Child development advice from L.A.-area experts.

Child Development


5 Common-Sense Tips For Raising Great Kids

It’s the middle of January and many of us have broken our New Year’s Resolutions and are back to who we were in December. For parents who are looking for a way to raise their children to be respectful, likeable, and successful adults it’s not too late. Here are 5 philosophical tips that will pay dividends for years to come including: Teach your kids to leave a trail of people...

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Three Everyday Questions for Your Kids

“How was school? How was your day?” That’s what I eagerly ask my 5-year-old daughter every day when I pick her up from school. My anticipation of an exciting and enthusiastic answer is quickly shot down when I get the same answer every time: a simple and monotone, “good.” That’s just not going to cut it. I need more than that! In my quest to find out what’s really on her mind, who she’s playing with, who’s not being nice...

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The Importance of Sticking with Enrichment

When interest fades, should kids quit or power through?  When Natasha Vogt, a San Fernando Valley mother of two, watched her younger daughter enthusiastically perform in her dance recital, she breathed a sigh of relief. Earlier, her 4-year-old had decided she wanted to quit tap and ballet lessons, but had been convinced to stick with it at least until her recital. “She enjoyed being on stage so much that we...

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positive parenting

On the Record: The Keep-Your-Cool Challenge

A diaper blowout right before you need to leave your house. Bedtime tantrums. The constant need to repeat things like, “Hurry up, let's go,” and, “Stop doing that!” A daily routine that leaves you so tired you become aggravated at your kids for splashing water at you during bath time. There are countless ways your kids can make you lose your cool, but your reactions to these parenting trials teach...

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Striking a Preschool Balance: Play-Based vs. Academic Programs

Search out the best play-based and academic elements to find the right fit for your child. When my daughter, Mirae, was 3, she came home from preschool one day raving about baby rabbits. A rabbit had given birth and burrowed her offspring in the dirt just under the swing set at Mirae’s preschool, Pierce College Child Development Center in Woodland Hills. A child found the burrow, and the adventure began....

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Positive Parenting: Getting Some Headspace with a New App

Parents looking to give their kids a mindfulness boost – and get one for themselves – have a new option. This summer, the creators of the Headspace meditation app launched Headspace for Kids. Available to Headspace subscribers ($7.99-$12.95 per month), Headspace for Kids features meditations on five themes – calm, kindness, focus, sleep and waking up – for ages 5 and younger, 6-8 and 9-12. The meditations are designed for...

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How Your Kids Can Mindfully Succeed At School

Mindfulness and focusing have the potential to help children achieve school success with peace. I am talking about not just your peace of mind as a parent, but peace and ease for your children if they are experiencing aversion towards school or homework. Mindfully focusing at school can help students get through their day with greater ease and success. The effect of mindfulness on the brain supports increased memory, positive...

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Positive Parenting: Experts Answer Your Questions For Early Childhood

We hear it all the time, and yet we can’t hear it often enough: Children’s early years matter. Your child’s first interactions with you and with others, the environment you create for your family, and your child’s earliest educational experiences influence how your child’s brain is built, and set the tone for her or his relationships with others and future learning. The idea can feel overwhelming, but by asking yourself...

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When Do Children Ask ‘What If’?

You’re on the freeway and the driver in front of you slams on the breaks. You can’t avoid rear-ending the car. Still, as you pull over, you sigh with relief that the accident wasn’t serious. And maybe you are a little more cautious on your next commute. This is an example of counterfactual reasoning or “what if” thinking. It helps us feel regret when things could have gone better, relief when they could have...

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A Family Legacy Worth Leaving Behind

It is a day I will never forget – Christmas 2013 in snowy Chicago, and my parents were visiting from Texas. Christmas carols were playing, festive food and decorated cookies were on the table, and I had buttery egg nog in hand and a big smile on my face as I sat to watch my then 2-year-old daughter, Sofia, open her first gift from under our tree. The first package...

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Dealing With Tragic News

Whether it’s happening in Nice, Dallas, Louisiana, Orlando, Brussels or Paris, it can sometimes feel like tragedy is also taking place right in the palm of your hand – or your child’s – via social media and smartphones. “It’s just a constant bombardment of input. I was shocked to hear that kids are getting news information from Instagram,” says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor of Common Sense Media, a California-based nonprofit...

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Finding the Successes in Your Child’s School Year

You open the report card and there among the As and Bs is a big fat C in math. If only, you think, we’d spent more time this year with flash cards or graphing calculators. But hold off before you cancel adventure camp and sign up for Kumon. Because when it comes to assessing your child’s school year, grades are just a starting point. In fact, an obsession with grades...

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Does Your Child Have a Mood Disorder?

You already know that children and adolescents are highly emotional beings. You’ve seen first-hand how their moods can shift quickly and dramatically. Your toddler might throw himself onto the grocery store floor in anger because he can't have the cereal he wants. Your teen might begin the day talkative and cheerful, but go silently to her room after school, slamming the door behind her. And you are left to wonder:...

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Take Time, Talk: Eight Ways to Support Your Child’s Language Development

Like a snowball growing as it rolls downhill, young children’s vocabulary expands faster and faster as they hear more words. However, a constant stream of words from the radio or even an educational children’s video won’t create this cumulative advantage in language processing. Instead, social interaction (the back-and-forth, turn-taking nature of conversation) and talking with infants and toddlers will build their language and communication skills. This might seem easier said...

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Ace Your Next Well-child Checkup

Before they turn 3, kids are supposed to have 10 well-child visits with a pediatrician (apart from those inevitable visits for childhood illnesses). These should offer a chance to address the many questions parents of young children face, but time with the pediatrician is often less than 15 minutes – hardly enough time to cover even the basics. To make the most of that time, be prepared. Before your child’s...

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6 Most Common Sleep Training Myths Debunked

Have you ever stopped to think about what the definition of “sleep training” really is? Unfortunately, several incorrect sleep training stereotypes exist, suggesting that the practice requires parents to do everything from shutting the door on an 8-week-old baby for 12 hours, to eliminating nighttime feedings, to surrendering your family values to a sleep trainer who stays overnight at your home for several weeks. As a sleep consultant, I’ve heard...

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Doc Talk: Why There Are No Accidents

The other day, a 9-year-old came in to the emergency department with an elbow fractured in a way that required a surgical repair with metal pins, and a cut across the middle of his forehead that required plastic surgery. He had tried to skateboard down six stairs. In emergency medicine, we don’t call these “accidents,” because the injuries that happen by accident are almost always preventable. And the key to...

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8 Creativity Boosters for Kids

One of our jobs as parents is to find new ways to inspire and encourage our children’s curiosity, creativity and interest in the world around them. Try these eight tips to spark your child’s inner artist, actor or architect. Role Playing. How often have you heard the words, “Mom, can you play with me?” And what kind of games do our kids want to play most? The most exciting and...

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Father reading stories to his boy children at home

$1,000 Prize Offered In Dad Essay Contest

The DADLY Rally is coming to L.A., and is looking for moms who want to brag about the dads in their lives. Prior to its March 19 Los Angeles event at Kellogg Center at Cal Poly Pomona, the DADLY Rally is holding an essay contest with a $1,000 prize. Moms first register the dad they want to brag about through the DADLY Rally website (, then submit a 250-word essay...

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Building Your Baby’s Brain

Your earliest interactions with your child set the foundation for future learning A few moms sit on the floor of a bright, airy playroom at Well Baby Center in L.A. with their 1-year-olds toddling nearby. Facilitators, family therapist interns who are Masters-level graduate students, move among the toys, babies and moms. Each time a baby approaches an adult, she or he is engaged in back-and-forth play. Each giggle or squeal...

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Read Aloud Like a Rock Star

Seven Secrets from Voice-Over Actors, Teachers and Literacy Experts Early in my time volunteering with BookPALS (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools), I picked up my first valuable lesson on what not to do when reading to kids. On that fresh, September morning, my read-aloud selection for the 20 eager third graders gathered before me at Paseo del Rey Elementary in Playa del Rey was an educational but – in...

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A Plea for More Old-Fashioned Play

Happy New Year! Like many of you I also had a busy holiday season. This week, our kids were ready to go back to school, the house is slowly getting back to normal and routine is kicking in. If you are like our family, many gifts were given and received, especially anything that was device- or game-oriented. As a parent, educator and advocate for wellness and vitality, I have to...

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Hot Wheelers Comes to Outside the Box

Wheelchair accessibility and new classes are part of the learning center’s expansion. Outside the Box opened its first 500-square-foot storefront in 2009. The center, devoted to sensory activities that contribute to brain development for ages 8 weeks to 6 years, has expanded a couple of times over the years, and always made good use of the space. There were bubbles. There was paint. There were musical instruments, giggles and squeals....

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Talking to Kids About Therapy

If you are parenting children today, there is a good chance you have thought about taking your kids to therapy. Maybe your little one is acting out, having trouble making friends or just not listening. Or your teen is struggling in school, being victimized by bullying or engaging in risky behavior. Maybe a death, divorce or other family situation has made you wonder how best to help your child cope....

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When the News Is Scary or Confusing

Editor's note: This interview was completed before the Dec. 15 closure of Los Angeles Unified district schools. In the last few months, we have been faced with terrorist attacks in Paris, shootings at college campuses in Texas and Arizona and a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and, most recently, at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. How can parents begin to explain these horrible events to their children? We recently...

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Motherhood and Managing the Holiday Blues

Most of us have an image in our minds of the perfect family holiday: Sitting together around a table eating a delicious meal and sharing family stories, or maybe cuddled in front of the fireplace with beautiful decorations all around, exchanging gifts. But these pictures often aren’t as close to our reality as we would like. The pressure to create beautiful holiday memories, coupled with the everyday pressures of being...

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4 15 2014-SSS Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Dr. Shefali Tsabary: Promoting ‘Conscious’ Parenting

Becoming a parent changes us in the most profound and irrevocable ways, and it is often our children who motivate and inspire us to grow into our best selves. Through everyday interactions and ordinary moments, we have the opportunity to create a meaningful connection with our children and nurture a deep sense of resilience, tolerance and self-acceptance in them. But first we need to better understand ourselves, says Shefali Tsabary,...

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What To Do When Your Kids Argue

Sibling rivalry is one of the most discussed topics in my practice. “How do I get my children to stop fighting? How do I help them get along?” No matter what the age difference between the children, this is an area of no escape. Common areas of conflict include siblings sharing rooms, siblings being rude to one another and siblings arguing when a friend is over. And when rivalries flare...

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Stop Over-Parenting and Raise An Adult

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk in the media, at PTA meetings and among parents and educators on the effects of helicopter parenting – knowing when to step in to help and when to allow children to do things for themselves. A new book by Julie Lythcott-Haims does a great job exploring the topic of over-parenting and its detrimental effects on young adults. How to Raise...

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Local Programs That Give Girls a Voice

Janel Pineda always knew she loved writing, but never thought about how that could impact her life. That changed when her uncle mailed her a newspaper about a Los Angeles writing program for young girls. At age 14, Pineda joined WriteGirl, where she attended writing workshops and worked closely with a mentor throughout high school. “I always wrote short stories and poems in my free time, but my school was...

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Teaching Kids To Speak Up

My daughter is lost in play with a friend, and I watch as her eyes suddenly fix on the floor beneath her. The conversation is quiet and I can’t quite make out the words between them, but I can sense from her posture that she doesn’t want to speak up. The path of least resistance tends to be her favorite path, even if it means pushing her own ideas and...

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Don’t Neglect Essential Social-Skills Development

“Don’t miss the forest for the trees,” so the saying goes. When it comes to parenting, the “trees” are the many academic milestones and measuring sticks society tends to focus on, and the “forest” is the bigger picture of overall development and social skills in our children. Society tends to be achievement oriented and, once children reach ages 3 to 5, their ability to verbalize, add, subtract and write takes...

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Teach Life Skills This Summer

As summer begins, many parents look forward to a relaxing, stress-free two months. They are so happy to be relieved of the pressures of getting their children ready for school in the morning, making lunches and making sure homework gets done in a timely manner. The household looks forward to the less-structured environment and a vacation from routine. I understand and sympathize with this feeling of relief. However, I want...

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Parenting Kids In a Multicultural Family

Each of Chanel and Ioakim Boutakidis’ two sons had a traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger party to mark his first month of life. Each also had a Greek Orthodox baptism, in Greece, before he turned 2. In the Boutakidis’ Altadena home, there is always a pot of rice on the stove and cucumber-and-tomato salad in the refrigerator. Their large extended family gathers for Chinese New Year and Greek Easter....

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When Parenting is Not What You Expected

Los Angeles-based psychologist and neuropsychologist Rita Eichenstein, Ph.D., has worked with what she calls “atypical” children for more than 25 years. Eichenstein coined the term “atypical” to help describe kids who have combinations of developmental, behavioral and learning differences that make it difficult to fit them into neat categories of clinical diagnosis. “But what I have come to realize is that focusing on the child’s needs is not sufficient,” she...

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Three Keys to Teaching Kids Gratitude

It can be difficult as parents to maintain our sense of gratitude. Our days are often full of activity, stress and fatigue. Sometimes the idea of writing in a gratitude journal can feel like the last thing we want to tack on to the end of our day. And yet we know that the more we set an intention to practice gratitude in our daily lives, the easier it becomes....

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3 Ways to Help Boost Your Teen’s Self-Esteem after Rejection

Rejection is never easy. More difficult to handle, as a parent, is the rejection of your child. You feel responsible and take the rejection personally. You ask yourself, How did I fail as a parent? But even more, you ask yourself, What can I say or do to mend my child’s broken heart? As a mother or father, you’re usually at a loss as to what to do in the...

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10 Ways To Show (not tell) Your Child Reading Matters to You

You’ve told your child reading is important, but your actions are far louder than words. Set a good parenting example for your child by showing how important reading is to you and your entire family. Here are ten ways to show (not tell!) your child reading is important. Let your child see you reading. Parents frequently read when children are tucked away asleep. Let them see you reading. When they...

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Letting Kids Fail Parenting

Helping Children Succeed By Allowing Them to Fail

Nothing is stronger than the parental urge to protect our children. It’s deep in our DNA. Yet this instinct, taken to the extreme, actually makes our children vulnerable as they grow into adulthood. As a university professor, I had a front-row seat for the coming of age of several young millennials, who often were afraid to step outside their comfort zones. Their fear turned into paralysis and, after college, they...

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Parenting, Self-Control and the Marshmallow Test

Welcome to the time of year when we all focus on self-discipline (or at least we try). Recently, psychologist Walter Mischel has returned to both the popular and academic press with research regarding his famous marshmallow test, an experiment involving 4-year-olds and their ability to resist eating a marshmallow placed in front of them in the hopes of receiving a larger reward later. Mischel found that children who were better...

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Author Sheila McCraith created The Orange Rhino after her handyman caught her yelling at her sons.

Quiet As An Orange Rhino

After an embarrassing incident when her handyman heard her screaming at her boys, Sheila McCraith, mother of four, pledged to refrain from yelling for 365 days. She began blogging as The Orange Rhino, and chronicled her yearlong, yell-free journey. Her post “10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids” was named one of the top parenting posts in January 2014 by The Huffington Post and has garnered...

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Westside Jewish Community Center offers New Program for Parents-to-be

The Westside Jewish Community Center is offering a unique new program for first-time parents. Jewish Baby University is a five-week program combining childbirth education with an exploration of Jewish tradition and rituals, concluding with a family Shabbat dinner. Each session features classes on a different topic, such as medical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, Jewish traditions and rituals surrounding childbirth, creating a Jewish home, Jewish life in Los Angeles, family financial planning and preparing mentally and...

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Developmental Benefits of Tummy Time

One of the great benefits to working as a pediatric nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is learning from colleagues from other disciplines. For example, I am co-teaching a class at CHLA for parents on how to care for a child who has a g-tube (gastrostomy tube). An occupational therapist, who is also co-teaching the class, talked about her discipline’s role in helping these children get the nutrition they need,...

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5 Habits To Strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond

All relationships in life require work and effort, but building and maintaining a strong relationship with your child will most likely be one of the hardest challenges you’ll encounter. It’s not just about building a better relationship, it’s about building a connection -- a genuine connection filled with respect, communication, love and hope. Here are five habits that can help you build and maintain a strong connection with your children....

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The Balancing Act: Free Play vs. Structure

Oh, summer. A more relaxed routine, bright sunshine and time that isn’t so planned. Each spring, leading up to summer, I toil with the question of how many camps to enroll my boys in. How much time should I take off from work, and how do I want to remember the summer? We all know how quickly the years go by. In our house, the first week of summer is...

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The Value of Pretend Play

By Patti Rommel, Director of Research and Development at Lakeshore Learning Materials Does your child love to dress up as a fearless superhero and conquer menacing villains, or reenact a scene from his or her favorite movie with friends? Maybe your little one can transform a cardboard box into a bottomless treasure chest … with just his or her imagination! If so, your child is engaging in pretend play, an...

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Parenting Help From Your Inner Child

By Dahlia Greenbaum, Parent Educator   Being a parent, unlike any other experience, can fill us with heart-bursting love and full-bodied joy one moment, while moments later exposing our deepest vulnerabilities and most uncomfortable feelings. Quite a huge impact from such a small human being, right?   When I meet with clients, one of the first ideas I offer is that most of parenting has nothing to do with our...

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Empowering Our Daughters

A Recipe For Raising Strong, Confident Girls By Robert Moskowitz Once upon a time, people said little girls were made of sugar and spice, and everything nice. Today, most of us recognize that the recipe for raising girls not only includes more ingredients, but that too much sugar can be toxic. According to Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of the groundbreaking and still-relevant book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent...

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