Artificial Nails: What to Know Before You Get Them

Artificial nails can help you make a fashion statement or wear long nails if your real ones won’t grow. While the nails aren’t harmful, putting them on and taking them off can involve acids and other chemicals that could cause allergic reactions. Damage to artificial nails also can lead to fungal infections and other problems.

Here’s what you should know before you head to your salon or to the drugstore.

Types of Nails

Artificial nails come in two main kinds: acrylic and gel. A third type, called silks, is often used to fix damaged nails or to make nail tips stronger.

Acrylic. This plastic material is the most popular choice. It forms a hard shell when you mix a powder with liquid and brush it on top of glued-on nail tips. You have to file down your natural nails to make it rough enough for the nail tips to bond to it.

Since your real nails grow all the time, you’ll eventually see a small gap between your cuticle and the acrylic nail. You’ll need to go back to the nail salon every 2-3 weeks to get the gaps filled, or do it yourself. Chemicals in the filler and the filing may weaken your real nails.

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If you already have a fungal infection, artificial nails can make it worse or lead to other issues.

Gels. These are more expensive and last longer than acrylics. You paint the gel on like regular nail polish. You then put your nails under an ultraviolet (UV) light to harden the gel.

UV light can cause skin damage, including wrinkles and age spots. Too much UV light can cause skin cancer. But there are no reported cases of skin cancer caused by UV lamps at nail salons, not even among the manicurists who work around the lights all day.

Possible Problems

Artificial nails can be tough on your real ones. Issues you should watch for include:

Allergic reaction: The chemicals used to attach or remove artificial nails can irritate your skin. You may see redness, pus, or swelling around your fingernails.

Bacterial or fungal infections. If you bang your artificial nail against something, you may dislodge your real nail from the nail bed. Germs, yeast, or fungus can get into the gap and grow. A bacterial infection can turn your nails green. Nail fungus, on the other hand, starts out with a white or yellow spot on the nails. The nail may thicken over time, and it can crumble in severe cases. See your doctor if you suspect any infections.

Weakened nails. To remove acrylic or gel nails, you soak your fingers in acetone for 10 minutes or longer. This chemical is very drying to your real nails and can irritate your skin. Some artificial nails must be filed off. That can make your natural nails thin, brittle, and weak.

What You Can Do

If you love the look of artificial nails, these tips can help you enjoy them more safely.

  • If you’ve had nail fungus before, stay away from artificial nails. Don’t use them to cover up nail problems.
  • Get nails that can be soaked off instead of filed off.
  • Ask your manicurist not to cut or push back the cuticles too much. They help guard against infections.
  • Pick a salon that hardens gel polish with LED lights, which have smaller amounts of UV light. Apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen to your hands before you go under the lights.
  • Use cream moisturizer on your nails, especially after you soak them in acetone.
  • Take a break from artificial nails every couple of months. This lets your real nails breathe and heal from chemical exposure.

Sleeping Well at Night Can Ease Your Depression

Getting a good night’s sleep can be an important part of your plan to manage depression. When you’re well-rested, you’ll not only have more energy, but you may also have a more upbeat view on life and better focus.

That’s because sleep is about a whole lot more than just rest. In the deepest stage, it recharges the system that fights germs and keeps your body healthy. The stage where you dream boosts your ability to learn and remember things. And, it plays a big role in your emotional well-being.

When you don’t get quality shut-eye, it throws your brain chemistry out of whack. It’s harder to think clearly and manage your feelings. That can sap your will to get things done and cause mood swings.

Since sleep and depression both affect your brain, they can have big effects on each other, as well.

The Sleep-Depression Link

Sleep problems are often the first sign of depression. And the two are so closely tied, it can be hard to tease them apart. You might be depressed from too many nights of poor sleep. Or you might be sleeping so poorly because you’re depressed.

Doctors aren’t sure exactly how they affect each other, but even minor sleep issues can drag your mood down. It can happen so slowly over time that you don’t even realize it. And the more serious a problem like insomnia gets, the more likely you are to become depressed.

In the other direction, depression might mean you have a hard time falling asleep. Or you wake up often through the night. It can even change how long you spend in the different sleep stages.

Together, they can create a cycle that’s hard to break.

Poor Sleep Makes Depression Harder to Treat

Common treatments for depression, like drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), may not work when you have sleep issues.

Even when they do, depression is more likely to return if you don’t take care of your sleep problems, too. Your doctor can help you with both. And there are a lot of steps you can take on your own to get better sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep

It’s all about creating — and sticking to — good sleep habits. And those are the same whether you’re depressed or not.

Set the stage early. Sleep isn’t just about what you do at night. Try to:

  • Get outside during the day. Sunlight keeps your natural sleep-wake rhythm on track.
  • Exercise every day. It’ll help you get more sleep and wake up refreshed. Stick to mornings and afternoons, though. Physical activity within a few hours of bedtime may keep you up.
  • Eat your meals at about the same time each day. Avoid heavy or spicy foods close to bedtime.
  • Keep naps to 20-30 minutes max. And take them only in the early or middle of the afternoon.
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, and smoking.

Think cozy. Start with a comfy bed and a cool room. From there, make sure to:

  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
  • Take the TV and other electronics out of your room. The light from them messes with your levels of melatonin, a key sleep hormone.
  • Keep it as quiet as you can. That means no radio, phone, laptop, or anything else that buzzes, beeps, or dings.
  • Go dark with heavy curtains or good blinds.

Have a nighttime routine. Boring is best when it comes to getting ready for sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Try to keep it within half an hour on both ends.
  • Give yourself a solid hour to chill out before bed. Take a bath, listen to quiet music, or read a book. And turn the lights down low.
  • Don’t talk about stressful things right before sleep.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. Meditation and deep breathing can help calm a racing mind.

Focus on Your Inner Self to Boost Your Mood

When you’re trying to tame depression, it sometimes helps to turn your attention inward. Even if you’re already getting treatment with medicine and therapy, tending to your inner self can lift your spirit and help you better manage your feelings.

Everything from meditation to just plain having fun can be part of the plan. But remember, it’s best to start small. Pick one thing that feels right for you and make a habit of it. Over time, it’ll add up to bigger changes.

Be Mindful

The idea behind mindfulness is that you put away the worry about the tense meeting you just had or looming deadlines. You don’t stress or even dream about the future or the past. You’re just right here, right now. You simply watch your thoughts and notice the feelings on your body, all without judgment.

It can be as basic as noticing the feel of your shirt against your skin, or the burst of flavor when you bite into your lunch.

Activities like meditation, yoga, and tai chi help you step back from the constant thoughts that run through your mind. That turns out to be a powerful way to change your outlook on life and gain more control over the ups and downs. Mindfulness works best when you set aside time to practice each day.

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Watch the Negative Self-Talk

Depression has a way of making everything seem worse. That’s when you really need to watch your inner voice.

You know the one. It calls you names after making a simple mistake. Always tells you what you should’ve done or should be doing now.

Here’s the thing: Don’t believe it. You aren’t the voice in your head. When it starts lashing out, put it in its place. You might want to:

  • Think about what you would say to a friend in this situation. Tell yourself that story instead.
  • Ask your inner voice for proof. Is it right or just a cranky loudmouth?
  • Try to reframe whatever triggered it. If someone just treated you poorly, it may not really be about you. Maybe they’re under a lot of stress and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Express Yourself

From writing and painting to dancing and playing music, art gives you a different way to express what you’re feeling.

It can be a healthy and safe outlet to work through some inner darkness. There’s power in giving creative voice to your deepest feelings.

Have Fun

To really be healthy, your inner self needs some serious outer fun. It can’t all be meditation and fine art. Do something that makes you laugh or that you normally take joy in.

It can be harder when you’re depressed, so it’s important to schedule it into your day. Stick with it even if it doesn’t make you happy right now. If you keep at it, it’ll lift you up in time.

You might want to get back to your hobbies. Or go places you love, like your favorite breakfast place. Maybe take a walk in the woods if being in nature brings you peace.

Find Purpose

It might seem lofty, or maybe like a luxury for people who have plenty of time. But when your life lacks purpose, you might feel lost and like you don’t have direction. And studies show that when you feel a strong sense of purpose, you tend to be more skilled at working through life’s challenges.

For some, this comes from their spirituality. For others, it’s in their work. If you don’t know where to start, notice when you have a feeling of flow in your day, where you’re just lost in something and time slips away. Write down when that happens. In time, your notes will be like little crumbs that guide you on your way.

Simplify Your Life

If your life feels jam-packed with work and home chores, it can be hard to remember you even have an inner self.

See if you can slow it down. Cut out what you can, especially when you’re feeling low. Sometimes, you just need to tell yourself that it’s OK to do less.

Give Thanks

It might sound corny, but it works. When you focus on things you’re grateful for, it lifts you up. It shifts your thoughts and helps you focus on the positive.

You might try a gratitude journal, where you write down something you’re grateful for each day. You can also make a habit of writing thank-you notes. Or actually counting your blessings each night.

Call a Timeout

When you play sports, you take timeouts for good reason. Sometimes, you need a break to get a better handle on things.

So when you feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to call one for yourself and do something relaxing. You might even want to build timeouts into your day.

Yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises are all good options. Maybe even a massage. A little relaxation can boost your mood and lower your stress.

What If You Lose Your Child at an Amusement Park?

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: While spending a fun-filled family day at an amusement park, you suddenly lose sight of your child.

As terrifying as that can be, a new survey finds that many American parents don’t talk with their child about what to do if the youngster becomes lost in that setting.

One in five parents said they did not make plans with their children about what to do if they became separated at an amusement park or carnival, according to the survey. It’s the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, at the University of Michigan.

The survey included more than 1,200 parents of children aged 5 to 12.

“As parents prepare for summer trips to the amusement park or local fair, they should keep safety at the top of mind,” poll co-director Dr. Gary Freed said in a university news release. “As we’ve seen in news reports, accidents happen at amusement parks. Consequences range from skinned knees to serious injuries.”

In 2016, U.S. emergency departments dealt with 30,000 injuries linked to amusement parks and carnivals, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The poll authors also asked parents what they would do if ride operators did not enforce safety rules or if they suspected the operator of unsafe behavior.

Nine in 10 parents said they would report suspicions that the operator was drunk or on drugs, and 69 percent said they would report failure to enforce safety rules, such as seat belts or height restrictions.

Nearly six in 10 parents believe ride operators should undergo random alcohol and drug testing, with 13 percent supporting weekly testing, 13 percent in favor of monthly testing, and 3 percent backing yearly testing. Eleven percent said checks should only be done if there were suspicions of drug or alcohol use, the survey found.

While most parents said they would report a ride operator who appeared impaired by alcohol or drugs, less than half said they would report a ride operator who used a cellphone while operating a ride.

“Even though cellphone use may seem less harmful, it poses a significant distraction that can increase the risk of accident or injury,” Freed said.

Eighty-seven percent of the parents said it’s the responsibility of both parents and ride operators to make sure kids are safe on rides.

Nearly all the parents said they stayed with their child at all times during visits to amusement parks or carnivals, but it’s important to have a back-up plan in case parents get separated from their child.

“Discussing safety rules, check-in times and meet-up locations should be part of pre-trip planning for families,” Freed advised.

Kids of Gay Parents Don’t Struggle More Socially

Children of same-sex parents are not more likely to suffer behavioral or social problems, Italian researchers say.

The new study included children, aged 3 to 11, of 195 gay or lesbian parents and 195 heterosexual parents in Italy.

Children of same-sex parents had fewer reported difficulties than children of different-sex parents, but scores were in the normal range for both groups, according to the report.

Overall, in both groups, adults who felt less competent as parents, were less satisfied in their relationship, and noted lower levels of family flexibility reported more problems in their children.

“Family structure is not predictive of child health outcomes once family process variables are taken into account,” according to lead researcher Roberto Baiocco and colleagues, from Sapienza University of Rome.

Some indicators of family functioning were better among same-sex parents, particularly for gay fathers. This might reflect the high level of commitment needed for gay men to become parents, the researchers suggested.

The investigators also pointed out that the gay fathers in the study were older, economically better off, better educated, and had more stable relationships than the lesbian mothers and different-sex parents.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

The findings add to a large body of evidence that children of gay or lesbian parents aren’t more likely to have problems than children of heterosexual parents, the study authors noted in a journal news release.

The study “warns policymakers against making assumptions on the basis of sexual orientation about people who are more suited than others to be parents, or about people who should or should not be denied access to fertility treatments,” the researchers concluded.

July Is Peak Time for Illness From Feces in Pools

Is it safe to go in the water this summer? Not if microscopic germs like E. coli or cryptosporidium are swimming in the pool with you, U.S. health officials warn.

“These germs make people sick when they swallow water contaminated with poop,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated frankly in a news release on Thursday.

The statement accompanied a new report on 140 outbreaks of “untreated recreational water” that sickened nearly 5,000 people and killed two between 2000 and 2014 in the United States.

Many of these cases were traced to fecal matter released into pools by children or adults who weren’t following proper hygiene precautions, said a team led by preventive medicine researcher Michele Hlavsa, of Emory University in Atlanta.

About one-third of the cases occurred in public parks, and another third at public beaches, the report found. And July was the peak month — 58 percent began in that month.

The way a pool or local beach usually gets contaminated isn’t pretty.

“Swimmers can be a source of fecal contamination if they have a fecal incident in the water or fecal material washes off their bodies,” the researchers explained.

Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who’s seen the effects of severe gastrointestinal illnesses firsthand.

“If you develop fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain or vomiting after swimming in a lake or untreated water, it’s important to see your doctor or be treated in the emergency department,” he said. In the new report, 87 percent of illnesses were traced to bugs such as E. coli, cryptosporidium, norovirus and Shigella — all of which can be present in feces.

“Water that enters the nose while swimming in warm freshwater can place you at risk for not only diarrhea and enteritis, but parasitic and fungal infections that can spread to the brain and sinuses,” Glatter warned.

In fact, the two deaths noted in the report were linked to Naegleria fowleri, the so-called “brain-eating amoeba” that can grow in warm freshwater. Cases are very rare, but the disease is often quickly fatal.

“Wearing a nose clip or simply keeping your head above water may be helpful if you swim in lakes, rivers or areas of untreated water,” Glatter said. “Try to avoid swallowing water, since this may lead to bacterial, viral and parasitic infections. The only sure way to prevent an infection from Naegleria fowleri due to swimming is to avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater lakes or rivers.”

A small fraction of the outbreaks noted in the new report were spurred by “toxins or chemicals” — usually toxins emitted by harmful “algae blooms.” Would-be swimmers can often get a heads-up about those issues, however.

“It’s vital to obey any posted advisories in which beaches are closed for swimming,” Glatter said. Also stay away from any water that looks discolored, foamy or has a foul smell.

Of course, the best way everyone can keep water-safe this summer is to pitch in for prevention.

“If you are sick with diarrhea, stay out of the water, since swallowed water may contain enteric pathogens that can result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” Glatter said.

According to the study team, parents must be especially vigilant.

That’s because outbreaks were most likely at pools or beaches “frequented by children under 5 years with no or limited toileting skills [and] without adequate, easily accessible and well-stocked hygienic facilities,” such as toilets or diaper-changing stations.

Dr. Nicole Berwald is interim chair of emergency medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. She stressed that for the millions of Americans who flock to beaches and pools this summer, the water is fine.

“These recreational activities are usually performed without hazardous outcomes,” she said. “With that said, swimmers should be aware of potential health risks so they can enjoy the summer months while protecting themselves.”

Michael Jackson’s antigravity tilt — Talent, magic, or a bit of both?

Three neurosurgeons set out to examine Michael Jackson’s antigravity tilt, introduced in the movie video ‘Smooth Criminal,’ from a neurosurgeon’s point of view.

When was the last time you watched a Michael Jackson music video? If your answer is “never” or “not for quite a while,” you are really missing a treat. According to Rolling Stone, “No single artist … shaped, innovated or defined the medium of ‘music video’ more than Michael Jackson.”

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, MTV had only one format — music videos — and that genre really took off when Jackson burst on the scene in 1983 with his musical hit “Billie Jean.” Prior to his arrival on MTV, most videos were merely visual promos for artists’ songs, and in some cases the visual side of the promos detracted from the music. Michael Jackson, on the other hand, took his incredible music and added story lines, special effects, cinematography, and amazing choreography. He created high-budget brief movies highlighting both music and dance.

And about that dance. . . . Jackson executed dance moves we thought impossible, at the time and even now. Almost every fan tried to dance like him, but very few could pull it off. Some of Jackson’s dance moves appear to defy the laws of gravity. In one move featured in his 1987 music video “Smooth Criminal,” he pitches forward 45 degrees, with his body straight as a rod and his shoes resting on the stage, and holds the position. That is not how the human body works! How did Michael Jackson do it? Was it talent, magic, or both?

Three neurosurgeons from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India — Nishant S. Yagnick, Manjul Tripathi, and Sandeep Mohindra — set out to examine the antigravity tilt introduced in “Smooth Criminal” from a neurosurgeon’s point of view.

First, Yagnick et al. walk us through some basics of spinal biomechanics to show just how impressive is the feat. Even the strongest of dancers can only maintain a 25- to 30-degree forward tilt from the ankle.

Admitted fans of Jackson, the neurosurgeons document how the antigravity tilt was accomplished, taking into account the talent and core strength of the artist, as well as his inventiveness and use of a patented aid, that together seem to move his body past human limits. They also warn other neurosurgeons of new forms of spinal injuries, as dancers follow Jackson’s example and attempt “to jump higher, stretch further, and turn faster than ever before.”

The full story on the antigravity tilt is published today in a new article in the Journal of Neurosurgery entitled “How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics?.”

Read the article soon. This is one of those mysteries where the solution is as fascinating as the performance. After you’ve read the article, you may want to go to YouTube and check out “Smooth Criminal” and other Michael Jackson music videos.

When asked about his article, Dr. Tripathi said, “MJ has inspired generations of dancers to push themselves beyond their limits. Though a visual delight, such moves also lead to new forms of musculoskeletal injuries. “The King of Pop” has not only been an inspiration but a challenge to the medical fraternity.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Nishant S. Yagnick, Manjul Tripathi, Sandeep Mohindra. How did Michael Jackson challenge our understanding of spine biomechanics? Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.3171/2018.2.SPINE171443

Apple unveils its latest emojis on World Emoji Day

  Eight of the soon-to-be-released emojis including white-haired, curly-haired, ginger-haired and bald characters of different races
Image caption Ta da! Apple has revealed its latest batch of emojis – coming soon to an iPhone near you

It’s a great day to be bald, ginger, grey, or curly-haired – or, indeed, a lobster.

All of the above have made it into the latest batch of Apple emojis, unveiled to mark “World Emoji Day” on Tuesday.

The coming of the colourful characters was announced back in February by the Unicode Consortium, the group that decides on new emojis.

As well as the new hairstyles, exotic animals including a kangaroo, parrot and peacock are set to feature.

Healthy eaters will be delighted to learn that a mango and lettuce also made the cut – along with a cupcake for balance.

The 70 new emojis will be rolled out automatically in a free software update later this year.

Image copyright Apple
Image caption An assortment of animals and some popular new foods are among the newcomers
Image copyright Apple
Image caption The new faces include a pleading look, a loved-up emoji, and a chilly face. The symbols for infinity and a blue Nazar amulet (a protection symbol in some parts of the world) have also been added.

The little cartoons get their own spin from each company that uses them, so one smartphone maker’s will have small differences from another’s – but the general appearance will be similar.

Jeremy Burge, creator of World Emoji Day, said the ginger emojis were expected to draw the most love from users.

“As always, some of the most vocal requests for new emojis are about representation, and this update delivers some of the most common requests. In particular the redheads and curly-haired options are likely to be popular,” CNN quoted him as saying.

Back in March, Apple said it wanted to bring in emojis that better represent people with disabilities.

Its suggestions included wheelchair users, a guide dog and a hearing aid.

The company observed that very few of the current emoji options “speak to the life experiences of those with disabilities”. Unicode agreed, and has promised to introduce some in 2019.

Media captionEmojis: Who decides what can be an emoji?

Why Children Aren’t Behaving, And What You Can Do About It

Boy completes his chore of raking leaves

Childhood — and parenting — have radically changed in the past few decades, to the point where far more children today struggle to manage their behavior.

That’s the argument Katherine Reynolds Lewis makes in her new parenting book, The Good News About Bad Behavior.

We face a crisis of self-regulation,” Lewis writes. And by “we,” she means parents and teachers who struggle daily with difficult behavior from the children in their lives.

Lewis, a journalist, certified parent educator and mother of three, asks why so many kids today are having trouble managing their behavior and emotions.

Three factors, she says, have contributed mightily to this crisis.

First: Where, how and how much kids are allowed to play has changed. Second, their access to technology and social media has exploded.

Finally, Lewis suggests, children today are too “unemployed.” She doesn’t simply mean the occasional summer job for a high school teen. The term is a big tent, and she uses it to include household jobs that can help even toddlers build confidence and a sense of community.

“They’re not asked to do anything to contribute to a neighborhood or family or community,” Lewis tells NPR in a recent interview. “And that really erodes their sense of self-worth — just as it would with an adult being unemployed.”

Below is more of that interview, edited for length and clarity.

What sorts of tasks are children and parents prioritizing instead of household responsibilities?

To be straight-A students and athletic superstars, gifted musicians and artists — which are all wonderful goals, but they are long-term and pretty narcissistic. They don’t have that sense of contribution and belonging in a family the way that a simple household chore does, like helping a parent prepare a meal. Anyone who loves to cook knows it’s so satisfying to feed someone you love and to see that gratitude and enjoyment on their faces. And kids today are robbed of that.

It’s part of the work of the family. We all do it, and when it’s more of a social compact than an adult in charge of doling out a reward, that’s much more powerful. They can see that everyone around them is doing jobs. So it seems only fair that they should also.

Kids are so driven by what’s fair and what’s unfair. And that’s why the more power you give kids, the more control you give them, the more they will step up.

You also argue that play has changed dramatically. How so?

Two or three decades ago, children were roaming neighborhoods in mixed-age groups, playing pretty unsupervised or lightly supervised. They were able to resolve disputes, which they had a strong motivation to because they wanted to keep playing. They also planned their time and managed their games. They had a lot of autonomy, which also feeds self-esteem and mental health.

Nowadays, kids, including my own, are in child care pretty much from morning until they fall into bed — or they’re under the supervision of their parents. So they aren’t taking small risks. They aren’t managing their time. They aren’t making decisions and resolving disputes with their playmates the way that kids were 20 or 30 years ago. And those are really important social and emotional skills for kids to learn, and play is how all young mammals learn them.

While we’re on the subject of play and the importance of letting kids take risks, even physical risks, you mention a remarkable study out of New Zealand — about phobias. Can you tell us about it?

This study dates back to when psychologists believed that if you had a phobia as an adult, you must have had some traumatic experience as a child. So they started looking at people who had phobias and what their childhood experiences were like. In fact, they found the opposite relationship.

People who had a fall from heights were less likely to have an adult phobia of heights. People who had an early experience with near-drowning had zero correlation with a phobia of water, and children who were separated from their parents briefly at an early age actually had less separation anxiety later in life.

We need to help kids to develop tolerance against anxiety, and the best way to do that, this research suggests, is to take small risks — to have falls and scrapes and tumbles and discover that they’re capable and that they can survive being hurt. Let them play with sticks or fall off a tree. And yeah, maybe they break their arm, but that’s how they learn how high they can climb.

You say in the book that “we face a crisis of self-regulation.” What does that look like at home and in the classroom?

It’s the behavior in our homes that keeps us from getting out the door in the morning and keeps us from getting our kids to sleep at night.

In schools, it’s kids jumping out of seats because they can’t control their behavior or their impulses, getting into shoving matches on the playground, being frozen during tests because they have such high rates of anxiety.

Really, I lump under this umbrella of self-regulation the increase in anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance addiction and all of these really big challenges that are ways kids are trying to manage their thoughts, behavior and emotions because they don’t have the other skills to do it in healthy ways.

You write a lot about the importance of giving kids a sense of control. My 6-year-old resists our morning schedule, from waking up to putting on his shoes. Where is the middle ground between giving him control over his choices and making sure he’s ready when it’s time to go?

It’s a really tough balance. We start off, when our kids are babies, being in charge of everything. And our goal by the time they’re 18 is to be in charge of nothing — to work ourselves out of the job of being that controlling parent. So we have to constantly be widening the circle of things that they’re in charge of, and shrinking our own responsibility.

It’s a bit of a dance for a 6-year-old, really. They love power. So give him as much power as you can stand and really try to save your direction for the things that you don’t think he can do.

He knows how to put on his shoes. So if you walk out the door, he will put on his shoes and follow you. It may not feel like it, but eventually he will. And if you spend five or 10 minutes outside that door waiting for him — not threatening or nagging — he’ll be more likely to do it quickly. It’s one of these things that takes a leap of faith, but it really works.

Kids also love to be part of that discussion of, what does the morning look like. Does he want to draw a visual calendar of the things that he wants to get done in the morning? Does he want to set times, or, if he’s done by a certain time, does he get to do something fun before you leave the house? All those things that are his ideas will pull him into the routine and make him more willing to cooperate.

Whether you’re trying to get your child to dress, do homework or practice piano, it’s tempting to use rewards that we know our kids love, especially sweets and screen time. You argue in the book: Be careful. Why?

Yes. The research on rewards is pretty powerful, and it suggests that the more we reward behavior, the less desirable that behavior becomes to children and adults alike. If the child is coming up with, “Oh, I’d really like to do this,” and it stems from his intrinsic interests and he’s more in charge of it, then it becomes less of a bribe and more of a way that he’s structuring his own morning.

The adult doling out rewards is really counterproductive in the long term — even though they may seem to work in the short term. The way parents or teachers discover this is that they stop working. At some point, the kid says, “I don’t really care about your reward. I’m going to do what I want.” And then we have no tools. Instead, we use strategies that are built on mutual respect and a mutual desire to get through the day smoothly.

You offer pretty simple guidance for parents when they’re confronted with misbehavior and feel they need to dole out consequences. You call them the four R’s. Can you walk me through them?

The four R’s will keep a consequence from becoming a punishment. So it’s important to avoid power struggles and to win the kid’s cooperation. They are: Any consequence should be revealed in advance, respectful, related to the decision the child made, and reasonable in scope.

Generally, by the time they’re 6 or 7 years old, kids know the rules of society and politeness, and we don’t need to give them a lecture in that moment of misbehavior to drill it into their heads. In fact, acting in that moment can sometimes be counterproductive if they are amped up, their amygdala’s activated, they’re in a tantrum or excited state, and they can’t really learn very well because they can’t access the problem-solving part of their brain, the prefrontal cortex, where they’re really making decisions and thinking rationally. So every misbehavior doesn’t need an immediate consequence.

You even tell parents, in the heat of the moment, it’s OK to just mumble and walk away. What do you mean?

That’s when you are looking at your child, they are not doing what you want, and you cannot think of what to do. Instead of jumping in with a bribe or a punishment or yelling, you give yourself some space. Pretend you had something on the stove you need to grab or that you hear something ringing in the other room and walk away. That gives you just a little space to gather your thoughts and maybe calm down a little bit so you can respond to their behavior from the best place in you — from your best intentions as a parent.

I can imagine skeptics out there, who say, “But kids need to figure out how to live in a world that really doesn’t care what they want. You’re pampering them!” In fact, you admit your own mother sometimes feels this way. What do you say to that?

I would never tell someone who’s using a discipline strategy that they feel really works that they’re wrong. What I say to my mom is, “The tools and strategies that you used and our grandparents used weren’t wrong, they just don’t work with modern kids.” Ultimately, we want to instill self-discipline in our children, which will never happen if we’re always controlling them.

If we respond to our kids’ misbehavior instead of reacting, we’ll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It’s not a sign of our failure as parents. It’s normal.

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Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it

Image: Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it

Dogs have a long history of being man’s best friend. But the story of a Newburyport Police Department officer and her blind dog from Massachusetts, doesn’t merely prove the bond between owner and pet but also proves that dogs are great at detecting illnesses.

Police officer Megan Tierney was reportedly at home with Dude, her blind border collie/Australian shepherd mix, when he started acting a little strange. According to her, she was lying in bed when Dude suddenly became focused on her chest area, placing a paw on her.

Tierney turned her attention on the spot Dude was touching and noticed a tissue swell. But to her surprise, a trip to the doctor confirmed that she has stage two triple negative invasive ductal breast cancer. And although finding out you have cancer is never an easy thing to swallow, the police officer said, “Dude found the lump, and we were never so happy because it just meant that we could get it where it was, rather than not knowing.”

It is known that dogs have a more heightened sense of smell compared to humans. Dude, being a blind dog, has greatly enhanced this particular sense which helped him detect the illness of his owner. Moreover, canines’ olfactory bulbs have 220 million scent receptors; 195 million more than that of humans.

According to dog-cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz from Barnard College, dogs can smell odors in parts per trillion. For example, in a million gallons of water, dogs can detect if a teaspoon sugar was mixed into the water. This means their smelling abilities are 100,000 times better than ours. (Related: Dogs can smell lung cancer in humans.)

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One study, conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, reflects Dude’s exceptional skill. The study involved five dogs that were given breath samples of 31 breast cancer patients, 55 lung cancer patients and 83 healthy persons. All dogs were able to pinpoint which samples came from those who were ill, with approximately 90 percent accuracy.

Can dogs really smell cancer?

According to Tammana Khare of Dogs Naturally Magazine, because of the metabolic waste released by cancerous cells, a distinct smell is also released from the human body. This significant smell can be easily traced by dogs even during the earlier stages of cancer.

Other studies suggest that canines also have the ability to smell traces of skin cancer melanoma through skin lesions, and detect prostate cancer with just a urine sample from a person who is suffering from one.

“Not only does their sense of smell make cancer detection possible, but research suggests that dogs can be trained actively to sniff out the cancer, ” the canine expert shared. “In Berlin, a group of researchers trained some dogs to detect the presence of various types of cancer, including ovarian cancer, bowel cancer, as well as bladder cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer,” Khane finished.

Although some remain to be with the whole idea of dogs being able to sniff out cancer and other illnesses, there are already some field experts who see a future where dogs will be directly used in patient care. More importantly, the special dog ability Dude exhibited helped his owner, Tierney, to manage her sickness and prolong her life.

Check out more amazing stories about man’s best friend on

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