Update to my Psychology Today piece: No More Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikinis

Yesterday on the heels of the Miss Teen USA decision to drop swimsuit and replace it with fitness wear (unclear if that will include a fitness routine or just the attire) I published a piece at Psychology Today. You can read the full version of that by clicking here. Two of the photos I included though had to be removed due to copyright issues on the page. So I wanted to include them here in case you came a-searching.

  1. When I wrote, "In 2014 the contestants competed in shorts, which revealed far more skin, and tighter tops, which left little to the imagination even without revealing the midriff," the following picture should have appeared:

    Alysse Blight (center) performs in the fitness portion of the Distinguished Young Women of America National Scholarship Program contest.

    You can find this photo at the following URL, where there isn't an attribution for a photographer: http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2014/07/13/news/doc53bed9fc3400a318794241.txt

  2. When I wrote, "And you'd be excused if you thought Miss America's Outstanding Teen contestants' fitness outfits closely resembled a bikini—at least one with boy shorts. Note that Miss Teen Frisco, Madison Fuller, went on to be crowned Texas' Outstanding Teen in 2010. So her pseudo-itsy bitsy teenie weenie pink polkadot bikini served her well..." the following photo should have appeared:Madison_Fuller_Fitness_WinYou can find this photo at the following URL, again no attribution, if you scroll down to 2010: http://www.mpfo.com/whatsnew.htm

Interestingly, this same young lady, Madison Fuller, just *last night* at Miss Texas won the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness award-- aka swimsuit!

13529138_709017905902688_6199839968889593676_n(Image from the Miss Texas Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MissTexasPageantInc/photos/a.269209253216891.1073741828.268939479910535/709017905902688/?type=3&theater)

Measuring Ambition in Afterschool Activities

Despite the arrival of summer (which has been way too hot thus far in Boston for my taste!), I've been writing, thinking, and talking about children's afterschool activities more than ever. This is mainly related to the release of Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture, set for September 1, but also because of the release of a new paper published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. The paper, "Pediatric Sports Injuries: An Age Comparison of Children Versus Adolescents," is the first paper out of my post-doctoral fellowship on youth sports injuries-- an interest that was a natural outgrowth of my research for Playing to Win as I saw children injured through their participation in soccer and dance. This paper, completed in conjunction with sociologist/demographer/friend Rebecca Casciano and doctors at Boston Children's Hospital (where the data are from), shows that younger children are more likely to suffer acute injuries from participation in organized sports, while older children are more likely to sustain overuse injuries. Whatever the age, sport, or type of injury, a surprising number of children require surgery to correct their injuries (40%).

The American Journal of Sports Medicine

This work shows one of the potential pitfalls of participation in competitive activities, but my latest entry at Psychology Today, "Measuring Ambition in Today's Youth," highlights a potential benefit: demonstrating ambition in youth. The piece talks about why it's important to measure and show ambition, and links this to some recent beauty pageant experiences I have had as well.

The case of Missy Franklin also highlights benefits (college scholarships, world travel, international acclaim, likely millions in endorsements some day) to competitive children's sports. This great article in the Youth Sports edition of ESPN The Magazine (here on the web with ESPNw) includes a quote from yours truly and a plug for Playing to Win. Very exciting!

Also very exciting was that Playing to Win was included in some amazing company on this reading list about increased consumption among middle class families in the US. I figure this may be the only time I'm mentioned on the same list as Adam Smith, so I better enjoy it! Maybe you'll find some summer reading here to tide you over until my book is released... :)

Happy 4th!

Teach Your Children R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-C-Y

Since before I became a mother I have loved reading Brain, Child. It's tagline is, "The Magazine for Thinking Mothers," and it's been called "The New Yorker for Moms." Brain, Child Summer 2013 cover

So you can imagine how excited I was when a piece I wrote appeared in this summer's issue. It's a book review of Madeline Levine's latest book, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success.

Teach Your Children Well Amazon cover

I love reading and I love writing so I really enjoy doing book reviews, especially on non-fiction parenting books like this that are based on research and practice, but accessible to all parents-- definitely what I hope Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture might be able to accomplish (shameless plug alert: the first press release for the book went out today!).

One of the skills Levine emphasizes is resilience, something I see in my own research on competitive kids' activities as well. Last week if you watched the Scripps National Spelling you saw this directly. The winner, Arvind Mahankai, won on his fourth attempt (after finishing third the past two years in a row and going out on a German word each time-- though he won with a German/Yiddish word this year). Please click through to my latest at Psychology Today to read more on how competitive children's activities like the Spelling Bee can help boost kids' competitive kid capital, and build more resilient individuals.

Here's the link: "How Do You Spell R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-T? National Spelling Bee highlights the importance of resilience in childhood.”

We should all teach our children as well as Levine and Mahankai's parents.

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!