Archive for September, 2007

safe plastics

Thursday, September 27th, 2007


It seems that not a day passes in recent weeks without some recall or toy scare. Much of the advice around toy safety has suggested using and purchasing wooden toys (not made in China due to lead paint), which is a smart alternative, but what about plastics. I have been relatively unclear about the specific dangers in plastic and thought I’d learn a little more and pass it along.

Environment California has put together a list of recommendations for parents, in which they list the safest plastics to use (food storage, water bottles, etc). Simply, they suggest avoiding polycarbonate and PVC in plastics. Both are often indicated by a #3 or #7 inside or near the recycling triangle on the bottom of a container. Sometimes the letters “PVC” or “PC” are listed as well. The danger with these plastics is the emission of phthalates – a class of chemicals know to disrupt the hormonal system. Be sure to purchase “PVC-free” items that you know will end up in your baby’s mouth (teethers, toys). According to this advocacy group, there are no regulations requiring labeling of these chemicals, so you should call the manufacturer if it is unclear.

Additionally, it is very important that you do not heat food in any plastic containers as this process allows the chemicals to be released into the food and consumed. Place food on a non-plastic plate or other surface before heating.

In terms of food safety, glass is a better alternative. Fortunately, there are product designers out there looking to make safe alternatives functional as well. WeeGo [via] has created a safe sleeve for their glass bottles (that are adorable) so you no longer have to worry about the breakability of glass and can enjoy the added safety.

This is definitely the age of plastics and you are taking the more difficult path if you try to find alternatives.  However, the data suggests that this will be immensely helpful to your child’s future wellbeing.

you are a loving parent, but do you emotion coach?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007


Well, perhaps this should start with a brief explanation of what emotion coaching is. Emotion coaching is about identifying and valuing both yours and your child’s emotions and guiding your child through emotional situations. John Gottman, a renowned psychologist and researcher studying parents and children for over 30 years has identified four parenting styles (dissmissive, disapproving, laissez faire and emotion coaching). The difference between some of the parenting styles is difficult to discern, though the point of difference is significant in terms of how your child comes to understand and experience emotions, which children carry forward into their adult lives.

There have been compelling connections made between children who have high emotional intelligence (which involves self-awareness, emotional balance, motivation, empathy and social finesse) and success in work and family life. That is to say, IQ isn’t the only predictor of success, in fact, arguably less so than emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is largely learned during childhood by parental modeling and emotion coaching. By adopting an emotion coaching style toward parenting (which, by the way, is done only during teachable moments, not all the time), you are giving your child a significant advantage. In fact, research shows that the most successful professionals are those with high emotional intelligence, which makes sense. According Daniel Goleman, a founding father of this concept,

“Emotional intelligence matters twice as much as technical and analytic skill combined for star performances,’ he says. ‘And the higher people move up in the company, the more crucial emotional intelligence becomes.”

A recent study released by Michigan State University postulates, “that a child’s social skills at age three could predict his or her future social and academic performance.” This same team of researchers has demonstrated significant success with at risk children benefited by the Early Head Start Program, which has yielded better performance on measures of social-emotional functioning at age three for participants in the program.

We at Swellbeing have long believed in the value of emotion coaching for children. Soon, we will offer a workshop for parents to understand the steps to emotion coaching. Stay tuned!

a party, you’re invited!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007