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Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is an illness that affects a person's brain and behavior, causing them to lose control over the use of legal or illegal drugs or medications. Drugs include substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. Drug abusers tend to continue using the substance despite the harm it causes once they are addicted as addictions grow over time.Addiction vs. DependenceIt is important to understand the difference between dependency and addiction. Dependence is usually referred to as a physical dependence on a substance. Physical dependence can occur as a consequence of long-term drug usage, even when it is guided by a prescription. Physical dependency on a drug is not the same as addiction but it often presents with addiction . Addiction is defined as a behavior change caused by the biochemical changes in the brain as a result of continued drug abuse. One of the outcomes of behavior change is that it increases the desire to engage in dangerous acts, such as when a drug addict will go to any extent to obtain money for drugs. Furthermore, drug addicts have poor anger management skills. When they are not under the influence of drugs, people like this may rage, scream, or even lash out with physical violence. An addiction causes people to act erratically when they do not have the  drug in their system. While it is possible to have a physical dependence without being addicted, addiction can always happen. When people become dependent on the drug, they develop drug tolerance.Drug tolerance means that the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. It is a reduced response to the drug when it is used frequently and the body adapts to its continued presence. As a result, more of the drug is needed to attain the same euphoric effects, leading them to become delusional.Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person possesses, the greater the likelihood of drug use and addiction. Protective factors on the other hand, reduce a person's risk. Some example of risk factors and protective factors are as below:Risk FactorsProtective FactorsAggressive behavior in childhoodSelf-efficacy (belief in self-control)Lack of parental supervisionParental monitoring and supportNegative social interactionsPositive relationshipsDrug experimentationGood gradesAvailability of drugs at schoolSchool anti-drug policies What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?Environmental factors play the most important role in addiction. Environmental factors are related to relationships between the family, in school, and neighborhood. Factors that can increase a person's risk include the following:Home and Family- A home environment is a very important factor, especially in childhood. Parents and older families who abuse drugs and alcohol or violate the law may increase their children's risk of future drug problems.Peer and School- Friends and other peers can become very influential during their teens. Teens who use drugs for the first time can sway even those without risk factors. Academics struggles and poor social skills can further increase a child's risk of drug use and addiction.What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?Most drugs interfere with the brain's “reward circuit”, causing euphoria and flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat those behaviors repeatedly.As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the “reward circuit” to react to the drugs. This lowers the person's high compared to when they initially started using the drug, an effect known as tolerance. To attain the same high level, they would take more of the drug. These brain adaptations make it more difficult for a person to experience previously enjoyable activities such as food, sex, or social activities.Prolonged use can cause changes in other chemical systems and circuits of the brain, affecting function that includes:·         learning·         judgment·         decision-making·         stress tolerance·         memory·         behaviorDespite being aware of these negative consequences, many drug users continue using them. This is the nature of addiction.Tucker Woods, DO, an Addiction Medicine Specialist and Chief Medical Officer of Restorative Management Corp says “Addiction signs and symptoms differ from person to person, but if you're asking yourself if you need help, the chances are you do". Therefore, if you have some of the signs of drug dependence or addiction, it is best for you to get yourself examined for a treatment.TreatmentAddiction can be treated, but there are distinct approaches to recovery. Since relapses are common, the process may take some time. There are a range of services to which you can be referred for addiction treatment, depending on your condition. Listed  are some of the most frequent treatment approaches: Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to address cognitive and behavior patterns that lead to addiction. Contingency management, family therapy, psychological treatment, counseling and group therapy are some of the other therapies that are beneficial too.Medications: Medications help with addictions and withdrawal symptoms, as well as other treatments to address underlying mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, may be included. Methadone, buprenorphine, nicotine replacement therapy, and naltrexone are among the medications that may be prescribed.Hospitalization: In some cases, people may need to be hospitalized  to treat potentially serious complications for detoxifying of the substance.Support groups and self-help: As people discover new ways to deal with recovery, direct and online support groups can be a helpful source of knowledge and social support.Anyone struggling with an addiction should discover how to gain independence from the substance. Fortunately, addiction is treatable and there are measures that can be taken to help oneself. While quitting is a tough process and understanding how to overcome addictions is key, it is an important first step toward recovery.  For additional information and to learn about your personal traits and behaviors, search up to agtgenetics.com.References:Felman, A. (2018, October 26). Addiction: Complications and consequences. Medical News Today. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323461 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 26). Drug addiction (substance use disorder). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20365113McGuire, J., & Pham, L. (n.d.). Dependence vs addiction: What's the difference? WebMD. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/dependence-versus-addiction NIDA. 2020, July 13. Drug Misuse and Addiction. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction on 2022, May 19NIDA. 2018, June 6. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction on 2022, May 19
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Learning styles are the ways in which an individual approaches a range of styles according to Howard Gardner. Visual-spatial learning style, or visual-spatial intelligence, refers to a person's ability to perceive, analyze, and understand visual information in the world around them. Spatial relations are also correlated to our visual perceptual skills as our eyes help us to determine the distance and directionality between objects. Essentially, they are able to mentally visualise ideas.When we visualise something or recall something by creating an image in our minds, we are typically using visual-spatial learning. When trying to recall information, creating a mental picture provides us with another cue. For example, we visualize how different items can fit together to maximize the storage capacity when we are packing our luggage or when organizing a piece of furniture as we visualize if it fits and suits the place. Besides that, visual-spatial learning is very useful in education too, especially in STEM learning related. This demonstrates how important the visual spatial skill is for daily functioning and how strengthening this visual learning can have a positive impact on academic performance.Early education in visual-spatial skills can begin as early as 18 months of age. At this age, the child begins to learn about its surroundings and becomes conscious of its abilities. Early education plays a large role in preparing our children for later success.  Parents can begin teaching your children the fundamentals of spatial thinking as you are your children's first teachers. It's never too early to introduce your child to visual-spatial thinking and get them familiar with it. You can start by using flashcards to teach your child about animals, fruits, and body parts. Spatial reasoning skills are cumulative and durable which mean that with practice, you will improve. So the earlier the education, the larger and longer lasting the improvement.In terms of education, visual-spatial learning is particularly important to STEM learning which includes Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics. A mathematician uses visual-spatial thinking to enhance number sense, quantity comparison, and arithmetic. Studies have found that high visual-spatial ability is linked to better math performance. Children who are more adept at visualizing spatial relationships in preschool have more advanced arithmetic skills in primary school (Zhang et al., 2013 & Gilligan et al., 2017). Middle school students who are good at mental rotation are more likely to achieve in science subjects (Ganley et al., 2014). Therefore, those who master the skills in early childhood will have more opportunities to use it to acquire and organize additional information throughout their learning process. To improve your children visual-spatial intelligence and skills, there are many types of approaches and activities that can enhance their ability such as: By using spatial language in everyday interactions. Spatial language consists of words that help people explain or describe where objects are in space. Spatial language is the key to describing locations of objects such as by using the term “on, under, above, below, inside, beside” and other similar expressions.Teach using gestures and encourage children to gesture.Gesture is a powerful communicating and teaching tool especially for children with visual-spatial type of learning who learn best with using gestures as it helps in remembering and understanding concepts better.  Playing charades or teaching using gestures with your children can be an effective way to encourage children to gesture.Promote visualization.Teaching visualization can be as simple as visualizing a cupcake design before piping and designing it. Playing the matching game.Playing matching games can improve visual-spatial learning as it challenges the mind in remembering the similar card placement.Build objects in a storytelling context.Playing with building objects such as Lego and wooden blocks can significantly increase a child’s spatial thinking ability because it presents them with challenges. Also, by allowing your child to story tell on what they are building, this can indirectly improve their communication skills.There are many other activities that can be carry-out, depending on your child's interest. Visual-spatial intelligence is not a fixed ability and it can be possessed with adequate practice and learning. Although some people are better at spatial thinking than others, they too can improve substantially if they keep practicing even if they start out with a lower score.Through training and practice, spatial reasoning for STEM learning can be boosted and holistic development can be maximized.Heads out to our website to understand more about your child’s learning type with our DNA testing! Knowing your child's learning type early can save time by focusing on your child’ learning type and indirectly help children to have fun and exciting learning and allow parents to know what’s the best approach. References:12 easy activities to boost kids' visual spatial intelligence. JOYLEE ᴗ Grow up with joy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.joylee.co/blogs/parenting-education/12-easy-activities-to-boost-kids-visual-spatial-intelligence-infographicGanley CM, Vasilyeva M, Dulaney A. Spatial ability mediates the gender difference in middle school students' science performance. Child Dev. 2014 Jul-Aug;85(4):1419-32. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12230. Epub 2014 Feb 22. PMID: 24673201.Gilligan KA, Flouri E, Farran EK. The contribution of spatial ability to mathematics achievement in middle childhood. J Exp Child Psychol. 2017 Nov;163:107-125. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.04.016. Epub 2017 Jul 26. PMID: 28753435.Logsdon, A. (2020, May 7). How children with a visual-spatial intelligence learn. Verywell Family. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/understanding-visual-spatial-learning-styles-2162778The benefits of visual-spatial learning (with activities and tips). Indeed Career Guide. (2021). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-visual-spatial-learning#:~:text=What%20is%20visual%2Dspatial%20learning,learn%20holistically%20rather%20than%20sequentially.Zhang X, Koponen T, Räsänen P, Aunola K, Lerkkanen MK, Nurmi JE. Linguistic and spatial skills predict early arithmetic development via counting sequence knowledge. Child Dev. 2014 May-Jun;85(3):1091-1107. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12173. Epub 2013 Oct 21. PMID: 24148144.
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Intelligence? What exactly is intelligence?When you hear the word intelligence, you might immediately thought of your intelligence level. Everyone is born with measurable natural intelligence, and changing it requires difficult capability. Intelligence is dynamic, which means it can be improved based on your exposure to society, environment and education in terms of the ability to learn.However, new perspectives on intelligence have emerged in the recent years. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, developed the Multiple Intelligences theory. The theory proposes that people learn and acquire information in various ways, and according to Howard Gardner's hypothesis, individuals do not have all their potential intelligence at birth, but rather will benefit from a variety of opportunities by interacting with the content and exposure to the world.Gardner identified eight types of intelligence to broaden the concept of intelligence which is linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence. Every individual has a different learning style. Knowing which types of intelligence one possesses can be extremely beneficial, especially in studies. When parents give their children a variety of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, they will perform better in school. Have you heard of the saying "if a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn"? The multiple intelligence theory is best described by this phrase. Teachers can adjust the learning style to the child's preferences if they are aware of the type of intelligence they possesses. Indirectly, knowing the child's learning style allows the teacher to provide the appropriate approach to cater to their learning style. This will help them in their future careers too. Adults may see failure as an opportunity to try again, but for children, failure can be a disappointment, which can lead to them failing to pay attention or disrupting class. The multiple intelligence theory has the potential to re-engage students in learning. Using multiple intelligences to teach a concept gives each of your diverse learners a chance to succeed. Learners who excel at visual-spatial intelligence will excel at drawing and puzzles. Students with high linguistic intelligence would have better abilities to comprehend a written report to a reading assignment, whereas those with high interpersonal intelligence excel at classroom discussions. Teaching with the awareness of a student's strengths improves learning and decreases classroom behaviour problem as they experience success in their learning.Characteristics of the 8 types of Multiple IntelligencesSpatial intelligenceMeanings: People who are strong in visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things. These individuals are often good with directions as well as maps, charts, videos, and pictures.Characteristics: Read and write for enjoymentAre good at putting puzzles togetherInterpret pictures, graphs, and charts wellEnjoy drawing, painting, and the visual artsRecognize patterns easilyLinguistic IntelligenceMeaning: People who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence are able to use words well, both when writing and speaking. These individuals are typically very good at writing stories, memorizing information, and reading.Characteristics: Remember written and spoken informationEnjoy reading and writingDebate or give persuasive speechesAre able to explain things wellUse humour when telling storiesLogical-Mathematical IntelligenceMeanings: People who are strong in logical-mathematical intelligence are good at reasoning, recognizing patterns, and logically analysing problems. These individuals tend to think conceptually about numbers, relationships, and patterns.Characteristics:Have excellent problem-solving skillsEnjoy thinking about abstract ideasLike conducting scientific experimentsCan solve complex computationsBodily-Kinesthetic IntelligenceMeanings: Those who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are said to be good at body movement, performing actions, and physical control. People who are strong in this area tend to have excellent hand-eye coordination and dexterityCharacteristics: Are skilled at dancing and sportsEnjoy creating things with his or her handsHave excellent physical coordinationRemember by doing, rather than hearing or seeingMusical IntelligenceMeanings: People who have strong musical intelligence are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms, and sounds. They have a strong appreciation for music and are often good at musical composition and performanceCharacteristics: Enjoy singing and playing musical instrumentsRecognize musical patterns and tones easilyRemember songs and melodiesHave a rich understanding of musical structure, rhythm, and notesInterpersonal IntelligenceMeanings: Those who have strong interpersonal intelligence are good at understanding and interacting with other people. These individuals are skilled at assessing the emotions, motivations, desires, and intentions of those around themCharacteristics: Communicate well verballyAre skilled at nonverbal communicationSee situations from different perspectivesCreate positive relationships with othersResolve conflicts in group settingsIntrapersonal IntelligenceMeanings: Individuals who are strong in intrapersonal intelligence are good at being aware of their own emotional states, feelings, and motivations. They tend to enjoy self-reflection and analysis, including daydreaming, exploring relationships with others, and assessing their personal strengthsCharacteristics: Analyze their strengths and weaknesses wellEnjoy analyzing theories and ideasHave excellent self-awarenessUnderstand the basis for his or her own motivations and feelingsNaturalist IntelligenceMeanings: Individuals who are strong in this type of intelligence are more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment, and learning about other species. These individuals are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environmentsCharacteristics: Are interested in subjects such as botany, biology, and zoologyCategorize and catalogue information easilyEnjoy camping, gardening, hiking, and exploring the outdoorsDislikes learning unfamiliar topics that have no connection to natureThe theory does not claim that a person possesses only one of the eight intelligences, but rather that some are stronger than others. It is a good approach to be learning about these various types of intelligences because the MI theory helps parents, teachers, and children understand their children's strengths and how these can be used to help them learn and solve problems. References:Cherry, K. (2021, July 28). Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Verywell Mind. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/gardners-theory-of-multiple-intelligences-2795161 Hatoum, L. (2021, November 5). Multiple intelligences definition and meaning. Top Hat. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://tophat.com/glossary/m/multiple-intelligences/ Jackson, J. E. (2017, November 21). How does the multiple intelligence theory help students? Education Seattlepi. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://education.seattlepi.com/multiple-intelligence-theory-students-2149.html 
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According to World Health Organization (WHO), forty-one million children under the age of five were either overweight or obese in 2016. Overweight and obesity have increased dramatically among children and adolescents aged 5 to 19, from 4% in 1975 to just 18% in 2016. Despite the amount of data available, it can be difficult to sort through and decipher what a balanced diet and healthy eating habits would look like for your child. To enforce a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for your child, you must first understand what good nutrition consists of, how it affects childhood development, and what steps you can take to ensure your child adopts a healthy eating habits. What Exactly is Good Nutrition for Children and Young Children?Children’s nutrition is based on the same basic principles as adult nutrition. A healthy and appropriate balance of diet and exercise, as well as a valuable lifestyle, are the keys to proper nutrition. Grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruit are the five main food groups and are a good starting point for any child’s diet. The proportions of each food group will be heavily influenced by age, genetic makeup, and physical activity. Understanding each food group is essential for developing a well-balanced and nutritious diet for your child. GrainGrains are classified into two types: whole grains and refined grains. Because they use the entire grain kernel, whole grains are more nutritious. Oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, and brown rice are examples of whole-grain products. Refined grains have generally been milled and processed several times to improve shelf life and texture. Many valuable nutritional benefits are lost during the refining process, so whole grains are a better option. Cereal, tortillas, white bread, and white rice are all examples of refined grains. VegetablesThe vegetable group includes any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice. Vegetables are classified as raw, cooked, dehydrated, canned, whole, juiced or mashed. It is also divided into five subcategories: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Because some vegetables are denser and nutrient-packed than others, the portion size of each will depend on which subcategory it belongs to. Organic, non-organic, and non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism) vegetables are some of the subcategories of vegetables. FruitThe fruit category includes any fresh fruit or 100% fruit juice. Canned, frozen, dried, pureed, or juiced fruits are all options. The fruit has a high sugar content, so it is best to build a dietary balance based on age, activity level, time of day, and gender. Same to vegetables, fresh fruit can be further categorized into organic, non-organic, and non-GMO. Protein & DairyMeat, poultry, beans, peas, eggs, seafood, and nuts are examples of foods that fall into the protein food group. It is best if your child’s meat and poultry sources are lean and low in fat. The dairy food group includes all fluid milk products and products made primarily from milk. Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are examples of dairy products. Dairy has been a controversial food group in recent years, and as a result, many nutritionally comparable dairy alternatives have been provided with higher nutritional value. As a result, this category includes fortified dairy alternatives such as soy, almond, and cashew milk, as well as nut cheeses. Your child’s diet and lifestyle may differ depending on their age and unique genetic makeup, with a focus on certain nutritional guidelines during one age range and many different guidelines during another. The Good Nutrition for ToddlersToddlers (ages 1-3) can be a pretty challenging age group to feed a nutritious diet to. Many developmental changes occur during this period, which has an impact on their food or supplement intake. Toddlers are in a stage of development and growth that slows significantly, affecting hunger and diet. In addition to a decrease in appetite, toddlers are exploring independence and control. This can lead to quarrels over specific foods, mealtimes, and portion sizes. It is recommended that toddlers consume 3-5 ounces of grains per day, depending on their age, activity level, and gender. One ounce is roughly equivalent to one slice of bread. 12 cup rice or oatmeal, or one small (4-inch) pancake. In terms of vegetables, toddlers should consume 1-2 cups of vegetables from each of the five subcategories per day. Given that some toddlers are just beginning to accept table foods, it is best to offer soft, cooked vegetables cut into very small pieces. This not only helps toddlers chew and swallow vegetables, but it also reduces the risk of choking. Toddlers should also eat 1 cup of fruit per day. This could break down into half of a banana for breakfast, half of an apple for snacks, 8 sliced grapes, half a cup of cooked broccoli, and half a cup of peas and carrots. To gain the full range of nutritional benefits, it is critical to introduce variety within the five food groups. Most toddlers should consume around 13 grammes of protein per day.A general rule of thumb for determining how much protein your child should consume daily is to base it on their weight. Protein-recommended dietary allowances are calculated using the guideline of 0.5 grammes of protein per pound of body weight. As a result, a 2-year-old weighing 30 pounds would require approximately 15 grammes of protein per day. This could be equivalent to half an egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or a quarter cup of beans. Toddlers should consume calcium-fortified juices, milk, and cheeses in much smaller amounts, such as 1 cup of milk or 60 grammes of cheese. The Good Nutrition for Pre-schoolers The preschool years (ages 3-5) are an important time for children to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Because pre-schoolers grow in spurts, their appetites can be inconsistent. This is normal, and if parents provide a healthy variety, their children will be provided with flexible options. The proportions of grains, protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy vary according to size, age, and gender. Calcium intake is a critical component for young developing preschool children. Calcium is also required for the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Contrary to popular belief, traditional dairy milk is not the best source of calcium. This is due to the fact that the calcium in dairy milk is less bioavailable (a substance entering the circulation when introduced into the body and so able to have an active effect) to developing bodies. Calcium is best obtained from dark leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, and bok choy. With a 40% absorption rate, about half of cooked leafy greens can proved around 300mg of calcium. Fibre is another important supplement to consider. Fibre promotes bowel movements, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Most whole grain products, as well as fruits and vegetables, contain fibre. Though it may be difficult at times to persuade your child to eat vegetables instead of starchy processed foods like macaroni and cheese and chicken nugget, it will make a world of difference. What Impact Does Nutrition Have on Young Children?A proper nutritional diet and a healthy lifestyle can have long-term effects on young children. Children are highly impressionable during their early development and begin to implement routines and tools that they will carry with them into adulthood. Aside from developing habits and routines, children who do not receive adequate nutrition as they grow up can suffer from physical illness. Obesity, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, changes in hair volume and texture, fatigue, irritability, and type 2 diabetes are some of the most common issues for malnourished children. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat within the 95th percentile of one’s BMI, or Body Mass Index. Obesity is also more likely in children who do not eat a well-balanced diet and consume excessive amounts of fat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates. Obesity also can cause a number of long-term health issues in children, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and emotional issues. Young children are highly impressionable and can experience body shame and emotional issues as a result of the food they eat. When children consume sugary, processed, and high-fat foods, their digestive system and gut flora suffer. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can be caused by a lack of calcium absorption that causes porous, weak, and brittle bones.  Early nutrition and lifestyle decisions made by children and their parents can have long-term consequences for children. Because most people reach their peak bone mass at the age of 20, it is critical to building muscle and bone mass during childhood. Overweight children experience fatigue and irritability, which can lead to depression. Furthermore, overweight children may struggle with physical activity and are frequently unable to participate in physical activities with their peers. This can lead to emotional isolation, poor social interactions and low self-esteem. A well-balanced and healthy nutritional diet is more important than counting calories in developing children. How to Make Sure Your Child Eats Healthily and Exercises Without support, guidance, education, and routine, it can be difficult to ensure your child is eating healthy and staying fit. As children grow older, they begin to form opinions about what tastes good to them and what does not. Most of the time, this does not correspond to what is nutritionally best for them.The Stanford Children’s Health Hospital recommends avoiding fights over food and meal and providing regular snacks and meals. Children can be picky, avoidant, or hard at times. If your toddler or pre-schooler is a picky eater who refuses to eat certain foods, it is best to give up and try again later. They will be most likely to begin to warm up to the healthy options provided. As previously stated, young children are developing their independence and opinions, and as a result, they vary. It can also be beneficial to establish a regular feeding time and spot for your child. Positive connections can be formed by promoting healthy food choices, regular eating habits, nutrition education, and personal interaction during mealtimes. Given that children are highly perceptive human beings, it is advantageous to create positive and healthy experiences for them. Involving children in food preparation and selection can also be a valuable learning tool. When in the grocery store or even in your refrigerator, it can be helpful to engage with your child to help select foods based on nutritional value and explain how they can help developing bodies. Parents are also encouraged to use specific serving sizes and demonstrate the equivalents to them. This nutrition education can help children understand and implement appropriate serving sizes as they grow older, as well as maintain healthy eating habits. It can also be beneficial for parents to pack a homemade snack or lunch for their children to bring to school. Instead of packing processed foods or junk food, choose food high in healthy fats and nutrients. This ensures that a well-balanced and nutritious meal is always available. Physical activity, as always, is just as important as proper nutrition. Most days of the week, children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Parents can encourage physical activity by limiting their child’s time spent watching television and playing video games and encouraging more physically active routines such as walking, running, and playing ball. Because children learn primarily through direct observation, it is critical for parents to actively participate in their children's life regarding nutrition and exercise. You are modelling a positive, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle for your child by leading by example. To find out more about your child’s nutrition needs, Decode Nutrition DNA Test will get you covered! You may visit www.agtgenetics.com for more information!
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Are you struggling to discipline your child? We know it can be a challenge, but it's important to learn how to discipline them in a smart and healthy way. Firstly, it is important to understand that discipline is not just about punishment. It is about teaching children how to make good choices and develop self-control.  “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.” ― L.R. Knost, the author of ‘The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline’.    The way in which discipline is carried out has an impact on a child's emotional and mental well-being. Hence, parents need to understand the importance of having healthy ways to discipline your child. And here are some tips for parents to do that: 1. Positive reinforcement Positive reinforcement means rewarding good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior. It is important to acknowledge and praise your child when they do something positive. This can include anything from saying "thank you" when they share or showing excitement when they complete a task. Research by Hardy & McLeod (2020) shows that kids are more likely to behave in a desired way when they get praised for doing something right, whether it's following a rule or sharing a toy. The best way to reinforce positive behavior is to praise the behavior, not the kid's character. You can point out positive things about your child's concern for others – such as asking if their friend is all right – by mentioning how much the recipient appreciated their kindness.  2. Set clear expectation Children need structure and predictability in their lives. When parents provide clear rules and expectations, children are more likely to follow them. It is important to communicate these expectations clearly and consistently so that children know what is expected of them.  Professor Cluver, the Professor of Child and Family Social Work stressed that telling your child what to do is more effective than telling them what not to do. When you ask a child to not make a mess, they may not understand what you're asking. Clear instructions like “Please put all your toys in the box” set a clear expectation and make it more likely for them to comply.  3. Modelling good behaviour Children are highly observant and tend to imitate the behaviours they see in their parents. Children would pick up your emotions and vibes as they grow up. Thus, it is important for you to set a positive example for your children. This means consistently demonstrating desirable behaviours such as respect, kindness, honesty, responsibility, and empathy to your children. If you model healthy behaviors, children are more likely to follow suit. For example, if you want your child to speak respectfully to others, it is important to speak respectfully to your child and others around you.  “Parents who discipline their child by discussing the consequences of their actions produce children who have better moral development, compared to children whose parents use authoritarian methods and punishment.” ― Simon Baron-Cohen, British clinical psychologist 4. Maintain a strong connection with your child Always have a connection before correction. Yelling at children when they behave badly cuts off your connection with your children. Discipline should not be a punitive or isolating experience. Instead, it should be a way to help children learn and grow while maintaining a strong connection with their parents. Instead of yelling or scolding, try to listen to your child and understand the root cause of their misbehaviour. Communicate with your child throughout the disciplinary process, listen to their feelings and concerns. This helps them develop the skills and tools they need to make positive choices.  Finally, it is important to recognize that discipline is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every child is different and may respond differently to different disciplinary techniques. Thus, it is important to understand the underlying causes of misbehavior, so that parents can address the root of the problem and help their child learn to manage their emotions and behavior more effectively.  Each child possesses innate personality traits that are reflected in their behavior, and it is important for parents to understand these traits to effectively interact with them. To learn more on your child's personality traits, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn personality!   References Hardy, J. K., & McLeod, R. H. (2020). Using positive reinforcement with young children. Beyond Behavior, 29(2), 95-107. doi:10.1177/1074295620915724.  Morin, A. (2021, June 20). 5 Positive Discipline Techniques to Try. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/examples-of-positive-discipline-1095049#citation-4  UNICEF. (2022, December 12). How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.unicef.org/romania/stories/how-discipline-your-child-smart-and-healthy-way Rupali, A. (2021, January 6). 4 Effective ways to Discipline Children in a Smart & Healthy Way. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.alphamontessoridfw.com/blog/discipline-child-without-punishment/ 
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Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to a child’s health. A recent Netflix’s Thai movie regarding sleep deprivation called “Deep” depicts this well. The psychological thriller portrayed [...]the journey of four university students who were involved in a neuroscience experiment that had gone haywire. Due to lack of sleep, their body experienced foreign and unusual body sensations which in turn led to more severe outcomes like hallucinations and inability to make sound judgments and decisions in their daily life. ​While the movie is largely fiction, the symptoms of sleep deprivation are fairly presented. If that many effects can occur in a young adult, what more for a child who is still in their growing phase? What happens when your child are sleep-deprived?The benefits of sufficient sleep for a child are many and widely known. Consistently, there are many severe and long-lasting consequences for the lack of it. (1) Mood DysregulationOne of the effects of sleep deprivation is mood dysregulation. According to Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of Sleeping Through the Night, "Kids who do not get enough sleep have trouble regulating their emotions." [1]. A sleep-deprived child may appear to be more aggressive and easily irritated. It may also result in mood swings, being restless, hyperactive and impatient. If their sleep deprivation persists, they would also manifest certain behaviours such as fighting with others, yelling, making threats, and causing harm to themselves in severe cases [8]. Not getting sufficient sleep could result in a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in teens over time [1]. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on the influence of partial sleep deprivation on mood, participants who were restricted to only 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a week were reported to feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. However, as the participants resumed a normal sleep pattern with 8 hours of sleep, they observed a significant change and improvement in the mood [2]. Some improvements which were reported include being more alert, mentally sharp, physically energetic, calm, happy, and healthy [2].(2) Impaired Metabolism Besides, another effect of insufficient sleep is impairment in body metabolism. Metabolism is known as the whole range of biochemical processes in the body and it involves the processes of anabolism (the building up of bigger structures from smaller units like nutrients from our food) and catabolism (the breakdown of larger units to smaller ones, such as the the breakdown of fat as an energy source) [3]. In short, metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) the body burns to maintain itself [3]. In a research conducted at the University of Chicago it was evident that sleep deprivation leads to a  decreased rate of glucose clearance by 40% [3]. The research involved 11 healthy young men where they were subjected to only 4 hours in bed for 6 nights followed by 12 hours for 7 nights to recover from the sleep debt. After that, their glucose tolerance was measured. [3]. A glucose tolerance test can indicate the ability to dispose glucose from the blood. Glucose intolerance could result in high blood glucose levels in the body which increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. A similar effect can also be seen in infants, children, and adolescents whereby lack of sleep is associated with impaired function in glucose metabolism. Hence, sleep deprivation can alter metabolic function and lead to a myriad of illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension [10]. (3) Poor Academic PerformanceIn addition, sleep deficit can result in poorer academic performance which includes a decline in cognitive functions such as follows [4]:Decreased attentionWeakened memorySlowed mental processingWorsened sequential thinkingReduced creative thinkingExcessive daytime sleepinessPoor decision-makingHeightened risk of aggressive behaviorTherefore, failure in getting sufficient sleep with high quality and optimum duration would cause a decline in academic performance at school in the long term. How much sleep should your child get?According to Griffin from WebMD, the amount of sleep required varies according to their age groups [1, 5].A helpful guideline is as follows:Infants (4 to 12 months) need 12 to 16 hours of sleep.Toddlers (1 to 2 years) need 12 to 14 hours of sleep.Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) need 11 to 13 hours of sleep.School-aged children (6 to 12 years) need 10 to 11 hours of sleep.Pre-teens and teens (13 to 18 years) need around 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep. Hence, any amount of sleep less than the amount above indicates that your child is not getting adequate sleep that is essential for their health and development. Is your child getting enough sleep? Children may encounter difficulty falling asleep. If your child is one of them, they could be having pediatric insomnia. This insomnia is a sleep disorder that leads to an inability to fall and stay asleep. Children with this condition may be seen to wake up too early in the morning as well [6].This childhood insomnia can be seen in 3 kinds of manifestations such as:chronic insomnia: ongoing and happens 3 times a week for a month or longer. cyclical insomnia: issues balancing wake-and-sleep cycles which can come and go throughout life. transient insomnia: typically lasts less than three weeks. Not only that, according to a sleep survey conducted by The Nielsen Company in 2019, 9 out of 10 Malaysians suffer from sleep problems with 63% of the respondents between ages 25 and 49 reported taking over 30 minutes to fall asleep in which portrays the prevalence of sleeping deficiencies among adults [7].From these statistics, parents must now be mindful that sleep disorders such as insomnia must be prevented at an early age. Children need to be educated with proper sleep hygiene and a fixed bedtime routine so that they can maintain their health as a result of quality sleep and rest.What is the tendency for my child to develop insomnia?​Find out your child’s likelihood to develop insomnia with the Decode Talent DNA Test  and ensure better sleep quality and overall wellness for them. Prevention is better than cure. Safeguard your child’s health and holistic wellbeing and growth by understanding their genetics.For more updates on our products and offers, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!References[1] R. M. Griffin, "This Is Your Kid’s Brain Without Sleep," WedMD, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/features/brain-without-sleep.[2] D. F. Dinges, F. Pack, K. Williams, K. A. Gillen, J. W. Powell, G. E. Ott, C. Aptowicz and A. I. Pack, "Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4-5 hours per night," Sleep, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 267-277, 1997. [3] S. Sharma and M. Kavuru, "Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview," International Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 2010, p. 270832, 2010. [4] N. Vyas and E. Suni, "Improve Your Child’s School Performance With a Good Night’s Sleep," Sleep Foundation, 15 January 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/sleep-and-school-performance.[5] Children's Health, "Pediatric Insomnia," Children's Health, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.childrens.com/specialties-services/conditions/difficulty-in-falling-asleep-or-staying-asleep.[6] Children's Hospital Colorado, "Insufficient Sleep in Children," Children's Hospital Colorado, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/conditions-and-symptoms/conditions/sleep-deprivation/.[7] M. Murugesan, "Counting Sheep," New Straits Times, 25 April 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/heal/2019/04/482768/counting-sheep.[8] American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "For children, poor sleep can lead to emotional and behavioral problems," Sleep Education, 22 April 2008. [Online]. Available: https://sleepeducation.org/poor-sleep-children-emotional-behavioral-problems/.[9] "Anabolism vs. Catabolism: The Role They Play in Your Metabolism," Cleveland Clinic, 13 July 2021. [Online]. Available: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/anabolism-vs-catabolism/.[10] M. A. Miller, M. Kruisbrink, J. Wallace, C. Ji and F. P. Cappuccio, "Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children, and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies," Sleep, vol. 41, no. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy018, 2018.
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Should parents reward their children for helping with house chores? What about rewarding them after they have completed their homework and assigned tasks on time? ​You probably thought about this before but perhaps have not arrived at a conclusion. If you hope that your kids reach their behavioural milestones, you can attempt a tactic that many parents nowadays swear by: The Reward Systems. The idea of reward systems can be a productive disciplinary way of educating children. However on the other side of the argument, parents have always been told that rewarding their children will destroy their inherent motivation as they may become increasingly materialistic. Well, do you think this is true? What you need to know about rewarding your children?Difference between a reward and a bribeTheir differences are subtle, which is why many parents fail to reward their children correctly, which often results in further behavioural problems down the road. A reward is given after children show good behaviour. “If you complete the assigned tasks well today, I will give you a treat,” is a reward. A bribe, in contrast, is when parents offer their misbehaving children a favor or treat as an exchange for their promise of being well-behaved. “I will buy you chocolate candy if you stop crying and yelling,” is a bribe. Due to this, parents should understand that rewards are usually pre-planned and should target specific behaviour. It’s important for parents to set certain rules about rewards. In any case, do not allow your children to receive a reward when they blackmail you by saying, “I won’t clean up the room unless you buy me a chocolate bar.”. Rewards can be a healthy and positive way to reinforce good behaviour for kids if parents manage it well. Children may learn to behave well or do the right things for which they receive positive feedback and avoid negative behaviours that gain no rewards.On the other hand, bribes educate children to use their behaviour as a method to manipulate others. Although bribes can be tempting at times as it motivates kids to change their behaviour immediately, it does not educate proper skills over the long haul. Similarly in reality, you won’t be receiving your paycheck until you have done the assigned task. Likewise, don’t give in to the easy alternative to nurture your children. Reward systems do not spoil kidsContrary to the many skeptics out there, rewarding your children sparingly does not spoil kids. It helps children develop small routines and ritual practices important to everyday life. Positive results and comments motivate people regardless of age. Most working adults have the motivation to go to work as they will eventually receive their reward in the form of a paycheck. This applies the same to children as they will come to understand that they can gain their  reward or more privileges from being well-behaved. Linking privileges to positive behaviour educate children to earn things prior to reward. In that sense, reward systems can prevent children from becoming spoiled because they will have to learn the value and importance of things in life in order to gain rewards. Parents do not have to give rewards that require any costsThere are many rewards that do not cost money. Children do not have to gain lavish rewards everyday. In fact, younger kids can earn from a simple sticker chart that allows them to accumulate for a larger reward. Allowing them to choose a special or favourite meal, earn a later bedtime for extra gaming or activity time, or pick a game that inspires them to play can be the reward option. Be creative with your rewards and you won’t have to spend money for the rewards. Do ask your kids for their input on what sort of rewards they would like to earn too. Rewarding creates a positive environmentPositive parent-child relationships at home can influence children's behaviour. It also creates an enjoyable and pleasant environment for both parents and children. A home filled with positive education and reinforcement for good behaviour, rather than one that is directed by constant punishing for bad behaviour, is a place that provides them with an emotionally positive and secure environment. This is a crucial tool in parenting as it gives happiness and motivations to children in their ongoing learning. What you can do to reward your childrenGet the timing rightThere is evidence showing that the value of rewards will be lost if parents reward their children with a delay. In other words, in order for rewards to work successfully for children, it has to be fresh in their mind when parents request them to complete tasks or adjust their behaviour. Or else, they might start to misbehave when they cannot receive the promised rewards or begin to think that they cannot do things correctly.  Giving the right and meaningful rewardsA reward does not have to be luxurious and complicated but it should meet some basic criteria. Rewards for kids should be inexpensive or of no cost.  The rewards should also be things that your children care about to work effectively. You must also be willing to dole it out regularly. Remember not to make a promise you cannot keep. Be sure to be specific about the goals that you want your children to achieve so that they will know exactly what they need to do to get the reward. They need not be confusing, so make sure to communicate concisely and clearly to them. For younger kids, goals should be easy enough for them to achieve without much effort in order to let them experience a taste of success. As the practice becomes a routine that is more normalized, you may extend the goals and tasks to make it more challenging but always take note that the reward system should not be too complicated. Make sure to focus on a selected few of your children’s behaviours and not a dozen at a time. Give plenty of encouragement and praise to your childrenYou can encourage your children before they do something. For instance, “The test is over, you don’t have to worry much about it as you have studied hard. No matter how the results turn out, you have done your best”. Some kids who are less confident than others need such encouragement compared to others. When you focus your praise on effort, they are more likely to see trying hard as a positive thing in itself and be more optimistic when challenges are in place. At the same time, you are showing them how to react, think and talk positively.With all these said, do not overuse rewards. Rewards are undeniably helpful tools to communicate and teach good behaviours among children, but parents need to readjust the rewards that they are giving so that children do not take it for granted. Always ask yourself whether the rewards you gave works to encourage your children’s behaviour that you want or not. Take note to also adjust the reward systems according to your children’s age. As they grow older into their adolescent years, they should have learnt that good behaviour is a reward in and of itself, as opposed to still having an expectation to be rewarded by the people around them. A reminder to all the parents here: Do keep the reward systems as simple as possible so that both parents and children are clear about how it works. As a final note to our fellow parents readers, make sure to be mindful of your long term behavioural goals for your children as you contemplate on the right rewards system to adopt for your children. Remember that your parenting goals must not be limited to controlling the outcome of a specific event only, but your responsibility is for the long-term healthy upbringing of your children. So, use rewards wisely. ReferencesMorin, A. (January 2020). Common concerns about giving kids rewards. Verywell Family. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/concerns-about-giving-kids-rewards-1094886‘Praise, encouragement and rewards’ (August 2020). Raising Children Network. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/connecting-communicating/connecting/praiseEdNavigator. (n.d.). What parents need to know about rewarding hard work and good behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ednavigator.com/resources/what-parents-need-to-know-about-rewarding-hard-work-and-good-behavior
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Is your child's favorite hobby scrolling through social media? From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to TikTok, there are numerous platforms that children can use to communicate and connect with their peers. As parents, it’s important for you to understand the impact of these digital platforms on your children and take steps to protect them. In this article, we will explore the potential risk of children using social media and offer useful advice on how to assist your child in developing positive online behaviors.   Social media is associated with several potential risks: 1. Cyberbullying Cyberbullying is a serious form of online abuse. In the online world, cyberbullying can be difficult for children to avoid due to the speed at which information can spread and the ease with which bully and victim roles can interchange. Cyberbullying leads to mental issues and cause children to feel isolated, depressed and even lead to suicidal thoughts. 2. Sleep difficulties Study found that both daytime and bedtime use of electronic devices increases the risk of sleep problems (Reid Chassiakos et al., 2016). Using electronic devices before bedtime or having them in the bedroom can lead to disrupted sleep, which affects daytime performance. Besides, the emission of blue light from screens hinders the production of melatonin, which can result in sleep difficulties. 3. Self-esteem Social media frequently exposes children to images of seemingly flawless lives, which can make children have a misperception of body image, feel inadequate and unworthy. Continuous comparisons to others on social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, potentially causing lasting impacts on a child's mental well-being.   Is social media completely bad for a child? Certainly No! While overuse of social media poses risk to children, there are potential benefits too, such as providing a platform for their self-expression and creativity. What’s more important is, parents and caregivers should help to balance the benefits and harms of social media use in kids. Hence, here are some tips for you: 1. Setting limits on screen time Encourage children to take breaks from social media and engage in other activities, such as physical exercise or spending time with friends and family. 2. Monitoring social media use Monitor your child’s online activity and screen for the media exposure to prevent them from being bullied or engaging in risky behavior. 3. Encouraging positive social interactions Educate children to use social media to connect with friends and family in an active way, such as engaging with their posts through liking, commenting, and creating and sharing their own content. This is because study shows that passive use of social media, such as scrolling through content, has been linked to depression (Karim et al., 2020). Thus, what matters most is not how long a child scrolls through social media, but how they actively engage with it.   Are certain children more prone to the risk of social media? According to research, infants and toddlers who have a "difficult" temperament or self-regulation issues are more prone to excessive media use (Reid Chassiakos et al., 2016). Study has shown that those with high levels of neuroticism were more likely to develop social media addiction (Marciano et al., 2022). This is because individuals with high levels of neuroticism typically experience more negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety. To cope with these emotions, they may spend more time using their phones and the internet as a means of relief. As the online environment can provide a sense of security, they can easily express themselves and share their concerns without fear of criticism or rejection. This makes them rely more on online social networking to connect with others and reduce their emotional pain. Genetic testing helps you to discover whether your child has a genetic predisposition towards neuroticism and other personality traits. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your parenting style to better support your child's emotional and mental well-being from a young age. To learn more on your child's genetic predisposition, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn traits!   References Bozzola, E., Spina, G., Agostiniani, R., Barni, S., Russo, R., Scarpato, E., ... & Staiano, A. (2022). The use of social media in children and adolescents: Scoping review on the potential risks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16), 9960. Chen, W., Wang, X., Sun, S., Liu, Q., & Guo, Z. (2022). The relationship between neuroticism and mobile phone use among college students in love: The masking effect of self-emotional assessment. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. Karim, F., Oyewande, A. A., Abdalla, L. F., Ehsanullah, R. C., & Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its connection to mental health: a systematic review. Cureus, 12(6). Marciano, L., Camerini, A. L., & Schulz, P. J. (2022). Neuroticism and internet addiction: What is next? A systematic conceptual review. Personality and individual differences, 185, 111260. Moreno, M. A., & Radesky, J. (2023, March 20). Social Media & Your Child’s Mental Health: What the Research Says. Retrieved April 19, 2023, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/social-media-and-your-childs-mental-health-what-research-says.aspx Reid Chassiakos, Y. L., Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M. A., Cross, C., Hill, D., ... & Swanson, W. S. (2016). Children and adolescents and digital media. Pediatrics, 138(5).
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 Cultivating Empathy                 “Provide opportunities for children practice empathy”                          Empathy is one of the few traits that holds human beings together.                    The ability to understand and share the feelings of others, putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, and responding with care and concern. When people are empathetic, there is more peace, kindness, and understanding. Some may believe that empathy is inborn trait, rather that something that can be learned. Children are born with capacity for empathy, but it needs to be nurture throughout their lives.  5 ways to practicing empathy in children:Model Empathetic Behavior: Continuously model empathy in your own interactions with others. Children learn by observing, so your behavior will influence their own practices.Role-playing Scenarios: Set up role-playing scenarios where children can take on different roles and experience situations from various perspectives. This helps them practice responding empathetically.Sharing Circles: During family or classroom discussions, create a sharing circle where can openly talk about their feelings, experiences, and challenges, Encourage active listening and thoughtful responses.Encourage Acts Of Kindness: Prompt children to perform small acts of kindness for others, such as sharing toys, helping with chores, or making cards for friends or family members.Conflict Resolution: When conflict arises, guide children through resolving them empathetically.  Help them understand the feelings and perspectives of everyone involved and find common ground.
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Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language, and our personal appearance. Through social interaction, we develop social abilities. Communication, interpersonal, and listening abilities are all part of social skills and these skills are an essential aspect of interactions. Struggling with sociability will have a significant impact on one’s social life and profession. Thus it is crucial for everyone to counter the nervousness and awkwardness in daily life, especially at a social event.Being sociable can start with giving a smile. “A sociable smile is nothing but a mouth full of teeth,” says Jack Kerouac. When you genuinely smile at people they feel more comfortable engaging you in a conversation. Smiling makes you appear more approachable and friendly. It also signifies that you're interested in speaking with others. Give complimentsGiving compliments is one of the best ways to appear sociable after a smile. Giving compliments can help to break the ice and reduce awkwardness.Commit names to memoryCalling people by name is a great way to set yourself apart in a conversation. It makes them feel acknowledged when you remember their names. Start small by going to gatherings, birthday parties, weddings, or joining a club. Talking with familiar faces is easier as it makes you more comfortable to engage with rather than having a new friend. However, enrolling in a club teaches you to be vocal and more confident in interacting.Ask open-ended questions.Open-ended questions are question that requires no prolonged conversation. It can be as easy as a “yes or no” question or What are your plans for the weekend?Do you play any sports?Where are you working at?When you are comfortable enough, be interactive and create a conversation with others tooChoose general conversation topics.It is best to have a general conversation topic as heavy topics can lead to an awkward conversation. General conversation can be about the weather or making an observation about what’s going on around you. Look for opportunities.When speaking in a group, look for opportunities. You should know when to interrupt but do not cut other people when they are talking. This also includes you to excuse yourself if the conversation gets heavier.Pay attention to your body languageBody language plays the biggest role when engaging with others. Eye contact and hand movement will make people focus on what you are speaking. Avoid looking down when presenting or when speaking as that will make you appear less attentive. Most importantly, be confident when you are having a conversation and relaxed. Good postures help you to look interested and engaged.Develop listening skill To be sociable, you must be able to listen to others. Listening to people around you and understanding what they are talking about will make you look interested.Read books and blogs related to social skillsReading books and blogs related to social skills will help you discover the methods and benefits of being sociable. Not just for sociable, for any other tips and recommendations can be found on the internet. The more you learn, the more you gain, the more you practice, the better it gets therefore, we should never stop learning.Having good social skills is all about keeping things light and going with the flow. Chris Sergin stated that "when people become lonely and isolated, whatever social abilities they have tend to atrophy from misuse” which implies that even when you are born with a sociability skill, you will lose the skill when it is not used as it limits the capacity to normally communicate with others. Being social and interactive is crucial, therefore even if you lack these traits naturally, there are ways to cultivate and improve them.When you have good social skills, it brings many benefits and opens many opportunities. Therefore, parents should unleash their child's inborn talent from an early age. Check out our Decode Talent DNA Test and its linked traits to sociability like empathy, extraversion, verbal intelligence, and many other traits to learn more about your EQ strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your genetic traits can assist you and your parents in determining the best approach to improve these traits.
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Friendship conflicts are a natural part of growing up. Kids will inevitably experience conflicts with their friends, such as disagreements over sharing toys, conflicting interests or opinions, misunderstandings, or even hurtful words exchanged in the heat of the moment. These conflicts can range from small squabbles to more significant challenges that test the strength of their friendships. While it may seem daunting, these conflicts are actually a natural part of friendship and provide valuable opportunities for growth and learning, as the saying goes:   “Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.”  – M. Esther Harding, British-American psychoanalyst.   As parents, we can play a crucial role in teaching our children how to effectively navigate these conflicts, fostering healthier and more resilient friendships. Let’s explore these tips to help you guide your kids in managing conflicts with their friends:   1. Helping Kids to identify and manage their emotions Teach them to recognize and understand emotions like anger and frustration. Encourage them to express their feelings in healthy ways and provide them with techniques to remain calm during heated moments. By developing emotional awareness, children can better understand their own reactions and make more thoughtful choices in conflict situations.   2. Identifying the Root of the Conflict To resolve conflicts effectively, it's essential to identify the underlying cause. Encourage your child to explore the original source of the conflict and dig deeper to understand the root issue. By helping them pinpoint the core problem, they can work towards finding more meaningful solutions rather than merely addressing surface-level disagreements.   3. Brainstorming Solutions Empower your child to develop problem-solving skills by engaging them in brainstorming sessions. Encourage them to generate a variety of potential solutions without judgment. Guide them in evaluating the pros and cons of each option. This process helps foster creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration, allowing them to find mutually beneficial resolutions with their friends.   4. Practicing Effective Communication Effective communication is vital for resolving conflicts. Teach your child the value of using words to express themselves respectfully and honestly. Encourage active listening, which involves understanding and acknowledging the perspectives of others. Encourage your child to ask questions, reflect back on what they hear, and practice open and honest communication with their friends. Journaling can also be a helpful tool for children to explore and express their thoughts and feelings.   5. Encouraging Perspective Shift and Empathy: Sometimes, conflicts persist despite best efforts. If that happens, then it's best for you to encourage your child to take a mental step back and gain a new perspective. Help them understand that one behavior doesn't define an entire person. Teach them empathy by encouraging them to put themselves in their friend's shoes. Additionally, teach them that it's okay to walk away from toxic friendships when necessary, emphasizing that true friendship is based on mutual respect and shared values.   Building stronger Friendships with children  Studies have shown that children with high emotional intelligence have an easier time adjusting to and maintaining stronger friendships (Galloway et al., 2006). To better understand your child's emotional intelligence, tools like the Decode Talent DNA Test can provide invaluable insights into their genetic tendencies toward various emotional traits. This allows you to tailor your parenting approach, nurturing their emotional intelligence and skills to navigate conflicts and foster stronger friendships. The best part is, these skills are not limited to childhood but will benefit them throughout their lives in building positive and fulfilling relationships.   Check out our Decode Talent DNA Test and start shaping a personalized parenting plan for your child's development today.    References   Garey, J. (2023, March 28). Teaching Kids How to Deal With Conflict. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://childmind.org/article/teaching-kids-how-to-deal-with-conflict/   Pruett-Hornbaker, L. (2022, May 17). 5 Ways to Help Kids Handle Disagreements With Friends. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/ways-to-help-kids-handle-disagreements-with-friends   Galloway, S. H., Groves, M., & Devonport, T. (2006). Emotional Intelligence and friendship patterns among Sport Studies Students, School of Sport. Performing Arts and Leisure. CELT Learning and Teaching Projects 2005/2006.   
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In these modern days, most children spend their time on screens. Unlike in the old days, when children were eagerly waiting for 6 pm every evening so that they could go to the playground. These days, children may not be spending time outside due to many reasons. The most obvious reason has to be the domination of gadgets in children. Parents may not see this as an issue for them, in fact, they may feel relieved that they do not need to spend their time outside guarding their children playing. As simple as they may think, letting children play and spend time outside comes with a lot of benefits. Some are:Physical and Health DevelopmentDecrease the risk of MyopiaMyopia, sometimes known as short-sightedness, is becoming more prevalent worldwide. By 2050, this vision impairment will impact roughly 4.8 billion people, 2.8 billion more than in 2010. Myopia is a condition where light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina rather than directly on it, causing blurred distant vision. This distant vision issue typically arises when the axial length of the eyes grows excessively long from the front to the rear and most commonly occurs when the eyes are still developing in childhood.Myopia can be inherited or caused by specific lifestyle choices, such as spending too much time in front of a screen or performing other close-up jobs. Although people commonly blame this on genetics, genetics by themselves cannot account for this rapidly developing issue. Instead, specialists claim that we have been underestimating how the environment, and the outdoors, affects our eyesight.The eye muscles also require relaxation after long hours of constant use, just like other muscles in the body. Eye muscles relax when you are outside and concentrating on distant objects, especially after spending all day staring at a device or in a classroom. A number of studies have suggested that letting kids play outside can reduce their risk of myopia. One study by Wu encouraged young Taiwanese children to spend more time outside and after a year, students who spent at least 11 hours a week outside had much less axial elongation and myopic shift than those who stayed indoors. Exposure to sunlightWhen children play outside during the day, they will be exposed to the natural sunlight. Safe play in the sun can supply good nutrients like vitamin D to children. Additionally, the human brain can tune its ‘biological clock’ by using light cues. So, this can also ensure that children can maintain a healthy sleeping rhythm. A healthy sleeping rhythm is crucial for children to have a good rest and are always energetic and ready to learn, explore, or simply get through their day.However, we still need to take note of not exposing children to excessive amounts of sunlight, as this can lead to skin cancer and other skin problems.Improve motor skillsChildren develop 2 types of motor skills: 'fine' motor skills and 'gross' motor skills. Fine motor skills engage with smaller muscles of the body such as fingers. Gross motor skills, on the other hand, engage with the larger muscles of the body to coordinate and make larger movements.Fine motor skills let your child make use of small muscles as in their hands or fingers to do activities like holding, grasping, or pinching. They will learn how to use their hands which eventually will help them in bigger daily activities as they grow up such as holding a pencil to write. Gross motor abilities refer to activities like crawling, running, jumping, and throwing that require the use of the bigger muscles in the arms, legs, and torso. You might have noticed that children do not like to remain still, right? This is normal as your child grows up because they are developing their gross motor abilities by constantly making movements and exploring what their muscles can do.It is proven that children who play outside develop and improve their motor skills such as coordination, balance, and agility at a higher level than their "indoor" peers. Outdoor play encourages children to move in ways that strengthen their bones, muscles, and physical strength when they do activities that trigger their motor skills such as playing catch and run, kicking a ball, or climbing the stairs to go down on a slide.Help children stay fit and prevent diseasesNot just adults, children also need cardiovascular exercise to maintain good health. Your child usually has more room and freedom to make large actions like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing when they are outside. These kinds of physical activities are beneficial for your child's physical growth and fitness. This can also prevent children from suffering from obesity since the prevalence of obesity among children is worrying. Children who spend more time outside being active are less likely to become obese since they are being energetic getting rid of the calories. Obesity has many awaiting health complications in the long run. Some of these complications are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or asthma.Children exposed to outdoor play from an early age are more likely to have the awareness to take care of their health and fitness when they grow up. Besides being fit to efficiently carry out daily activities, this may also develop their interest in participating in sports. In fact, Children are advised to exercise at least an hour every day. Of course, they can exercise indoors but getting them to play outside will certainly encourage and excite them to actively play, which can also be a form of exercise for them.Intellectual DevelopmentImproving children’s five sensesChildren who spend time indoors watching TV or playing mobile games usually use only two out of five of their senses which are hearing and sight senses. On the contrary, children who spend time playing outside have more chances to utilize more of their senses. While playing, they see, hear, touch, smell, and perhaps, even taste. This can enhance their ability to respond to and process the sensory stimuli they encounter.Helps children in learning new words and conceptHands-on learning is one type of learning that can help children in understanding new words. Especially words related to the things that they can experience physically such as words related to movements or textures. A study revealed that it is much easier to understand what is meant by “squish” if you experience and feel mud squishing through your fingers. Children are more likely to learn and understand the concept of certain words by experiencing it on their own. Therefore, going outdoors can broaden their sensory experience and develop an intuitive knowledge of how things work.Social DevelopmentContribute to social and communication skillsA study shows that children who spend their time mostly outdoors are more socially expressive, which means they are able to verbalize their ideas and desires. They will also have a low tendency to have any problems fitting in and playing with others. Playing together requires teamwork which helps contribute to a positive peer-to-peer relationship. In addition, interacting with other children while they are having fun outdoors indirectly contributes to the development of their social skills. While playing, of course, they will be talking to each other, this also helps to hone their communication skills as well.Instill good behaviorWhen children play outside, they might also encounter other children’s parents and other individuals as well. This can introduce them to valuable social lessons. Some grown-ups may display good behavior, for example, turn-taking and being compromised towards others. Children, with their nature of imitating what they see or hear around them, will be influenced and eventually follow the good behaviors modeled.Furthermore, children who play outdoors have more self-awareness and compassion toward others. Studies showed that children who play outdoors have less tendency to be a bully.Boost self-confidenceBeing used to having interactions and socializing with other people from a young age will benefit children in the future. As they grow up, they will be familiar with the situation with crowds and strangers and will always be confident to communicate and socialize. Crowded situations and meeting new people can be overwhelming for some people and make them become socially awkward. However, this is not the case for children who have been exposed to such situations from young.So dear readers, by now it is clear that letting children play outside brings benefits to them in not just one aspect, but holistically. It covers and prepares them for their growing years. So, it is important for you to let your child explore, discover and experience new things during their outdoor playing activities, which can contribute to nourishing and nurturing their potential talents and abilities. To find out more about your child’s talents and abilities, the Decode Talent DNA Test will get you covered! Please visit www.agtgenetics.com for more information.
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Intelligence. This is a word that I'm sure everyone has heard of. But what does it actually imply and how does it affect an individual? Researchers developed an IQ test to measure how well someone can use information and reasoning to answer questions or make predictions. IQ tests measure short-term and long-term memory and how quickly one can solve puzzles and recall information. It helps researchers check whether they are testing for the same “kind” of intelligence or different. In short, intelligence is the ability to derive knowledge, learn from experience, adapt to the environment, comprehend, and correctly apply cognition and reason in a psychological context. However, it does not encapsulate the complexity of the mind.​Folks often believe that video games rot a kid's mind, making them passive resulting in poor social skills, but a new study argues that the opposite could be true. Children actually might get a brain boost from playing video games. Many people claim that video games make you smarter. However, intelligence is a broad concept, and we don’t know what effect video games have on it. Even then, lots of research have shown that video games can have a tangible impact on cognition,  particularly "action" video games and it improves cognitive performance in a wide range of ways (Green & Seitz, 2015).Video games are commonly believed as a time-killing activity, but you will be amazed to realize that they have favorable advantages.Do you know that video games can help you enhance your manual dexterity, increase your brain's grey matter, and strengthen your problem-solving skills? Video games can improve manual dexterity Manual dexterity or fine motor ability is the coordination of small muscles in movement with the eyes, hands, and fingers. The neurological system is linked to the various levels of manual dexterity that individuals possess. Fine motor abilities contribute to the development of intelligence and continue to develop throughout the stages of human development. In a study involving a group of surgeons, researchers found that those who played video games were faster at performing advanced procedures and made 37 percent fewer mistakes than those who didn’t (Dobnik, 2004). This proves that controller-based games can be great for your hands. Video games can boost and improve hand-eye coordination and reaction times.Video games can increase your brain’s grey matterMuscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation are all associated with gray matter. Gaming enables the brain to be more responsive when it comes to reporting new data. Gaming is primarily mental training that is disguised as entertainment. Smarter people are more likely to become addicted to video games because they may not be challenged enough at school or work, and video games fill that void. According to studies from Nature and Science Alert, playing video games on a daily basis may increase grey matter in the brain, and improves brain connectivity, which aids memory development. As a result, it improves players' memory capacity.Games can teach you to be a better problem-solver and decision makerChildren who played strategy-based games improved their problem-solving skills and consequently tended to obtain better marks the next school year, according to a long-term study published in 2013, proving that gaming has an impact on intelligence. The majority of video games necessitate a significant amount of problem-solving. Various games, on the other hand, necessitate different types of problem-solving. Video games, particularly action games, necessitate immediate, on-the-fly decision-making. Gamers with a lot of experience can make quick judgments under pressure. Since video games boost critical thinking and reflective learning capacity, they also improve communication skills, resourcefulness, and flexibility. Not only do video games provide many benefits but they also give positive effects on attention, determination, and mental health.Below are some examples of the positive effects of playing video games:Effect of video games on attentionGreen and Bavelier discovered that action video games improve attention control. Most action games demand that the player maintains a laser-like focus on specific elements or characters. As a result, action games significantly improve selective attention, or the ability to focus on a single stimulus. This appears to provide the greatest perceptual and attentional benefits.Effects of video games on the determination It motivates you to be more persistent because, in video games, you either win or keep trying until you attain your objective, learning from your mistakes as you go. As a result, some researchers and academics say that video games could teach people to be more self-assured and to work toward their goals, treating each failure as an opportunity to learn.Effect of video games on mental healthSome video games have been proven in studies to improve mood and heart rhythms, indicating that they may also effectively relieve stress. Numerous unrelated research has shown a link between video games and stress, which is why video games have been utilized in therapies for over a decade.However, with the good comes the bad.Although the benefits and positive effects of video games on the intellect have been covered, playing video games for long periods of time can also have negative consequences. Too much screen time can affect sleep, well-being, and academic performance. Therefore, gaming and other physical activities must be managed accordingly by parents. Gaming should always be done in moderation. Intelligence is a broad topic to be discussed. But in this write-up, we can come to an agreement that video games make you smarter in the aspects of cognition, memory, and problem-solving skill and how video games have positive effects on them. This is evident when gamers tend to rank higher for these cognitive abilities than the rest of the population.To learn more about your child's potential and abilities, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn potential! ​ ReferencesAnish Dube, MD, MPH, associate professor, psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University of  Medicine and Science, Los Angeles; Karolinska Institute, news release, May 12, 2022; Damon Korb, MD, director, Center for Developing Minds, Los Gatos, Ca.; Scientific Reports, May 12, 2022Crew, B. (2018, December 8). Gamers have more grey matter and better brain connectivity, research suggests. ScienceAlert. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from https://www.sciencealert.com/gamers-have-more-grey-matter-and-better-brain-connectivity-st    udy-suggests-2018Dobnik, V. (2004, April 7). Surgeons may err less by playing video games. NBCNews. Retrieved June 17, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna4685909 Editor. (2022, February 1). Benefits of video games for Kids & Adults. GEICO Living. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.geico.com/living/home/technology/9-reasons-to-give-video-games-a-try/ Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2012). Learning, attentional control, and action video games. Current biology: CB, 22(6), R197–R206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.012Green, C. S., & Seitz, A. R. (2015). The Impacts of Video Games on Cognition (and How the Government Can Guide the Industry). Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2(1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732215601121Kabir, L. (n.d.). Video games make you smarter: Backed up by research. Healthy Gamer. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.healthygamer.gg/blog/video-games-make-you-smarter-backed-up-by-research#:~:text=Video%20games%20increase%20your%20attention,cognitive%20abilities%20that%20society%20values. Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. et al. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Mol Psychiatry 19, 265–271 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2013.120​Thompson, D. (2022, May 19). Could video games boost A child's intelligence? WebMD. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20220519/could-video-games-boost-a-childs-intelligence
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Parents are always on the lookout for their child's gifts. "Is my child gifted in math, music, sports, or arts?" is a common thought, be it consciously or subconsciously. Most parents, if not all, would wish for their child to have a special talent. While that may be the case, what's more to know about the talents of children?  Talent can be defined as a natural ability that one is an expert in. It is extremely important that we identify and nurture it from the very beginning.  “Creativity follows mastery, so mastery of skills is the first priority for young talent.” This is believed by Benjamín Bloom who was an American educational psychologist who made contributions to the classification of educational and Co-curriculum objectives. According to Benjamín Bloom, if a child’s talent is achieved successfully, teachers’ and parents’ fundamental duties of teaching basic skills and subject matter can be immensely rewarding. Discovering and cultivating unique talents in children and young people, and watching those students and their talents grow are among the great joys of teaching.Stages of Talents Development Children go through distinct periods of development as they grow from infants to young adults. During each of these stages, multiple changes in the development of the brain are taking place. What occurs and when approximately these developments transpire are genetically determined. According to David Henry Feldman, a college professor, who researches the growth and development of children, there are 4 stages of talent development through the ages. 4 to 10 years of age – During this stage, children explore and observe the environment to expand their mind.  10 to 13 years of age – Their talents begin to develop with the help and guidance of their teachers and role models. Competition and praise play an important role in their talent development. 13 to 18 years of age – Children learn that dedication and commitment are necessary for the development of their talent. They learn their responsibility and the needed sacrifice to grow. 18+ of their years – This stage marks the period where children decide to instill their talent as the choice of their career in the future.  Discovering the Talents of a ChildHowever, despite the Talent Development Stages that demonstrate how children develop their talents as time passes by, not many children reach their full potential. Even if a child has high potential or talents, they may not reach their full potential unless full support is offered from their parents and teachers who can teach, shape and guide them. Parents and teachers are tremendous role models that help shape the behavior of the child. Children especially in their early ages are dependent on parents and teachers to help set their goals and cultivate diligence to achieve them.  The first thing that parents should take note of is to identify what talents they have.  Typically, identifying a child’s interests can start as early as 3 to 4 years of age.  There are several ways to identify a child’s special talent to help children be better prepared in the near future according to Dwight Bain, an executive coach and mental health counselor.Ways to Identify a Child’s Special Talent1. Observation of their lifestyle: Parents ought to pay attention and observe what their children are doing in their free time and what type of activities they are interested in. Parents should also join in and engage with what their children are doing to have a better understanding.2. Academic achievement: Academic performance can help show which subjects a child is good in so that parents can have a rough idea of  the field of interest the child has. 3. The media children consume: Observing what children like to watch on television or online can help identify your child’s interest. 4. Consult children’s teachers: Teachers spend a lot of time with children, so they ought to possess a vast awareness of your child's skills, abilities, advantages, and disadvantages, especially with regard to their academic performance. Having timely conversations with children’s teachers can certainly help identify their unique talents.5. Listen to what your child is curious about Take ample time to listen to children. If there are any topics your child is interested in, he or she will ask these questions more often than usual. It is important for parents to engage with them and provide the answers to these questions to expand their knowledge and cultivate their interest. This process of interest goes on throughout their childhood when they develop and gain more experience in their field of interest. Children cannot ignite and develop their talent over time on their own. Only when parents are aware of their child’s interest, the right support, be it financial, time, and advice can be provided. Tips for Development Progress1. Start early. Children should be exposed to a variety of activities as early as the age of 3 to 4 years old. Parents are responsible to encourage their children to engage in the activities they have an interest in. Parents can be great mentors or coaches themselves when they join their kids in the activities they enjoy. 2. Practice makes perfectHaving talents is tremendously useful, but it is not enough to succeed. It takes effort, time, emotional, well-being, and strength to tap into the gifts your child has in order to succeed. 3. Setting a TargetSetting up a future goal and target that the child wants to achieve can help motivate them to achieve bigger goals in the near future. It also keeps them focused on their passion. 4. Cultivate a growing mindset. When a child has achieved their goals, they have to understand that they are not perfect, thus the need to continue striving to be better. Likewise, when a goal is not achieved, children need to be trained to have grit and a mindset of determination and perseverance. To succeed, one must meet many hardships and failures, just as ice hockey player Wayne Gretzkyp puts it, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take’. Regardless of the myriad of fields out there, it is important for children to be exposed to them to enable them to see where their interest falls into. Talent development starts with its identification, and talent identification starts first and foremost with parents. ReferencesArmstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.Bain, D. (2009). Destination Success. Revell.Gagne, F. (1991). “Toward a Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent.” In Handbook of Gifted Education, edited by N. Colangelo and G. A. Davis, pp. 65-80. Boston:                   Allyn and Bacon.
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Early life experiences can exert a huge effect on both of the brain development and behavioural development; while the latter experience also plays an important role in maintaining and elaborating, which is important in establishing a solid foundation for development after early stages (Fox, Levitt & Nelson, 2010). For example, the learning experience of a child will shape a child’s behaviour and personality as well as how the child’s brain grows and develops. ​These are the three major theories explained how children learn: Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, and Observational learning. These theories deal only with observable behaviours and purely focus on how experience shapes who we are instead of considering internal thoughts or feelings (Cherry, 2020).Classical Conditioning: Type of learning that automatic conditioned response is paired with a specific stimulus, in order to produce a behavioural response known as a conditioned response (Jamie, 2020). To make this a bit more concrete, let’s use a classic experiment as an example. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist discovered over time that, dogs were salivating not only when their food was presented to them, but when the people who fed them arrived. In order to test his theory that the dogs were salivating because they were associating the people with being fed, he began ringing a bell and then presenting the food so they’d associate the sound with food. These dogs learned to associate the bell ringing with food, causing their mouths to salivate whenever the bell rang, not just when they encountered the food (Clark, 2004). Children learn in much the same way, developing associations between things in their environment and potential consequences. For example, an infant might quickly start to associate the sight of a baby bottle with being fed. Or when a child sees needle, he or she will immediately associate the needle with pain and cry at the sight of it.Operant Conditioning: Type of learning that when a behaviour is rewarded, the chances that the same behaviour is likely to occur again. When a behaviour is punished, the chance of the same behaviour is less likely to occur again. In other words, it is a set of learning techniques that utilizes reinforcement and punishment to either increase or decrease a behaviour (Grant, 2014). For example, whenever a child goes to bed on time, his parent reads him a bedtime story. The story reading is a positive reinforcement used to increase his child’s behaviour which is going to bed on time.Observational Learning: A process of learning through watching others, retaining the information, and then later replicating the behaviours that were observed. It can take place at any point in life, but it tends to be the most common during childhood as children learn from the authority figures and peers in their lives. For example, a child watches his mother folding the laundry. He later picks up some clothing and imitates folding the clothes.It also plays an important role in the socialization process, as children learn how to behave and respond to others by observing how their parents and other caregivers interact with other people. Therefore, it is important to ensure that children are observing the right kind of behaviour, and parents have to be sure that their children are learning how to act responsibly by modelling good behaviours and appropriate responses. In addition to the types of learning that happen in a day-to-day basis, there are also other experiences that play a role in shaping a child’s development such as their peers like kids at the playground, neighbourhood and school. Children are very influenced by their peers, and these social experiences help shape a child's values and personality (Blazevic, 2016).Besides that, teachers and classmates play a major role in making up a child's experiences, and academics and learning also leave their mark on development (Osher, Kendiziora, Spier, and Garibaldi, 2014). Because genetics and the environment are always interacting in a dynamic way. A child's genetic background will influence his ability to learn, hence, good educational experiences can enhance these abilities. Other than that, the culture that a child grows up and lives in has also played a role in how a child develops. For example, a child who raised in individualistic cultures might help on developing the autonomy and self-esteem; in the opposite, a child who raised in collectivist cultures tend to express higher levels of sadness, fear and discomfort (Putnam & Gartstein, 2019).Thus, we can see how genetics, environmental influences, and parenting styles are interacting in a child’s development. Each part of our life plays an important role in shaping our behaviour and personality as well as determining what kind of person will be in the future.ReferencesBlazevic, I. (2016). Family, peer and school influence on children's social development. World J Educ. 6(2), 42-49. http://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v6n2p42Cherry, K. (2020). Child Development Theories and Examples. Verywellmind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/child-development-theories-2795068Clark, R. E. (2004). The classical origins of Pavlov’s conditioning. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science. 39, 279-294. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02734167Fox, S. E., Levitt, P., Nelson, C. A. (2010). How the timing and quality of early experiences influence the development of brain architecture. Child Dev. 81(1):28–40. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01380.xGrant, D. A. (2014). Classical and Operant Conditioning. In: Categories of Human Learning. Elsevier. 1-31. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4832-3145-7.50006-6Jamie, E. (2020). Classical Conditioning and How It Relates to Pavlov’s Dog. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/classical-conditioningOsher, D., Kendiziora, K., Spier, E., Garibaldi, M. L. (2014). School influences on child and youth development. In: Sloboda Z, Petras H, eds., Defining Prevention science. New York, NY: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-7424-2_7Putnam, S. & Gartstein, M. A. (2019). How different cultures shape children’s personalities in different ways. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-different-cultures-shape-childrens-personalities-in-different-ways/2019/01/11/1c059a92-f7de-11e8-8d64-4e79db33382f_story.html
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As we all know, the inherited genes from our parents influence everything from height, eyes colour, hair colour and other physical characteristics, to intelligence, behavioural patterns and personality traits. Who we are today is shaped by our genetic background as well as environmental influences. Most researchers agree that a complex interaction of both nature and nurture is involved in a child's development (Levitt, 2013). The complex interaction of both nature and nurture does not just occur at a particular moment or throughout periods of time, rather it is a persistent and a lifelong process (Cherry, 2020). ​Therefore, it is important for parents, caregivers, and even educators to understand the science behind our children’s genetics in order to nurture them to their full potential, healthiest and happiest selves.  ​The very beginning of a child's development starts when the male reproductive cell, a sperm, combines with the female reproductive cell, an ovum. Each sperm and ovum contains chromosomes that act as a blueprint for human life (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). These chromosomes contain genes that are made up of a chemical structure known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which consist of genetic codes that make up all of life. All cells in the body consist of 46 chromosomes, while the sperm and ovum each consists only 23 chromosomes (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). This is to ensure that the new organism has the correct 46 chromosomes when both the cells fuse.  The genes that a person have inherited are referred to as a genotype; while a phenotype refers to how the genes are actually expressed. For instances, phenotypes include physical traits like height and eyes colour, as well as non-physical traits like personality traits, such as extroversion (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). ​There are two types of interactions that determine how a gene is expressed, which are Genetic Interaction and Gene-Environment Interaction. Genetic Interaction refers to a phenomenon where two or more genes affects the expression of each other in various ways in the development of a single character of an organism (Shinde, 2015). In other words, genes can sometimes contain conflicting information, and in most cases, one gene will win the battle for dominance (Cherry, 2020). The eye colour is one example of dominant-recessive genes pattern. If one parent inherits a dominant brown eye gene while the other parent inherits a recessive blue eye gene, the dominant gene will win out and the child will have brown eyes (Cherry, 2020). Gene-Environment Interaction is referred to as the environment that a child is exposed to since young. Even in the uterus of the mother, the genes expressed will be impacted. For example, height is a good example of how genetic traits are influenced by environmental factors. While a genetic code of a child may indicate height, if the child has poor nutrition or chronic illness, those factors might affect him in growing tall (Jelenkovic, 2016). Genetic code might also go off course sometimes. The genetic abnormalities occur when the zygote have an uneven number of chromosomes. For example, the number of chromosomes might divide unevenly and caused the organism to have more or less than the normal 23 chromosomes, when the sperm and the ovum is combined. ​ ​Evidently, genetic influences have a huge impact on child development. Nevertheless, genes are not the only determinant of a child’s future, environmental factors like parenting, education, culture as well as social relationships also play an important role.  References Cherry, K. (2020). How Genes Influence Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/genes-and-development-2795114 Jelenkovic A., Sund, R., Hur, Y. M., et al. (2016). Genetic and environmental influences on height from infancy to early adulthood: An individual-based pooled analysis of 45 twin cohorts. Sci Rep 6:28496. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1038/srep28496 Levitt, M. (2013). Perceptions of nature, nurture and behaviour. Life Sci Soc Policy. 9:13. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1186/2195-7819-9-13 Ludlow, A. & Gutierrez, R. (2014). Developmental Psychology. 52. Lynch, M. (2019). The Impact of Genetics on Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.theedadvocate.org/the-impact-of-genetics-on-child-development/ Shinde, H. S. (2015). Gene Interaction. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/harshrajshinde1/gene-interaction              
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Do you think you are giving the best to your children? Wanting the best for our children is the motivation to parents’ day to day relentless and hard work. Years and decades spent in earning money, not just to raise a child up, but to raise a child well. Parents send children to the best schools, the best tuition centres, the best enrichment programmes, the best holiday camps, the best one-to-one personal tutor et cetera. Apart from educational or developmental avenues, a lot of money is spent in the process such as learning resources like books, musical instruments, uniforms, events or trips, transportation and the list goes on. Parents no doubt want the best for their children. We want them to be the best they can ever be, and take up the heavy burden willingly and unconditionally to pave the way of security, success and happiness for our children. But is this really the best?​If the above description sounds like you, it is time to pause and think and ask yourselves “What is really the best for my children?”. It is common to hear parents say “I want my child to be happy ultimately”, “I want them to enjoy doing what they like” or “I want them to pursue their dreams”, but the question is how do we as parents get there? The problem is we assume that we know what is best for our child. We think the solution is to give them everything we can get our hands on. Endless hours of tuition, art classes, interpersonal skills development, sports activities, you name it! No doubt these are good for some children, but are they necessarily good for your children?Your child does not need everything.Everything is too much for your child. Realistically speaking, there is no way a child can excel in anything and everything. We know that, yet out of our loving concern for them, we send them to all the classes to hone every aspect of their lives. As a result, instead of achieving our good intentions, children may be impacted negatively. Though this may not be the case for everybody, studies have shown that high expectations from parents, educators and students themselves to perform excellently in their academics can be a source of heighten stress among students (Tan and Yates, 2011).By putting too much pressure on children, their mental health is negatively affected. Mental health relates to major issues such as depression, anxiety and stress which are growing in prevalence (Lee and Syaid, 2017). Reports from the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2012 and 2017 reported a rise of suicidal ideation, plan and actual attempts among Malaysian youths as young as 13 to 17 years old (Institute for Public Health, 2017; Institute for Public Health, 2012).It was also discovered that 1 in 5 adolescents are depressed, 2 in 5 are anxious and 1 in 10 are stressed (Institute for Public Health, 2017). One underlying cause for mental health issues are academic and environmental factors, which consequently impair one’s development, productivity and poor achievement in learning. With your child’s mental health affected, it becomes difficult for your child to develop his or her potential (Lee and Syaid, 2017).Your child needs a push into the right direction.Every child is unique. Rather than helping your child excel in everything which is obviously not feasible, what they really need is proper guidance to what they are naturally good at. Instead of aiming blindly and diverting your attention and theirs, parents should devote and dedicate all resources into areas that they have potential in. By doing this, parents can save plenty of time and money in the long run. At the meantime, you take the heavy stressful workload off your children’s shoulders and provide much room for them to enjoy their passions.Research has shown that children learn better in a positive environment whereby both their developmental and social needs are met (Willis, 2007; Smith, et al., 2016). Enjoyment in a learning institution also reinforces their academic aspiration, which subsequently improve their health and academic performance (Smith, et al., 2016).Joy in learning also leads to improved information processing and long-term memory storage. A pleasurable learning experience releases a neurotransmitter known as dopamine which stimulates the brain’s memory centre to release acetylcholine which aids in prolonging attention span. On the other hand, stress, boredom, lack of motivation, confusion ​and anxiety hinders your child’s learning experience (Willis, 2007).But the question remains: “How do we know our children’s interest as early as their infant years?”.Giving them the best by knowing your children.Children development starts as early as their infant years. The first few years are a critical developmental period for the optimal growth. Yet, knowing your children takes time, it takes years as they grow and learn.  Conventionally, parents use old-fashioned trial and error methods to find what works best with their children.  When early stage of life is so critical that we cannot afford losing the opportunity, how then can we know our children since young? The answer lies in their DNA.​DNA are genetic molecules that everybody inherits from their parents and it functions to code for proteins and cells in your body, in other words, it makes up who you are as a fully functional and amazing person! Your hair is a certain colour because your DNA “instructs” it so, your body creates enzymes in your stomach because your DNA determines so, and the applications are endless. Needless to say, your child’s DNA can inform you about their developmental traits in as many as 5 key areas such as their talents, Intelligence quotient (IQ), Emotional quotient (EQ), Personality and Overall Wellness. These “hidden” information stored in their DNA allows you to make focused decisions in building him or her up, by navigating their learning processes or choices wisely. By knowing their strengths and weaknesses, you can take early measures to curb the foreseen challenges they will face, while enhancing their potential, all these being done in a positive stress-free environment.A deep understanding about your child’s nature empowers you to make parenting decision tailored for their needs, enable you to nurture them well and truly give them the best that they deserved. Understand your child’s DNA today with Absolute Genetic Technologies’ Decode Talent DNA Test (DTDT) today!
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Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is an illness that affects a person's brain and behavior, causing them to lose control over the use of legal or illegal drugs or medications. Drugs include substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine. Drug abusers tend to continue using the substance despite the harm it causes once they are addicted as addictions grow over time.Addiction vs. DependenceIt is important to understand the difference between dependency and addiction. Dependence is usually referred to as a physical dependence on a substance. Physical dependence can occur as a consequence of long-term drug usage, even when it is guided by a prescription. Physical dependency on a drug is not the same as addiction but it often presents with addiction . Addiction is defined as a behavior change caused by the biochemical changes in the brain as a result of continued drug abuse. One of the outcomes of behavior change is that it increases the desire to engage in dangerous acts, such as when a drug addict will go to any extent to obtain money for drugs. Furthermore, drug addicts have poor anger management skills. When they are not under the influence of drugs, people like this may rage, scream, or even lash out with physical violence. An addiction causes people to act erratically when they do not have the  drug in their system. While it is possible to have a physical dependence without being addicted, addiction can always happen. When people become dependent on the drug, they develop drug tolerance.Drug tolerance means that the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. It is a reduced response to the drug when it is used frequently and the body adapts to its continued presence. As a result, more of the drug is needed to attain the same euphoric effects, leading them to become delusional.Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person possesses, the greater the likelihood of drug use and addiction. Protective factors on the other hand, reduce a person's risk. Some example of risk factors and protective factors are as below:Risk FactorsProtective FactorsAggressive behavior in childhoodSelf-efficacy (belief in self-control)Lack of parental supervisionParental monitoring and supportNegative social interactionsPositive relationshipsDrug experimentationGood gradesAvailability of drugs at schoolSchool anti-drug policies What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?Environmental factors play the most important role in addiction. Environmental factors are related to relationships between the family, in school, and neighborhood. Factors that can increase a person's risk include the following:Home and Family- A home environment is a very important factor, especially in childhood. Parents and older families who abuse drugs and alcohol or violate the law may increase their children's risk of future drug problems.Peer and School- Friends and other peers can become very influential during their teens. Teens who use drugs for the first time can sway even those without risk factors. Academics struggles and poor social skills can further increase a child's risk of drug use and addiction.What happens to the brain when a person takes drugs?Most drugs interfere with the brain's “reward circuit”, causing euphoria and flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat those behaviors repeatedly.As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of cells in the “reward circuit” to react to the drugs. This lowers the person's high compared to when they initially started using the drug, an effect known as tolerance. To attain the same high level, they would take more of the drug. These brain adaptations make it more difficult for a person to experience previously enjoyable activities such as food, sex, or social activities.Prolonged use can cause changes in other chemical systems and circuits of the brain, affecting function that includes:·         learning·         judgment·         decision-making·         stress tolerance·         memory·         behaviorDespite being aware of these negative consequences, many drug users continue using them. This is the nature of addiction.Tucker Woods, DO, an Addiction Medicine Specialist and Chief Medical Officer of Restorative Management Corp says “Addiction signs and symptoms differ from person to person, but if you're asking yourself if you need help, the chances are you do". Therefore, if you have some of the signs of drug dependence or addiction, it is best for you to get yourself examined for a treatment.TreatmentAddiction can be treated, but there are distinct approaches to recovery. Since relapses are common, the process may take some time. There are a range of services to which you can be referred for addiction treatment, depending on your condition. Listed  are some of the most frequent treatment approaches: Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to address cognitive and behavior patterns that lead to addiction. Contingency management, family therapy, psychological treatment, counseling and group therapy are some of the other therapies that are beneficial too.Medications: Medications help with addictions and withdrawal symptoms, as well as other treatments to address underlying mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, may be included. Methadone, buprenorphine, nicotine replacement therapy, and naltrexone are among the medications that may be prescribed.Hospitalization: In some cases, people may need to be hospitalized  to treat potentially serious complications for detoxifying of the substance.Support groups and self-help: As people discover new ways to deal with recovery, direct and online support groups can be a helpful source of knowledge and social support.Anyone struggling with an addiction should discover how to gain independence from the substance. Fortunately, addiction is treatable and there are measures that can be taken to help oneself. While quitting is a tough process and understanding how to overcome addictions is key, it is an important first step toward recovery.  For additional information and to learn about your personal traits and behaviors, search up to agtgenetics.com.References:Felman, A. (2018, October 26). Addiction: Complications and consequences. Medical News Today. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323461 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 26). Drug addiction (substance use disorder). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20365113McGuire, J., & Pham, L. (n.d.). Dependence vs addiction: What's the difference? WebMD. Retrieved May 30, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/dependence-versus-addiction NIDA. 2020, July 13. Drug Misuse and Addiction. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction on 2022, May 19NIDA. 2018, June 6. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction on 2022, May 19
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Learning styles are the ways in which an individual approaches a range of styles according to Howard Gardner. Visual-spatial learning style, or visual-spatial intelligence, refers to a person's ability to perceive, analyze, and understand visual information in the world around them. Spatial relations are also correlated to our visual perceptual skills as our eyes help us to determine the distance and directionality between objects. Essentially, they are able to mentally visualise ideas.When we visualise something or recall something by creating an image in our minds, we are typically using visual-spatial learning. When trying to recall information, creating a mental picture provides us with another cue. For example, we visualize how different items can fit together to maximize the storage capacity when we are packing our luggage or when organizing a piece of furniture as we visualize if it fits and suits the place. Besides that, visual-spatial learning is very useful in education too, especially in STEM learning related. This demonstrates how important the visual spatial skill is for daily functioning and how strengthening this visual learning can have a positive impact on academic performance.Early education in visual-spatial skills can begin as early as 18 months of age. At this age, the child begins to learn about its surroundings and becomes conscious of its abilities. Early education plays a large role in preparing our children for later success.  Parents can begin teaching your children the fundamentals of spatial thinking as you are your children's first teachers. It's never too early to introduce your child to visual-spatial thinking and get them familiar with it. You can start by using flashcards to teach your child about animals, fruits, and body parts. Spatial reasoning skills are cumulative and durable which mean that with practice, you will improve. So the earlier the education, the larger and longer lasting the improvement.In terms of education, visual-spatial learning is particularly important to STEM learning which includes Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics. A mathematician uses visual-spatial thinking to enhance number sense, quantity comparison, and arithmetic. Studies have found that high visual-spatial ability is linked to better math performance. Children who are more adept at visualizing spatial relationships in preschool have more advanced arithmetic skills in primary school (Zhang et al., 2013 & Gilligan et al., 2017). Middle school students who are good at mental rotation are more likely to achieve in science subjects (Ganley et al., 2014). Therefore, those who master the skills in early childhood will have more opportunities to use it to acquire and organize additional information throughout their learning process. To improve your children visual-spatial intelligence and skills, there are many types of approaches and activities that can enhance their ability such as: By using spatial language in everyday interactions. Spatial language consists of words that help people explain or describe where objects are in space. Spatial language is the key to describing locations of objects such as by using the term “on, under, above, below, inside, beside” and other similar expressions.Teach using gestures and encourage children to gesture.Gesture is a powerful communicating and teaching tool especially for children with visual-spatial type of learning who learn best with using gestures as it helps in remembering and understanding concepts better.  Playing charades or teaching using gestures with your children can be an effective way to encourage children to gesture.Promote visualization.Teaching visualization can be as simple as visualizing a cupcake design before piping and designing it. Playing the matching game.Playing matching games can improve visual-spatial learning as it challenges the mind in remembering the similar card placement.Build objects in a storytelling context.Playing with building objects such as Lego and wooden blocks can significantly increase a child’s spatial thinking ability because it presents them with challenges. Also, by allowing your child to story tell on what they are building, this can indirectly improve their communication skills.There are many other activities that can be carry-out, depending on your child's interest. Visual-spatial intelligence is not a fixed ability and it can be possessed with adequate practice and learning. Although some people are better at spatial thinking than others, they too can improve substantially if they keep practicing even if they start out with a lower score.Through training and practice, spatial reasoning for STEM learning can be boosted and holistic development can be maximized.Heads out to our website to understand more about your child’s learning type with our DNA testing! Knowing your child's learning type early can save time by focusing on your child’ learning type and indirectly help children to have fun and exciting learning and allow parents to know what’s the best approach. References:12 easy activities to boost kids' visual spatial intelligence. JOYLEE ᴗ Grow up with joy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.joylee.co/blogs/parenting-education/12-easy-activities-to-boost-kids-visual-spatial-intelligence-infographicGanley CM, Vasilyeva M, Dulaney A. Spatial ability mediates the gender difference in middle school students' science performance. Child Dev. 2014 Jul-Aug;85(4):1419-32. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12230. Epub 2014 Feb 22. PMID: 24673201.Gilligan KA, Flouri E, Farran EK. The contribution of spatial ability to mathematics achievement in middle childhood. J Exp Child Psychol. 2017 Nov;163:107-125. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.04.016. Epub 2017 Jul 26. PMID: 28753435.Logsdon, A. (2020, May 7). How children with a visual-spatial intelligence learn. Verywell Family. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/understanding-visual-spatial-learning-styles-2162778The benefits of visual-spatial learning (with activities and tips). Indeed Career Guide. (2021). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-visual-spatial-learning#:~:text=What%20is%20visual%2Dspatial%20learning,learn%20holistically%20rather%20than%20sequentially.Zhang X, Koponen T, Räsänen P, Aunola K, Lerkkanen MK, Nurmi JE. Linguistic and spatial skills predict early arithmetic development via counting sequence knowledge. Child Dev. 2014 May-Jun;85(3):1091-1107. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12173. Epub 2013 Oct 21. PMID: 24148144.
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Intelligence? What exactly is intelligence?When you hear the word intelligence, you might immediately thought of your intelligence level. Everyone is born with measurable natural intelligence, and changing it requires difficult capability. Intelligence is dynamic, which means it can be improved based on your exposure to society, environment and education in terms of the ability to learn.However, new perspectives on intelligence have emerged in the recent years. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, developed the Multiple Intelligences theory. The theory proposes that people learn and acquire information in various ways, and according to Howard Gardner's hypothesis, individuals do not have all their potential intelligence at birth, but rather will benefit from a variety of opportunities by interacting with the content and exposure to the world.Gardner identified eight types of intelligence to broaden the concept of intelligence which is linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence. Every individual has a different learning style. Knowing which types of intelligence one possesses can be extremely beneficial, especially in studies. When parents give their children a variety of opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, they will perform better in school. Have you heard of the saying "if a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn"? The multiple intelligence theory is best described by this phrase. Teachers can adjust the learning style to the child's preferences if they are aware of the type of intelligence they possesses. Indirectly, knowing the child's learning style allows the teacher to provide the appropriate approach to cater to their learning style. This will help them in their future careers too. Adults may see failure as an opportunity to try again, but for children, failure can be a disappointment, which can lead to them failing to pay attention or disrupting class. The multiple intelligence theory has the potential to re-engage students in learning. Using multiple intelligences to teach a concept gives each of your diverse learners a chance to succeed. Learners who excel at visual-spatial intelligence will excel at drawing and puzzles. Students with high linguistic intelligence would have better abilities to comprehend a written report to a reading assignment, whereas those with high interpersonal intelligence excel at classroom discussions. Teaching with the awareness of a student's strengths improves learning and decreases classroom behaviour problem as they experience success in their learning.Characteristics of the 8 types of Multiple IntelligencesSpatial intelligenceMeanings: People who are strong in visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things. These individuals are often good with directions as well as maps, charts, videos, and pictures.Characteristics: Read and write for enjoymentAre good at putting puzzles togetherInterpret pictures, graphs, and charts wellEnjoy drawing, painting, and the visual artsRecognize patterns easilyLinguistic IntelligenceMeaning: People who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence are able to use words well, both when writing and speaking. These individuals are typically very good at writing stories, memorizing information, and reading.Characteristics: Remember written and spoken informationEnjoy reading and writingDebate or give persuasive speechesAre able to explain things wellUse humour when telling storiesLogical-Mathematical IntelligenceMeanings: People who are strong in logical-mathematical intelligence are good at reasoning, recognizing patterns, and logically analysing problems. These individuals tend to think conceptually about numbers, relationships, and patterns.Characteristics:Have excellent problem-solving skillsEnjoy thinking about abstract ideasLike conducting scientific experimentsCan solve complex computationsBodily-Kinesthetic IntelligenceMeanings: Those who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are said to be good at body movement, performing actions, and physical control. People who are strong in this area tend to have excellent hand-eye coordination and dexterityCharacteristics: Are skilled at dancing and sportsEnjoy creating things with his or her handsHave excellent physical coordinationRemember by doing, rather than hearing or seeingMusical IntelligenceMeanings: People who have strong musical intelligence are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms, and sounds. They have a strong appreciation for music and are often good at musical composition and performanceCharacteristics: Enjoy singing and playing musical instrumentsRecognize musical patterns and tones easilyRemember songs and melodiesHave a rich understanding of musical structure, rhythm, and notesInterpersonal IntelligenceMeanings: Those who have strong interpersonal intelligence are good at understanding and interacting with other people. These individuals are skilled at assessing the emotions, motivations, desires, and intentions of those around themCharacteristics: Communicate well verballyAre skilled at nonverbal communicationSee situations from different perspectivesCreate positive relationships with othersResolve conflicts in group settingsIntrapersonal IntelligenceMeanings: Individuals who are strong in intrapersonal intelligence are good at being aware of their own emotional states, feelings, and motivations. They tend to enjoy self-reflection and analysis, including daydreaming, exploring relationships with others, and assessing their personal strengthsCharacteristics: Analyze their strengths and weaknesses wellEnjoy analyzing theories and ideasHave excellent self-awarenessUnderstand the basis for his or her own motivations and feelingsNaturalist IntelligenceMeanings: Individuals who are strong in this type of intelligence are more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment, and learning about other species. These individuals are said to be highly aware of even subtle changes to their environmentsCharacteristics: Are interested in subjects such as botany, biology, and zoologyCategorize and catalogue information easilyEnjoy camping, gardening, hiking, and exploring the outdoorsDislikes learning unfamiliar topics that have no connection to natureThe theory does not claim that a person possesses only one of the eight intelligences, but rather that some are stronger than others. It is a good approach to be learning about these various types of intelligences because the MI theory helps parents, teachers, and children understand their children's strengths and how these can be used to help them learn and solve problems. References:Cherry, K. (2021, July 28). Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Verywell Mind. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/gardners-theory-of-multiple-intelligences-2795161 Hatoum, L. (2021, November 5). Multiple intelligences definition and meaning. Top Hat. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://tophat.com/glossary/m/multiple-intelligences/ Jackson, J. E. (2017, November 21). How does the multiple intelligence theory help students? Education Seattlepi. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://education.seattlepi.com/multiple-intelligence-theory-students-2149.html 
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According to World Health Organization (WHO), forty-one million children under the age of five were either overweight or obese in 2016. Overweight and obesity have increased dramatically among children and adolescents aged 5 to 19, from 4% in 1975 to just 18% in 2016. Despite the amount of data available, it can be difficult to sort through and decipher what a balanced diet and healthy eating habits would look like for your child. To enforce a sustainable and healthy lifestyle for your child, you must first understand what good nutrition consists of, how it affects childhood development, and what steps you can take to ensure your child adopts a healthy eating habits. What Exactly is Good Nutrition for Children and Young Children?Children’s nutrition is based on the same basic principles as adult nutrition. A healthy and appropriate balance of diet and exercise, as well as a valuable lifestyle, are the keys to proper nutrition. Grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruit are the five main food groups and are a good starting point for any child’s diet. The proportions of each food group will be heavily influenced by age, genetic makeup, and physical activity. Understanding each food group is essential for developing a well-balanced and nutritious diet for your child. GrainGrains are classified into two types: whole grains and refined grains. Because they use the entire grain kernel, whole grains are more nutritious. Oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, and brown rice are examples of whole-grain products. Refined grains have generally been milled and processed several times to improve shelf life and texture. Many valuable nutritional benefits are lost during the refining process, so whole grains are a better option. Cereal, tortillas, white bread, and white rice are all examples of refined grains. VegetablesThe vegetable group includes any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice. Vegetables are classified as raw, cooked, dehydrated, canned, whole, juiced or mashed. It is also divided into five subcategories: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Because some vegetables are denser and nutrient-packed than others, the portion size of each will depend on which subcategory it belongs to. Organic, non-organic, and non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism) vegetables are some of the subcategories of vegetables. FruitThe fruit category includes any fresh fruit or 100% fruit juice. Canned, frozen, dried, pureed, or juiced fruits are all options. The fruit has a high sugar content, so it is best to build a dietary balance based on age, activity level, time of day, and gender. Same to vegetables, fresh fruit can be further categorized into organic, non-organic, and non-GMO. Protein & DairyMeat, poultry, beans, peas, eggs, seafood, and nuts are examples of foods that fall into the protein food group. It is best if your child’s meat and poultry sources are lean and low in fat. The dairy food group includes all fluid milk products and products made primarily from milk. Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are examples of dairy products. Dairy has been a controversial food group in recent years, and as a result, many nutritionally comparable dairy alternatives have been provided with higher nutritional value. As a result, this category includes fortified dairy alternatives such as soy, almond, and cashew milk, as well as nut cheeses. Your child’s diet and lifestyle may differ depending on their age and unique genetic makeup, with a focus on certain nutritional guidelines during one age range and many different guidelines during another. The Good Nutrition for ToddlersToddlers (ages 1-3) can be a pretty challenging age group to feed a nutritious diet to. Many developmental changes occur during this period, which has an impact on their food or supplement intake. Toddlers are in a stage of development and growth that slows significantly, affecting hunger and diet. In addition to a decrease in appetite, toddlers are exploring independence and control. This can lead to quarrels over specific foods, mealtimes, and portion sizes. It is recommended that toddlers consume 3-5 ounces of grains per day, depending on their age, activity level, and gender. One ounce is roughly equivalent to one slice of bread. 12 cup rice or oatmeal, or one small (4-inch) pancake. In terms of vegetables, toddlers should consume 1-2 cups of vegetables from each of the five subcategories per day. Given that some toddlers are just beginning to accept table foods, it is best to offer soft, cooked vegetables cut into very small pieces. This not only helps toddlers chew and swallow vegetables, but it also reduces the risk of choking. Toddlers should also eat 1 cup of fruit per day. This could break down into half of a banana for breakfast, half of an apple for snacks, 8 sliced grapes, half a cup of cooked broccoli, and half a cup of peas and carrots. To gain the full range of nutritional benefits, it is critical to introduce variety within the five food groups. Most toddlers should consume around 13 grammes of protein per day.A general rule of thumb for determining how much protein your child should consume daily is to base it on their weight. Protein-recommended dietary allowances are calculated using the guideline of 0.5 grammes of protein per pound of body weight. As a result, a 2-year-old weighing 30 pounds would require approximately 15 grammes of protein per day. This could be equivalent to half an egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or a quarter cup of beans. Toddlers should consume calcium-fortified juices, milk, and cheeses in much smaller amounts, such as 1 cup of milk or 60 grammes of cheese. The Good Nutrition for Pre-schoolers The preschool years (ages 3-5) are an important time for children to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Because pre-schoolers grow in spurts, their appetites can be inconsistent. This is normal, and if parents provide a healthy variety, their children will be provided with flexible options. The proportions of grains, protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy vary according to size, age, and gender. Calcium intake is a critical component for young developing preschool children. Calcium is also required for the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Contrary to popular belief, traditional dairy milk is not the best source of calcium. This is due to the fact that the calcium in dairy milk is less bioavailable (a substance entering the circulation when introduced into the body and so able to have an active effect) to developing bodies. Calcium is best obtained from dark leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, and bok choy. With a 40% absorption rate, about half of cooked leafy greens can proved around 300mg of calcium. Fibre is another important supplement to consider. Fibre promotes bowel movements, which helps digestion and prevents constipation. Most whole grain products, as well as fruits and vegetables, contain fibre. Though it may be difficult at times to persuade your child to eat vegetables instead of starchy processed foods like macaroni and cheese and chicken nugget, it will make a world of difference. What Impact Does Nutrition Have on Young Children?A proper nutritional diet and a healthy lifestyle can have long-term effects on young children. Children are highly impressionable during their early development and begin to implement routines and tools that they will carry with them into adulthood. Aside from developing habits and routines, children who do not receive adequate nutrition as they grow up can suffer from physical illness. Obesity, osteoporosis, decreased muscle mass, changes in hair volume and texture, fatigue, irritability, and type 2 diabetes are some of the most common issues for malnourished children. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat within the 95th percentile of one’s BMI, or Body Mass Index. Obesity is also more likely in children who do not eat a well-balanced diet and consume excessive amounts of fat, sugar, and processed carbohydrates. Obesity also can cause a number of long-term health issues in children, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and emotional issues. Young children are highly impressionable and can experience body shame and emotional issues as a result of the food they eat. When children consume sugary, processed, and high-fat foods, their digestive system and gut flora suffer. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can be caused by a lack of calcium absorption that causes porous, weak, and brittle bones.  Early nutrition and lifestyle decisions made by children and their parents can have long-term consequences for children. Because most people reach their peak bone mass at the age of 20, it is critical to building muscle and bone mass during childhood. Overweight children experience fatigue and irritability, which can lead to depression. Furthermore, overweight children may struggle with physical activity and are frequently unable to participate in physical activities with their peers. This can lead to emotional isolation, poor social interactions and low self-esteem. A well-balanced and healthy nutritional diet is more important than counting calories in developing children. How to Make Sure Your Child Eats Healthily and Exercises Without support, guidance, education, and routine, it can be difficult to ensure your child is eating healthy and staying fit. As children grow older, they begin to form opinions about what tastes good to them and what does not. Most of the time, this does not correspond to what is nutritionally best for them.The Stanford Children’s Health Hospital recommends avoiding fights over food and meal and providing regular snacks and meals. Children can be picky, avoidant, or hard at times. If your toddler or pre-schooler is a picky eater who refuses to eat certain foods, it is best to give up and try again later. They will be most likely to begin to warm up to the healthy options provided. As previously stated, young children are developing their independence and opinions, and as a result, they vary. It can also be beneficial to establish a regular feeding time and spot for your child. Positive connections can be formed by promoting healthy food choices, regular eating habits, nutrition education, and personal interaction during mealtimes. Given that children are highly perceptive human beings, it is advantageous to create positive and healthy experiences for them. Involving children in food preparation and selection can also be a valuable learning tool. When in the grocery store or even in your refrigerator, it can be helpful to engage with your child to help select foods based on nutritional value and explain how they can help developing bodies. Parents are also encouraged to use specific serving sizes and demonstrate the equivalents to them. This nutrition education can help children understand and implement appropriate serving sizes as they grow older, as well as maintain healthy eating habits. It can also be beneficial for parents to pack a homemade snack or lunch for their children to bring to school. Instead of packing processed foods or junk food, choose food high in healthy fats and nutrients. This ensures that a well-balanced and nutritious meal is always available. Physical activity, as always, is just as important as proper nutrition. Most days of the week, children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Parents can encourage physical activity by limiting their child’s time spent watching television and playing video games and encouraging more physically active routines such as walking, running, and playing ball. Because children learn primarily through direct observation, it is critical for parents to actively participate in their children's life regarding nutrition and exercise. You are modelling a positive, healthy, and sustainable lifestyle for your child by leading by example. To find out more about your child’s nutrition needs, Decode Nutrition DNA Test will get you covered! You may visit www.agtgenetics.com for more information!
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Are you struggling to discipline your child? We know it can be a challenge, but it's important to learn how to discipline them in a smart and healthy way. Firstly, it is important to understand that discipline is not just about punishment. It is about teaching children how to make good choices and develop self-control.  “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.” ― L.R. Knost, the author of ‘The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline’.    The way in which discipline is carried out has an impact on a child's emotional and mental well-being. Hence, parents need to understand the importance of having healthy ways to discipline your child. And here are some tips for parents to do that: 1. Positive reinforcement Positive reinforcement means rewarding good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior. It is important to acknowledge and praise your child when they do something positive. This can include anything from saying "thank you" when they share or showing excitement when they complete a task. Research by Hardy & McLeod (2020) shows that kids are more likely to behave in a desired way when they get praised for doing something right, whether it's following a rule or sharing a toy. The best way to reinforce positive behavior is to praise the behavior, not the kid's character. You can point out positive things about your child's concern for others – such as asking if their friend is all right – by mentioning how much the recipient appreciated their kindness.  2. Set clear expectation Children need structure and predictability in their lives. When parents provide clear rules and expectations, children are more likely to follow them. It is important to communicate these expectations clearly and consistently so that children know what is expected of them.  Professor Cluver, the Professor of Child and Family Social Work stressed that telling your child what to do is more effective than telling them what not to do. When you ask a child to not make a mess, they may not understand what you're asking. Clear instructions like “Please put all your toys in the box” set a clear expectation and make it more likely for them to comply.  3. Modelling good behaviour Children are highly observant and tend to imitate the behaviours they see in their parents. Children would pick up your emotions and vibes as they grow up. Thus, it is important for you to set a positive example for your children. This means consistently demonstrating desirable behaviours such as respect, kindness, honesty, responsibility, and empathy to your children. If you model healthy behaviors, children are more likely to follow suit. For example, if you want your child to speak respectfully to others, it is important to speak respectfully to your child and others around you.  “Parents who discipline their child by discussing the consequences of their actions produce children who have better moral development, compared to children whose parents use authoritarian methods and punishment.” ― Simon Baron-Cohen, British clinical psychologist 4. Maintain a strong connection with your child Always have a connection before correction. Yelling at children when they behave badly cuts off your connection with your children. Discipline should not be a punitive or isolating experience. Instead, it should be a way to help children learn and grow while maintaining a strong connection with their parents. Instead of yelling or scolding, try to listen to your child and understand the root cause of their misbehaviour. Communicate with your child throughout the disciplinary process, listen to their feelings and concerns. This helps them develop the skills and tools they need to make positive choices.  Finally, it is important to recognize that discipline is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Every child is different and may respond differently to different disciplinary techniques. Thus, it is important to understand the underlying causes of misbehavior, so that parents can address the root of the problem and help their child learn to manage their emotions and behavior more effectively.  Each child possesses innate personality traits that are reflected in their behavior, and it is important for parents to understand these traits to effectively interact with them. To learn more on your child's personality traits, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn personality!   References Hardy, J. K., & McLeod, R. H. (2020). Using positive reinforcement with young children. Beyond Behavior, 29(2), 95-107. doi:10.1177/1074295620915724.  Morin, A. (2021, June 20). 5 Positive Discipline Techniques to Try. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.verywellfamily.com/examples-of-positive-discipline-1095049#citation-4  UNICEF. (2022, December 12). How to discipline your child the smart and healthy way. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.unicef.org/romania/stories/how-discipline-your-child-smart-and-healthy-way Rupali, A. (2021, January 6). 4 Effective ways to Discipline Children in a Smart & Healthy Way. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://www.alphamontessoridfw.com/blog/discipline-child-without-punishment/ 
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Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to a child’s health. A recent Netflix’s Thai movie regarding sleep deprivation called “Deep” depicts this well. The psychological thriller portrayed [...]the journey of four university students who were involved in a neuroscience experiment that had gone haywire. Due to lack of sleep, their body experienced foreign and unusual body sensations which in turn led to more severe outcomes like hallucinations and inability to make sound judgments and decisions in their daily life. ​While the movie is largely fiction, the symptoms of sleep deprivation are fairly presented. If that many effects can occur in a young adult, what more for a child who is still in their growing phase? What happens when your child are sleep-deprived?The benefits of sufficient sleep for a child are many and widely known. Consistently, there are many severe and long-lasting consequences for the lack of it. (1) Mood DysregulationOne of the effects of sleep deprivation is mood dysregulation. According to Jodi A. Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of Sleeping Through the Night, "Kids who do not get enough sleep have trouble regulating their emotions." [1]. A sleep-deprived child may appear to be more aggressive and easily irritated. It may also result in mood swings, being restless, hyperactive and impatient. If their sleep deprivation persists, they would also manifest certain behaviours such as fighting with others, yelling, making threats, and causing harm to themselves in severe cases [8]. Not getting sufficient sleep could result in a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in teens over time [1]. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on the influence of partial sleep deprivation on mood, participants who were restricted to only 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a week were reported to feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. However, as the participants resumed a normal sleep pattern with 8 hours of sleep, they observed a significant change and improvement in the mood [2]. Some improvements which were reported include being more alert, mentally sharp, physically energetic, calm, happy, and healthy [2].(2) Impaired Metabolism Besides, another effect of insufficient sleep is impairment in body metabolism. Metabolism is known as the whole range of biochemical processes in the body and it involves the processes of anabolism (the building up of bigger structures from smaller units like nutrients from our food) and catabolism (the breakdown of larger units to smaller ones, such as the the breakdown of fat as an energy source) [3]. In short, metabolism is the amount of energy (calories) the body burns to maintain itself [3]. In a research conducted at the University of Chicago it was evident that sleep deprivation leads to a  decreased rate of glucose clearance by 40% [3]. The research involved 11 healthy young men where they were subjected to only 4 hours in bed for 6 nights followed by 12 hours for 7 nights to recover from the sleep debt. After that, their glucose tolerance was measured. [3]. A glucose tolerance test can indicate the ability to dispose glucose from the blood. Glucose intolerance could result in high blood glucose levels in the body which increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. A similar effect can also be seen in infants, children, and adolescents whereby lack of sleep is associated with impaired function in glucose metabolism. Hence, sleep deprivation can alter metabolic function and lead to a myriad of illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension [10]. (3) Poor Academic PerformanceIn addition, sleep deficit can result in poorer academic performance which includes a decline in cognitive functions such as follows [4]:Decreased attentionWeakened memorySlowed mental processingWorsened sequential thinkingReduced creative thinkingExcessive daytime sleepinessPoor decision-makingHeightened risk of aggressive behaviorTherefore, failure in getting sufficient sleep with high quality and optimum duration would cause a decline in academic performance at school in the long term. How much sleep should your child get?According to Griffin from WebMD, the amount of sleep required varies according to their age groups [1, 5].A helpful guideline is as follows:Infants (4 to 12 months) need 12 to 16 hours of sleep.Toddlers (1 to 2 years) need 12 to 14 hours of sleep.Pre-schoolers (3 to 5 years) need 11 to 13 hours of sleep.School-aged children (6 to 12 years) need 10 to 11 hours of sleep.Pre-teens and teens (13 to 18 years) need around 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep. Hence, any amount of sleep less than the amount above indicates that your child is not getting adequate sleep that is essential for their health and development. Is your child getting enough sleep? Children may encounter difficulty falling asleep. If your child is one of them, they could be having pediatric insomnia. This insomnia is a sleep disorder that leads to an inability to fall and stay asleep. Children with this condition may be seen to wake up too early in the morning as well [6].This childhood insomnia can be seen in 3 kinds of manifestations such as:chronic insomnia: ongoing and happens 3 times a week for a month or longer. cyclical insomnia: issues balancing wake-and-sleep cycles which can come and go throughout life. transient insomnia: typically lasts less than three weeks. Not only that, according to a sleep survey conducted by The Nielsen Company in 2019, 9 out of 10 Malaysians suffer from sleep problems with 63% of the respondents between ages 25 and 49 reported taking over 30 minutes to fall asleep in which portrays the prevalence of sleeping deficiencies among adults [7].From these statistics, parents must now be mindful that sleep disorders such as insomnia must be prevented at an early age. Children need to be educated with proper sleep hygiene and a fixed bedtime routine so that they can maintain their health as a result of quality sleep and rest.What is the tendency for my child to develop insomnia?​Find out your child’s likelihood to develop insomnia with the Decode Talent DNA Test  and ensure better sleep quality and overall wellness for them. Prevention is better than cure. Safeguard your child’s health and holistic wellbeing and growth by understanding their genetics.For more updates on our products and offers, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!References[1] R. M. Griffin, "This Is Your Kid’s Brain Without Sleep," WedMD, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/features/brain-without-sleep.[2] D. F. Dinges, F. Pack, K. Williams, K. A. Gillen, J. W. Powell, G. E. Ott, C. Aptowicz and A. I. Pack, "Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4-5 hours per night," Sleep, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 267-277, 1997. [3] S. Sharma and M. Kavuru, "Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview," International Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 2010, p. 270832, 2010. [4] N. Vyas and E. Suni, "Improve Your Child’s School Performance With a Good Night’s Sleep," Sleep Foundation, 15 January 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/children-and-sleep/sleep-and-school-performance.[5] Children's Health, "Pediatric Insomnia," Children's Health, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.childrens.com/specialties-services/conditions/difficulty-in-falling-asleep-or-staying-asleep.[6] Children's Hospital Colorado, "Insufficient Sleep in Children," Children's Hospital Colorado, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/conditions-and-symptoms/conditions/sleep-deprivation/.[7] M. Murugesan, "Counting Sheep," New Straits Times, 25 April 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/heal/2019/04/482768/counting-sheep.[8] American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "For children, poor sleep can lead to emotional and behavioral problems," Sleep Education, 22 April 2008. [Online]. Available: https://sleepeducation.org/poor-sleep-children-emotional-behavioral-problems/.[9] "Anabolism vs. Catabolism: The Role They Play in Your Metabolism," Cleveland Clinic, 13 July 2021. [Online]. Available: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/anabolism-vs-catabolism/.[10] M. A. Miller, M. Kruisbrink, J. Wallace, C. Ji and F. P. Cappuccio, "Sleep duration and incidence of obesity in infants, children, and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies," Sleep, vol. 41, no. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy018, 2018.
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Should parents reward their children for helping with house chores? What about rewarding them after they have completed their homework and assigned tasks on time? ​You probably thought about this before but perhaps have not arrived at a conclusion. If you hope that your kids reach their behavioural milestones, you can attempt a tactic that many parents nowadays swear by: The Reward Systems. The idea of reward systems can be a productive disciplinary way of educating children. However on the other side of the argument, parents have always been told that rewarding their children will destroy their inherent motivation as they may become increasingly materialistic. Well, do you think this is true? What you need to know about rewarding your children?Difference between a reward and a bribeTheir differences are subtle, which is why many parents fail to reward their children correctly, which often results in further behavioural problems down the road. A reward is given after children show good behaviour. “If you complete the assigned tasks well today, I will give you a treat,” is a reward. A bribe, in contrast, is when parents offer their misbehaving children a favor or treat as an exchange for their promise of being well-behaved. “I will buy you chocolate candy if you stop crying and yelling,” is a bribe. Due to this, parents should understand that rewards are usually pre-planned and should target specific behaviour. It’s important for parents to set certain rules about rewards. In any case, do not allow your children to receive a reward when they blackmail you by saying, “I won’t clean up the room unless you buy me a chocolate bar.”. Rewards can be a healthy and positive way to reinforce good behaviour for kids if parents manage it well. Children may learn to behave well or do the right things for which they receive positive feedback and avoid negative behaviours that gain no rewards.On the other hand, bribes educate children to use their behaviour as a method to manipulate others. Although bribes can be tempting at times as it motivates kids to change their behaviour immediately, it does not educate proper skills over the long haul. Similarly in reality, you won’t be receiving your paycheck until you have done the assigned task. Likewise, don’t give in to the easy alternative to nurture your children. Reward systems do not spoil kidsContrary to the many skeptics out there, rewarding your children sparingly does not spoil kids. It helps children develop small routines and ritual practices important to everyday life. Positive results and comments motivate people regardless of age. Most working adults have the motivation to go to work as they will eventually receive their reward in the form of a paycheck. This applies the same to children as they will come to understand that they can gain their  reward or more privileges from being well-behaved. Linking privileges to positive behaviour educate children to earn things prior to reward. In that sense, reward systems can prevent children from becoming spoiled because they will have to learn the value and importance of things in life in order to gain rewards. Parents do not have to give rewards that require any costsThere are many rewards that do not cost money. Children do not have to gain lavish rewards everyday. In fact, younger kids can earn from a simple sticker chart that allows them to accumulate for a larger reward. Allowing them to choose a special or favourite meal, earn a later bedtime for extra gaming or activity time, or pick a game that inspires them to play can be the reward option. Be creative with your rewards and you won’t have to spend money for the rewards. Do ask your kids for their input on what sort of rewards they would like to earn too. Rewarding creates a positive environmentPositive parent-child relationships at home can influence children's behaviour. It also creates an enjoyable and pleasant environment for both parents and children. A home filled with positive education and reinforcement for good behaviour, rather than one that is directed by constant punishing for bad behaviour, is a place that provides them with an emotionally positive and secure environment. This is a crucial tool in parenting as it gives happiness and motivations to children in their ongoing learning. What you can do to reward your childrenGet the timing rightThere is evidence showing that the value of rewards will be lost if parents reward their children with a delay. In other words, in order for rewards to work successfully for children, it has to be fresh in their mind when parents request them to complete tasks or adjust their behaviour. Or else, they might start to misbehave when they cannot receive the promised rewards or begin to think that they cannot do things correctly.  Giving the right and meaningful rewardsA reward does not have to be luxurious and complicated but it should meet some basic criteria. Rewards for kids should be inexpensive or of no cost.  The rewards should also be things that your children care about to work effectively. You must also be willing to dole it out regularly. Remember not to make a promise you cannot keep. Be sure to be specific about the goals that you want your children to achieve so that they will know exactly what they need to do to get the reward. They need not be confusing, so make sure to communicate concisely and clearly to them. For younger kids, goals should be easy enough for them to achieve without much effort in order to let them experience a taste of success. As the practice becomes a routine that is more normalized, you may extend the goals and tasks to make it more challenging but always take note that the reward system should not be too complicated. Make sure to focus on a selected few of your children’s behaviours and not a dozen at a time. Give plenty of encouragement and praise to your childrenYou can encourage your children before they do something. For instance, “The test is over, you don’t have to worry much about it as you have studied hard. No matter how the results turn out, you have done your best”. Some kids who are less confident than others need such encouragement compared to others. When you focus your praise on effort, they are more likely to see trying hard as a positive thing in itself and be more optimistic when challenges are in place. At the same time, you are showing them how to react, think and talk positively.With all these said, do not overuse rewards. Rewards are undeniably helpful tools to communicate and teach good behaviours among children, but parents need to readjust the rewards that they are giving so that children do not take it for granted. Always ask yourself whether the rewards you gave works to encourage your children’s behaviour that you want or not. Take note to also adjust the reward systems according to your children’s age. As they grow older into their adolescent years, they should have learnt that good behaviour is a reward in and of itself, as opposed to still having an expectation to be rewarded by the people around them. A reminder to all the parents here: Do keep the reward systems as simple as possible so that both parents and children are clear about how it works. As a final note to our fellow parents readers, make sure to be mindful of your long term behavioural goals for your children as you contemplate on the right rewards system to adopt for your children. Remember that your parenting goals must not be limited to controlling the outcome of a specific event only, but your responsibility is for the long-term healthy upbringing of your children. So, use rewards wisely. ReferencesMorin, A. (January 2020). Common concerns about giving kids rewards. Verywell Family. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/concerns-about-giving-kids-rewards-1094886‘Praise, encouragement and rewards’ (August 2020). Raising Children Network. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/connecting-communicating/connecting/praiseEdNavigator. (n.d.). What parents need to know about rewarding hard work and good behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ednavigator.com/resources/what-parents-need-to-know-about-rewarding-hard-work-and-good-behavior
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Is your child's favorite hobby scrolling through social media? From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to TikTok, there are numerous platforms that children can use to communicate and connect with their peers. As parents, it’s important for you to understand the impact of these digital platforms on your children and take steps to protect them. In this article, we will explore the potential risk of children using social media and offer useful advice on how to assist your child in developing positive online behaviors.   Social media is associated with several potential risks: 1. Cyberbullying Cyberbullying is a serious form of online abuse. In the online world, cyberbullying can be difficult for children to avoid due to the speed at which information can spread and the ease with which bully and victim roles can interchange. Cyberbullying leads to mental issues and cause children to feel isolated, depressed and even lead to suicidal thoughts. 2. Sleep difficulties Study found that both daytime and bedtime use of electronic devices increases the risk of sleep problems (Reid Chassiakos et al., 2016). Using electronic devices before bedtime or having them in the bedroom can lead to disrupted sleep, which affects daytime performance. Besides, the emission of blue light from screens hinders the production of melatonin, which can result in sleep difficulties. 3. Self-esteem Social media frequently exposes children to images of seemingly flawless lives, which can make children have a misperception of body image, feel inadequate and unworthy. Continuous comparisons to others on social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, potentially causing lasting impacts on a child's mental well-being.   Is social media completely bad for a child? Certainly No! While overuse of social media poses risk to children, there are potential benefits too, such as providing a platform for their self-expression and creativity. What’s more important is, parents and caregivers should help to balance the benefits and harms of social media use in kids. Hence, here are some tips for you: 1. Setting limits on screen time Encourage children to take breaks from social media and engage in other activities, such as physical exercise or spending time with friends and family. 2. Monitoring social media use Monitor your child’s online activity and screen for the media exposure to prevent them from being bullied or engaging in risky behavior. 3. Encouraging positive social interactions Educate children to use social media to connect with friends and family in an active way, such as engaging with their posts through liking, commenting, and creating and sharing their own content. This is because study shows that passive use of social media, such as scrolling through content, has been linked to depression (Karim et al., 2020). Thus, what matters most is not how long a child scrolls through social media, but how they actively engage with it.   Are certain children more prone to the risk of social media? According to research, infants and toddlers who have a "difficult" temperament or self-regulation issues are more prone to excessive media use (Reid Chassiakos et al., 2016). Study has shown that those with high levels of neuroticism were more likely to develop social media addiction (Marciano et al., 2022). This is because individuals with high levels of neuroticism typically experience more negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety. To cope with these emotions, they may spend more time using their phones and the internet as a means of relief. As the online environment can provide a sense of security, they can easily express themselves and share their concerns without fear of criticism or rejection. This makes them rely more on online social networking to connect with others and reduce their emotional pain. Genetic testing helps you to discover whether your child has a genetic predisposition towards neuroticism and other personality traits. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your parenting style to better support your child's emotional and mental well-being from a young age. To learn more on your child's genetic predisposition, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn traits!   References Bozzola, E., Spina, G., Agostiniani, R., Barni, S., Russo, R., Scarpato, E., ... & Staiano, A. (2022). The use of social media in children and adolescents: Scoping review on the potential risks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16), 9960. Chen, W., Wang, X., Sun, S., Liu, Q., & Guo, Z. (2022). The relationship between neuroticism and mobile phone use among college students in love: The masking effect of self-emotional assessment. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. Karim, F., Oyewande, A. A., Abdalla, L. F., Ehsanullah, R. C., & Khan, S. (2020). Social media use and its connection to mental health: a systematic review. Cureus, 12(6). Marciano, L., Camerini, A. L., & Schulz, P. J. (2022). Neuroticism and internet addiction: What is next? A systematic conceptual review. Personality and individual differences, 185, 111260. Moreno, M. A., & Radesky, J. (2023, March 20). Social Media & Your Child’s Mental Health: What the Research Says. Retrieved April 19, 2023, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/social-media-and-your-childs-mental-health-what-research-says.aspx Reid Chassiakos, Y. L., Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M. A., Cross, C., Hill, D., ... & Swanson, W. S. (2016). Children and adolescents and digital media. Pediatrics, 138(5).
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 Cultivating Empathy                 “Provide opportunities for children practice empathy”                          Empathy is one of the few traits that holds human beings together.                    The ability to understand and share the feelings of others, putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, and responding with care and concern. When people are empathetic, there is more peace, kindness, and understanding. Some may believe that empathy is inborn trait, rather that something that can be learned. Children are born with capacity for empathy, but it needs to be nurture throughout their lives.  5 ways to practicing empathy in children:Model Empathetic Behavior: Continuously model empathy in your own interactions with others. Children learn by observing, so your behavior will influence their own practices.Role-playing Scenarios: Set up role-playing scenarios where children can take on different roles and experience situations from various perspectives. This helps them practice responding empathetically.Sharing Circles: During family or classroom discussions, create a sharing circle where can openly talk about their feelings, experiences, and challenges, Encourage active listening and thoughtful responses.Encourage Acts Of Kindness: Prompt children to perform small acts of kindness for others, such as sharing toys, helping with chores, or making cards for friends or family members.Conflict Resolution: When conflict arises, guide children through resolving them empathetically.  Help them understand the feelings and perspectives of everyone involved and find common ground.
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Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language, and our personal appearance. Through social interaction, we develop social abilities. Communication, interpersonal, and listening abilities are all part of social skills and these skills are an essential aspect of interactions. Struggling with sociability will have a significant impact on one’s social life and profession. Thus it is crucial for everyone to counter the nervousness and awkwardness in daily life, especially at a social event.Being sociable can start with giving a smile. “A sociable smile is nothing but a mouth full of teeth,” says Jack Kerouac. When you genuinely smile at people they feel more comfortable engaging you in a conversation. Smiling makes you appear more approachable and friendly. It also signifies that you're interested in speaking with others. Give complimentsGiving compliments is one of the best ways to appear sociable after a smile. Giving compliments can help to break the ice and reduce awkwardness.Commit names to memoryCalling people by name is a great way to set yourself apart in a conversation. It makes them feel acknowledged when you remember their names. Start small by going to gatherings, birthday parties, weddings, or joining a club. Talking with familiar faces is easier as it makes you more comfortable to engage with rather than having a new friend. However, enrolling in a club teaches you to be vocal and more confident in interacting.Ask open-ended questions.Open-ended questions are question that requires no prolonged conversation. It can be as easy as a “yes or no” question or What are your plans for the weekend?Do you play any sports?Where are you working at?When you are comfortable enough, be interactive and create a conversation with others tooChoose general conversation topics.It is best to have a general conversation topic as heavy topics can lead to an awkward conversation. General conversation can be about the weather or making an observation about what’s going on around you. Look for opportunities.When speaking in a group, look for opportunities. You should know when to interrupt but do not cut other people when they are talking. This also includes you to excuse yourself if the conversation gets heavier.Pay attention to your body languageBody language plays the biggest role when engaging with others. Eye contact and hand movement will make people focus on what you are speaking. Avoid looking down when presenting or when speaking as that will make you appear less attentive. Most importantly, be confident when you are having a conversation and relaxed. Good postures help you to look interested and engaged.Develop listening skill To be sociable, you must be able to listen to others. Listening to people around you and understanding what they are talking about will make you look interested.Read books and blogs related to social skillsReading books and blogs related to social skills will help you discover the methods and benefits of being sociable. Not just for sociable, for any other tips and recommendations can be found on the internet. The more you learn, the more you gain, the more you practice, the better it gets therefore, we should never stop learning.Having good social skills is all about keeping things light and going with the flow. Chris Sergin stated that "when people become lonely and isolated, whatever social abilities they have tend to atrophy from misuse” which implies that even when you are born with a sociability skill, you will lose the skill when it is not used as it limits the capacity to normally communicate with others. Being social and interactive is crucial, therefore even if you lack these traits naturally, there are ways to cultivate and improve them.When you have good social skills, it brings many benefits and opens many opportunities. Therefore, parents should unleash their child's inborn talent from an early age. Check out our Decode Talent DNA Test and its linked traits to sociability like empathy, extraversion, verbal intelligence, and many other traits to learn more about your EQ strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your genetic traits can assist you and your parents in determining the best approach to improve these traits.
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Friendship conflicts are a natural part of growing up. Kids will inevitably experience conflicts with their friends, such as disagreements over sharing toys, conflicting interests or opinions, misunderstandings, or even hurtful words exchanged in the heat of the moment. These conflicts can range from small squabbles to more significant challenges that test the strength of their friendships. While it may seem daunting, these conflicts are actually a natural part of friendship and provide valuable opportunities for growth and learning, as the saying goes:   “Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.”  – M. Esther Harding, British-American psychoanalyst.   As parents, we can play a crucial role in teaching our children how to effectively navigate these conflicts, fostering healthier and more resilient friendships. Let’s explore these tips to help you guide your kids in managing conflicts with their friends:   1. Helping Kids to identify and manage their emotions Teach them to recognize and understand emotions like anger and frustration. Encourage them to express their feelings in healthy ways and provide them with techniques to remain calm during heated moments. By developing emotional awareness, children can better understand their own reactions and make more thoughtful choices in conflict situations.   2. Identifying the Root of the Conflict To resolve conflicts effectively, it's essential to identify the underlying cause. Encourage your child to explore the original source of the conflict and dig deeper to understand the root issue. By helping them pinpoint the core problem, they can work towards finding more meaningful solutions rather than merely addressing surface-level disagreements.   3. Brainstorming Solutions Empower your child to develop problem-solving skills by engaging them in brainstorming sessions. Encourage them to generate a variety of potential solutions without judgment. Guide them in evaluating the pros and cons of each option. This process helps foster creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration, allowing them to find mutually beneficial resolutions with their friends.   4. Practicing Effective Communication Effective communication is vital for resolving conflicts. Teach your child the value of using words to express themselves respectfully and honestly. Encourage active listening, which involves understanding and acknowledging the perspectives of others. Encourage your child to ask questions, reflect back on what they hear, and practice open and honest communication with their friends. Journaling can also be a helpful tool for children to explore and express their thoughts and feelings.   5. Encouraging Perspective Shift and Empathy: Sometimes, conflicts persist despite best efforts. If that happens, then it's best for you to encourage your child to take a mental step back and gain a new perspective. Help them understand that one behavior doesn't define an entire person. Teach them empathy by encouraging them to put themselves in their friend's shoes. Additionally, teach them that it's okay to walk away from toxic friendships when necessary, emphasizing that true friendship is based on mutual respect and shared values.   Building stronger Friendships with children  Studies have shown that children with high emotional intelligence have an easier time adjusting to and maintaining stronger friendships (Galloway et al., 2006). To better understand your child's emotional intelligence, tools like the Decode Talent DNA Test can provide invaluable insights into their genetic tendencies toward various emotional traits. This allows you to tailor your parenting approach, nurturing their emotional intelligence and skills to navigate conflicts and foster stronger friendships. The best part is, these skills are not limited to childhood but will benefit them throughout their lives in building positive and fulfilling relationships.   Check out our Decode Talent DNA Test and start shaping a personalized parenting plan for your child's development today.    References   Garey, J. (2023, March 28). Teaching Kids How to Deal With Conflict. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://childmind.org/article/teaching-kids-how-to-deal-with-conflict/   Pruett-Hornbaker, L. (2022, May 17). 5 Ways to Help Kids Handle Disagreements With Friends. Retrieved May 18, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/ways-to-help-kids-handle-disagreements-with-friends   Galloway, S. H., Groves, M., & Devonport, T. (2006). Emotional Intelligence and friendship patterns among Sport Studies Students, School of Sport. Performing Arts and Leisure. CELT Learning and Teaching Projects 2005/2006.   
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In these modern days, most children spend their time on screens. Unlike in the old days, when children were eagerly waiting for 6 pm every evening so that they could go to the playground. These days, children may not be spending time outside due to many reasons. The most obvious reason has to be the domination of gadgets in children. Parents may not see this as an issue for them, in fact, they may feel relieved that they do not need to spend their time outside guarding their children playing. As simple as they may think, letting children play and spend time outside comes with a lot of benefits. Some are:Physical and Health DevelopmentDecrease the risk of MyopiaMyopia, sometimes known as short-sightedness, is becoming more prevalent worldwide. By 2050, this vision impairment will impact roughly 4.8 billion people, 2.8 billion more than in 2010. Myopia is a condition where light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina rather than directly on it, causing blurred distant vision. This distant vision issue typically arises when the axial length of the eyes grows excessively long from the front to the rear and most commonly occurs when the eyes are still developing in childhood.Myopia can be inherited or caused by specific lifestyle choices, such as spending too much time in front of a screen or performing other close-up jobs. Although people commonly blame this on genetics, genetics by themselves cannot account for this rapidly developing issue. Instead, specialists claim that we have been underestimating how the environment, and the outdoors, affects our eyesight.The eye muscles also require relaxation after long hours of constant use, just like other muscles in the body. Eye muscles relax when you are outside and concentrating on distant objects, especially after spending all day staring at a device or in a classroom. A number of studies have suggested that letting kids play outside can reduce their risk of myopia. One study by Wu encouraged young Taiwanese children to spend more time outside and after a year, students who spent at least 11 hours a week outside had much less axial elongation and myopic shift than those who stayed indoors. Exposure to sunlightWhen children play outside during the day, they will be exposed to the natural sunlight. Safe play in the sun can supply good nutrients like vitamin D to children. Additionally, the human brain can tune its ‘biological clock’ by using light cues. So, this can also ensure that children can maintain a healthy sleeping rhythm. A healthy sleeping rhythm is crucial for children to have a good rest and are always energetic and ready to learn, explore, or simply get through their day.However, we still need to take note of not exposing children to excessive amounts of sunlight, as this can lead to skin cancer and other skin problems.Improve motor skillsChildren develop 2 types of motor skills: 'fine' motor skills and 'gross' motor skills. Fine motor skills engage with smaller muscles of the body such as fingers. Gross motor skills, on the other hand, engage with the larger muscles of the body to coordinate and make larger movements.Fine motor skills let your child make use of small muscles as in their hands or fingers to do activities like holding, grasping, or pinching. They will learn how to use their hands which eventually will help them in bigger daily activities as they grow up such as holding a pencil to write. Gross motor abilities refer to activities like crawling, running, jumping, and throwing that require the use of the bigger muscles in the arms, legs, and torso. You might have noticed that children do not like to remain still, right? This is normal as your child grows up because they are developing their gross motor abilities by constantly making movements and exploring what their muscles can do.It is proven that children who play outside develop and improve their motor skills such as coordination, balance, and agility at a higher level than their "indoor" peers. Outdoor play encourages children to move in ways that strengthen their bones, muscles, and physical strength when they do activities that trigger their motor skills such as playing catch and run, kicking a ball, or climbing the stairs to go down on a slide.Help children stay fit and prevent diseasesNot just adults, children also need cardiovascular exercise to maintain good health. Your child usually has more room and freedom to make large actions like running, jumping, kicking, and throwing when they are outside. These kinds of physical activities are beneficial for your child's physical growth and fitness. This can also prevent children from suffering from obesity since the prevalence of obesity among children is worrying. Children who spend more time outside being active are less likely to become obese since they are being energetic getting rid of the calories. Obesity has many awaiting health complications in the long run. Some of these complications are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or asthma.Children exposed to outdoor play from an early age are more likely to have the awareness to take care of their health and fitness when they grow up. Besides being fit to efficiently carry out daily activities, this may also develop their interest in participating in sports. In fact, Children are advised to exercise at least an hour every day. Of course, they can exercise indoors but getting them to play outside will certainly encourage and excite them to actively play, which can also be a form of exercise for them.Intellectual DevelopmentImproving children’s five sensesChildren who spend time indoors watching TV or playing mobile games usually use only two out of five of their senses which are hearing and sight senses. On the contrary, children who spend time playing outside have more chances to utilize more of their senses. While playing, they see, hear, touch, smell, and perhaps, even taste. This can enhance their ability to respond to and process the sensory stimuli they encounter.Helps children in learning new words and conceptHands-on learning is one type of learning that can help children in understanding new words. Especially words related to the things that they can experience physically such as words related to movements or textures. A study revealed that it is much easier to understand what is meant by “squish” if you experience and feel mud squishing through your fingers. Children are more likely to learn and understand the concept of certain words by experiencing it on their own. Therefore, going outdoors can broaden their sensory experience and develop an intuitive knowledge of how things work.Social DevelopmentContribute to social and communication skillsA study shows that children who spend their time mostly outdoors are more socially expressive, which means they are able to verbalize their ideas and desires. They will also have a low tendency to have any problems fitting in and playing with others. Playing together requires teamwork which helps contribute to a positive peer-to-peer relationship. In addition, interacting with other children while they are having fun outdoors indirectly contributes to the development of their social skills. While playing, of course, they will be talking to each other, this also helps to hone their communication skills as well.Instill good behaviorWhen children play outside, they might also encounter other children’s parents and other individuals as well. This can introduce them to valuable social lessons. Some grown-ups may display good behavior, for example, turn-taking and being compromised towards others. Children, with their nature of imitating what they see or hear around them, will be influenced and eventually follow the good behaviors modeled.Furthermore, children who play outdoors have more self-awareness and compassion toward others. Studies showed that children who play outdoors have less tendency to be a bully.Boost self-confidenceBeing used to having interactions and socializing with other people from a young age will benefit children in the future. As they grow up, they will be familiar with the situation with crowds and strangers and will always be confident to communicate and socialize. Crowded situations and meeting new people can be overwhelming for some people and make them become socially awkward. However, this is not the case for children who have been exposed to such situations from young.So dear readers, by now it is clear that letting children play outside brings benefits to them in not just one aspect, but holistically. It covers and prepares them for their growing years. So, it is important for you to let your child explore, discover and experience new things during their outdoor playing activities, which can contribute to nourishing and nurturing their potential talents and abilities. To find out more about your child’s talents and abilities, the Decode Talent DNA Test will get you covered! Please visit www.agtgenetics.com for more information.
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Intelligence. This is a word that I'm sure everyone has heard of. But what does it actually imply and how does it affect an individual? Researchers developed an IQ test to measure how well someone can use information and reasoning to answer questions or make predictions. IQ tests measure short-term and long-term memory and how quickly one can solve puzzles and recall information. It helps researchers check whether they are testing for the same “kind” of intelligence or different. In short, intelligence is the ability to derive knowledge, learn from experience, adapt to the environment, comprehend, and correctly apply cognition and reason in a psychological context. However, it does not encapsulate the complexity of the mind.​Folks often believe that video games rot a kid's mind, making them passive resulting in poor social skills, but a new study argues that the opposite could be true. Children actually might get a brain boost from playing video games. Many people claim that video games make you smarter. However, intelligence is a broad concept, and we don’t know what effect video games have on it. Even then, lots of research have shown that video games can have a tangible impact on cognition,  particularly "action" video games and it improves cognitive performance in a wide range of ways (Green & Seitz, 2015).Video games are commonly believed as a time-killing activity, but you will be amazed to realize that they have favorable advantages.Do you know that video games can help you enhance your manual dexterity, increase your brain's grey matter, and strengthen your problem-solving skills? Video games can improve manual dexterity Manual dexterity or fine motor ability is the coordination of small muscles in movement with the eyes, hands, and fingers. The neurological system is linked to the various levels of manual dexterity that individuals possess. Fine motor abilities contribute to the development of intelligence and continue to develop throughout the stages of human development. In a study involving a group of surgeons, researchers found that those who played video games were faster at performing advanced procedures and made 37 percent fewer mistakes than those who didn’t (Dobnik, 2004). This proves that controller-based games can be great for your hands. Video games can boost and improve hand-eye coordination and reaction times.Video games can increase your brain’s grey matterMuscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation are all associated with gray matter. Gaming enables the brain to be more responsive when it comes to reporting new data. Gaming is primarily mental training that is disguised as entertainment. Smarter people are more likely to become addicted to video games because they may not be challenged enough at school or work, and video games fill that void. According to studies from Nature and Science Alert, playing video games on a daily basis may increase grey matter in the brain, and improves brain connectivity, which aids memory development. As a result, it improves players' memory capacity.Games can teach you to be a better problem-solver and decision makerChildren who played strategy-based games improved their problem-solving skills and consequently tended to obtain better marks the next school year, according to a long-term study published in 2013, proving that gaming has an impact on intelligence. The majority of video games necessitate a significant amount of problem-solving. Various games, on the other hand, necessitate different types of problem-solving. Video games, particularly action games, necessitate immediate, on-the-fly decision-making. Gamers with a lot of experience can make quick judgments under pressure. Since video games boost critical thinking and reflective learning capacity, they also improve communication skills, resourcefulness, and flexibility. Not only do video games provide many benefits but they also give positive effects on attention, determination, and mental health.Below are some examples of the positive effects of playing video games:Effect of video games on attentionGreen and Bavelier discovered that action video games improve attention control. Most action games demand that the player maintains a laser-like focus on specific elements or characters. As a result, action games significantly improve selective attention, or the ability to focus on a single stimulus. This appears to provide the greatest perceptual and attentional benefits.Effects of video games on the determination It motivates you to be more persistent because, in video games, you either win or keep trying until you attain your objective, learning from your mistakes as you go. As a result, some researchers and academics say that video games could teach people to be more self-assured and to work toward their goals, treating each failure as an opportunity to learn.Effect of video games on mental healthSome video games have been proven in studies to improve mood and heart rhythms, indicating that they may also effectively relieve stress. Numerous unrelated research has shown a link between video games and stress, which is why video games have been utilized in therapies for over a decade.However, with the good comes the bad.Although the benefits and positive effects of video games on the intellect have been covered, playing video games for long periods of time can also have negative consequences. Too much screen time can affect sleep, well-being, and academic performance. Therefore, gaming and other physical activities must be managed accordingly by parents. Gaming should always be done in moderation. Intelligence is a broad topic to be discussed. But in this write-up, we can come to an agreement that video games make you smarter in the aspects of cognition, memory, and problem-solving skill and how video games have positive effects on them. This is evident when gamers tend to rank higher for these cognitive abilities than the rest of the population.To learn more about your child's potential and abilities, check out our Decode Talent DNA Test where you can unleash your child’s inborn potential! ​ ReferencesAnish Dube, MD, MPH, associate professor, psychiatry, Charles R. Drew University of  Medicine and Science, Los Angeles; Karolinska Institute, news release, May 12, 2022; Damon Korb, MD, director, Center for Developing Minds, Los Gatos, Ca.; Scientific Reports, May 12, 2022Crew, B. (2018, December 8). Gamers have more grey matter and better brain connectivity, research suggests. ScienceAlert. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from https://www.sciencealert.com/gamers-have-more-grey-matter-and-better-brain-connectivity-st    udy-suggests-2018Dobnik, V. (2004, April 7). Surgeons may err less by playing video games. NBCNews. Retrieved June 17, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna4685909 Editor. (2022, February 1). Benefits of video games for Kids & Adults. GEICO Living. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.geico.com/living/home/technology/9-reasons-to-give-video-games-a-try/ Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2012). Learning, attentional control, and action video games. Current biology: CB, 22(6), R197–R206. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.02.012Green, C. S., & Seitz, A. R. (2015). The Impacts of Video Games on Cognition (and How the Government Can Guide the Industry). Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2(1), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732215601121Kabir, L. (n.d.). Video games make you smarter: Backed up by research. Healthy Gamer. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.healthygamer.gg/blog/video-games-make-you-smarter-backed-up-by-research#:~:text=Video%20games%20increase%20your%20attention,cognitive%20abilities%20that%20society%20values. Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. et al. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Mol Psychiatry 19, 265–271 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2013.120​Thompson, D. (2022, May 19). Could video games boost A child's intelligence? WebMD. Retrieved June 21, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20220519/could-video-games-boost-a-childs-intelligence
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Parents are always on the lookout for their child's gifts. "Is my child gifted in math, music, sports, or arts?" is a common thought, be it consciously or subconsciously. Most parents, if not all, would wish for their child to have a special talent. While that may be the case, what's more to know about the talents of children?  Talent can be defined as a natural ability that one is an expert in. It is extremely important that we identify and nurture it from the very beginning.  “Creativity follows mastery, so mastery of skills is the first priority for young talent.” This is believed by Benjamín Bloom who was an American educational psychologist who made contributions to the classification of educational and Co-curriculum objectives. According to Benjamín Bloom, if a child’s talent is achieved successfully, teachers’ and parents’ fundamental duties of teaching basic skills and subject matter can be immensely rewarding. Discovering and cultivating unique talents in children and young people, and watching those students and their talents grow are among the great joys of teaching.Stages of Talents Development Children go through distinct periods of development as they grow from infants to young adults. During each of these stages, multiple changes in the development of the brain are taking place. What occurs and when approximately these developments transpire are genetically determined. According to David Henry Feldman, a college professor, who researches the growth and development of children, there are 4 stages of talent development through the ages. 4 to 10 years of age – During this stage, children explore and observe the environment to expand their mind.  10 to 13 years of age – Their talents begin to develop with the help and guidance of their teachers and role models. Competition and praise play an important role in their talent development. 13 to 18 years of age – Children learn that dedication and commitment are necessary for the development of their talent. They learn their responsibility and the needed sacrifice to grow. 18+ of their years – This stage marks the period where children decide to instill their talent as the choice of their career in the future.  Discovering the Talents of a ChildHowever, despite the Talent Development Stages that demonstrate how children develop their talents as time passes by, not many children reach their full potential. Even if a child has high potential or talents, they may not reach their full potential unless full support is offered from their parents and teachers who can teach, shape and guide them. Parents and teachers are tremendous role models that help shape the behavior of the child. Children especially in their early ages are dependent on parents and teachers to help set their goals and cultivate diligence to achieve them.  The first thing that parents should take note of is to identify what talents they have.  Typically, identifying a child’s interests can start as early as 3 to 4 years of age.  There are several ways to identify a child’s special talent to help children be better prepared in the near future according to Dwight Bain, an executive coach and mental health counselor.Ways to Identify a Child’s Special Talent1. Observation of their lifestyle: Parents ought to pay attention and observe what their children are doing in their free time and what type of activities they are interested in. Parents should also join in and engage with what their children are doing to have a better understanding.2. Academic achievement: Academic performance can help show which subjects a child is good in so that parents can have a rough idea of  the field of interest the child has. 3. The media children consume: Observing what children like to watch on television or online can help identify your child’s interest. 4. Consult children’s teachers: Teachers spend a lot of time with children, so they ought to possess a vast awareness of your child's skills, abilities, advantages, and disadvantages, especially with regard to their academic performance. Having timely conversations with children’s teachers can certainly help identify their unique talents.5. Listen to what your child is curious about Take ample time to listen to children. If there are any topics your child is interested in, he or she will ask these questions more often than usual. It is important for parents to engage with them and provide the answers to these questions to expand their knowledge and cultivate their interest. This process of interest goes on throughout their childhood when they develop and gain more experience in their field of interest. Children cannot ignite and develop their talent over time on their own. Only when parents are aware of their child’s interest, the right support, be it financial, time, and advice can be provided. Tips for Development Progress1. Start early. Children should be exposed to a variety of activities as early as the age of 3 to 4 years old. Parents are responsible to encourage their children to engage in the activities they have an interest in. Parents can be great mentors or coaches themselves when they join their kids in the activities they enjoy. 2. Practice makes perfectHaving talents is tremendously useful, but it is not enough to succeed. It takes effort, time, emotional, well-being, and strength to tap into the gifts your child has in order to succeed. 3. Setting a TargetSetting up a future goal and target that the child wants to achieve can help motivate them to achieve bigger goals in the near future. It also keeps them focused on their passion. 4. Cultivate a growing mindset. When a child has achieved their goals, they have to understand that they are not perfect, thus the need to continue striving to be better. Likewise, when a goal is not achieved, children need to be trained to have grit and a mindset of determination and perseverance. To succeed, one must meet many hardships and failures, just as ice hockey player Wayne Gretzkyp puts it, ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take’. Regardless of the myriad of fields out there, it is important for children to be exposed to them to enable them to see where their interest falls into. Talent development starts with its identification, and talent identification starts first and foremost with parents. ReferencesArmstrong, P. (2016). Bloom’s taxonomy. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.Bain, D. (2009). Destination Success. Revell.Gagne, F. (1991). “Toward a Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent.” In Handbook of Gifted Education, edited by N. Colangelo and G. A. Davis, pp. 65-80. Boston:                   Allyn and Bacon.
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Early life experiences can exert a huge effect on both of the brain development and behavioural development; while the latter experience also plays an important role in maintaining and elaborating, which is important in establishing a solid foundation for development after early stages (Fox, Levitt & Nelson, 2010). For example, the learning experience of a child will shape a child’s behaviour and personality as well as how the child’s brain grows and develops. ​These are the three major theories explained how children learn: Classical conditioning, Operant conditioning, and Observational learning. These theories deal only with observable behaviours and purely focus on how experience shapes who we are instead of considering internal thoughts or feelings (Cherry, 2020).Classical Conditioning: Type of learning that automatic conditioned response is paired with a specific stimulus, in order to produce a behavioural response known as a conditioned response (Jamie, 2020). To make this a bit more concrete, let’s use a classic experiment as an example. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist discovered over time that, dogs were salivating not only when their food was presented to them, but when the people who fed them arrived. In order to test his theory that the dogs were salivating because they were associating the people with being fed, he began ringing a bell and then presenting the food so they’d associate the sound with food. These dogs learned to associate the bell ringing with food, causing their mouths to salivate whenever the bell rang, not just when they encountered the food (Clark, 2004). Children learn in much the same way, developing associations between things in their environment and potential consequences. For example, an infant might quickly start to associate the sight of a baby bottle with being fed. Or when a child sees needle, he or she will immediately associate the needle with pain and cry at the sight of it.Operant Conditioning: Type of learning that when a behaviour is rewarded, the chances that the same behaviour is likely to occur again. When a behaviour is punished, the chance of the same behaviour is less likely to occur again. In other words, it is a set of learning techniques that utilizes reinforcement and punishment to either increase or decrease a behaviour (Grant, 2014). For example, whenever a child goes to bed on time, his parent reads him a bedtime story. The story reading is a positive reinforcement used to increase his child’s behaviour which is going to bed on time.Observational Learning: A process of learning through watching others, retaining the information, and then later replicating the behaviours that were observed. It can take place at any point in life, but it tends to be the most common during childhood as children learn from the authority figures and peers in their lives. For example, a child watches his mother folding the laundry. He later picks up some clothing and imitates folding the clothes.It also plays an important role in the socialization process, as children learn how to behave and respond to others by observing how their parents and other caregivers interact with other people. Therefore, it is important to ensure that children are observing the right kind of behaviour, and parents have to be sure that their children are learning how to act responsibly by modelling good behaviours and appropriate responses. In addition to the types of learning that happen in a day-to-day basis, there are also other experiences that play a role in shaping a child’s development such as their peers like kids at the playground, neighbourhood and school. Children are very influenced by their peers, and these social experiences help shape a child's values and personality (Blazevic, 2016).Besides that, teachers and classmates play a major role in making up a child's experiences, and academics and learning also leave their mark on development (Osher, Kendiziora, Spier, and Garibaldi, 2014). Because genetics and the environment are always interacting in a dynamic way. A child's genetic background will influence his ability to learn, hence, good educational experiences can enhance these abilities. Other than that, the culture that a child grows up and lives in has also played a role in how a child develops. For example, a child who raised in individualistic cultures might help on developing the autonomy and self-esteem; in the opposite, a child who raised in collectivist cultures tend to express higher levels of sadness, fear and discomfort (Putnam & Gartstein, 2019).Thus, we can see how genetics, environmental influences, and parenting styles are interacting in a child’s development. Each part of our life plays an important role in shaping our behaviour and personality as well as determining what kind of person will be in the future.ReferencesBlazevic, I. (2016). Family, peer and school influence on children's social development. World J Educ. 6(2), 42-49. http://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v6n2p42Cherry, K. (2020). Child Development Theories and Examples. Verywellmind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/child-development-theories-2795068Clark, R. E. (2004). The classical origins of Pavlov’s conditioning. Integrative Physiological & Behavioral Science. 39, 279-294. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02734167Fox, S. E., Levitt, P., Nelson, C. A. (2010). How the timing and quality of early experiences influence the development of brain architecture. Child Dev. 81(1):28–40. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01380.xGrant, D. A. (2014). Classical and Operant Conditioning. In: Categories of Human Learning. Elsevier. 1-31. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1016/B978-1-4832-3145-7.50006-6Jamie, E. (2020). Classical Conditioning and How It Relates to Pavlov’s Dog. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/classical-conditioningOsher, D., Kendiziora, K., Spier, E., Garibaldi, M. L. (2014). School influences on child and youth development. In: Sloboda Z, Petras H, eds., Defining Prevention science. New York, NY: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-7424-2_7Putnam, S. & Gartstein, M. A. (2019). How different cultures shape children’s personalities in different ways. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-different-cultures-shape-childrens-personalities-in-different-ways/2019/01/11/1c059a92-f7de-11e8-8d64-4e79db33382f_story.html
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As we all know, the inherited genes from our parents influence everything from height, eyes colour, hair colour and other physical characteristics, to intelligence, behavioural patterns and personality traits. Who we are today is shaped by our genetic background as well as environmental influences. Most researchers agree that a complex interaction of both nature and nurture is involved in a child's development (Levitt, 2013). The complex interaction of both nature and nurture does not just occur at a particular moment or throughout periods of time, rather it is a persistent and a lifelong process (Cherry, 2020). ​Therefore, it is important for parents, caregivers, and even educators to understand the science behind our children’s genetics in order to nurture them to their full potential, healthiest and happiest selves.  ​The very beginning of a child's development starts when the male reproductive cell, a sperm, combines with the female reproductive cell, an ovum. Each sperm and ovum contains chromosomes that act as a blueprint for human life (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). These chromosomes contain genes that are made up of a chemical structure known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which consist of genetic codes that make up all of life. All cells in the body consist of 46 chromosomes, while the sperm and ovum each consists only 23 chromosomes (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). This is to ensure that the new organism has the correct 46 chromosomes when both the cells fuse.  The genes that a person have inherited are referred to as a genotype; while a phenotype refers to how the genes are actually expressed. For instances, phenotypes include physical traits like height and eyes colour, as well as non-physical traits like personality traits, such as extroversion (Ludlow & Gutierrez, 2014). ​There are two types of interactions that determine how a gene is expressed, which are Genetic Interaction and Gene-Environment Interaction. Genetic Interaction refers to a phenomenon where two or more genes affects the expression of each other in various ways in the development of a single character of an organism (Shinde, 2015). In other words, genes can sometimes contain conflicting information, and in most cases, one gene will win the battle for dominance (Cherry, 2020). The eye colour is one example of dominant-recessive genes pattern. If one parent inherits a dominant brown eye gene while the other parent inherits a recessive blue eye gene, the dominant gene will win out and the child will have brown eyes (Cherry, 2020). Gene-Environment Interaction is referred to as the environment that a child is exposed to since young. Even in the uterus of the mother, the genes expressed will be impacted. For example, height is a good example of how genetic traits are influenced by environmental factors. While a genetic code of a child may indicate height, if the child has poor nutrition or chronic illness, those factors might affect him in growing tall (Jelenkovic, 2016). Genetic code might also go off course sometimes. The genetic abnormalities occur when the zygote have an uneven number of chromosomes. For example, the number of chromosomes might divide unevenly and caused the organism to have more or less than the normal 23 chromosomes, when the sperm and the ovum is combined. ​ ​Evidently, genetic influences have a huge impact on child development. Nevertheless, genes are not the only determinant of a child’s future, environmental factors like parenting, education, culture as well as social relationships also play an important role.  References Cherry, K. (2020). How Genes Influence Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/genes-and-development-2795114 Jelenkovic A., Sund, R., Hur, Y. M., et al. (2016). Genetic and environmental influences on height from infancy to early adulthood: An individual-based pooled analysis of 45 twin cohorts. Sci Rep 6:28496. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1038/srep28496 Levitt, M. (2013). Perceptions of nature, nurture and behaviour. Life Sci Soc Policy. 9:13. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1186/2195-7819-9-13 Ludlow, A. & Gutierrez, R. (2014). Developmental Psychology. 52. Lynch, M. (2019). The Impact of Genetics on Child Development. Retrieved from https://www.theedadvocate.org/the-impact-of-genetics-on-child-development/ Shinde, H. S. (2015). Gene Interaction. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/harshrajshinde1/gene-interaction              
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Do you think you are giving the best to your children? Wanting the best for our children is the motivation to parents’ day to day relentless and hard work. Years and decades spent in earning money, not just to raise a child up, but to raise a child well. Parents send children to the best schools, the best tuition centres, the best enrichment programmes, the best holiday camps, the best one-to-one personal tutor et cetera. Apart from educational or developmental avenues, a lot of money is spent in the process such as learning resources like books, musical instruments, uniforms, events or trips, transportation and the list goes on. Parents no doubt want the best for their children. We want them to be the best they can ever be, and take up the heavy burden willingly and unconditionally to pave the way of security, success and happiness for our children. But is this really the best?​If the above description sounds like you, it is time to pause and think and ask yourselves “What is really the best for my children?”. It is common to hear parents say “I want my child to be happy ultimately”, “I want them to enjoy doing what they like” or “I want them to pursue their dreams”, but the question is how do we as parents get there? The problem is we assume that we know what is best for our child. We think the solution is to give them everything we can get our hands on. Endless hours of tuition, art classes, interpersonal skills development, sports activities, you name it! No doubt these are good for some children, but are they necessarily good for your children?Your child does not need everything.Everything is too much for your child. Realistically speaking, there is no way a child can excel in anything and everything. We know that, yet out of our loving concern for them, we send them to all the classes to hone every aspect of their lives. As a result, instead of achieving our good intentions, children may be impacted negatively. Though this may not be the case for everybody, studies have shown that high expectations from parents, educators and students themselves to perform excellently in their academics can be a source of heighten stress among students (Tan and Yates, 2011).By putting too much pressure on children, their mental health is negatively affected. Mental health relates to major issues such as depression, anxiety and stress which are growing in prevalence (Lee and Syaid, 2017). Reports from the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2012 and 2017 reported a rise of suicidal ideation, plan and actual attempts among Malaysian youths as young as 13 to 17 years old (Institute for Public Health, 2017; Institute for Public Health, 2012).It was also discovered that 1 in 5 adolescents are depressed, 2 in 5 are anxious and 1 in 10 are stressed (Institute for Public Health, 2017). One underlying cause for mental health issues are academic and environmental factors, which consequently impair one’s development, productivity and poor achievement in learning. With your child’s mental health affected, it becomes difficult for your child to develop his or her potential (Lee and Syaid, 2017).Your child needs a push into the right direction.Every child is unique. Rather than helping your child excel in everything which is obviously not feasible, what they really need is proper guidance to what they are naturally good at. Instead of aiming blindly and diverting your attention and theirs, parents should devote and dedicate all resources into areas that they have potential in. By doing this, parents can save plenty of time and money in the long run. At the meantime, you take the heavy stressful workload off your children’s shoulders and provide much room for them to enjoy their passions.Research has shown that children learn better in a positive environment whereby both their developmental and social needs are met (Willis, 2007; Smith, et al., 2016). Enjoyment in a learning institution also reinforces their academic aspiration, which subsequently improve their health and academic performance (Smith, et al., 2016).Joy in learning also leads to improved information processing and long-term memory storage. A pleasurable learning experience releases a neurotransmitter known as dopamine which stimulates the brain’s memory centre to release acetylcholine which aids in prolonging attention span. On the other hand, stress, boredom, lack of motivation, confusion ​and anxiety hinders your child’s learning experience (Willis, 2007).But the question remains: “How do we know our children’s interest as early as their infant years?”.Giving them the best by knowing your children.Children development starts as early as their infant years. The first few years are a critical developmental period for the optimal growth. Yet, knowing your children takes time, it takes years as they grow and learn.  Conventionally, parents use old-fashioned trial and error methods to find what works best with their children.  When early stage of life is so critical that we cannot afford losing the opportunity, how then can we know our children since young? The answer lies in their DNA.​DNA are genetic molecules that everybody inherits from their parents and it functions to code for proteins and cells in your body, in other words, it makes up who you are as a fully functional and amazing person! Your hair is a certain colour because your DNA “instructs” it so, your body creates enzymes in your stomach because your DNA determines so, and the applications are endless. Needless to say, your child’s DNA can inform you about their developmental traits in as many as 5 key areas such as their talents, Intelligence quotient (IQ), Emotional quotient (EQ), Personality and Overall Wellness. These “hidden” information stored in their DNA allows you to make focused decisions in building him or her up, by navigating their learning processes or choices wisely. By knowing their strengths and weaknesses, you can take early measures to curb the foreseen challenges they will face, while enhancing their potential, all these being done in a positive stress-free environment.A deep understanding about your child’s nature empowers you to make parenting decision tailored for their needs, enable you to nurture them well and truly give them the best that they deserved. Understand your child’s DNA today with Absolute Genetic Technologies’ Decode Talent DNA Test (DTDT) today!
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