Thursday, September 10, 2015
"MUMS AND PRESCHOOLERS : THE POWER OF EYE-TO-EYE CONTACT"
"Eye-to-eye contact along with skin-to-skin contact is vital for child development at all ages but particularly during the very early years. 80 per cent of a child's brain growth occurs during the first three years of life." WHO CARES? : Dr Aric Sigman. p.9.
When you read a document written by someone who is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a recipient of prestigious scientific awards, has done extensive field research observing the care of children in dozens of remote places of the world, has written a number of successful books, been written up in the media and debated on television, AND the important thing - a dad of three teenagers and a daughter in her 20's, you then know they have something worth listening to!!
Dr Aric Sigman is not saying anything 'new', he simply gives current statistics and applies research findings to the way life is being shaped for preschoolers today.
Dr Sigman is deeply interested in the wellbeing of infants and preschoolers, because he knows that if what happens in these early years of development is not in the child's best interests, they will be seriously ill equipped for later development, which in turn will affect future generations.
"Everyday, ongoing touching, cuddling, singing and smiling are vital aspects of attuned, responsive care necessary to develop key parts of child brain circuitry. Close, physical touch from someone who loves the child is crucially important. These things enable the child to develop the neurocircuitry required to feel empathy and care for others, which is a basic necessity for healthy functioning as an adult. This 'learning' requires high levels of eye-to-eye contact." p.10.
How to Give Eye-to-Eye Contact
The first two words give the answer.
Little children need "touching, cuddling, singing, smiling" at all times. Such things need to be available to them. They need easy access to enjoy and participate in them.
Look them in the eyes whenever you
~ talk with them
~ change their nappy
~ put them on the toilet
~ into a bath
~ into the highchair
~ into the carseat
~ dress them
~ clean their teeth
~ wash their hands
~ put their gumboots on
~ peg out the washing together
~ pack away the toys together
~ pass them food
~ wipe the bench together...
Take up the dozens of simple daily doings and LOOK INTO THEIR EYES.
This way "high levels of eye-to-eye contact" can easily be achieved, everyday.
"One of the most pronounced changes across the industrialised world is a reduction in the number of minutes per day that parents interact with their children. Recent history has seen parent and child in marked retreat from one another as New Zealand has moved from a culture of greater common experience to a society of more individual experience. She is in good company, as parent and child in Britain, too, step back from one another in unprecedented strides. Parents who work full-time spend only 19 minutes every day 'caring for [their] own children" according to the British Government's Office for National Statistics, while a further 16 minutes is spent looking after their children as a "secondary activity", indicating that the parent is doing something else - such as supermarket shopping - at the same time. The study looked specifically at working women in Britain and what they do during a typical 24-hour period (ONS, 2006)."p.8.
We have heard of these harsh statistics and with embarrassment, know them to be true. The culprits which cause mums and preschoolers to "retreat from one another", can include,
~ the attraction of mobile phones and other technology
~ the dominance of a mum's career or job
~ the misbelief that professional centre-based or home-based daycare is superior to a preschooler being at home with their own mum
~ being preoccupied with "doing something else" so that eye contact with the preschooler is minimal.
A Wise Family Practice
EVALUATE THE AFFECTS OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING
In our family my husband and I tested many things on an annual basis
~ was it 'working'?
~ in what ways?
~ how was it affecting our marriage?
~ how was it affecting us as individual parents?
~ THE IMPORTANT QUESTION - how was it affecting the kids?
~ can we change something?
~ what could we do differently?
~ would this change benefit the kids?
Ask the WISE questions of Yourself.
The Need to Look at Reality and be Honest
WILL 19 MINUTES A DAY FROM YOU, BE ENOUGH?
If, as the second quote says, "Close, physical touch from someone who loves the child is crucially important", because "these things enable the child to develop the neurocircuitry...which is a basic necessity for healthy functioning as an adult", then eye contact for "19 minutes every day" between you and your preschooler is honestly NOT sufficient.
"Discussions of childcare must in future be uncompromising and honest with an exclusive focus on the wellbeing of the child." Dr Aric Sigman.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ How are You honestly doing in the area of eye-to-eye connection, with your preschooler?