Saturday, January 9, 2010


"....when a baby cries, a mother's first instinct is to pick her up and comfort her. But when well-meaning friends or relatives see this, they often say that this will spoil the baby. 'Let her cry,' they say, 'it's good exercise for the lungs. Don't let the baby think you'll jump every time she cries.' As a new mum, you may never have had contact with new babies before, and these are experienced mothers. No one wants a spoiled baby on their hands - so you listen and then hesitate...You become confused and wonder what's really best to do."
Judy Wade and Val Hudson: Babylove

If you ask any woman who is a mother if she has ever been in this situation, felt such confusion and ended up discouraged - if she is honest, she will answer "yes".
At a time when a new mum wants to start 'right' and put any hopes she has about mothering into practice, this sort of experience can halt everything. She can completely loose confidence.
Research has proven that a baby under the age of one year does not have the mental development to think "to himself, 'If I cry and go on crying she will come and pick me up.'" says Dr Penelope Leach. So it is not possible for a baby at this age, to deliberately manipulate its mum in this way. Some child care experts say that it is not possible to spoil a baby in its first year of life.
So, what do you do, particularly when the baby has been fed, changed and played with and still won't settle?
A well-travelled mum gives this answer. "When I was in Africa I never heard a baby cry. I'm sure this is because Africian babies are never parted from their mothers. While she works, they usually ride in a blanket tied on her back. With stomach and chest pressed against the mother's body they get constant comfort and security while she works undisturbed. And they're happily rocked to sleep by the rhythm of her movements."
As for reasons why the baby would be crying, it could be as simple as that they want to be close to you - their Dad or Mum. A great, natural and normal desire for a baby to have.
There are so many brands of baby slings available today for newborns - a great gift for a new mum + a note on why she needs it.
Happy cuddles with your baby THIS WEEK WITH THE KIDS.


"I think all parents agree that raising a child today is especially difficult.....many parents feel no matter how good a job they do, their efforts have little overall effect upon their child....Just the opposite is true. Every study I've read indicates that the home wins hands down in every case. The influence of parents far outweighs everything else. The home holds the upper hand in determining how happy, secure and stable a child is; how a child gets along with adults, peers and different children; how confident a youngster is in himself and his abilities; how affectionate he is or how aloof; how he responds to unfamiliar situations. Yes, the home, despite many distractions for a child, has the greatest influence on him."
Ross Campbell: How to ReallyLove Your Child.

The author of these words (a child psychiatrist), goes on to discuss the second greatest influence on a child - their congenital temperament. This week I want only to talk about this first influence - home.
When I read this quote I was drawn to the sentence I have highlighted - "The influence of parents far outweighs everything else." It's a bold, confident statement, but is it true?
Living in the country I have the benefit of being able to watch nature just outside the window. These last months I have watched blackbirds make nests, lay eggs, hatch eggs, naked creatures feather-up, parents feed their open-mouthed babies, babies learn to fly and then leave. Sounds a bit like a human family! I know as we move on through this year, I'll see these same bird that were babies, going about life as their parents did and probably this time next year having babies themselves.
Now I can hear you say - that that's all fine with birds, but people are different, they're lives are more complex. And that is true. But in our homes, the habits we practice effect our kids, just as in the blackbird's family.
That highlighted sentence puts a lot of ownership back into our 'court'. It is really an encouragement to us, to willingly takeup everyday opportunities of being with our kids, knowing that these moments are investments into the development of our children.
How can this ideal be put into practice?
Well, the sentence that follows after the one I highlighted in the quote, gives lots of specific ideas to work with. For example
* What family things do we do that make my child feel happy and secure? Do one of them this week.
* What does my child like doing with Dad or Mum/friends/siblings? Arrange for it to happen this week.
* This week watch your child and make a list of things you should complement, thank and praise your child for. Now do it.
* Decide to do something special with your child this week, with the express purpose of showing how much you love them. It doesn't have to be expensive or a huge time-taker - they just need YOU and your attention on them.
* You could take your child to an unfamiliar place as a surprise and do some happy activity together - eg - go for a swim at the beach after dark and eat chocolate on the beach afterwards.
- take an early morning bushwalk with a picnic breakfast.
- go for a car trip with your child blindfolded asking questions to see if they know where you are.....

You probably have got the point - it's all about being with the kids, listening to the kids, getting to know the kids, loving the kids, having a happy time with the kids....
So now you have lots of ideas to work with THIS WEEK WITH THE KIDS.

Remember to enjoy yourself.

Sunday, January 3, 2010



Charlotte Mason wrote these words about 130 years ago.
The point she was making is still true today - children are born with huge potential because they are people.
In the first two years of life a child's mind accomplishes more development than in any other two years of life. This development happens mainly on their own, like a preprogrammed system working away. Of course parents are a part of it, but most of a baby's learning to sit, crawl, stand, walk, talk ( and in the case of some, talk more that one language), is the child's work - they do it!
Some parents think a child is like a piece of dough that needs to be pulled here, pushed there and molded into shape. They see the child as raw material needing work done on it to insure it grows up and develops properly.
Which view do you prefer? I prefer the first, for many reasons.
* the first view gives the child a value that the second removes from a child.
* a parent who thinks of their child as a "person" is more likely to think of them, speak to them and listen to them in a respectful way - as they would to a dear friend.
* if a child is born a person then this fact will cause a parent to consider what each child is like individually.
What do YOU think?