Cognitive Rest after Concussion Leads to Quicker Recovery: Study

After a concussion, adolescents who engaged in the highest levels of cognitive activity took the longest to fully recover from their symptoms, according to a study in the February 2014 Pediatrics. The study, “Effect of Cognitive Activity Level on Duration of Post-Concussion Symptoms,” published online Jan. 6, tracked 335 people ages 8 to 23 who visited a sports concussion clinic between October 2009 and July 2011 after suffering a concussion. Participants reported whether they engaged in complete cognitive rest, minimal cognitive activity (no reading or homework, and less than 20 minutes per day of online activity and video games), moderate cognitive activity (reading less than 10 pages per day, and less than 1 hour total of homework, online activity and video games), significant cognitive activity (reading less and doing less homework than usual), and full cognitive activity. Those in the highest quartile of cognitive activity took approximately 100 days on average to recover from symptoms, compared to approximately 20 to 50 days for patients in the lower three quartiles. The study adds support to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups in favor of academic accommodations that allow cognitive rest for students recovering from concussions, which may speed the recovery process. The study found patients in the three lower quartiles of cognitive activity had similar durations of symptoms, which suggests that complete abstinence of cognitive activity may be unnecessary.

Common-Sense Musts + Understanding Adolescent Girls

Richard Greenberg, author of Raising Children That Other People Like to be Around.
Five common-sense musts from a father’s point of view.
Issues: The S-M-A-R-T approach to parenting: Set an example; Make the rules; Apply the rules; Respect Yourself; Teach in all things.

Tim Jordan, author of Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women.
Understanding and guiding the transformation of adolescent girls
Issues: There has been a lot of attention paid to the rising levels of depression, anxiety, cutting, and relationship aggression in girls over the past few decades. But what if those issues aren’t the problem? What if we got it all wrong? In this show, we speak with one of the country’s leading experts on girls and find out what’s really going on with girls as they make the normal transformation from girl to woman.

What to Do When You’ve Waited Past the Last Minute

Black Friday and Christmas—and the shopping insanity that surround them—are just memories, but now may be the perfect time to fill in the gaps in last year’s gift lists. And because of all the sales and clearances, you’ll be able to take advantage of perhaps the lowest prices you’ll see all year. Here are some of our after-the-last-minute picks.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ninja Control Shellraiser (Playmates)
teenage mutant ninja turtlesThis new remote-controlled vehicle has all the bells and whistles and has been pronounced “so cool” by many a six-year-old. The Turtles action figures (sold separately) can really ride on it, and the fully child-controlled rapid-fire sewer-cover cannon is a blast for the kids (and their daddies). $49.99.

Peter Rabbit DVD and Gift Set
peter rabbitIn case you missed it, those classic Beatrix Potter tales that you grew up with are now a hit TV series. The Peter Rabbit set includes full episodes from the show as well as activities to keep your own little bunny hopping. A great take-along for travel, snow days, sick days, and even a trip to grandma’s. The included puzzle and crayon pack are perfect for keeping little hands busy instead of getting into trouble in Mr. McGregor’s garden. $20.00.  Exclusively at Walmart.

Brush Pets and Glow Pets (Pillow Pets)
brush petsThere’s always something new going on at Pillow Pets. One of their latest is a line of six singing toothbrushes, made to look like the kids’ favorites Pillow Pets. Brush Pets play for two minutes (exactly what your dentist recommends) and use fun sounds and silly instructions to keep the kids brushing. Brush Pets also come with a suction-cup “house” that attaches the brush to a wall and helps keep your vanity top clean. $7.99

Also new is the Glow Pets line. During the day, Glow Pets are regular stuffed animals. But at night, they can turn into the perfect, cuddly, after-dark companion—especially for a child who’s afraid of the dark. Glow Pets do indeed glow (they use 30 LEDs that never get hot) and they shut off by themselves after 20 minutes. Requires three AA batteries. $20.

DiscoRobo (TOSY Robotics)
disco roboThese cute robots use “beat detection technology” (bet you’ve never hear of that!) to feel—and dance along with—whatever music you’re playing. DiscoRobo’s got 56 separate moves (about 53 more than most humans) and eight different facial expressions, and looks like he’s having such a good time that the kids (and you) won’t be able to keep from joining in. Since it’s probably illegal to sell a toy these days without a smartphone app, DiscoRobo’s got one. It allows you to “chat” with your Robo and even customize his dance moves. Sounds silly, but so did Rock Band and Dance Dance Revolution, and look how much fun those are. Got a kid who loves to dance?  Or a shy one you want to encourage to come out of his or her shell? This will be a hit for them and the rest of the family. $45 at

Still looking for something for the special lady in your life? Check out the retro jewelry at Jade and Jasper ( It’s fun, funky, affordable, and easy to mix and match. If you’d prefer something a little more personal, Joseph Nogucci has lovely-yet-inexpensive jewelry that she’s sure to love.

Finally, be sure to check out the latest winners of the Mr. Dad Seal of Approval. New winners are announced four times per year and we’re now accepting submissions for our Spring 2014 awards. Visit

Guys and Dolls—Playmates or Enemies?

Dear Mr. Dad, I have an eight-year-old son who loves sports and video games and does lots of other “boy” things. But he also likes to play with dolls—really girly ones. Does that mean he’s gay? Is there a way to tell this early on? And if he is gay, what should we do?

A: Have you ever noticed that there’s something of a boy-girl double standard? When a girl climbs trees, refuses to wear dresses, plays with trucks, and tears the heads off her Barbies like my oldest daughter did, no one worries about whether she’s gay. In fact, being a Tom-boy is seen as kind of cool. But when boys buck traditional gender roles, people start to panic.

So let’s get this out of the way right up front: your son is too young to have discovered his sexual orientation. Could be that he just likes dolls and is giving his imagination a workout. The fact that he plays with dolls doesn’t mean that he’s gay (neither would singing show tunes or having tea parties) any more than wresting or showing an interest in hunting or monster trucks would mean that he’s straight. There are plenty of heterosexual men who played with dolls when they were kids, and plenty of guys with daughters (myself included) who’ve discovered that playing with dolls can be a lot of fun. It’s even more fun when the daughters join in.
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Are Men Becoming the New Women?

Dear Mr. Dad: A few days ago, I was talking to my 11-year old son about needing to take responsibility for his behavior, and I told him to “Man up.” I started thinking about that phrase and wondered about all the gender stereotyping we do without even realizing it. Are expressions like Man up harmless parts of the language?

A: You’re right. We do use a lot of sex stereotypes in our everyday speech, most of the time without realizing it. Sometimes even the most gender-neutral phrases carry a strong stereotyped message. In most cases, the words are harmless, but other times they’re dangerous.
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