Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Useful Studies

When it comes to raising kids, it’s sometimes hard for us parents to lay down the law regarding things like diet, homework and bedtime. We often indulge our children although we know we shouldn’t. Instead of forcing ourselves to change, wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we could simply point to a series of new guilt-reducing studies? Studies like these:

1. Psychologists at the Child Welfare Institute of Fairytale University have completed a decade-long study on the effects of television viewing on child development. Much to their surprise, they found a direct correlation between the level of verbal and cognitive skills and the average daily amount of television viewing. Researchers also found that the benign effect of television viewing on children increased in the absence of parental supervision and did not require parental intervention at any stage. "Our study revealed that children will stop watching when they’ve had enough," said team leader Dr. Nathan Miller. "Contrary to previous speculation, there’s apparently no need to limit their TV viewing in any way."

2. Dieticians at the Children’s Hospital of Erewhon have published the results of a five-year review entitled "Dietary Effects of Increased Sucrose Consumption on Pre-adolescent Children." One group of juvenile hospital patients was given a diet high in sugar-rich foods such as ice cream, soft drinks and candy bars. Another group acted as a control and were fed a "healthy" diet comprised mainly of whole grains and green vegetables. The surprising results were that the first group had an increased growth rate and a marked reduction in health problems and temper tantrums. "It seems counterintuitive," said lead researcher Sherry Melville. "But the more sugar you feed children, the better off they are. Plus, they apparently know their own limits."

3. Researchers at the In Your Dreams Sleep Institute announced the results of their three-year childhood sleep pattern study at a recent press conference. Entitled "The Effects of Flexible Bedtime Commencement in Children Under 12", the study observed sleep patterns, growth rates and behavioural transformations in pre-adolescent children who were allowed to choose their own bedtimes. The unexpected results were that children given the freedom to select their own sleep schedule were healthier, happier and more alert. "It sure didn’t seem to fit with decades of anecdotal evidence," said sleep expert Dr. Ernest Tellier. "But there you have it. Let them stay up as late as they want since it’s probably better for their health."

4. Educators at the Wishful Thinking Institute issued a press release detailing the results of a long term study on pre-adolescent children and homework. Children in several school districts were grouped by age and test scores. All groups were assigned homework and half of the groups were monitored nightly by parents to ensure timely completion of assignments. Not surprisingly, the supervised groups showed a slight increase in average test scores. However, contrary to expectations, the unsupervised groups saw an even greater average test score increase. "I never thought I’d say it," said study author Dr. Norville Taylor. "But it appears that the best thing you can do is let your child manage his homework by himself."

5. Physicians at the Double Blind Sexuality Clinic released the results of their ten-year investigation of the effect of structured sexual education on post-adolescent children. Half of the subjects were provided with ongoing sexual information in a structured school setting. The other half were left to acquire information on sex informally. All subjects were tested and interviewed on a regular basis. The unanticipated result was that the teenagers who received their sex education "on the street" were far more knowledgeable than their class-instructed peers. "I never imagined it," said lead researcher Dr. Hans Awn. "But the best advice I can give parents today is to simply forget about the traditional ‘birds and bees’ lectures. They’ll discover more all on their own."

There, don’t you feel better about your parenting skills now? Just by doing nothing, you made the right choice. Next week we’ll review new studies on the beneficial effects on parenting skills of everything from beer drinking to napping.

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