Have you ever wondered why girls follow the trends of someone like Miley Cyrus…or the next in line to shock the senses of morality?
I’d like to introduce to you psychologist Albert Bandura (born in 1925) and his social learning theory. In its simplicity, the theory concludes that people learn efficiently from observing the consequences of another person’s behavior.
Let’s think about that for a minute….consequences of another person’s behavior.
How many examples can you think of where the consequences of misbehaving is rewarded with fame? i.e. attention, riches, parties (fun), friends, …etc.
Learning theory states that children learn by modeling—imitating the behavior of others. They learn vicariously—personalizing the experiences of others.
How many young women dress like their favorite starlet? Is it really just playing? Is it really just cute fun?
Bandura tells us Observational Learning has four phases:
The first step is Attention. Children pay attention to role models who they find interesting, who are observed as receiving desired attention or rewards, perhaps the role model is powerful, fanciful or novel.
The second step is Retention. Retention is the grounding of the observation and its consequences into the mind. This is achieved through repetition and modeling of the behavior.
The third step is Reproduction. Reproduction is the act of the child repeating the behavior on their own.
The final step is Motivation. By reproducing the behavior the child receives the desired reward. The reward can be one that is received immediately such as attention or a reward that is promised in the future.
Promised in the future…
Yes, children do dream about the future and are motivated by what can be. But they do not have the maturity to understand that not all things are as they appear to be—that what is wish for may not yield the reward desired.
Think about these examples:
Everyone is always laughing and happy at parties with alcohol and drugs.
Girls who dress sexy are always popular.
Being a “mean girl” makes you powerful.
Wearing designer clothing makes you more important, more accepted.
Each of these examples has been taken from one or more (more) pop culture icons.
Our children are watching….and learning. It starts at birth and continues throughout life. The television shows, toys and games that children spend time with do influence their behavior…their future. That cute sexy fashion doll does not have to say one word to become your daughter’s teacher. The lessons come built in.
I created Via E and the Alexis O’Shay Dollfriend® to provide wholesome play for girls. The culture of educational fun surrounding Alexis’ is designed to teach about different places, people and cultures; to reinforce good values and showcase creative works and kind words. Alexis is a safe role model built by a mom like you; a teacher with a dream and a friend who cares.
Why not a closed mouth or partly open beauty smile like the rest of the doll community?
Because Alexis was not designed to be a doll. Alexis was created to be a friend and a positive impact in the worlds of all who behold her.
Every inch of Alexis was designed with purpose…not beauty, although beauty was achieved, but instead the goal was emotional, psychological, and intellectual. Via E is a quest to provide amazing fun that builds strong minds. In a world where fun has moved to the “naughty side” of human behavior, Alexis’ charter counters the trend with a focus on learning and understanding others. Caring and compassion are nice words but to build these attributes one must be involved in understanding and seeking out information about the people around them. Right here in the United States we have several different cultures with their own unique roots to other lands and thinking. The same is true in Europe, South America…everywhere. To love we also need to understand.
Alexis is a revolution. She stands to shake up the world of dolls. The goal is to teach loving of differences vs. loving of our own image. Self confidence comes from within the mind not the mirror like commercialism would like us to believe. A true smile spreads happiness. I too love beauty smiles, but instead of inspiring beauty Alexis’ desire is to spread joy and understanding. So when you look at that broad smile (science calls it a Duchenne smile) know that it was designed for you with all my love and caring so that we may together lay a foundation down that can support a purposeful, fulfilling and happy life.
Below are several articles and a YouTube video on the health benefits of a Duchenne smile (Alexis’ smile.) I send this post off with hopes that you will allow many, many smiles into your world and then return twice as many. :-)
Some researchers now believe that genuine smiles are not transient sparks of emotion but rather clear windows into a person’s core disposition.
We now know that genuine smiles may indeed reflect a “sweet soul.” The intensity of a true grin can predict marital happiness, personal well-being, and even longevity
The neural data revealed that Duchenne smiles produced greater activity in the brain’s left anterior temporal region, an area with clear connections to positive affect.
Your smile is a powerful tool. Most people think that we smile because we feel happy, but it can go the other way as well: we feel happy because we smile.
Science How Stuff Works
Evidence That Smiling Causes Happiness.
Most other studies on the topic note the cause-and-effect relationship without having a definitive explanation for it. The reason why Dr. Zajonc’s research is so significant in the field is because he proposes a detailed, physiology-based explanation for the cause-and-effect relationship. According to his hypothesis, the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on certain brain activities associated with happiness.
There’s Magic In Your Smile–How Smiling Affects Your Brain
The Untapped Power Of Smiling
Because smiling is evolutionarily contagious and we have a subconscious innate drive to smile when we see one. This occurs even among strangers when we have no intention to connect or affiliate with the other person. Mimicking a smile and experiencing it physically helps us interpret how genuine a smile is, so that we can understand the real emotional state of the smiler.
Positive Psychology News
This process is also known as emotional contagion. That is, emotions are contagious. Feeling good is infectious, and so is feeling crummy. With this in mind, what change do you want trigger in the world?
Health Benefits of Smiling
Therefore, when you smile at someone else, they smile and you are causing physiological changes within their bodies. Frequent smiling has many therapeutic and health benefits , particularly when the smile is a Duchenne smile .
According to Dr. Mark Stibich, smiling:
- Boosts the immune system
- Increases positive affect
- Reduces stress
- Lowers blood pressure
- Enhances other people’s perception of you
Duchenne smiles are known as authentic smiles because they consistently co-occur with positive emotions . Duchenne smiles are marked by wrinkles in the eyes that resemble crows feet and are associated with feeling excitement, amusement, interest, happiness and joy . (See image on the right in which the top image is neutral, middle picture is non-genuine/mouth only, and the bottom picture is Duchenne/eyes and mouth engaged).
3 Great Apps to Help Children with Emotional or Social Issues
Ron Gutman reviews a raft of studies about smiling, and reveals some surprising results. Did you know your smile can be a predictor of how long you’ll live — and that a simple smile has a measurable effect on your overall well-being? Prepare to flex a few facial muscles as you learn more about this evolutionarily contagious behavior. Check out this short Youtube video of his TED conference presentation.
Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and producing oxygen, upon which all animals depend for survival. Rainforests also stabilize climate, house incredible amounts of plants and wildlife, and produce nourishing rainfall all around the planet.
Tropical forests cover only twelve percent of the land-area of the Earth, yet they are home to between 50 and 90 percent of the world’s species. Because of tropical deforestation, at least one species is disappearing every day. This rate of extinction is now 400 times faster than at any other period in the history of the planet.
The Challenge Facing Rainforests
100 acres of rainforests are cleared every minute.
The majority of rainforest at risk of destruction in Latin America lies in private hands. For example, four of the Latin American hotspots–including the Chocó-Darien of western Ecuador and Colombia and the Atlantic Forest of Brazil–are estimated to be more than 80% private lands. Sadly, there are few restrictions on deforestation on private lands. 
Rainforest Trust is a founding member of the Alliance for Zero Extinction which has identified the highest priority sites necessary for preventing the immediate extinction of the world’s rarest species. Through the efforts of scientists and conservationists, The Rainforest Trust is able to identify where biodiversity is concentrated and target financial resources at these areas to achieve the greatest conservation gains. For example, Alliance for Zero Extinction sites covers just 1.4% of the surface of the planet yet contains an amazingly high concentration of terrestrial biodiversity–more than 60%!
The war against the rainforest is as old as mankind itself. Each taking a small piece to profit through civilization. Each believing that their piece is not large enough to cause harm. The problem is that small pieces taken today are combined with those of past generations making the total effect no longer insignificant. Money. We are losing the Rainforest due to profiteers. But the good news is that this is an easy fix as money can save the Rainforest. If each of us donates $1.00 and passes on the challenge to the next person, together we can save the Rainforest by buying it back from the private holders.
The lungs of our existence should not be held in the hands of profiteers. Let’s pay their price and free these important lands for the benefit of our children and our children’s children. Together we are wealthier than the richest man. We can do anything we set our minds to do!
I urge you to collect the pennies at the bottom of your purse, those that slipped in-between the couch cushions, a few from the car ashtray or middle storage compartment. Maybe some pennies from returning bottles, cans, paper to the recycling station. Hold a lemonaid and cookie sale or skip your morning trip to Starbucks. If for no other reason than to believe that you are part of a community of people who dare to make a difference even when 50 cents is all that we can spare.
Please donate to help save our Rainforest and the animals that can’t fight a changing world. RainforestTrust.org
About the Rainforest Trust
For the past 25 years, The Rainforest Trust has partnered with some of the most highly respected conservation organizations around the world to purchase and protect nearly 8 million acres of threatened rainforests and critical habitat for endangered wildlife through community engagement and local partnerships.
They currently work in Brazil through three partners (listed below). Each of their project sites protects vital habitat for endangered wildlife. You can read more on their website, but here are a few key points:
- REGUA: Rainforest Trust’s partner REGUA seeks to purchase 1,128 acres of Atlantic rainforest in Brazil to protect vital habitat for endangered species like the Woolly Spider Monkey. (Cost: $171/acre)
- Panthera Brasil: A partner, Panthera Brasil, is working to purchase a critical corridor of 24,640 acres of wildlife habitat in Brazil’s Pantanal for the Jaguar. (Cost: $30/acre)
- Instituto Uiracu: Working with Instituto Uiracu, Rainforest Trust will expand Serra Bonita nature reserve by 271 acres of Atlantic rainforest, providing habitat for the critically endangered Yellow-breasted Capuchin. (Cost: $200/acre)Additionally, just outside of Brazil, the Rainforest Trust is assisting their partner CEDIA in Peru to protect 5.9 million acres of Amazon rainforest for just 50-cents per acre! We can save 20 acres of rainforest for just $10.
Via E Dollfriends® want to play!
Like real girls Dollfriends require care.
These instructions will help you learn the best
way to care for your Via E Dollfriends.
Water Play Care Alexis is not a bath toy. She is a Dollfriend® who can get wet and can support periodic play in water environments. The more water play, the greater amount of after water care must be conducted. After water care instructions are as follows:
After water play, your Dollfriend needs to be dried very carefully to avoid collecting bacteria. Bacteria can make your Dollfriend very sick. There are a few steps to drying your Dollfriend:
2) Blow the water out of the eyes. You can do this by holding her close and blowing hard like as if you were blowing out a candle.
3) Stand your Dollfriend for at least 5 minutes so any water trapped inside her body will collect in the lower arms and legs.
4) Gently pull on the lower sections to open each joint and tip to empty out the water. Repeat this process until all excess water is removed. To remove water in the head, tilt the head side to side to open the joint and work the water out. If you have a second production Alexis you will find a small drain hole at the back of your Dollfriend’s head, under the volumes of hair sewn into the head. You will need a flat screw driver to remove the clear plug. Once the plug is removed, water will exit easily. Leave the plug out for at least 48 hours to allow the inside of the head to dry. You can accelerate the trying by using the Blow Dryer Adapter. Be sure to replace the plug before your Dollfriend plays in the water. The plug is a small part choking hazard once removed so be sure to keep it out of the hands of small children (not for children under 3 years of age.)
It is suggested to use the Blow Dryer Adapter to circulate fresh air inside the body and ensure that no moisture is left inside. This will prevent the growth of mold.
Attach the Blow Dryer Adapter to your blow dryer’s nozzle and set the temperature to COLD. NEVER USE HEAT! Gently pull open the joints and insert the blue tip of the hose into each joint making sure not to pinch the hose. Turn the blow dryer on. Dry for approximately 2 minutes at each joint location or until the inside feels dry to the touch. Dollfriends are strung with elastic so you can easily pull open the joints without hurting your Dollfriend. Do not use your Blow Dryer near water!
Use the Natural Dollfriend After Water Care – Mold Prevention and Treatment any time you suspect mold or rust of internal metal parts. If your Dollfriend plays frequently in water, you should use the Natrual Dollfriend After Water Care – Mold Prevention and Treatment monthly. This treatment will also prevent or remove rust formation on internal metal parts. The active ingredients found in the Natural Dollfriend After Water Care are white vinegar and grapefruit seed oil, which is softened with the fragrance of acai berry. Squirt the solution into the interior body and head making sure to use enough to be able to coat the insides of the body and head. Pay attention to covering the elastic and any metal pieces you may see when pulling the joints open. Gently shake your Dollfriend with the solution inside to ensure sufficient coverage. Leave the treatment in for approximately 6 hours and then remove and follow standard drying instructions. You may rinse after the treatment or you may just remove the excess solution and dry.
Fixing Dollfriend® Ouchies Minor scratches and scuffs can be easily treated with the Dollfriend Vinyl Skin Restoration Sponge. This treatment is approved for all Dollfriend skin colors. Simply rub the sponge in circular motions where ever you see scratches or scuffs. If you have a deeper scratch, apply more pressure. Use a damp clean cloth and wipe the area that has been treated. Next apply the Dollfriend Refreshing Cream over your Dollfriend’s body to restore a natural even glow to her vinyl skin.
The Dollfriend Vinyl Skin Restoration Sponge can also remove stubborn surface discolorations. However if the discoloration is deep into the vinyl skin, this treatment will not remove it.
Dollfriend Refeshing Cream – Vinyl Skin Conditioner is a very light cream that conditions without leaving an oily film on either your Dollfriend or your own hands. Only a very little is needed, but you may find that you love it so much that you will like it for your own use too!
Dollfriend® Hair Care We recommend the use of the Lil Wet Brush® for brushing Dollfriend hair. The Lil Wet Brush’s Intelliflex™* bristles are super thin, strong and flexible. These bristles will glide through Dollfriend hair combing out tangles effortlessly on wet or dry hair. The bristles’ flexibility enables protective detangling while the SofTips™ on the very top of the bristles protect the vinyl scalp and reduces hair breakage. Always start at the bottom of tangled hair and work your way up as you detangle.
For hair that has become frizzy with play, fill a large bowl or sink with very hot water. Dip the hair in the hot water for about 60 seconds. Next squeeze the water out while firmly pulling downward. Towel blot and brush. Allow hair to air dry. The hot water will relax the hair. Never use dry heat! Dry heat of any source will melt the hair. Heat damaged hair cannot be remedied with this method.
Dollfriend® Yoga Your Dollfriend’s elastic is similar to your own muscles. After many activities the elastic may become unevenly distributed making one arm tight and one arm loose. To redistribute the elastic simply stretch the arm that is opposite the loose arm. The stretching of your Dollfriend’s muscles will bring her back to a natural balance.
* Lil Wet Brush and Intelliflex are trademarks of the JD Beauty Group. Visit http://www.via-e.com/shop/doll-accessories.html to find the Water Care Products mentioned above.
Copyright © Via E, Inc. All rights reserved. Via E, Dollfriend are trademarks of Via E, Inc. For more product information visit Via-E.com
(This paper contains research material on the development of the brain and memory. The first half is explaining the science and the second is discussing the impact on child development.)
“O.K. now sit still while I buckle your seat belt. I love you and want to keep you safe.” Sally only four years old says kindly to her doll-friend. Bang! Bang! Bang! Startled, Sally’s locks of curly amber colored hair whip around as she quickly looks over her right shoulder. With his child’s Home Depot hammer in hand and tool belt swung on his slender hips like a modern day home improvement warrior, Sam looks up at his father and says, “Dad can I help you? I can do it, see…look at me!”
Each of us has stories and memories of our children at play. It warms our hearts and makes us smile. But what is play? We define it as fun, free time where imaginations and energy move in a flurry of laughter and social bonding. Though this definition holds true, let’s look beyond the surface and into the working of your child’s mind. The claim to be proven is: playtime is actually the rehearsal of who your child(ren) will ultimately become.
The study of the brain as anatomy combined with the mind through psychology and fields of linguistics, information science, and philosophy has evolved into today’s cognitive science. The now famous Dr. Spock of our parents has been joined by legions of professionals to unwrap motivations and the why of what we do. When I teach adult professionals business skills or the masses fitness moves, I always start with the fundamentals and build out from this point. I suppose this passion for the development of skills is what drives me to research and write about what fundamentals are being programmed into our children while at “play.”
Let’s start with the basics of Cognitive Science (I’ll try to make this as interesting as possible!) The first principle has been pondered since before the days of Plato and Socrates. Nativism—how our brains are wired at birth and how the environment either nurtures or distorts it by withholding nurturance such as food, shelter, warmth, touch, affection, attention, values and so on. The mind of an infant is amazing. Studies show that in as early as four months old a baby can detect statistical patterns in sound. At six months they have developed the ability to tell helpful people apart from the non helpful. During this early stage our children are developing their “neuronal workspace”—kind of like a desktop on your computer–each program arranged in a space where it can later be utilized.
Unity is a principle of Cognitive Science that states the mind and the body are interconnected. Meaning, a change in one will create a change in the other. Think of your own experiences if you wish to challenge this tenant. When you are feeling sad or depressed, what are the physical characteristics played out in your body? Feeling achy, low energy, sleepy…etc? On the other hand when you exercise and eat well there is an increase in optimism, confidence and energy. Yes, our children’s sense of wellbeing is directly dependant on our understanding of the mind-body connection.
Remember that mental desktop or neuronal workspace mentioned above? What good would the building of fundamentals do if you could not build or connect them into higher skills? The principle of Connectivity states our ability to connect new with prior learning is the essence of growth and development. It is this principle along with the principle of Interconnectivity that forms the basis of the theory that “play time” is in fact the rehearsal of who our children will become—what values, attitudes, problem solving skills and temperaments they ultimately carrying with them throughout life.
The last principle of Cognitive Science is Control. The degree in which we feel in control of our situation directly impacts health and performance. With less perceived control there is a correlated reduction in health and performance, with greater perceived control the reverse is true. I highlight the word perceived because this is a critical element in the statements made. We often associate a negative feeling toward the word control. Wars of men, children and parents have been waged over who has the right to be in control. Since this article is about children and parenting, I’ll address the issue in this context. We are gifted our children by God to guide and bring them up to be healthy, value-centered people who contribute to society—not to control them.
Responsibility cannot be taught without the understanding that our children control their own behavior. So, in parenting we must utilize various tools to help guide our children while creating an environment where making the right choices yield the greatest reward. Reward being defined not by “things” but by experiencing positive results. When a child remains in “control,” it helps to build a healthy mind.
Now that we have the fundamentals down let us talk about how we can make all this come together for the good of our children. I mention rehearsal above so let me define it in the relevance of this topic. Rehearsal is the act of repeating behaviors, assimilating environmental conditions such that it forms a lasting biological connection in the brain from which the child will draw to facilitate higher level cognitive behaviors throughout their lifetime. It does not require a Ph.D. to recognize, as the famous poem writes, Children Learn What They Live.
My mother had this poem hanging life-sized when I was a young girl. I remember many times stopping and looking at the child-friendly wall hanging and reading it over and over again. I would pick out the lines from the poem that represented how I wanted to be when I grew up. I bet you, to this day, my mother does not know how this wall hanging encouraged the values she sought to instill in me. I point this out because it is not one thing that we do with our children, it is a million little things that we do knowingly and unknowingly that build the foundations of who our children are going to grow up to be.
It is said that peer group influence is greatest between the ages of 8 and 25 years old. Think about this—we have fewer than eight years before the values we have taught our children are challenged by groups we often know very little about! Even our best attempts to get to know our children’s friends and their moms, teachers and other influencers will fall short in the end. Thus we must utilize every moment to help build the foundations for which our children’s independent decisions will ultimately be made. Dr. Dobson writes in his book, “Bringing Up Girls,” of the estrogen driven need for girls to love, be social and to bond. This virtue becomes a weakness when waged against a society where girls are encouraged to be women before their time. In the absence of guidance even girls of well balanced families can get lost in today’s society of lust and power.
Helping children find their center, or sense of self will be the greatest tool you can provide. A strong sense of self becomes the shield from which conflicting values will be fended off. If a girl believes herself to be compassionate, she will act with compassion. If a girl believes her value is only found in the beauty of her flesh, she will become sexual. It is this simple. Parents can build their girl’s sense of self by rehearsing the values that will define who she will become.
Dolls. Why do I love dolls? When I look into the eyes of a beautiful doll my hear melts. In this moment I’m not thinking of my MBA studies, building a business, paying bills…my mind has teleported me to a world of simplicity, caring, creativity and warmth. Amazing, the power of memories! In one moment that simple toy does what medical science cannot prescribe. The funny thing is any doll will do. My childhood dolls were long ago donated to needy girls by my father—little did he know he was committing a cardinal sin! My point is the doll is a key to unlock emotion and memories from the past. In order for this to be true the memories must become a permanent biological record developed through many days and experiences with my doll-friends.
When I was a child we did not have computer games so my sisters and I spent hours creating different things to do with our dolls. Today’s world is a technological wonder where our children are experiencing computerized toys from birth–even hand-wound swings for infants are now computerized chairs that gyrate slowly in multiple directions. Yes, computerization is here to stay and is crowding out traditional value shaping toys of the past. Toy industry statistics tell us that the time girls spend with dolls is shrinking—five short years was the last estimate. I’m not saying that computerized toys cannot enhance learning, but I am claiming that the time girls spend simply loving, caring, creatively developing their own stories are a set of experiences that are fundamental to the development of life skills.
Learning is defined as the establishment of new neural networks composed of synaptic connection and their associated chemotaxic patterns according to Pierce Howard, Ph.D. in his book titled, “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain.” What this means is there is a biological process that takes place in the brain when we learn a new task or create a new memory. Memory has three stages: Immediate memory holds data for two seconds or less. Short-term also known as working memory will diminish over time if it is not reinforced. Long-term memory involves a cellular change that becomes permanent. Once it is created it cannot be erased.
Research has determined that it takes five to six hours rehearsing a new motor skill for the brain to create permanent storage of the new skill. The process of creating non-motor memories still requires much more research before it can be quantified. However, the repetitive nature of building a motor skill memory underscores the impact of rehearsing in regards to building neuro networks. These networks later form the foundations of how we analyze and make decisions.
A good example of this concept is Mind Mapping—words, ideas, tasks or other items such as sensory data of all four senses are linked and arranged around a central key idea. In other words, our children are constantly building associations through their everyday interaction with their world. Our parenting efforts can help children build the library from which they will draw their conclusions—from which they will judge right or wrong.
The toys that children play with are tools just like a piano is a tool to create music. They learn “notes” of behavior and then compile these notes into play scenarios. Each time they rehearse these scenarios the behavior is strengthened until it becomes a habit or mental recording. You and the world as observed around them become the inspiration or “building” material for their memories and subsequent behavior patterns. Thus the reason why parent should guide play time and provide toys (tools) that nurture and grow.
Why Via E
Via E has developed a support structure for parents and girls such that they are exposed to wholesome values. We create rewards systems to encourage reading, writing, creativity, social awareness and academic excellence. Learning is best when learning is fun, so we integrate Dollfriends® such that they become more than just a form to dress every now and then but a tool to rehearse values of compassion, love, caring and social interaction. Each time a girl picks up a Dollfriend® she is rehearsing wholesome values. As girls grow, learning grows and she becomes more interested in creating and building–learning how to sew and designing clothing, write and publish books, develop musical talents, photography, etc.—only her imagination and ingenuity will stop her.
Via E is not a company; it is an effort. It is an active effort to utilize all its resources to make today as fun as it can be while always holding to the principals of learning and building healthy, capable young minds.
Resources for this article:
One of the books I read when researching this topic, “Mind in the Making—The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs” written by Ellen Galinsky and published by HaperCollins discusses the building blocks of early learning and gives parents wonderful ideas of how to create a rich environment to facilitate a well-balanced mind.
Also recommended is “Bringing up Girls” by Dr. James Dobson and published by Tyndale House.
For those of you with a mind for science, I recommend, “The Owner’s Manual for the Brain” by Pierce Howard, Ph.D. and published by Bard Press.
More information on Mental Maps can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map
A similar approach using a Radial Tree can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radial_tree