In my work as a Parenting Consultant I work with parents who approach me for different reasons. I have parents who want reassurance that their child is developing as they ‘should’ ie that they are meeting the milestones for development in the areas of Language, Intellectual skills, Motor skills – both gross and fine motor, and Social-Emotional skills. Some parents contact me when they think there may be a possible delay in one of these areas – that their child isn’t talking as much as his peers, or not moving as well. Other parents contact me when Mum is returning to work and they want to check on how to best ensure that the child will cope with this new change of routine and people in childcare. And other parents contact me when there is an issue with their child eg around bedtime routines, or when they are approaching toilet-learning, or when they are behavioural issues.
Last weekend I stepped outside and headed to the veggie patch, as I needed some parsley for my cooking. I was surprised to see that it was turning yellow, with only a few green tufts left. Glancing around I saw that the rhubarb was bolting, the tomatoes were tiny and had been eaten by a grub, and the other plants were looking wilted. How did this happen to my once lush, productive garden? I stopped to think…..Mmmm, it had been a week since I’d been out there. No wait …. maybe it was 2, or even 3 weeks! I realised that I hadn’t tended to the garden for such a long time due to my work and personal commitments, and as a result it was neglected.
12 months ago that same garden had given me large quantities of tomatoes, parsley and zucchini which I happily shared. 12 months ago I was regularly out in the garden weeding, watering and nurturing it. What a difference!
How does this relate to parenting?
Children need to be nurtured. Just like a plant which needs good soil, water and sunshine to grow, our children also have needs. These must be satisfied in order to grow into healthy, ‘productive’ children.
Their needs are simple….. and it doesn’t involve trips to the toy store or expensive excursions to the latest theme park! Their needs centre around you. They need the basics as all humans do of food, clothing, shelter AND they need love and connection in order to thrive!
When I have Home Visits with families in my role as a Parenting Consultant, I’m watching and listening to see how the child is developing across four areas – Language , Intellect, Social-Emotional, and Motor skills. If you are interested to know more about our Home Visit plan, check out our Home Visits page.
Imagine how much easier parenting would be if you understood why children do what they do… If you knew the ‘why’, then you may approach the situation differently…
Today I’ll share with you what I might expect to see in the Social-Emotional domain in young babies.
Social refers to how the child interacts with others and the learning of social skills.
Emotional refers to how they express their emotions.
I recently had a trip overseas to see my family in Denmark. While I was there, I was away from the busy-ness of my daily life and so had more time to relax and think.
Flying gives me great pleasure – I get excited just like a child – the thrill of taxiing down the runway, and the glee when the plane lifts and soars above the ground – I sit there, almost grinning like the Cheshire Cat in ‘Alice in Wonderful’.
The next day I’m lying on the grass in my sister, Anita’s backyard, in the sunshine with my niece, gazing through the dappled light of the giant tree at the moving clouds. I felt grateful and blessed to be there, for Cecilie’s company (I only see her every 4-5 years), for the sun when it was mid-winter back home in Tasmania, for being able to laze about instead of working, for the fact I had enough money to take such a trip, and for the joy of being with family again – so many things to be grateful for! Read more
When parents have two (or more) languages, they often discuss whether they should introduce them to their children. They wonder if it is confusing for their little ones to hear two languages spoken in the home environment, and may worry that it’s too difficult for their young children to learn to speak both their native language and English also. In fact the opposite is true!
Babies are born able to hear the sounds of all languages, and are able to link together the ‘like’ sounds which they hear, in their brain – eg they store Danish sounds together, and the English sounds together. Isn’t that amazing?
It’s been found that children who have two languages spoken in the home tend to be more creative and more flexible in their thinking than children with just one language!
I had a mini-holiday this week, in a beautiful little seaside town. Daily I would walk to the beach, to absorb the sunshine and heat, as well as hear the sounds of the waves crashing, and the smell the scent of the sea and the bush surrounds.
On the beach were so many families from India, Asian, the Middle East and Anglos. There were Mums with kids, families with cousins & Grandparents, group of friends, surfers, and couples walking hand in hand.
What they all had in common, was a day of fun. There were so many smiles and the sound of laughter, and it was wonderful to participate in this event.
It made me reflect on all the amazing messages which were intentionally and unintentionally being shared with the children present.
Do you sometimes have difficulty working out why your baby is crying? What is it, that they want? And even when you’ve tried a few things, they still cry!
Think about this…
Imagine if you were the baby and you were saying: ‘I’m tired’, and your carer feeds you instead! And then when you say again: ‘I’m tired’, then they decide to burp you… or change your nappy – the result would be one unhappy baby – and probably one upset and distressed parent!
This is what often happens with a newborn and new parents. It’s like we are both talking different languages, and can’t really understand what the other is saying. And so we take a guess – and sometimes we are lucky and get it right, and other times not!
Wouldn’t it be great to actually know what the baby was saying? Imagine how easy that would make it! Well, now you can.
This week I needed to purchase some new toys for a Playgroup I run. ‘That’s easy’, I thought, as I headed to the nearest toy store. Now, I should add, that my children are all adults and I don’t have grandchildren. The various Parenting Consultant positions I’ve held over the past 14 years have all come with fully set up rooms. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a toy store! Frankly, I must say that I was horrified at the sexism and consumerism I was confronted with. Aisles and aisles of pink toys for girls and blue/ green for boys. And, the vast majority of toys had TV/ movie characters on them as logos. Is this what we want for our children – to be pigeon holed into gender based stereotypes, and to be on the consumer trail from 2 years of age?
The pink, ‘girl stuff’’ was basically projecting images of demure, delicate, gentle children, and many toys were of a domestic nature. The ‘boy toys’ projected toughness adventure and, with bold or military colours.
This push towards ‘girly pink’ or a ‘baby blue’ for boys, begins at birth. No, actually, it begins prior to birth when many parents want to know the gender of the child so that they can decorate the room pink or blue. (And yes, I know there are many other reasons why parents want to know the gender). Then once baby arrives often gifts are received, and again the parents have the gender of the child defined by colour , with pink and blue as predominate.
You know how great you feel after a good nights sleep… You smile more, you have the energy to take on the day with enthusiasm, and you cope better if things don’t go well. Isn’t that what we want for our children too? Whilst we can’t make children sleep, we can create an environment that is conducive to sleep.
A good nights sleep assists the growth and development of a healthier body, a better concentration and attention span, improved strength and co-ordination, and more emotional balance.
A good nights sleep also makes the next day better for both parents and children!
It is important to establish good sleep routines early in a baby’s life, so that they quickly learn ‘how’ to go to sleep. It is even easier for the child to learn this, when the adults are consistent with the routine – regardless of whether it is Mum or Dad who are preparing the child for bed. When you follow the same routine each night, you establish a pattern in the child which gets them ready for sleep. Does it mean they will be happy about it – no, not necessarily! But, who is the one who knows how much sleep children need, and what they will be like without it… You! Young children generally do not know when they are tired. It’s rare for a child to say “Yes” when asked “Do you want to go to bed?” As adults we are the responsible ones!
A few years ago, I heard Dr Catherine Neilsen-Hewitt from the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University speak on the topic, “The Effects of Media Violence on Children.” She spoke about the statistics of media violence, the reactions of children and how media violence affects children’s development.
Following is a snapshot of what I learnt…
Children watch an average of 2 – 4 hrs of TV daily. This means by the end of Primary School, they will have seen 8,000 murders, and 100,000 acts of violence – this is from the news you watch, the shows you watch, the ‘cartoon’ violence in kids shows etc. A horrifiying statistic. Over time children become desensitized to it – meaning that they can see a violent act being committed (on TV or in real life) and have no response to it.
Just as every exposure to cigarettes leads to an increase in the risk of developing cancer, every exposure to violence leads to an increase in the risk of behaving violently. (due to the desensitization mentioned above).
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The Parenting Cafe
The Parenting Cafe is based in Hobart, TAS
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