Writing, Writing, Writing, and Writing (Talking, too) about Competition

I've been writing so much lately, partly in preparation for the release of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture (have I mentioned you can pre-order it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the University of California Press' website?!), that I decided to do a writing round-up this week. Playing to Win cover on AmazonThese four different pieces give you a sense of different outlets for competition, especially in childhood-- including the athletic field, the classroom, the stage, and the television screen.

1) “Qualities of the B (aka Bench-Warming) Player” at PsychologyToday.com- I am very excited that I now have a monthly blog, Playing to Win, at Psychology Today where I will write about the intersections of competition and childhood in America. Stay tuned for topics like the National Spelling Bee and measuring ambition.

2) “It’s College Admissions Decision Time: Are Parents Prepared” at The Huffington Post- It's always interesting to see who you reach when you write at The Huffington Post (and also talking- I've done a few recent video sessions with HuffPost Live as well, like these on the sociological impacts of sperm having an expiration date and how to talk with children about tragedy). This article explores how and why parents should try to raise resilient kids in a competitive world long before they get to high school and deal with college rejection.

3) Oxford Bibliographies entries on Child Beauty Pageants and After-school Hours and Activities in the Childhood Studies volume- I was honored to be recognized as the leading social scientist in these two areas and to write the entry for them. While they both include some of my work (obviously!), they also suggest other areas to explore including books, articles, television shows, and documentaries to help you learn more about these often misunderstood areas of children's lives.

4) “Why ‘Bet on Your Baby’ is Bad for the Babies”  at Kveller- So happy to be back at Kveller writing about some of my favorite topics all in the same piece: reality television, social science, baby experiments, and my son. Watching so much TV not only gets me writing, but also talking, like in this recent article at Fox News about Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham (and another pop culture piece about Beyonce).

Hope you enjoy these pieces and stay tuned for more talk about competition and kids in the coming months!

Lines to Add to my Son's Baby Resume: Infant Scientist and TV Star

Is there anything worse than a Harvard stage mother? No, there is not. When I was an undergraduate and saw all the babies going to do experiments in William James Hall, I vowed that someday my kids would do the same. But in the haze of postpartum life I forgot my promise to myself. Until a letter arrived from Harvard's Baby Lab when Little Man was around 6 months. I immediately signed him up and he did his first experiment within weeks.


The next month I got a letter from Boston College's Infant & Child Cognition Laboratory so I also signed him up for experiments there. He loved their lab, where he found one of his all-time favorite toys (an activity table), and started a collection of Infant Scientist certificates (he's now received a post-doc in infant science and he's an Advanced Scholar, natch).

878. Baby Scientist!

That got the social scientist and writer in my thinking about other experimental opportunities in Boston. I quickly discovered that I could sign Carston up for experiments at other area institutions, like Boston Children's Hospital and University of Massachusetts-Boston. We'd officially joined what I dubbed the "Boston baby experiment circuit" and I had the motivation for my next article.

That article is in this month's Boston Magazine. It's even featured on the cover!

Click HERE to read the web version of the article or HERE to see the published version in the Magazine.

I mentioned the article to my friends at NECN's The Morning Show, where I am a regular guest, and they decided to follow Carston as he did an experiment at Boston College's Lab.

Carston *loved* being on camera, as you can see:


He also loved anchor Bridget Blythe, of course.


Here's his big TV debut!

(You can also link to the clip and story by clicking HERE.)

Also, I swear that the sensor cap doesn't bother Carston at all. They used an unsmiling (but nonetheless cute, of course) pic of my guy for the story, but here is one of my all-time favorite images of him smiling in an experiment:


He's even happy when he has "octopus kisses" after getting his cap off!


I have apparently raised a rather vain Little Man though; he was completely obsessed and mystified by seeing himself on TV this morning.


He even checked out the picture of himself watching himself (this is getting very meta and says a lot about screens in our society, I'm sure):


Carston, the Infant Scientist, thinks it would be an interesting experiment to see what kids his age think about seeing moving images of themselves...