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What’s Happening to My 4-Year-Old?

Lea Lomas

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Most folks are told to be well-prepared for the terrible twos and the monster threes when it comes to toddlers. As they learn to live with others and begin to understand the basic rules of society (i.e. we can’t just take what we want when we want it), toddlers are notorious for fits, temper tantrums and outright screaming sessions. By the age of four, however, many parents expect their little ones to have moved on from their anger phase and begin adjusting to socialization, getting ready for preschool and kindergarten and greater interaction with others. So, when a 4-year-old seems to go right back to a hissy-fit without any rhyme or reason and it lasts for days, many parents are at their wit’s end. Wasn’t this nonsense to supposed to end already?

Candy is Not the Automatic Culprit

What’s really going on, believe it or not, is a toddler growth spurt. It won’t be the children’s last. They will see the same happen again in their teen years, but age 4 is definitely a massive biological change for toddlers who make the leap into bona fide young children. However, the toddler growth spurt is a bit of a secret parents aren’t told about, grandparents assume is due to the kids being spoiled too much (yes, their opinions are no help whatsoever), and the parents are ready to lose it themselves due to feeling cheated somehow. In reality, it’s just plain biology jumping in leaps and spurts versus nice, smooth sequential transitions pictured in science books.

Biology is Not a Smooth Process

Children have lots of growth spurts. The first occurs as they dramatically change from a newborn to a baby and then toddler in the space of two years. The next happens around age four and five. Yet another happens around 6 and 7. And then they grow dramatically again from age 11 to 14. These erratic burps come with a lot of stress, energy consumption, and crankiness. No surprise, that combination comes out in bad behavior and an inability to rationalize the effects of being tired, hormones and expectations. Instead, it’s just darn easier to throw a fit, and fancy one at that.

Lots of Research Exists on the Topic

Growth spurts as a pediatric topic is not a new one either. It’s been studied in detail and extensively since the 1920s.  Arnold Gesell was a leading name in the original research on toddlers and behavioral development during the early years of research, confirming that children’s growth is erratic and runs in iterations of balance and unbalance that repeat again and again. The unbalance phase, of course, is the ones that drives parents nuts. And in little children, that can happen as frequent as every 6 or 7 months. For years people have often thought the crankiness and temper tantrums were due to being tired, too much sugar and energy, or poor parenting attention. In recent years since the 1990s, attention deficit labels have also been added. However, the solid research points towards biological growth and changes instead, much the same way teens have their fits due to an explosion of hormones until about 17.

The Positive Side of the Picture

The good news is that the cycles of unbalance are short and change over to a balanced phase. And that’s when kids amaze everyone with their ability to learn, grow and pick up new skills quickly. It’s a bit of yin and yang; with every new miracle as a child grows comes a bit of a cost to parent’s patience. But it does go away eventually. So no, parents, you’re not going nuts in frustration with your 4-year-old. You’re instead dealing with yet another growth spurt of many to come.

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Parenting

A Look At Some Creative Experiments One Mother Decided to Perform To Keep Her Young Son Entertained

Mackenzie Freeman

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Many young children have curious minds, especially as they begin their educational pursuits. They are on a constant quest to learn as much as they can. For some parents, it can be a fun and challenging process working with their children as they grow and develop a hunger for knowledge.

One parent thought of an innovative way to satisfy her child’s curiosity. Due to the current circumstances, the young boy was unable to attend summer camp, so his mother decided that the two of them would work on a few different science experiments.

Initially, the mother relied on an activity book to help brainstorm different experiments to try. After that, she went on Pinterest to search for some good ideas. She searched for projects that would keep her son active and engaged. She also wanted to work on experiments that would help her son learn about the science involved in them. In the weeks ahead, the young child learned some memorable lessons and made some great memories.

Experimenting With Plastic Bags

In order to perform on this experiment, the mother and her son compiled a re-sealable plastic bag, sharp pencils, and a cup of water. The goal was to show how a person can puncture a plastic ball full of water without making a mess. Once you have filled the bag with water, squeeze the air out and fully zip the bag. Once that’s done, take the pencil and try to puncture the bag. After the mother did a few test runs, she was ready to try the experiment with her son. The boy was amazed that the pencil went straight through the bag and nothing was spilled. Eventually, the mother and son added a few more pencils to the bag. Scientists point out that the experiment works because plastic bag are created using a special brand of molecules. The point of the pencil squeezes between the molecules without breaking them, due to the flexibility of the chains.

Experimenting With Pepper Soap

Social media data shows that experimenting with pepper soap has become a popular activity the last few months. This experiment helps express the importance of keeping your hands clean. In order to perform the experiment, you need some water, dish soap, pepper, and two containers. The mother and her son filled one of the containers with water. They added some food coloring and pepper. They put dish soap in the other container. The boy dipped his finger into the pepper bowl, and then he dipped a finger in the soap. Once the pepper and soap mix together, the surface tension changes, which causes the pepper to sink below the top surface.

Ink Experiment

In order to experiment with ink, you need some dry erase markers, a ceramic dish, water, and a straw. The mother encouraged her child to scroll over the dish. The boy let the dry ink designs settle for a few minutes then he added some water. The boy used the straw to blow the ink designs and watched as they started to float to the top of the water. Scientists point out that the ink in dry erase markers cannot dissolve. When water is added to a dry erase marker drawing on a plate, the ink is pulled upwards, which causes it to start floating.

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Life

We Can’t Wait Until Middle School for the Gender Talk

Lea Lomas

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In an era of social justice and a change in focus on things like inclusion, race, and segregation, there is an important aspect of our modern culture we need to look at.  While racial justice is always important, we also need to start having serious talks about gender justice. In our schools today there is a growing situation where those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and those who consider themselves to be allies are increasingly being met with fear, prejudice, abuse, discrimination, and injustice. And a lot of this is stemming from the lack of early conversation an education from parents and teachers. Parents and teachers should not be waiting until they know whether their child is LGBTQIA+  or that they have students in their class who identify as such. The conversation needs to start soon and regardless of whether the individual child identifies as LGBTQIA+ or not. The sooner we normalize queerness and work to make the world more inclusive and accepting of these young people, the sooner we can stop the bullying, depression, addiction, drug abuse, suicide, isolation, discrimination, and rejection. Those uncomfortable or tough conversations need to be happening now!
Start Sooner Rather Than Later
When we wait until kids are ‘ready’ to have the big talks about sexuality, gender conformity, consent, race, decimation, bigotry, or acceptance then we have already missed the opportunity by waiting too long. We need to have these important yet at times difficult talk to our kids early and often. Waiting until a child is old enough to be feeling and expressing LGBTQIA+ feelings and tendencies or waiting until they are exposed to someone who identifies as LGBTQIA+ means we have missed the most opportune time to have these important conversations. If we want to prevent the poor reception and negativity that still surrounds gender nonconformity, we need to be talking to our kids about it now. Early ideas of what is right and wrong and acceptable are established early, and waiting till middle and high school for these talks is far too late. We need to let our kids know that having friends who are LGBTQIA+ is fine and that if they realize they identify as LGBTQIA+ that is fine too!
Age-Appropriate Methods
There are always those who will say we shouldn’t burden our kids with things like this. But there is always an age-appropriate way to talk to younger children about many of life’s big topics.  We have seen that waiting till middle and high school for general sex education is not always best as the same is true for many other issues today. Waiting until middle school means we often are not just trying to educate a generation about LGBTQIA+ we are also trying to undo 10-13 years of false ideas, misguided thoughts, and poor examples from friends and family. Kids are absorbing information constantly from the people and situations around them and that means we must make time to address this important issue with them sooner rather than later before the real damage has been done!

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Parenting

Mom had put medical school on hold to raise her daughter. Now they will be residents together.

Sherry Rucherman

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Dr. Cynthia Kudji Sylvester had put her medical school on hold to raise her daughter. In a rare situation, now both mother and daughter will be doing their medicine residency together. In an interview with People magazine, Cynthia shared how her visit to her birth country, Ghana, inspired her to become a medical doctor. When Cynthia was visiting Ghana, a local family had come up to her asking for medical help. There was a child in the family who was sick and they didn’t have enough money to afford medical treatment. The local family assumed that because Cynthia had come from the US, she must be a doctor. That incident shook Cynthia. The divide between people from developed countries compared to people from poor countries was very disturbing for her. Cynthia thought everyone deserves the basic needs of life such as food, education, and medicine. At that time, Cynthia was just a college student.  After her visit to Ghana, It had become her life’s goal to become a medical doctor.

During her final year of college at Tulane University, Cynthia became pregnant. Once she found out that she was going to be a mother, she knew that her ambition of becoming a medical doctor had to wait. At that time, Cynthia thought it would probably be a break of a couple of years before she can rejoin medical school. However, as fate would have it, she couldn’t go back to medical school for many years after giving birth to her beautiful baby daughter, Jasmine.

Cynthia had to work to support to daughter. She was also conscious about giving the attention and focus that her daughter deserved. It was not easy for Cynthia to put her dream on hold, but her love for her daughter overpowered any dreams she had. She put her daughter above everything else. To support her daughter, Cynthia became a nursing assistant. She wanted to be part of the medical profession so being a nursing assistant was a good option for her.

As a single mom, Cynthia worked extremely hard to raise her daughter. Not only did you provide for the financial needs of Jasmine but also took out time to spend with her daughter. It took Cynthia 10 years to become a nurse practitioner. While raising her daughter as a single mom, Cynthia never gave up on her dream to become a medical doctor. The dream had been delayed but it was not canceled. As a single mom, it was difficult for Cynthia to save enough money to be able to afford medical college while saving enough for her daughter’s future.

After many years of hard work, frugal living, and some help from family members, Cynthia was able to join a medical school. However, before she could spend money on herself, she made sure Jasmine had enough to fund her education. Jasmine saw her mother work hard and was inspired to do the same. She too worked hard to achieve excellent grades in school and got admitted to medical school. This was a proud moment for Cynthia who had sacrificed a lot for this moment. Finally, it was time for Cynthia to resume her dream of becoming a medical doctor. She joined her daughter in medical school. They will be doing their residency together. The story of Cynthia and Jasmine is a heartwarming reminder of how some parents sacrifice their dreams so that their children can fulfill their dreams. In this case, fortunately, Cynthia was also able to eventually fulfill her dreams but not without years of sacrifice.

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