of it) doing some childish thing and immediately getting a dose of “you didn’t lick that off the grass” in her Canadian-Irish-Grandmotherly accent.  As a little kid you hear these things and either don’t understand them or just ignore them.  A quick, “Whatever, Grandma” runs through my brain, although certainly not out loud. 

As I got older, I’d then get it from my mom (of course referring to the fact that whatever ridiculous thing I was doing was a result of my father’s genes).  At this point, a little older (although no wiser) I would take some silent pride in doing something annoying or ridiculous (boys) and knowing I could pass it off on my genes.  My mom, looking through my eyes and directly into my brain as mothers do, would then say, “just wait.”  And the inevitable, “Whatever, Mom” thought passes through my teenage brain.

And then you become a parent.  As with many of the things our parents were right about, I’m now acutely aware of her meaning.  Circle of life and all that.  And now, on visits to California, sitting in my mother’s kitchen watching my son do his thing with me trying to keep some semblance of order, what do I hear?  “You didn’t lick that off the grass” echoing off the walls like a gunshot in a canyon, with a faint Canadian-Irish-Grandmotherly accent mixed in for effect.  And looking into my son’s eyes, what is that flicker I catch a glimpse of?  Could it be a “Whatever, Grandma?”

October 13, 2009

Love Your Socks

I love new socks.  The feeling of that pristine cotton that is shiny new, so soft and as yet unspoiled by dirty feet.  They haven’t been washed, stretched, ripped or stinkified.  They seem perfect.  There was a time I thought that I’d wear new socks every day if I could, but I’m not nearly that interesting or quirky. 

 If you think about it, our kids are a bit like new socks.  They are born as perfect little beings that haven’t taken in any of the stink of the world yet.  Starting with the moment of birth we spend our time trying to protect them from the world, themselves and even us.  There are “stinks” of all kinds that include artificial ingredients, pollution, riding a scooter without a helmet, Hannah Montana and the list goes on.  How do we keep them away from all these bad things?  Maybe we shouldn’t.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a long list of things that we absolutely need to protect them from – there is and I don’t need to list them here.  Protecting our kids from real danger is our number one job as parents as I so often remind my son, to his great dismay.  I’m just saying that I’ve recently started to realize (yes, it’s only taken me six plus years) that maybe I need to let go a bit.  I need to let my son experience the world, make some mistakes, scrape a knee or two.  Not every moment is a learning experience – some are just experiences.  

 If life was a series of the same new socks day after day it would get pretty boring.  Those new socks would start to lose their luster because they’d all be the same.  What makes us all unique individuals and interesting is our collection of unique experiences, habits and preferences (some good, some bad).  Parenting has taught me many things, but I never thought I’d learn to love my old socks along the way.