Adults Lack Accurate Information about Kids. (Child Development)

USA TODAY, August 2002 | Go to article overview

Adults Lack Accurate Information about Kids. (Child Development)


Results of a landmark survey raise questions concerning what Americans know about raising emotionally, intellectually, and socially happy children. "This lack of accurate child development information among adults has very real implications for American society," maintains Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center, New Haven, Conn., and president of Zero to Three, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization providing knowledge and expertise on young children's development. "We're potentially raising overly aggressive children who react to situations with intimidation and bullying, instead of cooperation and understanding; children who won't be able to tolerate frustration, wait their turn, or respect the needs of others."

What Grown-Ups Understand About Child Development: A National Benchmark Survey measured the child development knowledge of 3,000 adults and parents. Secondarily, it examined what the general public thinks about selected policies that impact youngsters and families. The survey was sponsored by Civitas, a Chicago-based not-for-profit communications group devoted to creating tools that help educate adults who take care of young children; Zero to Three; and BRIO Corporation, a Milwaukee-based toy company whose products focus on play, development, imagination, and fun.

"The results of the survey overwhelmingly indicate that adults need more and better information, delivered in more-accessible ways," explains Suzanne Muchin, chief executive officer of Civitas. The results show that specific areas of misinformation among adults include spoiling and spanking, adults' expectations of young children at different ages, and the most beneficial forms of play. For example, 44% of parents of young children and 60% of grandparents incorrectly believe picking up a three-month-old every time he cries will spoil the child. "If you don't pick up a baby when he is crying, you can build up his levels of stress and distress, which in turn can slow his learning," says Pruett. …

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