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Thursday, September 23, 2010

8.37 Bringing Up Baby/Child Raising

Physician's Notebooks 8 - http://physiciansnotebook.blogspot.com - See Homepage
37. Raising a Child - Update 05 Aug. 2018

All who consider raising a child from the moment of conception through final adult shaping should keep aware of the important affects of both heredity via the DNA, and the child's environment, especially recently, of the potent influences from the changes in our society. In the past, our society had remained very stable so its change did not need to be put into consideration. That has changed. 
   
  The following list in descending order of appearance in text can locate a subject by scrolling down or using keyboard search & find.
Arranging a Birth Date
Naming a Newborn
Critical Period for Newborn Eye Vision
Infant Feeding
Parenting as Science - Reference
Monitoring the Baby's Physical Measurements
Monitoring to Prevent Artery Blockage Disease as Adult
Infant Handling
Caretaker
Baby Home Environment
Accident
Infection
Sudden Infant Death
Infant Motor and Social Development
Language Learning
Getting a Bilingual or Trilingual Child
Teaching a Child to Read
Behavior Training
Toilet Training
Discipline
Sleep
Enrich Child Environment
Furry Pets
the affects of an abnormal sound environment in an infant room
Sex Education
The Outstanding Child
A Child's Growing-Up Environment
Childbirth Order Affect
End Notes: Schools, Beliefs; Religious Training; Danger of Early Encounterings; Early Onset Brain Dysfunctions - Dyslexia, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Schizophrenia
Healthy Hobbies

Today, the future is rapid and rough. Your baby will become adult in a society hugely different from now. To raise it well you need to anticipate the near future, and, at times, to interfere with Nature and with Society. But you, as parent should not communicate to your child that you are raising it according to your or anyone's plan. Children and newest generation will revolt against that. So keep a light touch. Also try hard not to short-circuit your child's childhood by your heavy-handed interference in his or her growing up. (Try not to make your child a puppet of what you would have wanted to be; let him remain and develop as a child with its happinesses and disapointments) A child needs to discover on its own, even if it will mean making mistakes. But you the parent should be watching to head off bad mistakes. And, especially to avoid bad long range outcomes.

Arranging a Birth Date: This may not be under control, but if it is, a child who will be born in late spring has the lowest incidence of serious diseases.

Naming a newborn should be done with care. It should not create contradiction between what a child could be and what it will be expected to be based on reaction to the name. A girl newborn named Venus may have trouble avoiding the idea she is primarily for sex. And even after you have settled on a name you think avoids that problem, consider the name in history and ask yourself, “Could this name, which seems so fine now, possibly harm the future new person?” Be careful of vogue name of famous person. A German or Italian named Adolf or Benito in 1935 had acquired a name problem after a scant 10 years, and a name like Abraham, vogue in America in 1865 was ethnic by 1900. A naming conflict seen today comes from forgetting that the cute baby you officially name ‘Judy’, ‘Bobby’, or ‘Jimmy’ will someday grow to be an adult better benefited from a birth certificate name that has a more adult sound. A name difficult to pronounce in the culture the child will grow up in or that sounds outlandish or too long will mark the child as outsider and strongly limit him or her. One may give a name that reminds of cultural origin yet does not jar the ear of a hearer in the culture the child will grow up in.  Compare ‘Lin’ to ‘Fang’ for a Chinese-American or ‘Mari’ to ‘Matilda' for a girl of Australian origin. Finally, the trend toward trendy names – like Hillary or Taylor or Scarlett or Kelly or Murphy, or weird spellings like Kellee – that parents get from movie stars or fictional characters or other entertainers - will suggest a kind of stupidity to a cultured person. Stick to the tried and true that tell nothing about parent intention.

Critical Period for Newborn Eye Vision Deprivation: Depriving one eye of vision in the weeks after birth may irreversibly weaken the visual input from that eye (In cats, sewing closed the eyelids of one-side eye between 3 to about 20 weeks irreversible weakens the input from the temporarily sewed-over eye after re-opening of the sewn lids). Depriving an eye, for even a few days, during this period is sufficient to cause major changes in ocular-dominance-column anatomy and physiology. Although the exact timing in humans is not delineated, blockage of vision by, for example, a newborn infant cataract or a severe cross-eyed condition even for a few days during the early critical period may ruin vision from that eye. Thus parents and pediatricians should pay attention to a newborn's eyes and vision and any abnormality should immediately be treated.

Infant Feeding: “Breast or not?” Answer should not be trivialized by 'Nature knows best.' It should be based on mother’s informed preference, ability to perform, and enjoyment or lack of distaste in the act. Breastfeeding (BF) happily given by healthy donor is good for a strong, healthy newborn, but otherwise it may be less than wise. A baby that remains jaundiced may have it made worse by mother milk. And breastfeeding is a No Go if mother is HIV+ or if HIV status is in question or any other risk of transmitting maternal infection to infant. A mother may feel completely unhappy breastfeeding or just cannot produce enough milk. I was brought up bottle-fed and I never regretted my mom’s decision.
Now, a very important piece of data related to early feeding in later personality. Experimental observations on newborn rats and their mother have conclusively shown that mothers who suckle their newborns in a seeming, loving, patient way produce children who are much less susceptible to stress and who are happily adventurous. Oppositely, rat mothers who suckle their newborns in a nervous, impatient way produce children from the newborns who are easily stressed out and not adventurous. This has been shown to be related to gluco-corticoid levels in the newborn brain related to the mother suckling experience. I must say here that the experiments were done on breast-feeding rat mothers and therefore directly apply to breast-feeding human mothers. However, it should not be interpreted that the good results are caused by the breast feeding; they are caused by the way the breastfeeding is given. Therefore, the implications for mothers who do not breastfeed is to feed your newborn formula bottle milk lovingly and patiently as opposed to time-limited, unhappy impatience. 

Parenting as Science: Expertise should evolve through study and practice. I recommend for a cover-to-cover read the Ronald Illingworth Development of the Infant and Young Child  (Out of Print but still the best; last ed. 1987, available Amazon.com) as guide to child development. Parents will do well to read the fascinating, stimulating, educative BF Skinner's Walden 2.

Monitoring the Baby's Physical Measurements is a good reference point for adequacy of diet and discovering disease or poor development early. Head circumference detects mental sub-normality and brain disease; it is done by wrapping tape measure around widest part of baby head (the plane through eyebrow and furthest jutting point back of skull). The infant's weight is done using either baby scale or bathroom balance difference between you holding baby and without Baby. And the body length is heel to top of head using yardstick measure along side of crib mattress and gently straightening baby body against ruler. Measurement should not be forced or attempted if baby opposes. Make it a game with reward by cuddling and making a cooing (Soothing) sound.
  Interpretation of measurement is referenced to table on healthy child. (See prev. cited Illingworth, any Pediatrics tome or Google) separately by gender and at varying intervals as child ages. All are for age and gender in 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, 90th and 95th percentiles. A weight above 95th may mean an overfed child; one below 5th, a malnourished or ill child. Body length above 95th suggests growth hormone hyper-secretion that will lead to a giant if not treated; and below 5th suggests a dwarf or malnutrition. Head circumference above 95th suggests hydrocephalus (excess water in brain compartment), brain tumor or autism high risk); head circumference below 5th percentile suggests mental sub-normality.
  Extreme cases (5th percentile outliers) ought to be obvious without measurement but the value of timely measurement is to pick up a growth pattern going bad before it is obvious. An infant in first 6 months weighing between 75th and 95th who by 10 months is falling between 10th and 25th is on way to being malnourished or seriously ill. Or a child born with 50th percentile head circumference that during 1st year seems gradually headed toward 95th should provoke suspicion of tumor and have MRI scan of brain.
   Do not get too worried by 1 or 2 slightly abnormal measurements. Due to difficulty measuring a squirming infant there is large variation in similar point in time. Nevertheless a consistent trend should alert observer to potential abnormality.

Monitoring to Prevent Artery-Blockage Disease as Adult: I advise children to get lipid profile blood tests (See PN③, Lipid Profile). Such tests involve blood sampling so take advantage to do them during necessary hospitalizations starting with the newborn.

Infant Handling: Consider a baby's speechless behavior – what does it communicate to you? Keep in mind you have absolute power over Baby, and absolute power corrupts.
No physical violence ever! No demand on Baby or toddler during first year when it should have minimal frustration. The nervous system is not developed enough for it to be trained, and to attempt training based on demand with unpleasant consequence may result in producing a negative, fearful, unimaginative child or a downright dumb-dodo adult. Baby's cry should signal hunger, soiling or pain so you respond promptly with corrective action and do not try to train Baby not to cry by ignoring it. If you become impatient with Baby, you need a rest.
Pay attention to choosing caretaker – nanny, baby sitter, nursery school personnel; anyone who will be close to your child should have No TB, HIV, hepatitis virus certified by tests. Be sure anyone who will be alone with the child has no bad health habit and is mentally stable with calm personality, not overtly religious or a believer in spiritualism. (Do a test conversation trying to bring out weird beliefs) A nanny from another culture or uneducated is a potential danger. Ideal caretaker should follow orders exactly and not have own ‘brilliant’ idea.

Baby Home Environment: Parents should plan it out during the pregnancy. Baby’s room should be comfortable temperature, humidified and well air-conditioned and also hypo-allergenic (drapes, rugs, furniture covers); bug-proofed and no furry pet (parents should control their own desire for a furry pet and if they have one, board it with a good owner until your infant is more grown up); and free of accident risk. Consider accident possibility and prevention.
   Concerning accident, the most serious for Baby is fall, so floor should be soft rug or tatami and no hard sharp edge jutting where infant or toddler might go and no heavy thing on overhead shelf that could fall and crush in earthquake or due to sudden jarring. Also dangerous is foreign object in mouth so no small loose object Baby might swallow or choke on.

Scalding accident is common with toddler so no place for hot fluid to splash or pour on Baby. And no sharp instrument, open electric outlet, space heater. Obviously I could go on and on. Always think ‘Accident’. (See Accident chapter in PN 1)

Infection: Baby has maternal immunity first 3 months but not to be depended on since it has an undeveloped immune system so infection like TB could run wild. Strictly limit human and other animal contact. Do not exhibit baby. Only those with need to be in vicinity of Baby should be there. And be sure no one has a cold or other obvious transmissible disease. If parent or family is coughing or sneezing, or come down with respiratory infection, a nose-mouth surgical mask that is freshly changed should be worn near Baby. Better, keep away!
No uncooked food or fluid (except mother's milk) should go into Baby during first year, and eating and drinking receptacle should be pre-boiled.

Infant Position in Bed and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Data confirm that SIDS is prevented by not placing infant face downward on mattress and not covering Baby face. Place Baby on its back and keep the head in open and check frequently. SIDS has also been related to the mid-brain opioid sensitivity center; so, nursing mothers should particularly avoid medications containing opioids (usually painkillers) and any sedatives.

Infant Motor and Social Development: Weekly the first year and monthly the second year, observe Baby in motor skill when placed on belly and check reflexes and visual response; and social interaction, using Illingworth’s DIYC or other source as reference for description and interpretation. Once familiar with testing, it takes 15 minutes. Gross delay in development should be reported to pediatrician. I recall a doctor who was repeatedly reassuring a mom of her child’s normality. But the mom noted her 10-month baby could not sit, or pull self up to stand or creep or crawl like others his age. On her own she consulted neurologist who diagnosed infant hypotonia. The mother's vigilance made the diagnosis before the child's 1st birthday and corrective exercises brought improvement.
Doing developmental testing on Baby is an interesting way for parent to pass otherwise boring time and will be rewarded by better bonding with child.

Language Learning: Earliest vocalizations are non speech sounds in first 3 months; at 4 months, first vowel-like sounds; then by 6 months, babbling begins and gradually transitions into recognizable language-specific sound combinations that have vowel consonants and then interspersed with pauses, inflections and intonations drawn from what the infant hears. Normal hearing is essential – deaf infants will not progress. Also the importance of imitation should suggest a teaching-method to caregiver. Soon after 7 or 8 months the babbling will transition into echo speech and the longer syllable groups will get parroted. The first recognizable words appear between 9 and 12 months and they are parent names and then familiar objects or things. Exposure to parents and siblings starting at infant age 9 months strongly shapes language including a distinctive and enduring local accent. Language accents that may demean a person could be prevented by paying attention to an infant-child's (ages 9 months - 10 years) exposure to adult and child-peer speakers. In 2nd year, word combinations are increasingly used. On average at 15 months the child understands 2-word combinations (e.g. wash baby); at 15 months can say 60 or so words; at 18 months can utter 2-word combinations and understands basic word order; at 2 years, can say 200 to 300 words; at 28 months understands complex sentences and at 3 yrs should be able to make adult-like sentence constructions. Pronunciation progresses too; 90% of children can voice all vowels by age 3 and by age 4 the consonants p, b, m, h, w, d, n, t and k. and by age 5 to 6, the sounds of y, j, zh and wh; and by age 7, of f, l, v, sh, ch, s, v and th. Girls tend to be ahead of boys. Among normals 73% speak understandable words by age 1 year (range 1st noted, 8 – 30 months). And 40% join words together by 18 months (10 – 44 months). And by 4 to 5 years the child can tell a story. These are average ages with wide age range for language acquisition.
   Attention to language should begin from 1st day home. Bad hearing is the most frequent cause of language delay. Baby will show good hearing by stopping random activity in response to new sound whose source it cannot see, will look in direction of speaker that is not in the speaker's field of vision, will respond differently to angry and to happy voice, will respond typically to sound of name.
    Mental retardation is a cause of language slowness; in that case, the developmental test should reveal a broad range of delay early.
   The most important cause of language slowness or poor speech is a child's lack of exposure to good spoken language. Close observation has shown that language learning is enhanced by a parent or caretaker speaking to the child in a manner called "motherese". (Note "motherese" is not "baby talk"; it is special emphasis on parts of the speech) In motherese, compared to adult-directed speech, the pitch of the voice is slightly increased and phonetic units are spoken more clearly and are emphasized, thus increasing the separation of phonetic units. Adults speaking to infants in motherese emphasize just those features of speech that are critical to their native language. Chinese mothers, for example, emphasize the four tones in Mandarin that are critical to word meaning in Chinese. Evidence suggests that motherese does in fact assist infants' discrimination of phonetic units. Additional points of good motherese are from the start talk to your child in clear simple adult language, using concrete rather than abstract word and simple but correct syntax, eg, “Here is milk.” “I am mother”, “You are Joseph.” Let the child see your mouth moving when you talk, do not use baby talk, and avoid complex, abstract language. Do not pressure the child to communicate correctly. Correct the errors in speech in a patient, happy way and do not stress the child. Any time a child behaves as if it understands your word, reward it with affection, and once it starts vocalizing and seems to be making intelligible request, eg, “Milk”, then give reward by offering what it seems to be asking for.
   Once a child starts vocalizations, listen carefully and try to make it a dialog. Give it time to express self, do not interrupt or anticipate what it is trying to express in speech or constantly correct poor pronunciation, grammar or syntax. (But do attempt to correct albeit patiently and non punishingly) The best way to get a child to speak well is to speak well to it. Read to your child good, short, simply written poetry and prose story and description even if the child cannot yet understand. Reward with a hug immediately for the child's attention.

Getting a Bilingual or Trilingual Child: Two critical learning periods for teaching a native child a foreign language have been shown to exist. The first, which I call the infant phase, pinpointed from 9 to 10 1/2 months of age, is a phonetic learning period that has been demonstrated in American infants for Mandarin Chinese phonetic sounds.
Infants can learn the phonemes of a nonnative language at 9 months of age.
Three groups of American infants were exposed for the first time to a new language (Mandarin Chinese) in 12 25-minute sessions between the ages of 9 and 10.5 months. One group interacted with live native speakers of Mandarin; a second group was exposed to the identical material through television; and a third group heard tape recordings only. A control group had similar language sessions but heard only English. Performance on discrimination of Mandarin phonemes was tested in all groups after exposure (11 months). Only infants exposed to live Mandarin speakers discriminated the Mandarin phonemes. Infants exposed through TV or tapes showed no learning, and were indistinguishable from the controls (who heard only English). The performance of American infants exposed to live Mandarin speakers was equivalent to monolingual Taiwanese infants of the same age who had experienced Mandarin from birth.
Note: "Phonemes" are the basic phonetic sounds a language can be broken up into. So the above experiment is just the start of teaching a young American infant Mandarin Chinese, a language that depends much on tones of phonemes. Without this very early exposure American infants could still more easily learn Mandarin if exposed to it as children up till ages 7 to 10 years but would not sound completely Mandarin - speaking to native speaking Mandarin Chinese - , although they might be understood  by native speakers in meaning.
Experiments have also been done with American and Japanese infants in the detection of difference between the "L" and "R" sounds. Japanese children and adults cannot detect the difference in those sounds unless they have been carefully schooled; however, all infants up till about 8 months old can detect the difference in the sounds; and, further, those infants who are then raised in a purely Japanese-speaking household lose the ability to detect that difference after age 9 months.
These experiments strongly suggest that all human infants are born with a universal phonetic basis of language that allows them to detect the ultimate phonetic units of a universal-based language sound system from birth (Somewhat accords with linguist Noam Chomsky's ideas) but then they lose that ability as they get exposed to what will be their native language after 9 to 10 months of age. 
Commenting on the above, it is still an area of very active, ongoing research but already some practical points appear for good parenting. The advantages or negatives of exposing a 9 month old child to a foreign language speaker, based on the present data, seem to be specific to the language and the child's expected environment. The questions still might be: Would the child retain the ability to accurately speak and understand the "L" and "R" differential when learning English as a 2nd language even a few years later and also, would any harm come to learning the native language with this interference. For an American infant whose parents plan to have it learn Mandarin Chinese later, it might seem advantageous to expose the American infant to a native Chinese speaker as in the above experiment. 

The Second Critical Period I call the toddler phase. Note that the infant phase involves sound differentiations only, not meaning. So it will affect native and local accents that infant may develop later, but in the toddler phase a major window exists for having your child become fluent in a 2nd language after age 3 and even a 3rd or 4th language to age 10. A particular example of childhood language brain plasticity that comes into my mind is the case of a 5-year old who made only a few visits to New York City from Japan and as a result picked up the basics of English grammar which she later added to and became perfectly fluent in English. Ages 7 to 10 are the critical-change age period. After age 7 (8th birthday) a child starts to lose brain plasticity to easily acquire another language. (Age 8-10 is a gray area; many children still can learn 2nd or 3rd languages relatively easy) Age 5 (5th birthday) is a good time to start the child into the 2nd language, even though it could be acquired earlier, because the first 5 years ought to concentrate on his getting his parent language perfect. The parent language should be consistently spoken at home. In Japan I saw examples among expatriates. The rule is: speak your primary language consistently at home and let the child learn Japanese (or whatever the street language) from the outside.  I saw a Russian child in Tokyo become nicely trilingual – Russian, Japanese, and English – from the Russian Embassy grammar school teaching her English starting age 7 to 8. This brain plasticity period is a gold opportunity to give a child a bi- or tri-lingual gift. But consider carefully the second or third language (often the first & second are parental & street). For an American or English parent, choose one like French or Russian; these are languages that are different enough from English that they are harder to learn than, say German, and may confer advantages. A good way to work it is by getting the particular language-appropriate companion for your child.
   Importantly, from personal experience, the use of interesting movie watching (Free internet streaming movies) can greatly improve learning the language of the movie, especially good word usage and pronunciation.
   For fictional fostering trilinguality in one's child click and read 
Teaching a Child to Read:  When poor reading is discovered in an adult, it may be due to bad teaching or bad environment. In children it can be from poor vision or hearing or a defect that affects the language function in the brain. To understand difficulties learning to read, one needs to realize that learning to read depends first on learning to speak and being able to hear and to get to understand words and phrases. The natural way a child acquires speech is from hearing parents and other speakers and mimicking vocally and getting to know the meanings. This should be by ages 3 to 4. After that, the child learns to read as he or she connects sounds of the alphabet letters (in countries with an alphabet or syllabically written language) and their combinations that make up words and then acquires a vocabulary of written words from the page. In a targeted training program this should be by ages 4Reading can then be improved, teaching the child new words by pointing-out things and the use of word cards with the written part on one side and a picture of the meaning on the other, and then books with stories containing pictures of the newly introduced words in the story. Start this not later than age 5 and do it with patience so the child is not stressed by it. The best way is a little at a time and using good child stories simply written. Children who have learned reading by the combination of natural  vocalization followed quickly by the word pictures will be protected from poor reading as adult.


Behavior training should start gradually in 2nd year. Overview of year-1 shows a helpless, initially wordless baby, and by year's end a vocalizing baby with partly disconnected and incompletely functioning brain. It is a year of transition from passive intrauterine existence to active exploiting of home environment. During year-1, you give the child an optimally non-frustrating environment with minimal interference in its development. With year-2, a training on limitations caused by the environment should start.
Continue to keep in mind the massive power imbalance of parent versus child. Use it to exert authority sparingly, with control, and according to thought-out plan. No physical punishment! But that does not prevent you from using power to protect a kid from its ignorance, which sometimes may require you to overcome its resistance against protective or restraining action. Say you are on a boat with a 4-year-old and he insists on dangerously climbing a ladder despite being told No. So if he insists to start climbing, you restrain him over and over again even when he tries to hit you to stop the restraining. But you do not punish him, even for hitting you. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish when you force a child to follow a healthy pathway out of your feeling of protectiveness. Warning sign is if you feel impelled to give immediate physical discipline, stop because you are stepping over a line toward sadism.
   Best way to teach a child is by your own good example. For older child, if you do not allow watching TV, you should not watch; if you scold that sweets are bad, do not eat sweet in the child's presence. Be consistent and fair in rule and discipline. Use reward of affection rather than negative reinforcement punishment.

Toilet Training should not be stringent. Before age 2, most children lack the capability to be toilet trained. And it is not important. If you are disturbed by your toddler's wetting or soiling pants, your problem is best talked over with a pediatrician. Toilet-train your child by being a good model and letting child see you defecating and urinating on toilet with complete naturalness. Yes, I am saying you should allow your child to toddle into the WC and watch you sitting for a BM or peeing. A toddler is intensely curious and will follow caretaker into whatever room and watch and try to mimic. So have a pottie right there. Also you should answer questions. And do not respond with funny expression. If the toddler is old enough to understand, you may say: “It's my WC now and welcome to it but you don't have to stay.”
   A recent observation is that babies using cloth diapers get toilet trained a year earlier than babies using disposable diapers. It is due to the super absorption of disposables that prevents a toddler from being aware it is wetting itself. And since the disposables stress the environment and cost extra money better do not use disposables.
   Bed wetting may go on till age 6 and is best treated by giving the child a good supply of fresh, clean bed sheets and not making a problem of it.
   As soon as the child can walk and understand enough to play games, the hand washing and tooth brushing habit should be started as a mime game using not unpleasant tasting, brightly colored tooth paste and giving kid his personal towel and cute shaped Mickey Mouse soap.

Discipline: The most powerful enforcer of behavior is a child's first food giver, usually a mother. By year-1, a mother who has correctly filled this role will be in strong disciplinary position. She can signal approval or disapproval by her face, voice, and the way she holds a child. For infant or toddler the giving of maternal affection should be the source of discipline. The reinforcing of good behavior by reward of affection is signaled by a pleasant hug and cuddling.; while bad behavior should be corrected by frown and lack of affection feeling, and, if the bad behavior is potentially harmful to self or others, by gently applied force, unless the child is too young, too old or too big for force. The force should not be punishing and should be strictly limited to accomplishing stop of bad behavior where words have not worked. Reward and non-reward for behavior should be timed to immediately coincide with the behavior so that child connects reward or its lack with the behavior and it should be explained immediately.

Bad habit: Smoking cigarette may occur if a parent smokes, and early-on the parent should educate child to its danger. Moderation in alcohol should have as model, a parent not drinking liquor at home and also even wine or beer should not be part of the regular or restaurant meal and a parent should avoid drinking any alcohol in the child's presence. Similarly, drug taking will not be problem if parents do not make show of using medicine they would not wish a child to use, and at early stage teach children about medicines and recreational drugs.

Eating & Parental Model: Parent should keep in mind the modeling effect on the child's eating habit. How and what the parents eat, body weight appearance, and attitude toward cleanliness in dining room and kitchen is going to be transmitted. If you do not want your child to act slobby-lobby, make effort to teach him or her to eat neat and to clean up after. The eating for kids should not be associated with radio, TV or chitchat because that kind of eating is a factor in obesity. Slow, paced, eating should be taught. The moment of quiet just before the meal should be part of family ritual. And do not take the kid to restaurants. Associating restaurants as a treat is the way to fat.

Sleep: Kids need sleep more than adults. Make the sleep room psychologically quiet with pleasant green and blue colors for rug, drape and bed cover. Keep noise level low and at sleep time switch on strong darkness because light rays inhibit sleep. Have books and colorful reading material and make use of tapes or DVDs with classical music and good language.
   A child after age 8 should, ideally, have its own room or share a room with sibling but occasional desire to wander into mom and dad's bedroom and bed should be OK.
   Lay-down time for a child should be 9 to 10 PM but do not strictly discipline it. Read to your small child and later he will read. Listen to tape or disc together but no visual, and keep it light and educational. The going to bed can be a togetherness time for child and parent and often the child falls asleep then and you tiptoe out.

Enrich Child Environment: Good health and long life promoters ought to be in a child's room. Good music stimuli, eg, Mom's singing and music; good visual stimuli – coloring book, comics, lots of primary colors in pretty picture and jigsaw puzzle; literary stimuli with reading good poetry and fiction and documentary. Soon as the child is old enough to appreciate a hobby, the parent should start him or her on stamp collecting, guppy fish, small garden vegetable and/or flower planting basing it on the child's likes.
   Do not get your kid hooked on furry pets – cat or dog or other animal -; it is transmitter of bad disease - cat leukemia and toxoplasmosis, and dog hookworm - and a cause of serious lifetime allergy and asthma. Occasionally it has led to suicide.
The above teenager committed suicide after this graduation picture with his pet cat, which he insisted on and was supported by his parents to the extent of legal challenge of a school prohibition, went viral on the net. It is a worst example of what can happen to your child if you tolerate the furry pet habit.
 Also the bad furry pet habit is transmitted to the child's adult life and will limit the child badly making him a slave to furry pets as an adult. Say it loud and clear – No furry pet! Of course, you must believe in that too.

Concerning the affects of an abnormal sound environment in an infant room, here is a quote from Principles of Neuroscience, 4th ed., that should cause parents to think about that: "The auditory area of young animals are particularly plastic, and  its sound-wave frequency organization emerges gradually during development from an early, crude frequency map. Raising animals in acoustic environments in which they are exposed to repeated tone pulses of a particular frequency results in a persistent expansion of cortical areas devoted to that frequency, accompanied by a general deterioration and broadening of the tonotopic map. This result not only suggests that the development of auditory brain area is experience-dependent, but raises the possibility that early exposure to abnormal sound environments can create long-term disruptions of high-level sensory processing. A greater understanding of how this happens and whether it is also true for human fetuses and infants may provide insights into the origin and remediation of disorders in which auditory processing is centrally impaired, such as many forms of dyslexia. Moreover, the ability to induce synaptic changes in adult auditory cortex by engaging attention or by rewards raises new hopes for brain repair even in adulthood."

TV & Other Video: Ideally, a young child should not be exposed to TV or DVD from outside source until it has developed its own critical sensibility. Children's TV and DVD in 2017 is brutalizing with violent superheroes with hyper sexual and corrupting characters with rotten anti social role models. A parent-selected DVD for a young child, such as Caspar the Friendly Ghost, is healthily entertaining while being educational. Also good is documentary as part of combined adult-child learning program. Do not waste money on cable TV. Use your selected DVD, YouTube or CD. Personal computer may be introduced early but without the uncontrolled internet especially avoid social media like Facebook or Twitter. You do not want a young child or even an adolescent to form uncontrolled relationships by email or be influenced by the bad internet propaganda. Of course, a parent may not be able to prevent it but still the parents should strive mightily to delay or influence the contact until the child is as old as he or she could possibly be in the delay situation. 

Sex Education: Be aware that there is presently in 2018, a strong pressure in U.S. society to consider homosexual behavior a normal variation not to be criticized or considered unsatisfactory. You as a potential parent who believes in influencing your child have got to decide whether you really care whether your child becomes homosexual or not. Despite what you may have read, been told, or strongly believe, there is no scientific evidence that a person is born gay  or born straight (And read 
 The hyper-sexual media, in my opinion, are unhealthily shortening life, lowering intelligence and producing unhappiness. Besides that, they are, in my opinion, very vulgar. They are a reason I advise not to have cable TV and a reason for young children to watch only selected DVD or YouTube or listen to selected CD so as not to grow up exhibiting the grotesque sexuality that now in 2018 considered normal.
   Sex education at home should start with parents allowing baby or toddler to see them naked in situation where it is natural and unforced. Physical affection and sexual contact between husband and wife, if at all, may be carefully allowed into Baby’s viewing environment from the newborn period. It should always be covered by bed blanket or sheet; and be unforced, natural and without rough movement or sound. Never should it be a planned exhibition but only viewed by chance and child curiosity. (Child sleeping with parents and awakened inadvertently by gentle movements of the sexual intercourse between mom and dad) And only normal embracing – no oral sex or unusual positions. Their child may be in the same bed with parents who are engaging in sexual activity; the parents should consider it a teaching opportunity and keep it gentle, not obvious, and do nothing considered perverse.
   The advent of openly homosexual same-sex parents, in my opinion, introduces unhealthy behavior to a behaviorally vulnerable child as a norm. Although there is no data of its result, even a homosexual-pair parent should care enough about a child's being allowed his own choice of sexuality only after he has had a chance to have the natural, normal heterosexual experiences rather than to be given a parental model of homosexuality. Also, be aware that a child's first source of orgasm often imprints a sexual orientation. Best to delay socio-sexual orgasms (as opposed to self masturbation, which should not be delayed by criticism) as long as practicable.
   From child age 5, parents should gradually tell the child everything about sexuality using text and picture. Once the parents have thought it over and decided whether they really care whether or not their child becomes homosexual, a definite educative line should be taken: If you wish your child to have a chance to grow up as a heterosexual adult, clearly tell the child that heterosexuality is natural and central and most healthy, and that homosexuality as a lifestyle is basically not healthy because of the promiscuity and lack of good sexual hygiene that current “gay” relationships involve. However, as you teach, it should be mentioned that sometimes such acts may occur from desire for variety or because of personality and that one should treat all persons with basic civility no matter each one's sexual orientation. 
   Children should be given all data about sex, causing infection and other sexual disease and pregnancy and also causing personal unhappiness.
   Masturbation:  If a child asks, the habit should be explained by telling children about it in a way that suggests it is a normal practice. If a parent inadvertently discovers the child masturbating, it should be ignored unless there is some abnormal or outlandish aspect.
   Birth control information of barrier method and coitus interruptus and rhythm should be explained as age of fertility approaches. A sexual ethic of preventing STD and unwanted pregnancy, and no grossly promiscuous behavior should be promoted and then the child should be gradually introduced to a sexually free but responsible lifestyle. Usually, a parent the same gender as the child should be in charge of imparting sexuality information to same gender child but that is optional and may represent my old-fashioned opinion.
   In the case of single-parent child raising, this advice will be varied a bit but essentially its thrust should be similar.

The Outstanding Child: A warning on the child who has a pretty face, a clever brain, a physical skill that makes a sports hero: Nothing is more destructive to a child's development than having no obstacle. History is filled with failures who had a too early outstanding feature that was not cultivated and or not channeled properly.“Too much, too soon” should not just be the name of a movie. The greatest successes in history had to overcome obstacles in childhood – among them you see few pretty faces, no sports star or mental marvel.
   If you see your child has a particular gift early, do not over-stimulate or corrupt by excessive praise or commercial use. The child should be allowed to progress at a natural pace and, only if the child expresses a desire to continue his or her pursuit of excellence, put on a road of advanced study and training to perfect the skill to highest level for reward beyond flattery. Do not over-stress.
   Parents should plan to direct a child away from entertainment or sports profession. Being an actor, playing a piano or other music instrument, a writer, or a painter ought to be a hobby, fun and leisure activity. (Try to direct a child away from stage dramatics, especially main roles or musical performances because this often starts a bad ambition to be a star) The worst life is on the stage or as dime-a-dozen so called artist.
   Somewhat in relation to that, it is best not to foster a great ambition in a child, eg, to be another Albert Einstein. In almost all such cases the child will not succeed in its ambition and be bugged by a sense of failure. Better to allow a child to discover its own talent or greatness and awake happily to it.

A Child's Growing-Up Environment: The best you can give a child is stability in home and parents. The first 20 years of life are best lived in one good home with two good unchanging parents of opposite gender. If you are going to do a lot of moving around or changing partners, do not raise a child but rather give it to a stable, healthy Grandma & Grandpa or similarly gendered, stable, healthy Uncle & Aunt or acquaintance hetero couple you have confidence will be more ideal parents than you, and make a better new person of your child than you could. Since this is such an important question, a couple, ideally, ought not to decide to have a child until at least one year after they marry, to get the glitches out of their marital relationship (or in the case of a single woman, once she is in a healthy stable position in life) and be sure it is a stable relationship and that as parent(s) ready to raise the child healthily.
   I have observed the differential effects of growing up in one home in a big city in an apartment as was the norm among my age peers in the 1940's versus growing up as is the norm among the middle class today all over the USA in unattached private houses in suburbia with multiple moves. For me there is no question that, all other things equal, an upbringing inside the city (a viable city, not one like Detroit Michigan; and in a viable intra-city community) in an apartment-house home (assuming equal socio-eco level) was better than being raised in a private house community. First, socialization was better for an apartment house city kid – he or she has more friends and more easily visits pals’homes and sees other families in action than if raised in a private home in a small spread-out community. Second, a child gets a wider range of experience as a kid in the city with a closer relationship to persons of different race, ethnicity, gender and religion compared to suburbia or rural. Third, a kid raised in the city has more access to culture, to education, to intellectual stimulation. 
(However, in many of the big cities today there is no longer a safe neighborhood environment for a child to grow up into)

 I consistently observe that kids brought up in suburbia in private homes are more selfish, less socially experienced and wilder and more brutal than kids of same class who were brought up on big city street with middle class street gang socialization in my childhood days (1940s, NYC) Perhaps I am prejudiced by my background but I think it is a correct observation. Often, today, nothing one can do about it because, in USA big cities are becoming progressively unlivable unless you have much money.

Childbirth order first called to attention by child psychologist Alfred Adler is relevant to adult development. It is my observation that firstborns turn out the least satisfactory. (This is, of course, on the average; there are exceptions, undoubtedly due to parents interfering in the affect of birth order) I ascribe this to firstborn parental inexperience in a child's raising. With that knowledge, a firstborn's parents, before and from the birth, should plan to improve their knowledge and improve by study, seminar, and reliance on an assisting experienced caretaker. (Often the mother, aunt or sister of the new mom)

End Notes: Teenage Stress & Storm: The mid teens is a time when children become contra to parents. It is normal but needs to be managed else you will lose contact with your child. First, anticipate it, and develop a more trusting, fun-sharing relationship by engaging in shared activity your child likes. (Movie-going, baseball or football game attendance, fishing, stamp collecting; often one parent may be more involved and that is good because a one-to-one trust is needed) Also this advice is not limited to teenager. You want to get your child to think of you as part pal, part parent. Do not comment about your child's physical appearance – like “you need a shave” or “you're losing your hair” or “why don’t you dress better” or eating. If you have a criticism, take your child aside and quietly, in a friendly way say, “Maybe I'm old fashioned but I worry for your sake about you walking around looking so disordered.” The point is: keep your critique between you and your child only and try to keep it friendly and relaxed. Never directly give advice, especially in a threatening scold. Start it off by saying “Here is my opinion on this matter; I’ll keep it brief; and then please think about it and do what you think is best for yourself.” It typically gets centered on a teen wanting a personal car or free use of the family car. Here is a place to follow a general principal of not assisting (by giving money or ownership) in your child's achieving an unhealthy goal. So if he asks for a car, you say No with explanation why you do not like it. But once he has a driver's license and can earn the money to buy and maintain a car, do not make a problem about his getting his own car or driving the family car. If he reaches that point, then you should help him find the safest car he can afford but not advance him the money for it. And if you really do not want your child to drive a car in his teens, you should not have a personal or family car. You need to draw a fine line between exercising your authority and power in a subtle, friendly way, and not causing a commotion between you and kid.

More Endnotes
Schools: I do not favor pre-kindergarten age 5 schooling unless it is done for a specific problem like retardation. It tends to give a child a too upper class feeling. Also I strongly favor public schools (in USA by government) up to and including high school because it gives a child a chance to socialize in a democratic way with mixing of social levels, ethnic groups, and educational levels and gender. Of course, parents need to go by local area problems and qualities; today in some big cities the public schools are simply bad and even dangerous. For college and postgraduate degree university training, I think too much has been made of the elite schools - like Ivy League or elite small private colleges. In my experience (and it is much in this area both as student, teacher, adviser), the actual academic quality (as determined by fame of teachers and reputation by received opinion) is less important than a student's stimulation by his parents' training, by good motivation and by individual good teachers even at so called lesser quality schools. And many kids may be overwhelmed by the excessive rat race mentality of the competition at a high-reputation school like Harvard compared to the more relaxed setting of an East Podunck Community College. Also, in U.S.A., with today's outrageously excessive college costs and professional school costs, a small low-expense college should be the way to go rather than lifetime's paying back student loans. Then, too, often a college or university close to home allowing a kid to live at home (I did) is least stressful (Prevents borderline developmental brain disorders from becoming frank mental illnesses like schizophrenia) and will give your child a better education than out-of-town school. And it will keep you more in touch with your college-age child. 
  Finally, in certain circumstances - where parents simply cannot give a child a stable study situation  -, I favor a good boarding away-from-home (for U.S. children) Swiss education (Google, Swiss Schools and Ours: Why Theirs Are Better, free online read). This will be on a case-by-case basis; but it is not to be overlooked in my advice on the importance of parental stability.

The danger of introducing beliefs to a child – any beliefs whether you think them good or bad. A child's mind is uncritical. Two bad things may happen when you introduce a belief on a child or a teenager. Either the child will blindly believe or else will blindly reject. In either case your child will become narrow-minded and prejudiced. By all means allow your children to learn about everything but do not favor beliefs. And do not expose your child to teachers or mentors that have fixed or strong religious or ideology beliefs. No faith-based schools or ideologically oriented schools.
   Religious training If you are an atheist, it is not enough to just not discuss religion in the household. In that case you create a vacuum of belief that, later in life, religion will take advantage of and your child may be easily proselytized. So an atheist, without indoctrinating, should in a simple way teach his child why the parent became an atheist.
The Danger of A Child's Encounterings Affecting Later Life: For example, my nephew's daughter at about age 6 was taken to see a Hare Krishna parade and got Hare Krishna propaganda and as she grew up she became fanatically attached to this cult and now every part of her life is affected by it. I have also seen this with children who got introduced to video-gaming and computer tricks too early before they had judgment and later turned out to be one-sided monsters in later life. And many children are badly affected by acting in leading roles in grammar school or high school plays to direct them into an acting or modeling career. Of course, it is not possible to completely shield your child from the environment but be vigilant and take seriously the possibility that a chance encounter might adversely twist your child's life badly. In an opposite sense you may figure out arranging encounters that will have a good effect - like my dad gave me a chemistry set at age 10 and it directed me into science and, later, medicine.

Early Onset Brain Dysfunctions: Dyslexia, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Schizophrenia  Every person that will raise a child from infancy needs to be aware of what I call early developmental brain dysfunction. To understand it, one needs to know that the normal human brain continues development up into the age 20's and that the crux of such development is connectivity, ie, the neurons growing out nerve fibers that need to connect to the next neuron nerve stations in the neural network. This connectivity may involve a neuron in the cerebral cortex (top layer of the brain) growing a fiber as long as 1 meter that needs to connect to the 2nd stage neuron in the lower spinal cord as part of control of muscle actions. And there are millions of such neurons with need for perfect connections so it is easy to imagine that things can go wrong due to various influences like magnetism (exposure to MRI in pregnancy or children), x-ray, medications and various other toxic affects. Also realize these are analog not digital dysfunctions, ie, they are based on numbers of misconnection not single differences; we all have some misconnection but those that have too many get too much brain dysfunction leading to mental illness that needs to be protected against by parents more carefully controlling the child's growing up environment and events or persons that the child encounters. Also to realize is that the brain dysfunctions do not always give rise to an illness; they confer higher risk for mental illnesses. It needs a combination of genetic DNA and bad prenatal or early childhood effects leading to high rates of misconnectivity to produce a child that, raised in the wrong environment, will develop schizophrenia or dyslexia or autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which are the most well known mental illnesses showing these brain dysfunctions.
   Summarizing a practical many-factor approach: parents should 1) consider the avoidance of actions like getting MRI, x-ray, etc that may affect neuron connections of the fetus in pregnancy or the child up to teenage; 2) be alert to abnormalities of infant development and get a good diagnosis in case early onset dysfunction disease becomes suspect (Here, note that being a boy itself is a risk factor which confers in some cases a four times higher risk than being a girl); and 3) set up a child-raising environment that exposes a child at risk to minimal stresses that bring on a particular disease (ie, in a child at risk for developing schizophrenia, choosing a college that does not involve sleeping away from home). Following, I briefly comment on the important mental illnesses of misconnectivity.
 Autism is nearing 1% in prevalence in the U.S.A. Suspect it in infants, especially boys up to 3 years-old who show delayed, abnormal communication and asocial behavior. Especially with abnormally high head circumferences due to large brain and, on MRI, with abnormally thickened cerebral cortex. Get it checked by a neurologist (who may use child psychologist) and do not allow the diagnosis name to influence your child. Autism requires extra parental input to arrange a non stressful, friendly, accepting home environment. Well administered IQ testing is important because mental retardation may be part of the syndrome and strongly affects parental raising. Listen to your neurologist and his child psychology associates.
Developmental Dyslexia should be suspected as early as ages 4 or 5 when a child shows problems learning to read. First, vision and IQ should be checked to rule out and correct visual causes and to discover mental retardation as a cause of the dyslexia. The question is best supervised by an experienced pediatric neurologist and the diagnosis of developmental dyslexia can only be made based on finding abnormalities on brain imaging - CT, MRI and even PET scans. The earlier discovered the better because early treatment of developmental dyslexia without mental retardation, by structured teaching that allows a child-dyslexic to sound out words (so called phonological awareness) in the context of fluency and comprehension exercises, started before age 7 may improve reading to a normal range of excellence.
Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity (ADHD) is a trashcan diagnosis, a convenient label for a child who is a disciplinary problem. In this label are a mix of kids – the brain damaged or the retarded who will test out on IQ test, the atypical epileptics whose EEG will show it, the psychological problems like some cases of autism, childhood depression or unusual borderline psychoses, and the child with normal brain and normal psychology whose problem is a result of a failure of teacher or parent or an impossible environment. What is of importance for a parent or teacher is that when such a child is noted and does not respond to attempts to rearrange the environment; then, before any further labeling, the child should have a brain scan MRI and an EEG and a basic pediatric evaluation to be sure there is no structural, epileptic, hormonal or post-encephalitic problem. In some cases, a specific abnormality will be spotted and you go from there. An expert child psychiatrist should evaluate for ADHD. The question of using Ritalin, the related Concerta, or similar stimulant or anti-psychotic medications for ADHD is controversial. I have watched its use and prefer it to be used only after carefully testing it out and finding it to be needed to allow the child to be trained, and I favor weaning such kids off the drug once good psychotherapy is taking effect but when you try that, be sure it is in a non stressed-out period of the kid’s existence. Parents should go by best advice of child psychiatrist or pediatrician experienced in ADHD plus their own observations and seminars. 

Finally, in the list of developmental brain illnesses there is schizophrenia (For description click 9.29 Schizophrenia's Startling Story) whose diagnosis can only be made after the first schizophrenic psychotic break in late adolescence or early adulthood. It is the oldest-developing in age occurring developmental brain disorder. Parents should be alert to high risk in a child with family history, poor socialization, a lack of emotional connection in childhood. Also a history of difficult childbirth and other childhood severe illness of potential brain trauma. Also seasonal affects noted in the chapter on schizophrenia. It is not useful to try and definitively diagnose schizophrenia before the schizophrenic break; what is useful is to be alert to risk factors and to try hard to prevent the psychotic break (or if a break has happened, to prevent more because each psychotic break damages sensitive brain structures and ups the risk factor for more). Prevention is by a relatively sheltered child raising and an avoidance of stressful separations. Also early non Freudian psychoanalysis by the parents assisted by a knowledgeable, sympathetic psychiatrist who has read  9.33 Psychoanalysis - Secret of Do It Yourself. If one can shepherd such high risk offspring through adolescence and the 3rd decade of life and succeed with psychoanalysis in instilling self understanding, one may avoid the schizophrenic breaks even with high risk genetic input.

Healthy Hobbies  ought to put a child in touch with the natural environment and/or be a useful teaching to achieve happy successful life. Above all, the hobby should not be unhealthy or unusually risky or destructive or very solitary such as internet type hobbies that may instill bad beliefs.
Reading; the Books You Expose Your Child To: From my own personal experience, I know that the books at home which a child is exposed to will be his or her first reading and may have a tremendous affect on development. One set of encyclopedic volumes particularly well written for single-digit year age children are the1960s Grolier's Book of Knowledge. Yes ! The 1960s !  These books were ideally written for young kids and it is not important that they are so dated. In fact I still read with pleasure and benefit the entries from a 1962 set I found one day almost thrown out in garbage. Then certain authors like Mark Twain (Yes, I know about his use of "Nigger," in Huck Finn), Hemingway and other great writers should be in collection editions in your home library.
Jigsaw Puzzles: Wonderful for a child's brain development. Start with baby puzzles but by age 8, the 500-piece puzzle is a good challenge. Principles are to start by connecting the outline and then using shapes, color and design to fit the pieces. Set it up on a desk by the child's bed so he or she may work on it in leisure hours with a good light and magnifier.
Fishing: Below in small print I give advice to a child on how to make a hobby in a particular kind of fishing.
Lake sunfish are also called punkinseed  and they abound in the lakes of northeast America. Why sunfish angling? It is an excellent teaching and life-molding activity. The sunfish is a venue for animal study and collection in general and although it is a hunting it differs from land or surface animal hunting in that it is a sport, meaning you do not use techno overkill. The use of netting, stunning, shooting missiles like harpoons is not sport in my book. Only a line and hook with bait and the simpler and more natural the better. I do not favor artificial fly or lure fishing or use of hormones that fish can't resist.
   I prefer not to fish alone. If I am successful in a lake, it attracts kids. Often they are failing to catch the fish because they use too big hooks or the wrong bait or they do not know how to find where the fish are. So they cluster around, asking how I do it. And I have extra lines and hooks and worms to share. When you teach a kid to sunfish, it is an opportunity to teach caring for animal rights. But don’t preach to a kid: set a good example with a little explanation. Release fish you do not eat; or else keep the fish alive for home aquarium; and handle all fish gently as you unhook them. If you are fishing for the food, make a fire and fry the fish in front of the kids after you've had your catch. And teach them to filet the fish. They love that.
   From a lifetime of sunfish angling the best equipment is your mom's sewing thread and you tie on a hook. Or you can buy an inexpensive hand line. You throw the line several feet out from the shore, it floats on the surface and by its sudden downward jerking you see when the fish bites and when it is caught. The hook should be small c.2 mm across its curve. Smaller hooks catch fish but are hard to bait well and also may damage a caught fish because they get swallowed. When not fishing keep the hook embedded in a small piece of cork. Otherwise it will catch and stick into anything. Best bait is earthworm. Look along the sides of small roads especially a day after rain in the black dirt against stone walls or large rocks or near the roots of grass or weeds. Use a spoon or scissors and do not dig deep. The worms are just below the surface often in loose soil. You can catch a lot and keep them indefinitely at home in a small amount of soil in a pot. Use a lot of worm for bait, maybe a quarter, so that there is a lot of wiggle action. The sunfish are attracted to movement of live bait. Recently I noted from my tank sunfish that they love to catch and eat live swimming guppies. I guess a small guppy hooked on its tail would be good bait and intend to experiment along that line. Alternative bait is dough balls. Powder flour, raw egg and a very small amount of water gives the best adhesive dough balls. Too much water causes them to fall off the hook. I am still experimenting along that line.
   The season you can be sure to catch sunnies in the
New York and New England area is July to September. Once the weather gets cool the fish go deep in center of lake. The day should be sunny and warm with no wind, and the surface of the lake smooth. You fish from the shore. Avoid overhanging tree or bush or lake shore overgrown with weeds or scum fungus. Best is rock shore, an artificial wall or by a bridge. Bring extra lines and hooks because the tackle is easily lost.
   You should throw your baited hook at least 3 feet out on the lake, or 1 meter, from shore although from a bridge you can just drop it. Also you got to move around and find your fish; it will not come to you. So you put a fat piece of worm on the hook with a long wiggly part hanging off it and throw it in the water and if a fish is near you'll see the bite within a minute, but if no bite pull it in and throw it back in a different spot. Once you get a first bite, stay with it until you catch the fish. Often he'll strip the first worm from the hook. Just put another one on but this time carefully so too much is not hanging off. The fish has been attracted and he is out there waiting hungrily for the next worm. If you find the fish keeps stripping your bait from the hook but never gets caught, it means a too large hook or too small a fish.

   Let a Sunnie hook itself - don't pull back to hook the fish. A Sunnie may be swimming high in the water and it will lunge for the bait and either hook itself on it or strip it and get away. Sometimes it will hook itself in face or tail. Usually the hook will only go in the lip and is easily removed.
  Be prepared with a plastic bag half full of lake water that you may hang from a bush or fence nearby. Use a triple bag because less than 3 layers often springs a leak. You can keep up to 15 live fish (4 to 5 inches long) in a moderate size half-filled bag and carry them alive with you to stock another pond that has no fish or you may bring them home and liberate them into your aquarium. Best to have a large (12-15 gallon) tank ready at home with tap water already standing for 12 hours to get out the chlorine, and mix it with the lake water in your plastic bag. Bottom pebbles are good for the fish laying eggs. A bubble aerator will ensure the fish survival at home.
  Cooking your sunfish: Two or 3 sunfish, or even one big one, with spaghetti make a good meal. You filet each fish using sharp scissors the cuts off the head and slices open the underbelly and also make wedge cuts at the dorsal fin of the fish's back into the flesh. Then peel away the strips of pure flesh on each side of the skeleton and fry the steak-like pieces in olive oil or any vegetable oil in a pan. The spaghetti can be your own cooked or takeout. 
   In your home aquarium the fish will get along without added food. They seem to be able to eat small animals like insects and smaller fish even their own babies, and the plants. Once in a while, buy 12 or so live guppies and give them into your tank as a treat. Sunnies love to catch guppies. Always have a cover for your tank because a sunfish when stressed may leap out of the tank and if you are not around you'll find it dead on the floor when you return home.
   If you are going to repopulate with sunfish, only do it in ponds. They do not prefer moving water like rivers or streams. Small artificial ponds like only 2 or 3 feet deep may need to have the water cleaned and changed at intervals and also not too much vegetation which uses up oxygen. For these small enclosure home ponds a bubble-aerator is a good idea.
    You can tell that you have a male and female if one pursues the other. It is very difficult to tell gender with certainty. In May or June, females have big bellies with eggs and males are more colorful but still it is not easy. If you are breeding the fish, try to separate the baby fish from the adults as soon as you spot them because in the small enclosure tank the adults will eat the babies up quickly like guppies.
   You may identify individual fish by making small scissor cuts in the rear fins or by colored thread. The fish can be handled out of water for up to a minute and you may weigh them and measure them individually and note the typical growth. Learn to identify the gender by external appearance. They live for at least 5 years - no one actually knows - it is a good experiment but not for me at age 85 now.
   So have fun and teach the kids good things about nature and how we are all animals together and share and share alike. Above all be kind to the fish.   
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