Month: December 2012

My New Favorite Quote on Co-Sleeping and Attachment-Based Parenting Practices

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“Prop them up now so they can stand on their own later…”

—Christina Robert

The other day on a mothering blog someone was wondering how to get her three year old to stop screaming in her crib at night when the lights were turned out. She said she didn’t want her child to get “attached to co-sleeping” because she was three (which I am assuming means she wants to prioritize independence and self-reliance).

I replied that her child might be screaming when she is put in her crib because she is frightened. She might need the emotional support of her primary caregiver right now. I think so many people believe that it is important to “toughen up” our young children; to prepare them for the harsh realities that the world has to offer; to make them independent and strong as soon as possible.

I think that one of the greatest misunderstandings about attachment theory and the parenting practices that arise out of these theories is that the parenting adults do not want to help in the creation of strong and independent children. In actuality, they do. Just not at the age of three and not in this manner.

Between birth and five there is so much is going on neurologically in a child’s brain that it is almost unfathomable. These critical years set the stage for a child’s patterns of behavior. Their brains are developing at a quick pace and they are learning important physcial, social and emotional skills–all this and so much more. These are the vulnerable and the impressionable years. These are the years that children need to learn they can trust adults to meet their needs. This will serve as the foundation for their interactions with other children and other adults in the future..

The commonly-held misconception that children who sleep in their parent’s bed, or whose emotional needs are met consistently year after year, will somehow end up dependent and needy, is far from the truth. What many people don’t understand is that by consistently meeting the emotional needs of you child in the early years, you are paving the groundwork for future success and independence.

Children whose needs are met consistently and sensitively are more likely to be strong, securely-attached, and confident young adults and adults.
Responding consistently and sensitively to a child’s cries and needs during infancy and beyond teaches the child that they can rely on someone to help them meet their needs at a time when they are very dependent on their caregivers for survival. In contrast, NOT responding consistently and sensitively can lead to anxious and insecure young adults. When their needs are not being met, they learn to not trust those who are most important to them in their lives.

On the blog, I summed up my response with the following advice and metaphor: “Prop them up now so they can stand on their own later.”
I think this quote and idea captures the essence of what attachment theory teaches us about child development and about parenting practices that best meet the needs of your child.

So keep on responding to your child. A child screaming in the dark is afraid. He or she may be experiencing anxiety from the caregiver separation. Being left alone in a mostly dark room is not comforting and could even be traumatizing depending on the length of separation. Find out what your child needs and help them to get the input or reassurance that they need.

Again, Prop them up now so they can stand on their own later. You’ll be happy you did. Your child will be happier, more confident and better able to form happy, healthy relationships as an adult. All the things you wanted for your child and more.

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“Internet Decorum” or How the Anonymity of the Web Brings Out the Worst in People

Recently a reader read a blog post that I had written and came back with some very sharp, harsh, critical and judgmental remarks about my parenting and about the type of child I was raising. This was all based on a few pages that I wrote. She does not know me personally; we have never spoken; and she does not know my child. Although it bothered me, I also knew that I couldn’t let it get to me. The Internet is a wide open public forum where anyone can read and respond.

Regardless of the commonplace nature of such behavior, I still find it perplexing as to the kind of behave that people feel comfortable displaying and engaging in on discussion forums, Facebook, blogs, text messages, email. There is a certain sense of freedom that comes along in these electronic forums which results in some very negative behavior. I wonder about future generations. I wonder how this is going to affect future generations of young people who are growing up in a world where such behavior seems to be considered acceptable.

I believe in argumentation. I believe in the importance of disagreement. It is through disagreement and argumentation that new ideas come about and that new awareness is born. Through discussion we discover and learn.

Although the personal attack caused me to sit back and think a lot about human behavior, as well as attachment parenting practices, I am still left with the nagging sense that boundaries must exist, that one must restrain from making personal attacks, and that there are must be rules in place to protect a readership and authors from unnecessary hurt and criticism. Given the freedom of speech, I hesitate to “Reject” any response that a reader has to what I have written. The reader may not hold the same opinion I do, but he or she has the right to his or her opinion. It is not my job to censor comments and to only those through that are in alignment with my thinking.

However, I have made a decision based on my personal values around respecting others. On my blog I will not accept responses that come in the form of personal attack. I’m all for criticism; I have no problem with disagreement, but please do not make any personal attacks on anyone. Attack the idea, not the person. One can disagree with the ideas and support one’s disagreement with good argumentation and evidence.

So please, play nicely with one another. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Follow the rules of good behavior and manners — and in doing so demonstrating the same virtues and values that you are hopefully striving to instill into your children. Model for them the path you would like them to take. No criticisms of a specific person. No name calling. No attacks on one’s parenting skills or on one’s children. Let us strive for a higher level of being and for a demonstration of good Internet decorum.

Thank you,

Christina

Related Posts: https://singlemomontherun.com/2012/11/29/potty-training-and-giving-up-the-pacifier-a-relaxed-moms-perspective/

Writing about Reading Apps: Goodnight Moon and Dr. David Walsh

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/181275901.html?refer=y

READING AS RITUAL

An Article by: DAVID WALSH

Don’t let an app stop parents from reading books to their children.

“Goodnight kittens, and goodnight mittens”

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.”

These are but a few of the melodic and soothing verses that stir warm childhood memories for millions around the world. “Goodnight Moon” isn’t a book. It’s a ritual.

My three children, all now parents themselves, swear they remember listening to me or my wife read this children’s classic before getting tucked in for the night. While these may not be literal memories, because their brains were too young, they are a testament to the emotional power the book has had for 65 years.

My four grandchildren all include “Goodnight Moon” as one of their “required” books at naptime. I’ve noticed that each snuggles a little closer as the red balloon hanging above the bed disappears from some pages only to reappear later.

Reading aloud is one of the most important — and enjoyable — parenting and grandparenting activities we can share with our children. Science tells us it’s the first building block for literacy. Babies love the soothing sounds of a familiar voice reading. Even when they prefer “eating” their books, they are beginning to make the mental connection we want. They’re associating reading with comfort, security and enjoyment. That link is a great foundation for raising readers. As a masterpiece like “Goodnight Moon” proves, it also creates emotional memories that last a lifetime.

That’s the reason I was appalled to read that there is now an app that downloads the story onto a smartphone or tablet computer (“Say goodnight to boredom of ‘Goodnight Moon,'” Nov. 27).

The purpose of the app is to rescue parents from the boredom of reading the book to their children. Boring? Let’s remember that the book is not written for parents. It’s for children, and there is a wealth of information to pique their interest. For example, there are more than 20 details that change from page to page. A 3-year-old can tell you that the socks disappear from the drying rack when the mittens are wished “goodnight,” but they reappear later.

What this app, should anyone actually pay $4.95 for it, really would do is to rob children of an invaluable experience. Children need to hear a human voice and sit in a human lap. It would be sad indeed if some bored parents let their children “snuggle up” with an iPad as they drift off to sleep.

* * *

David Walsh is a Minneapolis psychologist and author of the books “Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids,” “Why do They Act That Way?, and “No: Why Kids–Of All Ages–Need to Hear It and Why Parents Can Say It.”

http://drdavewalsh.com/