Health

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Children Don’t Know Right from Left, Research Says

November 10, 2008 03:59 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Experts say that toddlers are suffering delayed development, including an inability to determine which is their dominant hand, as a result of inactive lifestyles.

British Researcher: Children Developing Later

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About 30 percent of all five-year-olds—up from 10 percent a decade ago—do not know which hand to hold a pencil in because they are unsure whether they are right- or left-handed, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Some children who cannot write or draw are being incorrectly diagnosed with development problems, when they may simply be having difficulty because they haven’t yet established a dominant hand, reports The Daily Mail.

Child development experts say that the news is more evidence that today’s children are suffering from delayed development, and expressed concern that they could suffer adverse effects into adulthood. In previous research, educational psychologist Madeleine Portwood found that 57 percent of three-year-olds are not able to carry out age-appropriate tasks.

Overcautious parents are unwittingly contributing to the problem, Portwood says. Many parents are no longer allowing their infants to lie or crawl on their fronts out of fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and it is hampering development of dexterity and left-right coordination.
“More and more children are not going through the crawling stage. They shuffle along on their bottoms and find a chair, a table or curtains and use their arms to pull up to a standing position,” Portwood told to The Daily Telegraph. She says the solution is for parents to supervise their children while they spend time on their fronts.

Other experts say that children’s inactive lifestyles are to blame. Young children who become accustomed to sitting in front of the TV or being carried around in cars do not spend enough time interacting with objects with their hands. As a result, some do not have the ability to run in a straight line or avoid obstacles in their paths.

Aric Sigman, a psychologist and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, told The Times of London that for every hour per day a three-year-old watches television, there is a 9 percent corresponding increase in attention issues. Television is “the greatest unacknowledged public health issue of our time,” Sigman says.

Related Topics: Helicopter parenting

Overprotective, or “helicopter” parents, are coming under increasing criticism for hindering child development. Hara Estroff Marano of Psychology Today says that American parents are creating “a nation of wimps” by coddling their young. And their incessant handholding is having an adverse effect on kids—by making them more fragile, anxious, reluctant to take risks, and unable to deal with their own problems. “Kids need to feel badly sometimes,” said child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University, to Psychology Today. “We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope.”

Helicopter parents continue to take overprotective parenting to new levels. The fiercely competitive college admissions process in the U.S. has inspired some to resort to “bashing other applicants” via anonymous negative letters about other students, in hopes of increasing the admissions chances of their own offspring. “People are willing to lie in order to do better in what they consider to be a difficult competition,” said Bill Fitzsimmons, admissions dean of Harvard University.

In October, it was reported that some parents in Maryland are monitoring their teens’ driving habits with Webcams placed in vehicles driven by their teens. The cameras, installed by a company called DriveCam, record moments before and after dangerous driving maneuvers and submit the videos to the company, “which analyzes the footage, posts tips for the driver to a Web site and makes the footage available for a parent’s review.”

Reference: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

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