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Compassionate interaction between a frazzled dad and his 6-year-old son has people in tears

Empathy and emotional regulation are powerful to witness.

parenting, toddlers, emotions, self-regulation

A 6-year-old and his dad shared a moment of emotional regulation after a toddler meltdown.

Anyone who has parented a spirited "threenager" knows how hard handling toddler tantrums can be. Parents often joke about our wee ones throwing down, because laughter is sometimes the only way to cope. But in reality, it can be extremely disturbing and distressing for the entire household when a family member carries on in a way that feels—or truly is—out of control.

Major tantrums can be especially hard for parents who didn't have good parenting examples themselves. It takes superhuman patience to be the parents we want to be some days, and none of us does it perfectly all the time. When a child is screaming and crying over something irrational and nothing seems to be working to get them to stop, exhausted parents can lose their cool and respond in ways they normally wouldn't.


That's one reason a TikTok video of a father and son captured in the aftermath of an epic toddler tantrum has caught people's attention. Many of us have been in the dad's shoes before, frazzled and shaken by the relentlessness and intensity of a 3-year-old's meltdown. And many of us have been in the son's shoes as well, witnessing a younger sibling's insanity and our parents' struggle to manage the situation.

But the way this father and son support one another is bringing people to tears with its beautiful example of emotional regulation, empathy and connection.

TikTok user @mollymikos shared the video, explaining that their 3-year-old had just thrown a 2 1/2-hour tantrum (which she clarified was actually two tantrums with a 10-minute break in between). "We did not have Unicorn Chopsticks and would not go to the store (where they don’t sell unicorn chopsticks….)," she explained when someone asked what the fit was over. Sounds about right. The tyrannical threes are no joke.

So much to love in this video. First, the 6-year-old, whom Mikos describes as "empathetic" and "a deeply feeling kid," demonstrated impressive self-regulation skills. The way he started taking deep breaths and suggested that he and Dad do some deep breathing together was inspiring. Second, the dad apologized for losing it and explained that they were trying to set a better example as parents, which many parents are far too proud to do. Finally, the kiddo displayed such deep understanding and compassion, it was clear these parents have worked hard to create healthy emotional connections and open communication in their family.

@mollymikos

#selfregulation #meltdowns #threenagers #precociouschildren

Mikos tells Upworthy that she and her husband have been working hard to break the stress cycles that so often get passed down from generation to generation.

"I didn’t realize how much would be brought up by having children," she says. "We are working on repairing and changing the way we interact with our children so that they feel supported instead of shamed."

Mikos says social media has given this generation of parents access to experts, studies and revelations that can help them navigate raising kids with gentle parenting principles. She personally finds inspiration on Instagram from Dr. Becky Kennedy, Janet Lansbury, Conscious Mommy and Eli Harwood. "They’ve changed my life," she says.

People are loving the example Mikos and her husband are setting with—and for—their kids.

"This just goes to show how much of a great job your doing!!!" wrote one commenter. "Toddlers are hard and the fact your 6yo was able to empathize and communicate shows it."

"This is why you’re good parents," shared another. "Your older child can regulate his emotions and is empathetic. That’s amazing at any age and you did that."

"Not me sobbing at 2 am bc this is the healthiest parent-child relationship ever," wrote another. "Keep it up 😭😭💕 yall are doing awesome."

Mikos has been heartened by all the comments on her video. The fact that her husband apologized to their son for losing his patience was particularly moving for a lot of commenters, especially those who had parents who never did that. "Many people have said that they didn't realize parents could apologize to their children," she says. "Yes. Please apologize. They need to know we make mistakes, and that we still love them and are constantly trying to do better."

Apologizing to our kids when we're in the wrong or when we behave in a way we're not proud of demonstrates respect and teaches accountability by example. The fact that this dad is comfortable apologizing is likely a big reason why his son has the emotional tools that he does.

Gentle, compassionate parenting may not instantaneously end a tantrum, but it does pay off with big emotional and relational wins in the long run.


This article originally appeared on 11.12.22

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

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