Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Separation anxiety

 Separation anxiety can occur at any age however, it's during the infant/toddler years when children experience the highest level of separation anxiety. There are three reasons why children don't like separating from their parents. The first one is they enjoy being with their parents so when they leave it makes them sad. The second reason is because they're attached to their parents. They've formed a bond with their parents and know their needs will be met. The third reason is because the babysitter, child care giver, whoever is unknown to the child. This causes children anxiety as they wonder whether they'll be taken care of and if the unknown person will do everything the parents do to take care of them. This is why the first thing a caregiver needs to do is gain the trust of the child. Once a caregiver has earned the child's trust the caregiver can help build competence, confidence and self-assurance in the child.

Separation and attachment are affirmations of love. The attachment a child has with a parent seems to be an effective way of dealing with stress. When a child feels stress they can handle it better because of the attachment they have to their parents because the attachment provides a sense of security and safety to the child. An example of this is when a new baby is born or the family moves to a new home. Either of these events can affect how  a child deals with separation. When a situation occurs that affects a child's sense of security they need to learn nothing has changed with their relationship to their parents. Once a child knows this they can feel secure and safe again and their emotions lower to a level more appropriate for the child's age.

Next time we'll discuss the nine factors a parent needs to address concerning separation anxiety.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Six dimensions of parenting

Jay Belsky  is an expert in child development and family studies. He is the director of child study and human development at Tufts University. He came up with six dimensions of parenting. The first one is attentiveness which is paying attention to your child. Children need attention and LOTS of it and will often demand it. An infant demands it when they cry, an older child may put their hands on a parents face and move the parents face so that the parent is looking at them, a primary grade age child may simply say, "Mom/Dad pay attention to me or Look at me or Watch me." Regardless of the way the child gets a parents attention the child will get the parents attention.

The second dimension is physical contact which is holding and cuddling an infant. As they grow children will come sit on a parents lap uninvited and move what's in the way in order to sit. Physical contact helps teach children about how to treat people. For example if a parent uses physical abuse to show love, the child learns love is shown through abuse. If a parent gives hugs and kisses and cuddles with the child, the child learns love is expressed through hugs, kisses and cuddles. They then learn to treat people the say way.

The third dimension is verbal stimulation which is talking to them. Even as an infant a parent should be talking to their child. This is the beginning of learning how to socialize and that people take turns to speak. A child then learns to speak using words and parents wonder why they spent so much time and effort getting them to speak because now their children won't be quiet! Children have many important things to say to parents. It sounds like unimportant things to parents because they're things the parents have already learned, but to the child it's all new and they want to share it with the parents. Take time to listen to them. Put all electronics down and listen to them! When parents are talking to children, this is when they learn whether or not what they have to say is important to the parents. If the parent is on an electronic device, the child learns whatever is on the device is more important than them and what the're saying. Please don't send this message!

The fourth dimension is material stimulation which is interactions with toys. What looks like playing to a parent is actually a child learning. Materials, whether they be toys or natural such as leaves, teaches children about their environment and teaches them skills as they learn how to turn a toy on or off or learn how to put the pieces of a puzzle in the right space. The fifth dimension is responsive care which is responding to a child's cries and needs. A child has many activities they need responded to during the day. They need to have their request for food filled, they need help opening the door, bandaging an injury, a response to go play with a friend, the list is literally endless. How a parent responds will teach a child how to respond. If a parent is always short-tempered, when the parent asks the child for something, the child will be short-tempered. Please try to respond with kindness and patience but also forgive yourself for those times when you don't.

The last dimension is restrictiveness which is putting restrictions or conditions on what you'll do  for your child or what you allow your child to do for themselves. The restrictions a parent puts on their child will affect the child's self-esteem and whether they try new things or at all. If a parent constantly tells a child  they'll do something but 'only if' they do something for them first the child learns to put conditions on things particularly love. If a parent doesn't let a child learn to do things for themselves such as eat, the child learns they can't do things for themselves and may stop trying.

The first five of these dimensions have positive affects on children's emotional, social and intellectual development. The last dimension is negative. As you be a parent to your child keep these dimensions in mind as you help your children grow and develop.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

infants growth

Infants come into the world not knowing how to do anything. All needs need to be taken care of by the parents and other significant adults in the child's life. As the child grows the child meets certain milestones and slowly starts to learn to do things on their own. For example an infant learns to roll over from their back to their stomach. The first few times this is done it's done by mistake and usually the infant has pushed up against a toy or furniture to help them roll over. This may scare an infant the first few times they do it, but then they learn to do it on purpose and they learn it's a natural thing to do.

The first year of a child's life is about learning how their body works and how to move it. The parents roll in the first year is to make sure the child's basic needs are met and that they're safe. Making sure a child's basic needs are met means feeding, changing diapers, cuddling and playing with them etc. Making sure they're safe means having a car seat that meets regulations, outlets are covered and that they have a safe environment for them to move around in that will help them meet the milestones they need to meet during the first year.

A milestone infants reach is babbling. Babbling and making sounds is the beginning of vocabulary and speaking. It starts with an infants cries. Infants have four cries that help them express what they want. The first one is the basic cry that has intervals of silence such as a child stops when they see the bottle, but if the parent doesn't give it to them right away they start crying again. The second cry is the angry cry that occurs when an infant is angry about something. The third cry is the pain cry that is usually a long wail followed by the infant not breathing because they're holding their breathe. The fourth cry is the hungry cry and it has an urgency to it.

A lot of times as children are taking the initiative to meet a milestone parents freak out because the child is still dependent on them. Where children come into the world not knowing how to do anything parents forget that children need to learn to do things for themselves and often it takes a doctor, caregiver or extended family member to ask if the child is doing something for the parent to realize that the child should be doing the task themselves. Don't feel guilty it's a pattern all parents fall into because parent's are so used to doing everything for the child. Therefore, we forget that the child should be learning to feed themselves, pull themselves to a standing position, walk around a table holding onto for it support etc.

When my child was three I was folding the laundry and started to put her clothes away like I always had since she was born when I realized she was old enough to start doing this for herself. I stopped putting her clothes away and called her into the room and taught her how to put her clothes away. Parents shouldn't be afraid of letting their children do things for themselves. When children learn to do things for themselves such as roll over they learn the beginnings of how to move their bodies. When a child learns how to put their clothes away they learn the basics of organization. All  parents get in the rut of doing everything for their children because in the beginning we have to. As they grow and become capable of doing more themselves let them be the capable human beings they are. Often the tantrums that start around the age one begin and occur because the parents are still trying to do too much for them instead of letting the child do more on their own.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goals parents have for children vs children's goals

The goals parents have for their children can differ from the goals the children have for themselves. Goals are reinforced by parents and challenged by children. The goals children have for themselves change as they are exposed to friends, their community and even the media. Goals also change as children learn what they're good at and what interests them. For example a parent may want a child to be interested in playing a sport when the child is interested in the theater. The things parents want their children to be interested in can also pertain to food. I had a parent once tell me she wanted her child to like peas because she did. A child will like the kinds of foods and extracurricular activities that they will like and it's the responsibility of the parents to encourage and talk to the child about how they can help the child reach the goals they have.

I've been dealing with this some lately. My child just started college last week. During the process of applying I asked a sibling to help my child fill out a few forms that were complicated. I asked this sibling to help because it was related to what they do for a living so I knew it would be easier for this sibling to help than for me and my child to try to figure it out ourselves. Asking the sibling to help though became the sibling helping my child accomplish what my sibling wants for my child.

My siblings are really happy and excited for my child and where she's going to college and see a bright future for her, because it is. However, my siblings help became an 'I'm so happy and excited for her I'm going to make it all happen for her,' situation. It became 'I want this for her and this for her and since I know what I'm doing I'm going to do it all for her and she'll accomplish and be everything I want her to be and do.'

My child's future isn't about what my siblings want for her and them helping her accomplish it. My child's future is about what she wants to do and be and accomplish and her doing and being and accomplishing those things. She's going to a good school that will help her with all of that. Sometimes in our excitement and happiness for our children (or someone else's) we go overboard trying to help them accomplish what we see their path opening up to be. Our children's future's are about them, not us as the parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. We can support and as parents it's our responsibility to guide, help and support our children to accomplish their goals. The key words and phrase though is their goals. When we make our children's future about us (or when another person makes a child's future about them) we risk doing damage to our relationship with them that we need to be sure we want to do. We also risk the child having a future they're not happy in and with.

Support, guide and help your children become who they want to become and accomplish what they want to accomplish in life because their lives are about them not the parents.