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A doctor specializing in child development shares 5 of her most surprising parenting tips

"How To Discipline Your Child So They Actually Learn" is one of her more popular videos.

A doctor specializing in child development shares 5 of her most surprising parenting tips
via drkristynsommer / TikTok

Parenting is the most important job that most people will ever have in life. Your decisions as a parent will be some of the most important determining factors in whether your child becomes a happy and productive adult or not. It's a huge responsibility.

Parenting is a difficult and important undertaking, but many parents simply repeat the same strategies used by their parents. How often do we hear people rationalize their decisions by saying, "That's what my parents did and I came out OK."



This approach to raising children negates the fact that with every generation there are countless studies done on child development, many of which run counter to popular parenting wisdom from the past.

Dr. Kristyn Sommer, who has a PhD in child development, has received a lot of attention on social media because of her dedication to teaching "evidence-based parenting." This expertise has made her an advocate for strategies that run counter to conventional parenting wisdom and have stirred up a bit of controversy.

Here are five TikTok videos where Sommer shares some of her evidence-based parenting strategies.

Three Things I Do Differently as a Mum with a PhD in Child Development

In Dr. Sommer's first video where she references her degree she admits she refuses to sleep train, co-sleeps with her daughter, and never calls her "naughty" or "bad." She delves deeper into her thoughts on discipline in the next video.

How To Discipline Your Child So They Actually Learn

Dr. Sommer uses positive reinforcement to discipline her child and as she said in the previous video, avoids the use of terms such as "naughty" or "bad." If her daughter is doing something wrong she asks her to contemplate whether she's making a good or a bad decision.

How to Handle Tantrums

Most people tend to think of a tantrum as naughty behavior. However, they are actually a combination of a bunch of little stresses that the child has experienced throughout the day that eventually overwhelm them. Once they hit the tipping point, all of their big feelings bubble up to the surface, resulting in a healthy expression of emotion.

Should You Spank Your Child?

Dr. Sommer is passionately against "spanking, corporal punishment, physical punishment, what ever you want to call it." She says it needs to stop because it has little effect on behavior and can lead to antisocial tendencies in the future.

She Doesn't Teach ABCs and 1,2,3s

Dr. Sommer isn't worried about teaching her child her toddler alphabet or how to count. She says that it "doesn't really help them with anything" but they should spend that time playing because that's where they learn best.

@drkristynsommer

Play > rote learning for toddlers 🙌 #playbasedlearning #learningthroughplay #playmatters #earlylearning #earlychildhoodeducation #preschool #toddler


This article originally appeared on 08.03.21

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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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Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that, but the overwhelming majority do not. Every one of my kids' friends are just as happy and fun as my kids are, so I know it's not just us.

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Watching David's face during the scene change is sheer delight, as her confused look proves that she has no clue what is about to happen.

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The things human beings have figured out how to do boggles the mind sometimes, especially in the realm of medicine.

It wasn't terribly long ago that people with a severe injury had to liquor up, bite a stick, have a body part sewn up or sawed off and hope for the best. (Sorry for the visual, but it's true.) The discoveries of antibiotics and anesthesia alone have completely revolutionized human existence, but we've gone well beyond that with what our best surgeons can accomplish.

Surgeries can range from fairly simple to incredibly complex, but few surgeries are more complicated than separating conjoined twins with combined major organs. That's why the recent surgical separation of conjoined twin boys with fused brains in Brazil is so incredible.

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