Tag Archives: parenting

Growing Up Alongside Playtime

Standard

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. 

 

Advertisements

Co-Sleeping Until Age 5 Is Best For Babies

Standard

Recently, I read a great article outlining how and why co-sleeping until the age of 5 is healthiest for babies. The article can be found here. Co-sleeping is yet another of the many topics that is controversial among both parents and pediatricians. 

 ImageDespite the controversy, however, quite a few medical professionals have determined that co-sleeping is what is best for babies. And, if done properly, co-sleeping is significantly safer than crib sleeping, making for a happier, healthier family. The director of The Centre for Child Mental Health in London, England, Dr. Margot Sunderland has reason to believe that co-sleeping causes children to experience less stress than babies and children who sleep alone. Her research is based on a compilation of over 800 scientific studies which found that a child’s cortisol (a stress hormone) rises when they are separated from their parents. Dr. Sunderland also points out that co-sleeping offers many benefits from infancy, including teaching the infant how to regulate his own breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. In fact, babies who sleep alone fuss more and sleep more sporadically, meaning that co-sleeping is not only healthy, but may also result in more sleep for mom and dad. 

Here are some of the many benefits of co-sleeping: 

-Helps baby regulate nervous systems

-Prevents SIDS

-Promotes healthier sleep habits

-Allows for more sleep

-Increases nighttime breastfeeding

-Increases mother’s protective instincts

-Raises child’s self esteem

-Raises child’s confidence

-Supports feelings of familial intimacy

These are only some of the many reasons to co-sleep. While co-sleeping can be a unique bonding experience for both baby and parents, co-sleeping also has some potential risks. Like any aspect of parenting and raising a baby, if not done properly, co-sleeping can be dangerous. Here is what you need to remember to keep your co-sleeper safe all night: 

-Always place baby on his back to sleep

-NEVER co-sleep while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs

-Don’t leave your baby in bed alone

-Never put baby on the edge of the bed; he could roll off or get caught between the bed and the wall. 

The staff of Attachment Parenting International say that co-sleeping is as safe, or safer than, crib sleeping. They offer many details as to why babies can benefit from bed sharing with either one or both parents. In their own words, here is some of API’s thoughts on the safety of co-sleeping: 

“Co-sleeping is just as safe or safer than a crib.

Existing studies do not prove that co-sleeping is inherently hazardous. The elements of the sleeping environment are what dictate the level of danger to the infant. When non-smoking parents who do not abuse alcohol or drugs sleep on a firm mattress devoid of fluffy bedding, co-sleeping is a safe environment. In addition, it is likely that there are many children whose lives have been saved by sleeping next to their parents. There is anecdotal evidence, for instance, of mothers who have noticed their child not breathing and were able to stimulate them to breathe.”

Not only is co-sleeping safe, but it has many benefits for mom, dad, and baby. So what are you waiting for? Toss out the crib and break out the family bed tonight!

Extended Parenting

Standard

With today’s techno-gadgets and smart phone apps for literally everything, it feels like even parenting is becoming more disconnected than ever. But there is a strong following of attachment style parents who fights to change this, one child at a time. It is my personal opinion that the time limits and measures ought to be stopping. Admit it. How many times, as a parent, have you asked yourself, “How long should I….?” 

It’s not necessary! Let’s stop worrying about short term or long term breastfeeding, short term co-sleeping, occasional babywearing, weekend cloth diapering, and focus on the bigger picture. I don’t just support extended breastfeeding. I don’t just support extended co-sleeping. I support extended parenting. 

What I mean by that is that parents need to be taking a deeper, more emotionally connected role in their children’s lives. Detaching yourself from your children at a certain age (usually by 1 or 2) so that they can learn ‘independence’ is not beneficial to you or your children. It is, in fact, quite harmful to your relationship. Instead of asking yourself when you should quit parenting the way you parent, ask yourself if you are comfortable with your parenting style. After all, the comfort of mom, dad, and baby are what matters- not what a magazine or child rearing book can tell you! If you want to co-sleep until your kids are ten, go for it! If you want to breastfeed until they’re 7, that’s up to you!

As a society, we need to stop putting limits on every aspect of parenting, and instead stand together to support all styles of loving parents. Parenting lasts a lifetime- isn’t it time we extended it, instead of limiting it?  

Thoughts On Attachment Parenting

Standard

Way back before I had babies, I thought I would be the “typical” mother. You know the one. Setting up a nursery, putting baby in its own crib right out of the hospital, circumcising, vaccinating, Gerber-baby food feeding… the works. What surprised me was how rapidly my ideals changed as I gave birth to my daughter.

Moose was not in a bassinet in the hospital. She was born 5 weeks premature with a Congenital Heart Defect, and was perfect in every way. But she needed that closeness to me to regulate the uneven beating of her heart, just as I needed it to erase the pain of her delivery. When we came home, she shared our bed and our hearts.

As my second child was born, I witnessed my parenting style change and develop even more. I became a co-sleeping, anti-circumcising, delayed vaccinating, homemade food making, ‘crunchy’ mom. Something I never thought I’d be. Which brings me to my point.

Attachment parents seem to raise the best children. From my experience, babies who are raised in a loving, nurturing, warm environment turn out the best. They have that innate understanding that mom or dad will answer every one of their cries, and that someone’s arms will always be available to hold them close. They grow up warm, secure, and confident in their support systems- something that every child should have the right to experience. And according to Dr. Sears, attachment babies cry less and develop quicker. The act of a baby and mother being close together, ‘attached’ or most of the day is beneficial to the health of both mom and baby.

I remember when my son was born, I asked my husband (while crying, watching Little Bear fuss in his crib) how I was supposed to embrace the separation between mother and baby. I said to him, “We were attached, literally, for 10 months. He was connected to me, inside of me, but at birth I’m expected to be so separate from him?” I remember how my heart hurt as I watched him turn towards me, the bars of his crib imprisoning him and banning him from my arms. Soon after, co-sleeping began (or rather, resumed). I honestly cannot fathom how we, as mothers, are expected to go from a state of complete connection with our children to a state of complete separation. It seems that attachment parenting allows for children to be independent while confident in the closeness of their mothers. It’s a wonderful thing, knowing that your baby will always find you when he looks for you, that he will always know where to turn when he is afraid, or lonely, or in need of comfort. That he will turn to you, knowing where he can share his joy, his delight, his excitement.

Is there any better way to watch your baby grow than from a position of complete closeness and warmth? I think not.

Dr. Sears has this to say about attachment parenting:

“The single most important influence on a child’s intellectual development was the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her baby. In caring for your baby, keep in mind that relationships, not things, make brighter babies.

BENEFITS OF ATTACHMENT PARENTING – A SUMMARY
BABY
  • is more trusting
  • feels more competent
  • grows better
  • feels right, acts right
  • is better organized
  • learns language more easily
  • establishes healthy independence
  • learns intimacy
  • learns to give and receive love
PARENTS
  • become more confident
  • are more sensitive
  • can read baby’s cues
  • respond intuitively
  • flow with baby’s temperament
  • find discipline easier
  • become keen observers
  • know baby’s competencies and preferences
  • know which advice to take and which to disregard
RELATIONSHIP

Parents and baby experience:

  • mutual sensitivity
  • mutual giving
  • mutual shaping of behavior
  • mutual trust
  • feelings of connectedness
  • more flexibility
  • more lively interactions
  • brings out the best in each other”

Really. Need I say more?