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I’m sure your tiny tot has one: a book they want to read 10 times a day, even after you’ve both memorized it. My 15-month-old son loves The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. This book portrays a disgruntled ladybug with an inferiority complex who feels the need to pick on other animals to the point of exhaustion. At the end of the day, he is hungry and tired, and has missed out on sharing the bulk of yummy treats with his foil, the friendly ladybug.


Moral of the story? Ladybugs (and little kids!) who engage in friendly, “prosocial” behaviors are more likely to experience fruitful lives.

As it turns out, research confirms this idea. Despite the notion that intelligence drives success, prosocial behaviors may be just as important as smarts! But what are some examples of “prosocial” behaviors?

  • Cooperating with peers without being prompted
  • Helping others in need
  • Attempting to understand the feelings of others
  • Resolving conflicts without intervention

Recent research indicates that when kindergartners play nice, they are more likely to have successful educational and employment outcomes, such as graduating from high school, completing college, and even maintaining full-time employment! These children are also less likely to need public assistance or have a criminal record later in life. Among a plethora of other outcomes, these behaviors even predict less alcohol and marijuana use in young adulthood.

Lucky for us mamas, research shows that it is definitely possible to elicit these behaviors from our children given the right teaching environment. Most interventions to promote prosocial behaviors begin between 5 and 18 years of age, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start teaching your little one about the importance of playing nice long before they are off to school.

So, how can you put your child on the path to kindness (and success)? We have 8 steps to help you get started:

1. Sharing is caring. Even if it is too early to expect your little one to share their belongings with peers, you can set a good example by modeling sharing behaviors yourself. So, the next time you share a bite of your favorite boutique cupcake with your tot, feel free to point out your generosity. Mommy loves sharing her treat with you because she knows it makes you happy! Sharing is fun because it makes both of us feel good! Just remember, when it comes to sharing, you can’t expect your child to do anything you wouldn’t. Their belongings are precious to them, just like your belongings are precious to you. You wouldn’t be thrilled about sharing your favorite Kate Spade tote with your flaky BFF, so you shouldn’t expect child to offer up their favorite lovey to their drooly playmate. Forcing baby to share their prized possessions when they are not willing can devalue baby’s self-worth by demonstrating that other children’s desires are more important. So encourage sharing, but don’t force it!

2. Snaps for baby. As often as you can, call attention to your tot’s generous behaviors.

If your little one does something nice for a friend, let baby know how that behavior will positively affect their friend’s emotional state. Wow! That is so nice of you to let little Aidan read your favorite book. I am sure sharing your book made him very happy. In addition to praising good behavior, this technique offers a chance for your child to engage in perspective taking, which can help them to relate to other children more effectively.

3. Walk—or crawl—in another tot’s shoes. Try to help little one understand peers’ feelings by asking them how they might feel if they were in their friend’s shoes.

For instance, if you see a peer being excluded from the play group, ask your child how they would feel if they were the one left out. If it wouldn’t feel good, it probably isn’t very nice to make someone else feel that way either. Typically, even the basic ability to take another person’s perspective doesn’t develop until at least 24 months, but you are the best judge of when your child will respond meaningfully to this type of conversation.

4. Bring on those warm and fuzzy feelings. Rewarding positive social behaviors is an effective way to show your tot how important it is to cooperate and help out in their peer group. Rewards for good behavior, such as a trip to the playground or a new box of crayons, are more effective than punishment for a lack of good behavior.

When a good behavior is rewarded, it is a clear message to your child to engage in that behavior again in the future. In contrast, when a less-than-stellar behavior is punished, it doesn’t give your child any idea of what to do instead the next time they are faced with a similar situation. The key to effectively rewarding behavior is to walk the fine line between providing extrinsic motivation while not hampering intrinsic motivation. If your child seems to truly enjoy sharing toys with buddies, this behavior does not need any rewarding, as a reward may actually undermine their intrinsic love of sharing. (If you were offered a treat every time you shared your Diet Coke stash with a co-worker, would you continue doing it for free? Me either.)

5. Flex those self-control muscles. Most babies are given plenty of opportunities to practice self-regulation every day. For example, children engage in self-regulation when they squeeze their snack pouch slowly to avoid a goopy mess all over their face.

Having your tot practice these self-regulation skills is a great way to teach your little one to inhibit their impulsive behaviors (like pilfering a peer’s new toy). This kind of practice can also teach your child how to engage in goal-directed activity. If I listen to Mama when she asks me to wait and hold her hand before running down the sidewalk, she will grant me the independence I so desperately crave. Okay, so maybe baby’s thought process isn’t quite that sophisticated, but you get the idea! Self-regulation is just like any other muscle. The best way to bulk up is to use it! If you want your child to get in a few extra “reps,” try playing games like “Simon Says” or “Red Light, Green Light”. Another famous self-regulation activity is to offer your little one a small treat (historically, a marshmallow) and tell them that if they can wait 15 minutes to eat it, they can have two instead of one. Having your little one delay instant gratification for a greater long-term reward is a fun way to show your child the value of working hard for what they want in life.

6. Practice conflict resolution. The ability to diffuse interpersonal conflicts will be invaluable to your child now and in adulthood. If you want your child to gain experience with resolving conflicts, try demonstrations using puppet characters, or invest in a few storybooks that focus on friends who “work out” their differences.

If your child is old enough, organize a cooperative project or game that can only be completed by engaging in teamwork with peers. One easy activity is to have a small group of children work on coloring a large mural (and by mural, I mean the back of a sheet of wrapping paper you snagged from the clearance bin after last Christmas…*wink*) With this activity, children can learn to work side-by-side, communicate about what spaces still need to be colored, share materials, and teach coloring techniques to peers who need a few pointers.

7. Give your child the opportunity to give back. Nothing feels better than donating some of your precious time to a worthy cause. Whether it is a community bake sale, food drive, or story time at your local retirement home, your child may be able to give back to the community, too!

Finding opportunities for your child to contribute to the world can give them a sense of satisfaction, belongingness, self-worth, and citizenship. Plus, that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from doing something altruistic can promote intrinsic motivation to give back in the future. When a child gives back to the community, they begin to see themselves as a part of the community, decreasing their likelihood of engaging in negative behaviors toward other community members.

8. Let your actions speak louder. The most effective way to promote positive social behaviors is to engage in these behaviors with your child at home. By providing a warm and supportive environment for your child, you are giving them the good example they need to be warm and supportive with others. If you do not want your child to display punitive, coercive, or verbally aggressive social behaviors, your best bet is to try embracing polar opposite parenting strategies at home. When your tot decides to flush your (hopefully backed-up) iPhone, try your darndest to keep your cool. Instead of yelling, guilting, or spanking, try a brief time-out (one minute per year of age) and explaining to your child why your phone is so important to you and why you are upset.

It may seem daunting to teach your child these values. (Heck, some days just dressing and feeding my kid is daunting!) Just remember that you have many years to instill these principles into your child’s heart and mind. If you attempt to incorporate little chances to teach, model, practice, and apply these ideas on an everyday basis, your tot will have the best chance of adopting them in childhood and carrying them into adulthood. The positive outcomes of these prosocial behaviors will be evident in every aspect of your child’s life, and there is nothing sweeter than thinking your child might actually pass on some of this wisdom when the student becomes the teacher.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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