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Supporting Attachment During the Transition to a New Childcare Arrangement

By Lindsay K. Germain

[Originally published by BirthWays.org in 2011] 

When Ella and her mom arrived for the first day of their art class for three-year-olds, Ella seemed like a quiet, shy little girl. The other children worked and played together while their parents were away, while Ella sat in her mother’s lap, quietly avoiding the other children.

On their third day in the group, I gently suggested her mom could take an hour for herself while Ella was with us; I was confident Ella would do well.

baby dad handNervous about leaving Ella alone, particularly in light of her apparent shyness, her mother decided to say goodbye and wait outside the room where she could hear how Ella was doing.

Though Ella had never before been away from her family, she began to interact with the other children, and turned out to be anything but shy. She appeared confident, focused and self-directed; with a little encouragement she was easily able to ask for what she needed and play with the other children. Soon enough, Ella’s mother was dropping her off and taking some much-needed time for herself during class.

Sending your little one into another’s care for the first time is a monumental experience. This first separation can bring up nervousness, doubt, mistrust, and grief for even the most even-keeled parents.

The process can be quite trying, but can also provide an opportunity for growth where you can examine your feelings and reaffirm your love to your child. Your child has an opportunity to master separating from you in a secure and confident way that keeps your attachment strong. In this article, we’ll explore some ways you can help your child make this transition with confidence and ease.

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A good cry can promote secure attachment

from Hand in Hand Parenting

Most of us parents want, more than anything, for our presence to be the elixir that banishes our children’s upsets.  We want our touch, our cuddles, and our sweet words to heal the hurt.

Our son cries over a stomped-on paper airplane, and we put an arm around him and tell him we will make another. He sniffles and slowly comes around.

Or our daughter tantrums over a balloon that floated away and can’t be caught, and we gather her up, wriggling in protest, and talk her down until she’s quiet, if not exactly sunny.

Or neither child wants to sleep in their own bed, so we lie down next to them, one after the other, night after night, glad that we can keep their tears away, but wishing we could get an hour to ourselves instead! Continue reading

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Learning to “Speak Baby”

by Angela Jernigan 

My six year old tells me from the back seat of the car, “Mom, babies are really very smart, it’s just that they don’t speak like bigger people.” She is looking at me earnestly in the rear view mirror with her serious blue eyes, “If only grown ups could learn to speak baby, they’d know: babies have lots to say.”baby dad

I think my daughter knows exactly what she’s talking about. She was, after all, a baby who had a lot to say.

Even from our very first long night together after she was born, my daughter cried a lot. Until dawn she fussed and squawked, wriggled and writhed, her belly against my chest, my body exhausted from giving birth and aching for rest.

But the rest never came. After a few weeks, I began to face it: I had a fussy, sometimes inconsolable, baby. It was harrowing. My husband and I called on doctors, lactation consultants, baby massage teachers, cranial sacral practitioners. No one could find a problem, yet my daughter still could not find peace. She cried so much, my little one, while I work anxiously doing whatever I could think of to stop the crying: bouncing, walking, sound machines, sh-shing, standing in the backyard in the middle of the night, sobbing to myself.

By the time she was four months old, I was desperate and utterly exhausted.

And then I learned about a a way of listening to babies and children called Parenting by Connection from a woman named Patty Wipfler, and everything in our life slowly began to change. Continue reading

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Must parents be consistent?

from Hand in Hand Parenting

We’ve all been told, “Kids need consistency!” But what does that mean?

Does it mean that we have to mete out consequences for every one of our children’s poor judgment calls? Does it mean that being flexible with them will pamper and spoil them? How can we tell when it’s important to be consistent, and when it’s not?

PL BoydadwrestleI think that the consistency our children need lies in our ability to think about each situation flexibly. If they can depend on us to think, rather than react, they have the security they need in the jumble of daily life. When we can treat our children with respect and love, even while saying no to them, we’re being consistently on their side. That’s the consistency that matters.

For instance, take bedtime. A parent can hold to a consistent bedtime on school nights, but loosen that policy for a child’s birthday celebration on a school night, when grandparents or cousins are visiting, or on a night when there’s a meteor shower that’s best observed after 9 pm. That’s thinking. That’s setting limits well, and making exceptions well. Both the limits and the exceptions reassure a child that he’s well loved, and that his parents have his best interests in mind.

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