Mommy dearest always warned you about these things, and now, you find yourself repeating the maybe not-so-true sayings. In a quest to give his kids a better explanation than, "that's what grandma told me," Ken Jennings, author of Because I Said So!, uncovered the truth. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
"When you open the oven, all the heat goes out"
At age seven, there's nothing worse than waiting for the cookies to be ready. Thus comes the kitchen version of "are we there yet," prompting moms everywhere to claim checking the chocolate delights will only make them take longer. Yes, when an oven is left open for one minute, about one-quarter of the heat escapes, but it returns in less than that time because warmth radiates from the walls of the oven. No matter what you say or do, it'll be ten to 12 minutes until sweets-time.
"Sugar makes you hyper"
As a parent, it's difficult to admit that your kid's behavior was out-of-control - even though you know it happens to everyone. "It's more flattering to someone's parenting to say, 'you gave them too much sugar!'" explains Jennings. "The occasions where kids are more likely to be eating sugary treats are chaotic events where they're running around anyway." No studies have linked sugar consumption to hyperactivity in children, meaning it's probably jumping on the trampoline with all of her friends that got your daughter amped up, not the slice of birthday cake she ate afterwards.
"Coffee will stunt your growth"
This six-feet-tall writer is living proof of the falsity of the claim that java will leave you short of your maximum height. The myth probably began because smoking does indeed stunt growth, and in all the discussions of harmful substances, caffeine mistakenly fell into the same category. In fact, caffeine is used medicinally to treat premature infants. "My kids are crazy enough without a caffeine jolt, but you can't say it has long-term effects on growth," says Jennings.
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"If you crack your knuckles, you'll get arthritis"
No, you don't want to see your son show you how his thumb can make a cool popping sound for the fifth time today. Neither did your mother, which is why she likely scared you into stopping by claiming you'd develop arthritis if you didn't cut it out. It seems like a plausible health excuse, but since the noise is just fluid bubbles popping in the joints, it's been proven to have no long-term effects.
"Don't swim for an hour after lunch"
"I'm sure if you tried to eat a big Thanksgiving dinner and then swim the English Channel, you might cramp up," says Jennings. But, that's true of any exercise, and there's certainly nothing special about either water or the one-hour mark that makes it okay to start jumping off the high-dive. In fact, long-distance swimmers tread water and eat in order to stay hydrated and fueled. So, if your daughter's all excited to show you her underwater handstand after a PBJ, don't fret.
"Follow the five-second rule"
Even if that double-fudge brownie looks delicious, as soon as it comes into contact with contamination, it's done. There's nothing special about five seconds that suddenly makes the germs cling on. However, studies have found that it's incredibly difficult to make food unsafe by simply dropping it on the floor. "They'd have to coat the floor in e-coli," says Jennings. "While it's impolite to eat off of the floor, it's not something for parents to freak out about." In other words, there's no real need to give up that scrumptious dessert - especially if you're the one who dropped it while hunting for a midnight snack.
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"Put on a hat or you'll freeze to death"
No doubt, wearing a hat will warm you up, but so will a jacket, gloves, and a scarf. "If we said 'my feet are cold,' my mom said, 'put on a hat,'" says Jennings. Sure, you lose heat through your head, but it happens at the same rate as any other part of your body. If your ears are tingling, it's time for a topper. But if the biting cold is affecting your hands, a beanie won't do you much good.
"Let that cut air out so it heals"
"Moms love scabs," jokes Jennings. But since the 1960s, doctors have known that wounds heal more quickly when they remain moist, not get crusty. Dab Vaseline or ointment on a cut, and cover it with a Band-Aid at all times. Yes, even overnight.
"Don't sit so close to the TV"
Whereas you may ban your kids from perching directly in front of the screen and send them to couch for fear of eyestrain, your parents likely had a different reason for insisting you keep your distance from the set. In the late 1960s, a number of televisions were recalled for emitting x-rays. But, this was more than 40 years ago, and so far as eyestrain, a short break from staring should cure any headaches or blurry vision. If your son wants to observe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from only a few feet away, there's no reason not to let him.
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"Shaving makes hair grow back thicker"
Middle school may be the only time in a girl's life that she's excited to do this beauty chore, so allow her to have her fun. Although hairs may appear coarser appear after shaving, the reality is that the end of the hair is merely blunter because longer hairs taper more than shorter ones. The hair follicle, which is set below the skin, has no idea it's being trimmed, and cannot respond by multiplying.
"Sip soda to settle your stomach"
The idea that bubbles - whether from ginger ale or soda - will help an upset tummy is age-old, but quite the opposite is true. Since soda adds bloat and is often sugary, it's likely to make you feel worse, not better. Studies have shown that ginger fights nausea in chemotherapy patients, but the amount in a can or glass of ginger ale is too small to have a similar effect on a flu-ridden child. However, it's vital to stay hydrated when sick, and water's the best bet for the job.
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