Play is the child’s work

Share Button

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Share Button

Play is the child’s work

Share Button

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Share Button

Play is the child’s work

Share Button

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Share Button

Play is the child’s work

Share Button

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Share Button

Play is the child’s work

Share Button

My 18 month old daughter loves to dance. At mother and toddler group every week she watches and tries to mimic the hand movements that the older children & mums do as they sing all of the nursery rhymes. She claps loudly at the end of each song and jumps up and down excitedly waiting for the next to begin. When we get home we sing silly songs and do even sillier dances as we try to remember all the different moves.

We also occasionally go to a toddler’s singing & dancing group which has its own special songs. Yesterday, during bathtime, I started singing one of these songs to her, it was about stamping on bubbles and clapping bubbles to make them pop. She stood up in the bath and started to stamp her feet along with my wonderful singing and then she clapped her hands along with the next verse.

What amazed me was the fact that we haven’t been at that group in about 2 months, she hasn’t heard that song in 2 months and yet the minute I started to sing it she jumped up to join in with the dance that she remembered.

Our children are like sponges, it is truly amazing how much they notice the world around them and how they store the seemingly irrelevant little details of life for future use. I once heard a wonderful description which was “play is the child’s work” and it’s true, every minute of every day as you sing songs, dance dances, bounce balls and push carts with your child, you are nourishing them and helping them with their important work, their play.

It is these little games, where the only props they might have are a dishcloth, a cardboard box and a wild imagination, that will give your child the tools they need for life. It may look like they are “wasting” time by playing pirates or shop, however they are actually hard at work developing crucial life skills, including concentration, problem solving and self-regulation. A report on NPR entitled “Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills” explains more about these skills and their importance in the child’s future adult life. This report also highlights a worrying trend in many schools today (even preschools), the reduction of playtime in favour of more study time.

It seems that in the rush to give children every advantage — to protect them, to stimulate them, to enrich them — our culture has unwittingly compromised one of the activities that helped children most. All that wasted time was not such a waste after all.

We should all make time to join in with our children as they go about their daily work and sing a silly song, dance a silly dance and, most of all, have lots and lots of fun together!

Half Pint Pixie

Share Button

Follow the Leader

Share Button

Although I think we would have ‘found’ attachment parenting eventually, it was our daughter Sophia, born in Guatemala and now 5.5, who showed us the way.

As Ann and I waited for the adoption process to move through its steps we kept busy preparing for her arrival. We blindly went out and bought her a crib, a high chair, and all of the other products whose makers work hard to persuade parents-to-be that they cannot possibly parent a baby without. I enjoy shopping far too much and was only too eager to buy adorable pint-sized clothing, furniture and accessories. When the waiting felt hard, I would look into the nursery and visualize her sleeping in her crib.

Then, when she was 2.5 months old, we traveled to Guatemala to meet her. Her foster mother brought Sophia to our hotel to stay with us. She showed us how to rock her to sleep–an intricate dance with specific moves! We were able to easily rock Sophia to sleep in this way. We then gently lay her inside the crib in the hotel room. And she promptly woke up and communicated to us with her cries, “No, thank you, crib!” We tried this several times, and finally let her just lay in our arms…she slept like the proverbial baby. We mused that Sophia must co-sleep with her foster family, as this was the only way she would sleep with us.

On our last night during that first visit, I enjoyed dinner at Sophia’s foster family’s home. Poor Ann was sick in the hotel. I got to see where Sophia was living and being loved until she would come home to our family. There was a pack-n-play in Sophia’s foster mom’s room and a king-sized bed. I asked if Sophia slept in the bed with her foster mom. She sheepishly answered yes. She was hesitant to share this as it was against ‘the rules’ of the facilitator who thought American adoptive parents would expect their children-to-be to sleep in a crib.

I assured her that we simply wanted Sophia to be happy and healthy and she clearly was.

Ann and I returned home from Guatemala and immediately began looking for a new bigger bed for when Sophia came home. (New sheets, new comforter…I was on board for more shopping!) We also began exploring thoughts and ideas about co-sleeping, which led us to explore attachment parenting. Prior to this, my focus in reading and preparation as a prospective adoptive parent had all centered on adoption and transracial adoption issues. Now, I turned my attention to parenting approaches and found that Sophia had led us to the only approach that made sense for adopted children.

Adopted children endure the loss and separation from at least one family prior to their adoption, if not more than one. Sophia experienced the separation from her birth mother as a newborn and then the loss of her foster family, and all that was familiar to her, again at age 7.5 months when she came home to our family. Our next daughter, Olivia, born in a traumatic birth at 29 weeks of gestation, endured many losses including the loss of her twin sister at their birth, the loss of her birth mother, the loss of gestational time (early eviction on a 9 month lease!) and then loss of oxygen directly prior to her arrival. Even our youngest child, Walker, whom we met upon her birth, had spent nine months with her birth mother and was very suddenly without her voice and her bodily rhythms. Attaching and bonding clearly needs to be the focus for any adoptive parent upon a child’s homecoming.

Co-sleeping creates a powerful opportunity for attachment and bonding on so many visceral and primal levels. Sophia slept sandwiched between us and thus between the rhythms of our bodies. She craved skin-to-skin contact and curled up against us each night. Our bed felt and smelled like the combination of her and us.

It is in this way, night after night of cuddling and breathing in each other, that we began not only to begin identifying as an attachment parerenting family, but also how we became a family. In listening to our new daughter’s needs, she led us to an approach and parenting community that continues to help our family not only to mindfully listen to our children’s needs, but also to strive to balance those needs and create family harmony.

– Diana Robinson

Share Button

State-of-the-Heart Parenting

Share Button

During the last weeks of my pregnancy we decided to have our infant car seat installed by certified professionals at the local sheriff’s office. We got our car on Autozin a fantastic car dealership. I was way too pregnant at that point to maneuver around in the cramped backseat of our little Honda, so the allure of not having to do it myself (or beg my husband to) was convincing. Did I mention that the service was also free? Seemed like a no-brainer.

The expert suggested ditching the base of the seat and simply installing the part that the baby needed to be strapped into since the backseat wouldn’t really accommodate the rear-facing seat and base. Meanwhile, a gun-toting officer (did he really need his gun at the car-seat safety check?) came over to comment and observe. He pointed out that this plan was going to be a hassle for us since we would need to re-install the seat every time we removed the baby from the car. We must have looked confused because he went on to the praise the virtues of using the car seat as a convenient baby carrier in addition to safety seat for motor vehicle use. Understanding his point now, I tried to diplomatically dismiss his concerns by explaining that we would simply use our arms or a sling to carry our new baby to and from the vehicle and would have no need to use the seat as a carrier.

Both the officer and the car seat installer stared and blinked at us for a full five seconds before the officer incredulously asked my husband and I if we were sure – really, really sure – that we wouldn’t like to move our child in one smooth motion from car to shopping cart and back again. What kind of reason could there possibly be for not wanting to streamline our busy lives as new parents? In his voice was the unmistakable air of cop suspicion, as if he were speaking to the last two people in the path of a hurricane who stalwartly refuse to evacuate. We managed to stammer out some random stuff about “parenting philosophy” and “brain development.”

The officer seemed to think we must have misunderstood him since our answer didn’t seem to have been particularly coherent, or even related to car seats as far as he could tell. He repeated, more slowly this time so that we would be sure to understand, how easy it was to remove the car seat from the base and place it into a shopping cart, so that we would never have to disturb the baby. This is usually the part where I attempt to share information about the benefits of attachment parenting and how wonderful it has been for our family. It was obvious by this point, however, that we were just coming from two very different places. Plus, the gun was a little intimidating so I decided to simply smile and nod for the remainder of the installation.

But this incident started me thinking about baby carriers, strollers, and swings vs. babywearing—was babywearing really the best choice for us? Maybe we had been making things much harder on ourselves all of this time by refusing to use all of the state-of-the-art gizmo’s and gadgets which were so popular nowadays. Had we become too rigid and idealistic about our parenting choices? With our fourth baby on the way, it was time to reevaluate what our family’s needs really were and whether or not we were parenting consciously and purposefully, or simply going through the AP motions. Perhaps it was time to revisit some of the literature that got me started with AP to see if it still moved me to parent the same way now that our family was adding a new member.

I decided to get reacquainted with the reasons we had chosen to limit our use of baby carrying devices in favor of keeping our babies close to us most of the time. Sharon Heller, PhD states in her book The Vital Touch:

Carry our babies to the car in a container, out of the car in a container, through the mall in a container, into the restaurant in a container, back to the car in a container, and home to a container, so that objects define our baby’s existence more so than our body, is not just a step away from tradition. It is a cataclysmic change far out of step with the rhythmic pas de deux to which our babies’ minds and bodies were choreographed… No species in a hundred years or so can turn the time-tested mother-baby relationship on its head without consequences. In the short term, diminished contact makes babies fussier than they need be and mothers more conflicted than they need be.

On the website, ConnectionParenting.com, Pam Leo, a founding board member of the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children, says:

Many of the infant and child behaviors that are challenging parents in our culture are unheard of in cultures that practice high-touch nurturing. While our culture has changed dramatically to keep up with our technology, our biology has not. Babies are biologically programmed to expect the same high-touch nurturing that evolved millions of years ago. Just because we no longer need to keep our babies in close physical contact so tigers won’t eat them, doesn’t mean we no longer need to carry them. Research shows that carrying and keeping babies in close physical contact does far more than keep them safe from predators; it is critical to their optimal development.

Does this mean that I can never let my baby sit in a bouncy chair or cruise along in a stroller without hampering her brain development? Or that every minute of her day must be spent in a set of arms? Would falling asleep in a swing mean years of future therapy? I don’t think so. With six people in our family, two of which are adults, and two of which are teenagers, there will rarely be a time when someone isn’t available to hold, snuggle, or play with our new baby, so having a lot of stuff seemed excessive to us.

However, we decided that we should not limit our parenting choices by being dogmatic about following a philosophy to the letter of the law. We needed a parenting style that worked for our unique family. The only rule we came up with for our own personal AP style was: are we treating our children with love, human dignity, and respect for them as real people? When parenting does get hectic and stressful, we often remind each other to check on the state of our heart and to approach the situation with love. With the arrival of our new baby, we have realized that our family is our convenient baby carrier, deluxe swing, and super-duper baby entertainment-center. For us, Attachment Parenting is about our state-of-the-heart family rather than the convenience of state-of-the-art stuff.

And let’s talk about convenient! We have used our wraps and slings, not just as carriers that fit easily into our diaper bag, but as changing pads, nursing covers, blankets, nap mats, sunshades, seat belts for grocery carts & high chairs, toddler harnesses, and even pet carriers! And we sure could have used it to demonstrate what the heck we were talking about when we had the car-seat installed– they are probably still scratching their heads. It’s a lot easier to explain babywearing when you are actually wearing the baby; add teaching tool to the list of convenient uses for slings and wraps!

Justine

Share Button

Nighttime Parenting and The Anxious Child

Share Button

sleeping.jpgMany people in the non-AP world are surprised when I make mention of one of my children sleeping with me. At 6.5 and 4.5 years of age, many seem to think that they are too old to be co-sleeping. Some of these parents co-slept with their infants but their children moved on to their own beds at some point. Mine did as well, but not for long.

I am truly thankful that I fell into the attachment parenting practice when my first was a newborn, thankful for many reasons. These days I am thankful that I don’t have any preconceived notions of where children should sleep. This has proven beneficial not only to my children, but also to me.

Both of my children have varying special needs but a common thread between the two of them is anxiety. My daughter, who is 4.5, is also language delayed. She doesn’t have a solid enough understanding of language for us to be able to explain the things that cause her anxiety and fears. As night comes, she quickly becomes more anxious about her surroundings refusing to leave our sides. For a family who forbids a child from sleeping with a parent, this would become a stressful time for both parent and child.

When my daughter’s anxiety increased, it was simply a matter of bringing her back into our bed (she had transitioned to her own room for several months at the age of three). Now my daughter is able to get a full night’s rest without fear and so do my husband and I.

My son, at 6.5, also has major nighttime anxiety. Although he has a vast vocabulary, he doesn’t understand why he is so fearful after dark. After sleeping in his own room for years, without any problems, he has also transitioned back into our room. Unfortunately he is plagued by vivid nightmares which continue even in bed with us. It pains my heart to see him thrash about and cry out in his sleep but I am happy that I am able to be near him and provide comfort.

I know that our family’s decision to not place boundaries on our children’s ability to sleep with us is helping us all right now. If I were to insist that my children sleep in their own beds “like big boys and girls do” then no one, not a single one of us, would be getting any sleep. Nighttime parenting goes beyond the nursing years and does stretch into childhood and beyond. Knowing what your children’s needs are, and meeting those needs in a way that is optimal for everyone, helps the family’s bond grow stronger.

Melissa

Share Button