Valerie Yules Letters

December 6, 2014

Which way should a pram face?

Filed under: children, Education, Pleasures, social problems — Tags: , , — valerieyulesletters @ 11:23 pm

Sometimes a psychological problem of childhood can be prevented by simple parental actions early rather than therapy later.

Which way should a pram face?

Early developmental delays and psychological abnormalities cost a great deal in therapies today. How many are exacerbated by the way that a pram faces and could be prevented by having a pram that faced the pusher?

Prams usually faced the human who pushed them. The human talked to the baby, telling it about what they could see, and responding to the baby’s needs and chatter. The time spent on an outing was time spent with someone interested in the baby. They learned to talk.

Then prams started to face outward, so that the baby could see where it was going, and what was ahead of it – but with no help in understanding this, or ways of making its needs known except by crying loudly.

Mothers or others pushed the laden pram like they pushed luggage.
The baby did not see them, or see when it was about to be removed.

The mothers or others pushed the pram down the street. They sat with their mates at outside cafes and talked with them, but the baby still faced outward, and was given edibles such as chips of bottles from hands that came round to hand them to them. They ate and drank and looked at what they could not understand.

Sometimes it is even worse. The baby looks at meaningless mobiles that interrupt the sight of where they are going. Or a black veil over the pram gives the baby nothing to do except go to sleep. Go to sleep on an outing when there is so much to see!

The mothers who push this human luggage look like luggage-pushers, not like caring mothers.

It costs nothing to have a pram where the baby can see and hear what is happening to it, described by the pram-pusher, and it may save a lot of therapy in language, relating to others, and the meaning of the life it sees.
What does the research say?
The only research I have found on the subject was by Dr. M. Suzanne Zeedyk, of the University of Dundee , ‘What’s life in a baby buggy like?: The impact of buggy orientation on parent-infant interaction and infant stress’ 21 November 2008. ( She wrote up two studies. The first was a ‘national observational survey, conducted on High Streets in 54 locations throughout the UK and eventually comprising 2722 observations of parent-child pairs, which systematically documented the social interactions of families occurring during buggy use. The second was a small-scale experimental study with 20 mother-infant pairs, which built on the findings of Study I by monitoring both mother-infant interactions and indicators of infant stress, during journeys in the two buggy orientations.’
The average baby spent two hours per day in a pram, so the question is quite important. (Survey of the National Literacy Trust, 2005)
Two studies found that mums were more likely to speak and laugh with their babies in a parent-facing pushchair than in a forward-facing one. This means that taking your baby for a stroll may give you a great opportunity to make lots of eye contact and to bond with your baby
The research also claimed that sitting in a forward-facing pushchair increased a baby’s stress levels. Researchers concluded that travelling in a forward-facing pushchair can therefore leave your baby feeling isolated.
Zeedyk concluded that a cultural belief appeared to exist in the UK (and amongst manufacturers) that, once they can sit up, babies benefit from looking out onto the world around them. However, she claimed that research repeatedly shows that in order for babies to make effective use of that experience of the wider world, they need parents to help mediate and make sense of it for them.
This finding was not accepted by everyone. Baby Love author Robin Barker said that as long as babies are loved and fed, the direction they face when in a pram is irrelevant, but her evidence is anecdotal. Ms Barker said parents had enough to worry and feel guilty about without considering which way they push their child in a stroller.
“This is just another thing that can worry mothers,” she said.
Nevertheless, she does make a point – what a particular baby may want. Associate Professor Hannah Dahlen of the Australian College of Midwives said many children get bored facing inwards after three months.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with children looking forward and watching stimulus around them,” she said.
“He doesn’t seem interested in turning around,” one mother said of her nine-month-old son. Another said her nine-month-old baby was trying to turn around as soon as she could. “She got bored looking at me,” she said.
Perhaps such mothers were not using the pram-time for interacting with their child, being bored themselves.

One solution of course is having a pram that can be fixed to look the way that the baby wanted, and these prams can be bought.

January 24, 2013

Fantasy solutions to major problems

Magic solutions


During the day we can seek practical solutions to the insoluble problems of our day.

At night, we can dream of Magic solutions.

Here are some favorites:


The Nasty Tastes – the second alcoholic drink in a day tastes awful

The Personal Car – you put it on like a garment; it is no bigger.  Then off you go.

The Speeded up Food-Chain – strait from the rocks and lichen, to appetising food, (and thence,  to compost for the soil)

The Libido Sublimed. A breeze blew over the world, and human sexual desires were changed to desire for affection.  At that breath were solved most of the problems of humankind, and much of its literature.

The Neural Attitude Card – to see with other people’s thinking

The Stuck Oil – Suddenly all the oil in the earth becomes stuck and gushes no longer

The Escalated Photosynthesis – we could do it ourselves, at the risk of turning green

The Palestinian Canyon – between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Its river is navigable, and fresh water.

The Retrospective Videos –  find out what has really happened in history

The Self-Exploding Weapons –  pull the trigger and you blow up yourself

The Gun Catastrophe that ends the American Dream of a Gun for every Good Guy –  a man with an assault rifle or two manages to shoot most of the platform speakers and a good many of the audience at the National Rifle Association general meeting


August 24, 2012

Olympic heroes foretell national changes

Filed under: Pleasures, Political reforms, sport — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:39 am

National heroes at the Olympics


A fascinating study is of the portraits of the athletes at the Olympics.

Here we have the sporting elites of the world. The mix of races even within nations foretells the future. The standards of beauty are becoming held in common.


Here is what I found, although I cannot guarantee absolute accuracy in my counting.

Most athletes are not beautiful.

Most countries had at least one outstandingly good-looking athlete, regardless of race.

Most countries had athletes of different races. Among the single-race countries were Scandinavian and Japanese.

Most races had a variety of facial types, and few had ‘typical’ racial features.  Only 4 out of 38 Israeli athletes looked typically Jewish.

128 German athletes out of 395 looked Aryan, and among these were Dutch and Scandinavian names. German athletes included black and Asian.

120 French athletes out of 335 did not look as if they spoke French.  French athletes were mostly Caucasian, but many were African and some SE Asian.

Almost all British athletes looked British with English names, but some English names were Caribbean Africans, and there were 15 ‘Macs’ and many other Scots-, Irish- and Welsh-named athletes. As well as black Africans,the British contingent included Asians (but few Indians or Pakistanis or Arabs) Greek, Italian, Polish, Dutch . . .etc.

Chinese athletes all  had Chinese names and dark hair.  Most looked Chinese but some did not.  Only a few had slanty-eyes.

About a quarter of American athletes were African-American, but few were Latino or Asian.

Australia is one of the most multi-ethnic countries, but only 76 of the 410 athletes had non-British surnames, mostly European, but the athletes included Black, Pacific Islander, Chinese, SE Asian, Middle Eastern – including some Muslim-sounding names. About as many Macs as the British contingent. None of the Australians were obviously aboriginal, but it was difficult to tell from the photos if some were part-aboriginal.



70 nations won medals out of 205 nations competing!

January 16, 2012

Praising a child

Filed under: Education, social problems — Tags: , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 3:50 am

Katherine Hammesley and Carole Sutton are psychologists quoting the research that shows the importantce of giving a child 5 praises a day. As a schools psychologist (and as a parent) I found this advice valuable:  Name a child when giving praise (‘That’s a nice picture you have done, Jimmy’) and do not use their name when giving criticism but make your comment generic or ‘anonymous’ (‘Stop that!’ ‘No shouting!’ ‘You with the red jersey, stop poking others!’)

Children need criticism too.  One child rebelled in a permissive school (‘No matter what I do, they say it is wonderful!’) But some children get named only for wrong things, and associate themselves with wrong-doing.  Find 5 good things and give their name to them.

‘You are very good, caring for your baby sister, Laurie.’  “Hitting is a bad thing to do.’

The child identifies himself/herself with the good, and the bad things they do are not linked with their identity.

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