Latest research reveals the more you hug your kids – the smarter they get.

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Are you the kind of parent that’s always hugging your kids? If the answer is yes then don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

According to new research, physical affection during a baby’s development period is even more important than we thought. 

The more you hug a baby, the more their brains grow, according to a recent survey from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

125 babies, both premature and full-term, were included in the study, which looked at how well they responded to being physically touched.

The results indicated that premature babies responded to affection less than babies who were not born premature. What was also revealed however, was that babies that were subjected to more affection by parents or hospital staff showed stronger brain response.

According to researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, this last revelation tells us that something as simple as body contact or rocking your baby in your arms will make a big difference in how their brains develop.

“Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother’s womb,” Maitre tells Science Daily.

Basically, affection is vital for the development of the brain. So, cuddle and hug your babies as much as you can – and don’t forget to share this research to show everyone out there how important it is to be loving to our children!

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Late Bloomer or Seasoned Pro?

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d48ed900e79fa9547169c26138b4cd8d_XLEvery entrepreneur at some point looked in the mirror and said, “Lots of other people have succeeded…and so will I.”

I believe in myself especially because I am willing to work hard and persevere and I have years of experience to prove it. So I too looked in the mirror and said to myself, “Start putting all that to work for my own endeavor and not for someone else.”

An article in Inc. Magazine now sheds new light on older entrepreneurs like me with statistics that prove my experience, my skills, my connections, my expertise, and yes, my age, are on my side.

A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.8 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old founder.

And if you want a really fun statistic:

A 60-year-old startup founder is 3 times as likely to found a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder and is 1.7 times as likely to found a startup that winds up in the top 0.1 percent of all companies.

There are plenty of reasons, but one key factor is the difference between ideas and execution. 

Ideas are great, and I have plenty of them, but execution is everything. The same is true with strategy: Strategy matters, but tactics–what you actually do–is what helps companies grow.

It’s much harder to execute well when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to develop a sound strategy when you have limited experience. It’s much harder to make smart tactical decisions–especially when you need to make a number of decisions every day–when you have limited experience.

Think of it this way: People love to say, “You need to know what you don’t know.” The only way to decrease the number of things you don’t know–and have a reasonable grasp of which things you do well, and which you don’t–is by gaining experience.

That’s especially true where leadership experience is concerned.

So what about those who succeed later in life – the late bloomers.

Is it better to be an early achiever or a late bloomer? That’s the same as asking if it is better to start Facebook at 19 or IBM at 61?

For the world at large it does not matter. Perhaps Facebook could never happen if IBM did not exist. Should Charles Flint have felt himself too old when he organized IBM out of a time-card punching technology firm at the ripe age of 61? Those time card punchers turned out to be early prototypes of computers.

Perhaps you have not heard much about Flint, but the device you are using to read my blog right now is possible in part because of what Flint started at 61. A later bloomer? Perhaps. Too late for him at 61? Never too late.

So, if you’re in your 50s and you want to start a business, do it.  And even if you’re in your 60s…do it.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t have some intangible entrepreneurial something (ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity) that we so called “seasoned” professionals don’t. Their success only seemed inevitable to me in hindsight.

End of the lullaby as younger parents eschew the bedtime ritual, survey finds.

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I just read an article in the Telegraph by Camilla Turner that amazed me. She wrote, “It may once have been seen by parents as a staple of the bedtime regime – but now it seems that lullabies are falling out of favour as younger parents eschew the ritual.”  

Just over a third (38 per cent) of parents sing lullabies to their children aged under five, according to a YouGov poll of over 2,000 adults.  

But the vast majority – 70 per cent – of those who sing lullabies are aged over 45-years-old, suggesting that the practice is less popular with younger parents. Maybe that explains my shock as I am a grand parent now and would still sing to my grandchildren.

The poll shows that women are more than twice as likely to sing to their children every night than men.

Research carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital has previously shown that lullabies help to make children feel better.  

They sang the songs to a group of children under three, some of whom were waiting for heart transplants, and monitored their heart rates and pain perception.  

Results of the study, published by the journal Psychology of Music, showed that a group of child patients at the hospital experienced lower heart rates, less anxiety and reduced perception of pain after they had lullabies sung to them.  

A separate study, published by the National Literacy Trust last year, found that singing songs and rhymes with your baby and young child support language development and reading skills by encouraging children to listen carefully to predict.

Laura Jane-Foley, a soprano singer and ambassador for the Lullaby Trust which aims to prevent unexpected deaths in infancy and promote infant health, said: “Singing to children is just as important as reading to them.

“The musical three R’s of rhythm, rhyming and repetition are crucial to a child’s mental and emotional development and, by participating in the shared activity of singing, parents are strengthening the bonds between parent and child.”

I am preparing to work on two early childhood literacy programs within NICU units. Hopefully we will gain some insights there as well. Find out more about the power of singing to infants at http://www.talkwithmebaby.org.

Here is a classic in case you need a prompt.

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Texas School Triples Recess Time And Sees Immediate Positive Results In Kids

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I was just speaking about this very subject with a group of education professionals in Washington D.C. last week when I came across an article by Elizabeth Licata. Elizabeth reported about a Texas school that started giving children four recess breaks a day, and teachers and parents said the results have been wonderful.

Recess is a lot more than just a free break for kids to play after lunch period. That free, unstructured play time allows kids to exercise and helps them focus better when they are in class. Now a school in Texas says it took a risk by giving students four recess periods a day, but the risk has paid off beautifully.

According to Today, the Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, has been giving kindergarten and first-grade students two 15-minute recess breaks every morning and two 15-minute breaks every afternoon to go play outside. At first teachers were worried about losing the classroom time and being able to cover all the material they needed with what was left, but now that the experiment has been going on for about five months, teachers say the kids are actually learning more because they’re better able to focus in class and pay attention without fidgeting.

“There was a part of me that was very nervous about it,” said first-grade teacher Donna McBride. “I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn.”

But now she says that not only are the students paying better attention in class, they’re following directions better, attempting to learn more independently and solve problems on their own, and there have been fewer disciplinary issues.

“We’re seeing really good results,” she said, and those results make sense. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that recess is “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development.” Even adults have a hard time concentrating and working their best when confined to a chair all day, so it’s amazing that we expect kids to be able to focus and learn without any way to exercise and blow off steam. When kindergarten students or first-graders are forced to sit still all day and allowed only one 15-minute break to play, as the Eagle Mountain students were before this experiment began, it’s only natural that they’d start to fidget and act up in class. Giving them regular breaks to play outside is good for their minds as well as their bodies.

“You start putting 15 minutes of what I call ‘reboot’ into these kids every so often and… it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” said professor Debbie Rhea, who is working with Eagle Mountain Elementary and other schools to increase the amount of physical activity and play time children get at school.

Rhea’s program calls for schools to add the four 15-minute recesses a day for kindergarten and first-grade students, and then adding another grade every year as it goes on. And teachers aren’t the only ones seeing good results from this program, either. Some parents say they’ve noticed their children being more independent and creative at home, and they also say the extra recess time has helped their kids socially. It’s a lot easier to make friends on the swing-set than when you’re all silently watching an adult explain math problems, after all.

Giving up class time for regular, short recess breaks seems like an exchange that pays off well, because after recess kids learn more efficiently and enthusiastically when they are in class than they would if they were just strapped to their desks all day. Kids today have a lot of things to learn in a short amount of time, but it looks like the best way to help them learn is to give them time to play and be kids.

Ralph Nader on Early Childhood Education.

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When Ralph Nader visited Atlanta I shared our pilot programs for new moms, now named Educare, with him over a coffee.

Here are some of Nader’s thoughts regarding parents’ involvement in early childhood education. 

Nader believes education is clearly a significant factor in enhancing the future of impoverished children. Education levels bear heavily on efforts to bring families out of poverty and in providing livable wages for low and moderate and middle-income families.

Nader is adamant, “We need to invest in the nation’s children. We must assure an adequate safety net, health care, higher quality and more plentiful child care and vastly better educational opportunities, particularly as early as Kindergarten.” 

Parental responsibility should be encouraged by finding ways to help support parents in their efforts to help support their children as more families confront economic conditions demanding a greater deal of time be spent away from home. Parents should be as involved as possible in their children’s education; values do start with parents.

We both believe that early parental involvement is a way in which elementary education can be changed to make a real difference in the lives of our children.

Lurie Children’s Hospital Offers Kids Virtual Escape from Intensive Care Unit.

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From scuba diving to snowboarding, patients in the pediatric intensive care unit leave the hospital behind with virtual reality For the first time in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), patients get a chance to scuba dive, snowboard, and go on a safari or other adventures, all from their hospital bed.

The 360 degree immersions into virtual environments were extremely well received by PICU patients and their parents, according to results from a pilot study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago that were published in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. All 32 study participants, ages 3-17 years, reported that they enjoyed using virtual reality. All of their parents agreed, with over 80 percent reporting that virtual reality experience calmed their child.

“We conducted this study to make sure that it is feasible to introduce virtual reality into a pediatric intensive care setting and that kids respond well to it,” says senior author Marcelo Malakooti, MD, from Lurie Children’s who also is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics-Critical Care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We are now introducing virtual reality more broadly to critically ill children on the unit who are often alert, but stuck in bed just passively watching TV. Such minimal engagement with their environment over prolonged hospitalization can lead to delirium or other cognitive and emotional impairments. We hope that the stimulation and interaction that virtual reality offers will mitigate that risk and improve outcomes for these children.”

Based on the positive results of the pilot study, Dr. Malakooti, lead author Colleen Badke, MD, and colleagues at Lurie Children’s are now conducting a larger study to examine how virtual reality use in the PICU impacts pain, anxiety and physical factors like blood pressure and heart rate variation, among others. Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute.

The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 212,000 children from 49 states and 51 countries.

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise…not necessarily.

 

Waking up at an arbitrary time won’t help you succeed. Making a thoughtful decision to wake up at the time that’s most productive for YOU is all that matters.

Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his morning routine — not just his morning, his morning routine — at 3:45. General Motors CEO Mary Barra gets to the office by 6 a.m. Best-selling author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code) gets up at 4 a.m., has a smoothie and a cup of bulletproof coffee, and then grinds away. Ben Franklin of course woke at 6:30 each day and coined the phrase, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man health, ealthy, and wise.”

Clearly, waking up early works for them. 

But not for everyone.

As Adam Grant says, “The world’s most successful people aren’t worried about what time others wake up. They wake and work on the schedule that works for them.”

What seems right for early birds may not be right for you, because what time you start your day has nothing to do with your level of success.

Success is all about what you accomplish and, just as important, how you choose to accomplish it.

Early Birds.

Most people who choose to get up early do so because they can take advantage of a few hours of solitude. Fewer interruptions. Fewer emails. Fewer phone calls. Starting work earlier than everyone else lets you be proactive, not reactive, and lets you set the agenda for the day instead of having one set for you.

Others choose to get up early so they make sure they get their workout in and take advantage of the mood-boosting effect of exercise. (Research shows that as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise boosts your mood for the next 12 hours). 

Or maybe they just get up early because The Wall Street Journal says that 4 a.m. may be the most productive time of the day.

Later Birds

If you decide to start your workday at, say, 9 a.m., you can still structure your day in the most productive way possible for you. Simply create a routine that allows you to hit the ground running the way you want to run.

Maybe that means locking yourself away for a couple of hours. Maybe that means working from home, and then heading to the office. Or maybe that means shifting your quiet hours to the evening. No one says you have to start work before everyone else, you can just as easily finish work after everyone else.

Maybe that means training everyone around you to understand that the first two hours are your hours.

While that might sound impossible, don’t forget that everything you do “trains” people to treat you a certain way. Let employees interrupt your meetings or phone calls whenever they like, and people will naturally do so. Drop what you’re doing every time someone calls, and people will naturally always expect your immediate attention. Return emails immediately, and people will naturally expect you to immediately respond.

How you act and react “trains” people to treat you the way they wish, so start “retraining” them so you can work the way you work best.

The Most Successful Birds

When you start working doesn’t matter. When you stop working doesn’t matter. What matters is what you accomplish during the hours you work — and that means making an intentional decision about what time you get up and what time you start work.

Don’t get up at a certain time just because Tim Cook does. Don’t start work at a certain time just because Sallie Krawcheck does. 

It’s well known that many famous persons have had unusual sleep habits, da Vinci, Edison, Churchill, Clinton and even P Diddy. Recently I read a legend about da Vinci never sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time in any 24 hour period. The brain needs at least 90 minutes of sleep to go through the necessary phases to maintain health.

This system of sleeping (aka da Vinci sleep or Uberman sleep) is called Polyphasic Sleep. It uses short naps to reduce total sleep time to 2-5 hours a day. This is achieved by implementing many 20-30 minute naps throughout the day. Advocates say that polyphasic sleep allows for more productive awake hours. Heck even Google has power nap pods in their offices.540e44016da811784ef5facc-750-563

Though there are many variations of this form of sleep, a common schedule would be: 30 minute naps every fourth hour.

The reason many folks attempt to follow this alternate sleeping pattern is to increase their total waking hours. By decreasing sleep to only a few hours a day, these schedules do achieve that goal. In a year a “Poly” sleeper could gain an extra 45 days!

The main con to adapting an alternate sleep pattern includes being out of sync with the rest of the world, and difficulties maintaining such a rigid schedule.

Figure out what works best for you.

Success has nothing to do with what time you start. Or what time you finish. Success is all about what you accomplish.

Make a conscious decision about what time to get up. Not a reflexive choice or a copycat choice but a thoughtful, smart, and logical decision — based on what will make you most successful.

I think as I get older I will go with the da Vinci method.