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In my work as a third grade teacher, I’m out on the school playground a lot. With an entire grade level usually outside at one time, in my school (as in most) there’s a certain controlled chaos. Balls fly boldly through the air, this way and that. There are frequent lengthy, high-pitched yelps resembling animal screeches. Children run in small groups, crashing into each other and into stationary objects. Recess is a busy, noisy, chaotic time, and it can be an introvert child’s worst nightmare.

I’m not an introvert, but recess isn’t my favorite time of the day either. It’s a little manic  – over 100 children dashing wildly around in different directions. It’s the opposite of calm. Yet recess takes place before school, in the mid-morning and again right after lunch – times of day when some of us could really do with a little bit of quiet.

Introverts in my class often ask me if they can stay in for recess. They ask to read in the library, draw, play Legos or board games, or to help clean up or organize a section of the classroom. I used to believe that playground recess was the only kind of “real” recess and that it was a non-negotiable, fixed entity. I would tell an introvert child who asked to stay in that the answer was “no” and remind him/her that recess is an important time for socializing, play, and exercise. That was before I read the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, by Susan Cain.

Cain defines introverts: “Those who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments. The key is about stimulation: extroverts feel at their best and crave a high degree of stimulation. For introverts, the optimal zone is much lower.” Her book helped me empathize with what my introvert students might be feeling when recess time came around – something the extrovert in me had never imagined before. My students hadn’t articulated their feelings to me or challenged my preconceived ideas. They’d always taken my firm, “You can’t stay in at recess” as a given and headed woefully outdoors.

Start a dialogue about introverts and recess

I soon began to wonder if I was supporting introvert students at recess as best as I could. Children need daily opportunities to develop their social and emotional lives and to learn the skills of socialization and emotional regulation. As long as kids have a daily opportunity for unstructured social time where they can choose which activity they’d like to do with their friends, I see that they are, in actuality, having a recess. Many teachers at my school already give their students exactly that: “Choice Time,” or “Free Time,” within which kids get to choose what they do with their time and with whom. But it’s usually on a Friday afternoon, or at the end of the day. What if this choice time was part of recess, and happened more often? Once I started talking about the different ways that recess could look, things began to shift.

I know how critical physical movement and fresh is for children and so I regularly have my students run around or stretch during transitions between one lesson and another. Sometimes we do specific exercises that are part of a program for schools called “Brain Gym.” I call these short periods of time where we move around “Brain Breaks.” Essentially, as long as students do have the chance to run around, stretch, and get outside regularly, then recess can, I think, be boundless in its possibilities and manifestations and not simply an outlet for physical activity or a designated socialization time. Recess can be just as Dictionary.com defines it: “Temporary withdrawal or cessation from the usual work.”

Of course, fresh air and exercise is essential for invigorating and reviving us (introverts and extroverts alike) and I certainly wouldn’t advocate that children stay inside during every recess. But I really do wonder, are we doing our best for introverts at recess? What if one classroom per grade level was designated a quiet zone for just one recess a day? What if we allowed children to spend one recess a day in the school library? What if we said yes when an introvert asked to stay in for recess? Your child’s teacher is a great person with whom to start the dialogue about your little introvert.

Introverts prefer quieter spaces with less stimuli

Think about how your child choose to spend his/her “at play” time when at home on a play date or with siblings. Do they make a den to retreat into together or alone? Do they choose to sit in a quiet room? In this vein, redesigning the physical space of playgrounds can have a wide-reaching impact. What if the playground wasn’t all concrete? What if there was a cabana, marquee, or tent just for children who wanted to sit in a more peaceful place? Or, what if playgrounds had grassy areas where children could sit somewhere where the ground was soft beneath them and just talk, play, or do a quiet activity such as reading or drawing – a place to just be, without fear of being hit by a football just as they’ve settled into their latest chapter book? What if every playground had a designated “No ball area” or “No running” area?

At my school we recently solicited children’s thoughts on an ideal playground and we now have a grassy area (we’re an urban school, so the grass is fake, but grass nonetheless) where balls aren’t allowed. We have an area that is fenced off from the main playground, where small groups of children gather to chat, sit, and be peaceful. They don’t have to worry about getting hit by a ball while they relax together. It’s made a world of difference. We have a bench now, too – because sometimes children want a comfortable place to sit down at recess. And some teachers are allowing children to stay in at recess sometimes – including me. Not every day, but sometimes.

Introverts are risk takers too – they just do it differently

School is, in many ways, an optimal environment for extroverts – the playground especially so. Cain talks about how extroverts generally get more excited than introverts and this is related to risk-taking. Extroverts rule the playground with their shrieking, loud games, ball games, and risk-taking endeavors. The introvert child recharges her batteries not necessarily by being outside, but often by being quiet for a while, sometimes by looking inward, having quiet time – by having a break from an otherwise busy day jammed full of stimulation.

Susan Cain notes that some of the world’s riskiest professions (traders, police offers, etc.) are done by introverts. It’s not that they don’t take risks – it’s just that they’re more considered and thoughtful about the risks they take. They’re less impulsive. To be this way, they need down time – alone or just with one or two friends to think, consider, or reflect. In the same way that you allow the time and space for your child to have the down time they need at home, encourage him/her to seek out and speak up for this time and space at school if they need/want it.

Ideally, our schools and our playgrounds should allow for introverts to retreat from the world for a little while. It doesn’t always have to be you starting the dialogue with your child’s teacher or principal – you can encourage your child to ask for what he/she needs at school, too.

Introverts aren’t anti-social – they’re socially different

There are a few children in my class who spend most recesses together, sitting in a quieter part of the playground, reading their books together. They always read the same book, sharing a copy or reading identical copies, and they discuss it together as they read. Sometimes they play a talking game together such as, “I’m going on a picnic” or take a slow walk around the playground looking for interesting things in nature. A nature walk, if you will. Or they’ll get some chalk and play a quiet game of hopscotch. They want to be together, not alone, but being introverts they rejuvenate by being together doing something calming or enjoyable for them – something which isn’t always a physical activity.

Being “at play” is different for every child and I know to honor the introverts at recess as diligently as I honor the extroverts.

Questions to ask your child’s principal about recess

  • Is there a designated no ball “Quiet Zone” on the playground where children can choose to read or talk or play together quietly?
  • Can my child bring a book, notepad or sketchbook out to the playground?
  • Can playground chalk, jump ropes, and hula-hoops be provided? These can be great tools for solo, partner play, or small friend group play.
  • Is indoor recreation time in a quiet room ever an option for recess?
  • Are there places to sit down on the playground – benches, stools, or chairs?
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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Three was not enough for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Mom and dad to North, Saint and Chicago are expecting again.

The story broke earlier this month, but this week Kim appeared on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" and confirmed everything People and E! have been attributing to inside Kardashian sources.

Host Andy Cohen, a father-to-be himself, asked Kim to confirm if the leaked sex of the baby was also accurate.

    "It's a boy," Kim told him, revealing that she's the accidental source of the leak. "It's out there. I got drunk at our Christmas Eve party, and I told some people, but I can't remember who I told."

    Like Chicago, this baby will be born via surrogate, and Kim says he's due quite soon.

    Kim has previously talked about how the decision to grow her family through gestational surrogacy was a hard one, but the only one that made sense for her after two difficult pregnancies.

    "Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control," she told Entertainment Tonight when expecting Chicago.

    "Obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still … knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not my baby now, it's hard for me," she explained at the time.

    One of six kids herself, it's not surprising that Kim wants a large family (considering how close she is with her siblings) and, according to Kim, Kanye's been campaigning for more children for a while.

    "Kanye wants to have more, though. He's been harassing me," Kardashian said on a 2018 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. "He wants like seven. He's like stuck on seven."

    Four is still pretty far from seven, but maybe Kanye and Kim will compromise a bit on family size. Kim has previously said four children would be her limit.

    [Update: This post was originally published on January 2, 2019. It was updated when Kardashian confirmed the news.]

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    Toxic masculinity is having a cultural moment. Or rather, the idea that masculinity doesn't have to be toxic is having one.

    For parents who are trying to raise kind boys who will grow into compassionate men, the American Psychological Association's recent assertion that "traditional masculinity ideology" is bad for boys' well-being is concerning because our kids are exposed to that ideology every day when they walk out of then house or turn on the TV or the iPad.

    That's why a new viral ad campaign from Gillette is so inspiring—it proves society already recognizes the problems the APA pointed out, and change is possible.

    We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film) youtu.be

    Gillette's new ad campaign references the "Me Too" movement as a narrator explains that "something finally changed, and there will be no going back."

    If may seem like something as commercial as a marketing campaign for toiletries can't make a difference in changing the way society pressures influence kids, but it's been more than a decade since Dove first launched its Campaign for Real Beauty, and while the campaign isn't without criticism, it was successful in elevating some of the body-image pressure on girls but ushering in an era of body-positive, inclusive marketing.

    Dove's campaign captured a mainstream audience at a time when the APA's "Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women" were warning psychologists about how "unrealistic media images of girls and women" were negatively impacting the self-esteem of the next generation.

    Similarly, the Gillette campaign addresses some of the issues the APA raises in its newly released "Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men."

    According to the APA, "Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males' psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health."

    The report's authors define that ideology as "a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence."

    The APA worries that society is rewarding men who adhere to "sexist ideologies designed to maintain male power that also restrict men's ability to function adaptively."

    That basically sounds like the recipe for Me Too, which is of course its own cultural movement.

    Savvy marketers at Gillette may be trying to harness the power of that movement, but that's not entirely a bad thing. On its website, Gillette states that it created the campaign (called "The Best a Man Can Be," a play on the old Gillette tagline "The Best a Man Can Get") because it "acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture."

    Gillette's not wrong. We know that advertising has a huge impact on our kids. The average kid in America sees anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 commercials on TV each year, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics, and that's not even counting YouTube ads, the posters at the bus stop and everything else.

    That's why Gillette's take makes sense from a marketing perspective and a social one. "As a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man," the company states.

    What does that mean?

    It means taking a stance against homophobia, bullying and sexual harassment and that harmful, catch-all-phrase that gives too many young men a pass to engage in behavior that hurts others and themselves: "Boys will be boys."

    Gillette states that "by holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal 'best,' we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come."

    Of course, it's not enough for razor marketers to do this. Boys need support from parents, teachers, coaches and peers to be resilient to the pressures of toxic masculinity.

    When this happens, when boys are taught that strength doesn't mean overpowering others and that they can be successful while still being compassionate, the APA says we will "reduce the high rates of problems boys and men face and act out in their lives such as aggression, violence, substance abuse, and suicide."

    This is a conversation worth having and 2019 is the year to do it.

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    Teaching a young child good behavior seems like it should be easy and intuitive when, in reality, it can be a major challenge. When put to the test, it's not as easy as you might think to dole out effective discipline, especially if you have a strong-willed child.

    As young children develop independence and learn more about themselves in relation to others and their environment, they can easily grow frustrated when they don't always know how to communicate their feelings or how to think and act rationally.

    It's crucial that parents recognize these limitations and also set up rules to protect your child and those they encounter. These rules, including a parent's or caregiver's follow-up actions, allow your child to learn and develop a better understanding of what is (and what is not) appropriate behavior.

    Here are a few key ways to correct negative behavior in an efficient way:

    1. Use positive reinforcement.

    Whenever possible, look to deliver specific and positive praise when a child engages in good behavior or if you catch them in an act of kindness. Always focus on the positive things they are doing so that they are more apt to recreate those behaviors. This will help them start to learn the difference between good and poor behavior.

    2. Be simple and direct.

    Though this seems like a no-brainer, focus your child using constructive feedback versus what not to do or where they went wrong. Give reasons and explanations for rules, as best as you can for their age group.

    For example, if you're teaching them to be gentle with your pet, demonstrate the correct motions and tell your child, "We're gentle when we pet the cat like this so that we don't hurt them," versus, "Don't pull on her tail!"

    3. Re-think the "time out."

    Many classrooms are starting to have cozy nooks where children are encouraged to have alone time when they may feel out of control. In lieu of punishment, sending a child to a "feel-good" area removes them from a situation that's causing distress. This provides much-needed comfort and allows for the problem-solving process to start on its own.

    4. Use 'no' sparingly.

    When a word is repeated over and over, it begins to lose meaning. There are better ways to discipline your child than saying "no." Think about replaying the message in a different way to increase the chances of your child taking note. Rather than shouting, "No, stop that!" when your toddler is flinging food at dinnertime, it's more productive to use encouraging words that prompt better behavior, such as, "Food is for eating, what are we supposed to do when we're sitting at the dinner table?" This encourages them to consider their behavior.

    The above methods help create teachable moments by providing opportunities for development while making sure the child feels safe and cared for. It is important to mirror these discipline techniques at home and communicate often with your child care providers so that you're always on the same page.

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    To the mamas awake in the middle of the night,

    If you are one of the many moms with a little darling who doesn't sleep through the night, I feel your pain. I really do.

    Having been blessed with two wonderful sleepers (aka my first and second babies), my third baby has been a shock to my system. He hasn't slept through the night since he was born and he's now 16 months. I do everything "right." I put him down sleepy but awake so he can settle himself to sleep. I keep the room dark and quiet.

    But one simple fact remains: When my son wakes up in the night, he wants me. And he'll scream the house down if he doesn't get me.

    Last night my 1-year-old woke at 3:30 am. He was stirring a bit at first, then started to really let it rip, so I got him up out of his crib and brought him into bed with me. We cuddled for a while. Then suddenly, he wanted to get off the bed and I said no. Then he started to scream and throw himself around on the bed before eventually being sick everywhere.

    It was now 4:30 am. I dutifully changed the sheets, changed my son, changed myself, and then we climbed back into bed, the smell of vomit still lingering.

    I tried to put him back in his crib around 5 am but he woke right up. I brought him back into bed with me, but quickly realized this wasn't what he wanted either. He was thrashing around again, trying to figure out a way off of the bed.

    Finally, close to 6 am he decided he wanted to go to sleep. After about 10 minutes of watching him sleep, I felt brave enough to try to put him back in his room. I gently lifted him up, placed him in his crib and quietly crept back into my bed.

    This left me with just enough time to fall back into a deep sleep, which meant I felt exhausted when my alarm went off just after 7 am.

    Sadly, last night wasn't a one-off. This is a fairly frequent occurrence for me (although dealing with vomit is luckily quite rare!). Which means that when I say I understand what it's like to have a baby who doesn't sleep, I really mean it.

    So here's what I want you to know, mama.

    If you are awake in the night because your baby needs you then you are not alone. Despite what you might read, it's common for babies to wake up through the night. So if you're sitting in bed feeling like you're the only mother in the world awake, trust me, you're far from it.

    There are mamas like us all over the world. Sitting there in the dark. Cuddling babies or soothing them to sleep again. Some, like me, might be changing sheets or abandoning any hope of getting sleep that night at all. Others might be up and down like a yo-yo every few hours. The rest might just be up once and then will be able to go back to sleep.

    There will, however, also be mamas who are sound asleep. Mamas who have older children who no longer wake in the night. And they would want you to know that it will be okay. It won't be forever. One day, you'll realize that your baby no longer needs or wants you in the night.

    And while you'll be so glad for your sleep you'll probably also be a little sad that there are no more night time cuddles.

    It's hard to cope with a baby who doesn't sleep well at night. Really hard sometimes. You may feel like you can't deal with it anymore or you may be wishing that this phase would just stop already so you can get some rest.

    Exhaustion often means that you struggle to get through the day. It can mean that you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed. Or if you're anything like me, you might be irritable and snap at the people you love. Or maybe it means relying on caffeine, sugar and Netflix to get you and your kiddos through the day.

    But here's the amazing thing about mothers—no matter what has gone down during the night, we get up as usual. We go about our day just like everyone else. We care for and love our children, without giving them a hard time for disrupting our sleep. We don't moan, we don't complain. We just get on with it.

    And when night comes, we go to bed knowing that there's every chance we'll be awake in the middle of the night again...

    We get up without fail when our babies need us and we do what we need to do for them. Because we are the nighttime warriors. We are mamas.

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