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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fostering Healthy Ethnic Identity Development

Today's blog posting is written by Dr. del Prado, a licensed counseling psychologist and full-time assistant professor in the clinical psychology program at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. She specializes in multicultural psychology and university mental health and provides individual therapy to those working on various concerns, including depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship problems, body image, career issues, and stress management. Dr. del Prado also works as a consultant, providing seminars and workshops to programs on enhancing multicultural competency in the work place. She is expecting her first child next month. For more information on Dr. del Prado, please visit

Parents will agree that they want to positively shape their children’s identity and sense of self. However, how often do caregivers think about positively influencing their children’s ethnic identity? Dr. Jean Phinney, professor of psychology, defines ethnic identity as consisting of a person’s sense of belonging to an ethnic group, one’s preference for and positive evaluation of the ethnic group, one’s knowledge of and exploration of ethnic values, and involvement in ethnic group activities. In general, ethnic identity issues peak in adolescence and early adulthood.

My cousin’s daughter, Miranda (age 13), demonstrates high ethnic identity in her Puerto Rican heritage. She wears clothes with the Puerto Rican flag, expresses excitement about Puerto Rican Food, and speaks with pride about her knowledge of Puerto Rican history. Psychological research strongly supports that ethnic identity formation for adolescents, such as Miranda, correlates with healthy outcomes including positive self-esteem, psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and positive emotions. Therefore, it is important that parents and caregivers do what they can to foster their children’s pride in, attachment with, and knowledge of their ethnic heritage(s).

Knowledge of racial and ethnic identity models is one way parents can help their children successfully navigate the common developmental stages associated with racial/ethnic identity. Drs. Atkinson, Morten, and Sue propose that one’s racial/cultural identity process can be conceptualized under five stages: 1) Conformity, 2) Dissonance, 3) Resistance and Immersion, 4) Introspection, and 5) Integrative Awareness. If Miranda were in Stage 1 (Conformity), she will openly embrace mainstream white culture and reject the values and customs of her Puerto Rican culture. In Stage 2 (Dissonance), Miranda will encounter conflicting messages about her idealistic views of the dominant U.S. culture and negative perception of Puerto Rican culture. Often, experiences of racial discrimination can lead an individual to transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2. If Miranda enters Stage 3 (Resistance and Immersion), she will completely endorse Puerto Rican values and behaviors, and reject those of the dominant culture. In Stage 4 (Introspection), Miranda will shift from the extreme nature of Stage 3 to a more self-reflective process. She will try to become more objective about Puerto Rican views and attitudes and aim to integrate the values of her Puerto Rican culture with that of mainstream U.S. culture. In the final stage of Integrative Awareness, Miranda reconciles conflicts between Puerto Rican and U.S. culture, and develops a balanced understanding and appreciation of multiple cultures’ strengths and limitations. Additional racial identity models include Cross’ Nigrescense Model for African Americans and Helm’s White Racial Identity Model. In addition, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) is a brief self-assessment survey that may assist with identifying one’s current level of ethnic identity.

Understanding what “stage” an adolescent may be in can help parents better relate to their children and encourage open communication about culture. Similarly, completing the MEIM and discussing the results with your child may further healthy dialogue and connection among family members. Remember, fostering a child’s positive racial and ethnic identity development is associated with them also having overall healthy psychological functioning.

For further information on ethnic and racial identity development:

Sanchez, D., del Prado, A., & Davis, C. (2010). Broaching ethnicity in therapy. In J. Cornish, B. Schreier, L. Nadkarni, & E. Rodolfa (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling competencies. Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why 3-Dimensional Object Play is Critical

Today’s blog posting is written by Bethe’ Smith who has been with Discovery Toys for 2 years. She has her Child Development Associate in Preschool Education. She has over 15 years experience in childcare as a Preschool Teacher and a Home Daycare Owner. She is currently a homeschooling mom. She has a 9 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. She and her husband of ten years are happy to be expecting their third child in September.

• Schools are underperforming on standardized tests.

• High school graduation rates remain below 50% in some states.

• Concerns continue to mount about global competitiveness.

• We are raising children that can no longer think for themselves.

The solution to these issues is so simple. Children need 3-dimensional “hands-on” play! The child’s brain needs to be in charge of learning!

This is what Discovery Toys is all about! We offer every child the 5-point advantage.

1) Kid Powered
• Hands-on, kinesthetic, object play.
• Child controls the play experience with guidance from parents.
• Child learns to visualize the concepts, to learn at their own pace, to create their own problems to solve and to think about things from a different perspective.

2) Layers of Learning
• DT products support multiple skills and learning pathways. They are loaded with learning!
• DT products grow with your child.
• DT products support a variety of learning styles.

3) Parents Involved
• Parents are their child’s first teacher.
• Parents play along with their child. Just 10 minutes a day can work to deliver play!
• Parents learn and grow along with their child.

4) Top Quality and Proven Safe
• DT products are made of top quality materials.
• DT products are packaged in top quality packaging.
• DT corporate standards are higher than government standards. (many times Discovery Toys goes beyond the recommended age range, for example, when deeming a product “safe” and age grade the standard from a younger age up through the next age.)
• DT products are inspected 3 different times.
• DT products have a Lifetime Guarantee and replacement parts

5) FUN!
• Toy products need to ultimately be FUN! Our toys are designed with “fun” and learning in mind…we believe you can never have one without the other.
• Fun is Play…and Play is what we build each and every day…with our Products, Parents and our Promise!

Since you are reading this blog you are someone that recognizes that a child’s education is important and you are taking steps to improve it, THANK YOU! As a Discovery Toys leader I am pleased to see more parents taking a more proactive role in their child’s education at an earlier age. We need more people to choose toys and games that help our children’s future and more consultants to help spread our mission across the US and Canada. If you are interested in joining my Discovery Toys nationwide team, I would love to help you get started.

Please visit my website and contact me for your special offer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Developing Creativity in Children

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” –Albert Einstein

Creativity plays an integral role in developing a child’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. Creativity includes a number of components such as imagination, originality, productivity, and problem solving. Creativity is different than the traditional definition of intelligence (i.e., children who score high on intelligence tests are not necessarily highly creative). All children are born with creative potential, and fortunately it can be developed at any time during one’s lifespan.

However, nurturing children’s creativity from a young age will benefit them for years to come, helping build confidence and a better understanding of their surroundings. Developing a childhood interest has been strongly correlated to adult creative achievement. This is essential for developing practical skills that are crucial later in life such as in the workplace. Employers are interested in people who are adaptable, innovative, can solve problems and communicate well with others.

There are many ways to promote creativity in children, but here are a few that I find particularly helpful:
• Foster a Creative Environment: this can range from art projects, playing in the yard, using a wide variety of toys, asking open-ended questions, games, playing with colors, music, exploring nature, reading books and playing puzzles. (Note: Please read my blog posting on July 9, 2010 for a greater understanding of the role of play in childhood development).
• Be a Positive Role Model: don’t tell children what to do, show them what to do.
• Allow Time: it is hard to be creative when you are in a rush. Slow down.
• Build Self-Efficacy in Your Children: let your children do things on their own and give them choices rather than making decisions for them. Let them make mistakes, and respect their ideas. Resist the urge to accomplish tasks for your children. Children who believe in themselves and their abilities tend not to give in to peer pressure and are more confident in making their own decisions. Encouragement and support are critical.
• Let Your Children Ask “Why” Questions: we all can get easily irritated when asked this question numerous times, and frustration and time constraints may lead us to say “I don’t know” or “Don’t ask stupid questions.” This mode of responding may inhibit children from asking questions in the future, resulting in them being less creative and inquisitive.

Please feel free to share any tips that you have on developing creativity in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

Please visit the following website for further information on developing creativity in children: