Communicating with Babies – What Parents Need to Know.

Babies begin communicating with us from the moment they are born – it’s just that we may not understand what they are saying yet!

 

It’s interesting isn’t it that if you were going to have an extended holiday in Spain or France, you’d probably make the effort to learn even a few basic words and phrases of Spanish or French. Yet when we are pregnant not many people learn how to communicate with the ‘soon to be here’ baby!

 

I’ve personally seen the huge benefits parents get when they DO learn how to do this, and the spin-off benefits to their baby such as: Read more

Child sitting on the floor, intently doing puzzle

What are the best toys for children? One is…. Jigsaw Puzzles.

 

In my role as a Parenting Consultant, parents and grandparents often ask me about buying toys for their children or grandchildren. They want to know what are the ‘best’ ones. Obviously the age and ability of the child is a consideration, but 2 of my favourites are jigsaw puzzles and board games.

Puzzles can be introduced to toddlers around age one, with a toy which has balls to drop into a hole. This starts to teach them to hold an object, to position it, and then to let it drop through. The easiest shape to insert is a circle, as it will fit which ever way you hold it!

Next comes a shape sorter toy. You hold the container and let baby select a shape. Read more

Image by Woodley Wonder Works via Flickr

Music and Maths – an Unlikely Relationship?

This morning over breakfast I was listening to the radio, and was aware how the different pieces impacted on me – some more upbeat, some more gentle and calming. I don’t know about you, but I play different types of music for specific moods – if I’m feeling a bit ‘flat’ I put on something like “Pink”, and if I’m feeling hassled, I put on gentle classical music, or “Enya”. We can utilise this with children too – you can use music to enhance their moods, to help ‘lift’ them when needed, or to calm them at other times.

From an early age we use lullabies to soothe our babies, and often sing them to sleep – this is true whatever your cultural background. It’s the tone of your voice, which settles them. As they get older, they like things with a stronger beat – you’ll often see toddlers bopping to a beat. Toddlers also like nursery rhymes and songs, and will join in with the words and actions. Even a 1 year old will often wave their hands in the  air, to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

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Smiling young toddler eating breakfast

Our 5 Core Needs – for both Children and Adults!

As human beings we have core needs to survive, grow and thrive. Some core needs we are born with, some we develop. As individuals we needs these things in varying amounts – some people will need more of one than another person. We work in ways to have our needs met, so that we are fulfilled.

So what are these Core Needs? They are:

Survival;

Love and Belonging;

Fun;

Power; and

Freedom.

Let’s look in more detail…

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Image by scjn via Flickr

How to help our children learn about consequences

What happens when you pay your electricity bill late? – you get one reminder, and then a late fee is applied if you still don’t comply.

What happens when you bring your wife a bunch of flowers? – she shows gratitude to you!

What happens when you don’t prop the ladder correctly before climbing up? – it wobbles, putting you in danger.

All of these are consequences of our actions. As adults we know what the consequences are, and we choose to comply, or not comply, knowing there will be consequences.

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Superman as a 3yr old

Superman is a 3 year old!

You know how Superman wears a disguise, as the ordinary Clark Kent?

Yesterday I saw Superman in another disguise – as a 3 year old boy!

I was in a department store, in a very long queue of people, waiting to make our purchases. Ahead of me was a Mum, with her 3 year old son (aka Superman). She had a large purchase, with a few smaller items sitting on top and was pushing it along in the line. Superman was looking at all the items which shops insist on putting just at children’s eye level – lollies, chocolates, drinks and small items. He picked various ones up and carefully replaced them.

Then, waiting in a long line became less appealing for him, and he started playing a game with the soft drink bottles – pushing them over, one at a time. Mum noticed and asked him to stop. He promptly decided to ignore her, and pushed another couple over. At this point Mum said: “If you don’t stop that, you can’t have this toy” (the one about to be purchased). He continued pushing them over, and she said: “Okay, no toy.” At this point Superman had a mini-tantrum, which stopped quickly when no-one took any notice. Great work Mum!
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Lessons-from-the-Beach

Lessons from the Beach

I had a mini-holiday recently, 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.

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Speech Development from 8 months

Speech Development from 8 months

Last week we looked at how language develops from birth to 8 months, let’s look at what happens next….

 

Between 8 – 14 months, babies become more interested in looking at books, and by 14 months they are often able to locate known objects eg ‘Where’s the dog?’ and they will point at it. They will understand often said words (known as Receptive language)eg Mum, Toby (the dog) bottle; and around their first birthday can say 4 -6 words (known as Expressive language). These ‘words’ aren’t complete, but may be ‘bo’ for bottle or ‘woof’ for the dog. Children of this age will listen, briefly. They may respond to simple requests eg ‘Come to Mummy’. They often jabber away to themselves or to you, and like to talk whilst looking at themselves in front of a mirror. They use gestures to make their needs known eg pointing at the fruit bowl when they want a banana.

How you can help: Share and read books to them, pointing out objects – the car, the big tree etc, and ask simple questions about the book: ‘Where’s the cat?’ Notice what you child is doing, and label it for him eg : You are playing with blocks’ or ‘You are eating porridge’. Let your baby sit in front of a mirror, to see themselves and ‘talk’! Sing simple songs to him. Listen when he is ‘telling’ you something – your smile and reponse encourages him to keep practising.

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How Does Speech Develop in Babies?

Language begins to develop prior to birth, when babies hear the parents’ voices in utereo. When a baby, who has just been born, is placed between their mother and a stranger, and they both speak to the baby, she will turn towards the recognisable voice of her Mum – amazing!

 

From birth to 6 weeks, this recognition of both Mum and Dad’s voices continues, and the baby responds to sounds and voices, but aren’t yet able to localise them. Babies have different cries to indicate their need for food, sleep, or to be burped! When parents are able to correctly identify these cries, then they can quickly settle the baby .

You can read more about this, in a previous article I wrote: http://theparentingcafe.com.au/the-5-words-your-newborn-says/ 

You can help by: Look at your baby and talk with her. Smile at her. Surround her with gentle, pleasant sounds, and avoid sudden loud noises, which may startle her.

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crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

  1. MODELLING:

 

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if my Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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