Tag Archives: babies

Growing Up Alongside Playtime

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Toddlers and young children play effortlessly and easily, with no stress or inhibitions to limit their explorations. Their imagination is their only limit. Every attachment parent knows how important hands-on imaginative play is. Through play, children develop their personalities, their creativity, and their relationships. Through play, children express their emotions, their needs, and their desires. Playtime is a way for a child to express himself in ways he may not be able to verbally or psychologically. A parent who plays with their child is able to connect on a deeper, more intimate level with their child. 

As children grow, playtime grows as well. It is important for parents to remain hands on and guide their children through the stages of their play. For parents, relating to a school aged child can be much more difficult than it was to communicate with a toddler. When your child grows too old for wrestling, tickle fights, and general silliness, then it is time for the playtime to grow and mature as well.

The following are several ways in which a parent can support and encourage healthy parent-child relationships through the maturation of playtime. 

Physical Play

As children age, their style of physical play changes, but their enjoyment of it does not. Physical play becomes more about organization and tests of skill and strength, and less about wrestling and running aimlessly. The logical, more developed brains of older children enjoy organized activities such as sports, physical games, or activities. By participating in these activities with your children, you can connect to them on a “feel good” level, sharing your experiences and strengthening your bond. Interactive play provides strong emotional connections between parents and children. 

Verbal Play

As a child grows, his brain and language skills become more developed and mature. Verbal play is a great way for families to stay connected. Word games are great, but consider telling jokes as well. A funny joke can activate many areas of the brain, as well as releasing endorphins in the body. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, laughter is the best medicine! Share jokes or funny stories around the dinner table or after school. 

Individual Play

Besides finding activities, games, and sports that the whole family can participate in, it’s also important for parents to spend individual time with each child. Individual play allows children to become more emotionally invested in the lives of their parents. Child development specialists recommend finding an activity that is pleasurable to the child, first and foremost. Joining your child in an activity they already love, whether it be playing with Legos or making music, can strengthen the feelings of closeness between parents and children. 

Playtime Is A Listening Tool

Playtime is some of the most important time of day for a child. It not only allows them to express their own individuality and creativity, but it brings them together with their parents and siblings. Besides this, playtime is an ideal time for parents to listen to their kids. As children get comfortable in their playtime activities with their parents, their conversations may become deeper, giving parents and opportunity to listen to their child’s unexpressed needs, desires, fears, or troubles. 

Regardless of whether or not a parent shares a child’s particular interest, getting involved in that interest or activity will inevitably bring the parent and the child closer. 

 

Your children are growing and changing. Is your playtime growing with them? Stay involved in your children’s lives– remember, parenting lasts a lifetime, but childhood is short. 

 

Sleep Training Is Bad News For Babies

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I doubt that any of my readers question my negative feelings towards sleep training and Crying It Out (CIO) for babies and toddlers. As a new year dawns and new parenting books hit the shelves, the question of whether or not to CIO is on the minds of every new parent. The question goes far beyond whether or not you have the heart to let your baby cry. It must also be pointed out that CIO can cause serious developmental and social problems not only during babyhood, but also during adult life.

As Heather Turgeon said on her webpage,

Ignoring baby cries during sleep training is linked to all kinds of problems later in life — ADHD, antisocial behavior, lower IQ. At the root of these claims is the idea that the stress of crying and the absence of a responsive parent release intense levels of chemicals that alter a child’s brain development. But is there scientific evidence to back this up?

She also went on to say,

…stress hormones like cortisol, released during intense crying, damage nerve cells in the brain, leading to unhealthy attachments and psychological disorders. …a repeated pattern of unmet needs disrupts a child’s stress-regulating systems and can alter the way her limbic structures process emotion.

There is more than enough evidence in recent studies to show that, yes, extensive crying is bad for babies. And while the Cry It Out method may suggest that mothers pop into the baby’s room regularly to let the infant know that their provider is still nearby, this presence is not constant enough to reduce stress and provide the relaxation that is necessary for inducing a gentle sleep. Heather Turgeon went on to say,

infants who cry excessively have a higher incidence of ADHD, antisocial behavior, and poor school performance.

The full article can be read here.

Many of the cases cited in anti-CIO articles are extreme and do not fit the norm of most parenting methods. It is important to note that most parents who choose to practice a Cry It Out method of sleep training are responsive to their baby’s needs, within limits, and do not allow the child to cry to the point of physical harm. However, there are some books which encourage allowing an infant or toddler to vomit and continue to cry, as a way to ‘show the child who’s boss’.

It is my opinion- and it is only that, opinion! -that sleep training is dangerous for babies and toddlers. As a mother of two, I have faced many a sleepless night. But as I began to understand that my expectations for a full night’s sleep were unreal, I began to find what works for Baby, not just what works for me. Like many mothers in this country and even more international mothers, I cosleep. We are a bedsharing family who provide warmth, love, and nurturing to our children at all hours of the day and night. As a result, we have been sleeping better than ever! I strongly believe that practicing CIO can lead to lifelong physical, psychological, and psychosocial problems for your child, and that a more natural, attached method to ‘sleep training’ is preferred.

Parents, instead of trying to conform Baby to your schedule, why not see what ways you can adjust YOUR schedule to Baby’s? The rule of thumb is compromise. We as parents must meet our children in the middle to encourage happy, healthy development and a peaceful home for all.

 

 

Who Disciplines Parents..?

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Lately, in my frequent use of the internet, I’ve found a lot of questionable content from other mothers and fathers. Comments like women leaving their children home alone, disciplining their children in ways that can only be described as inhumane, and engaging in a variety of other inappropriate behaviors.

I come from a long history of familial craziness, and have seen much of the “what not to do” of parenting first hand. My mother was no class act! Recently, I graduated with my Associates in Psychology and have just started coursework towards a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology. All of these experiences have allowed me to see much about raising children, but also much about mental disorders and the inner workings of the human mind. What’s often frightening is when those two overlap.

Who disciplines the parents? The obvious answer is CPS- once (and if!) a complaint has been made. But CPS’ failure to work has caused many a child to suffer needlessly at the hands of their parents. What is it that determines the right or wrong way to raise a child? And to those parents who do not raise their child “correctly”, who do they answer to?

In my personal experience, there are many ‘right’ ways to raise a child. As long as you fill their lives with love, safety, health, and happiness, it’s kind of a give or take on what’s right or wrong about parenting methods. But what disturbs me is when I see these women posting on the internet about things they have done to their kids, either inadvertently or intentionally.

From the mother who left her newborn in the car for 20 minutes before realizing she wasn’t with her, to the mother who performed sexual acts on herself with food and then fed that food to her children, I stare in awe of what the world has come to. Clearly, we need change. We need a disciplinary system for the parents who do wrong, and we need education for the parents who don’t know what it is they’re doing. And, unconstitutional though it may be, I honestly believe some people just shouldn’t be allowed to breed.

What do you think, Reader? Would the world be a better place if there was a psychological evaluation required before conception was allowed? How would you discipline or educate the parents of America?