Cheers to parenting!

by | Dec 31, 2019 | Child development, Parenting

I love new beginnings. Today we not only ring in a new year, but a new decade. Your baby will be doing all kinds of things in 10 years! 

As we begin the new year there are so many things to think about. Goals, intentions, dreams and visions.  I don’t know about you, but I always start the year with great anticipation of the good things that will happen.  Fresh starts, I love ’em!
 
As a parent, a new year is a good time to reflect on how things are going with the kids. Are they thriving? Are there things to be concerned about? Are they curious about the world around them? Are they developing friendships with others?

Reflection helps us know what direction to go with our parenting intentions or goals for the new year. Let’s take a look at each of these questions individually and unpack them a little bit…

Is your child thriving?

Thriving is defined as growing and developing well or vigorously.  This is what your pediatrician is checking at well-checks,  developmental milestones that indicate growth is typical and normal for their age. I remember the satisfaction of those walking away from well-baby visits knowing everything was within normal ranges. There are definitely ebbs and flows to watch for in development. Careful observation helps you know if something might be a little off and most of the time, delays or questions about development are inconsequential. Every child is unique and has their own timetable. That’s one of the hard lessons for us parents!

This kind of daily rhythm puts us in sync — even grownups feel better when their physical bodies are working well. Some ways you can support this is with healthy foods that give energy, decrease stimulation (like avoiding sugar or drinks with caffeine), and by drinking liquids that keep the plumbing working well (lots of water does the trick usually with little ones). Your baby may fluctuate and suffer with constipation as their body learns to digest and let you know what works and what doesn’t. Getting good rest and playing outside every day will also help your child thrive. You too, mama. 

Do you have concerns about your child?

Are you a parent? Then you likely have concerns! It’s what we do best, get concerned. The skill of discerning what’s a real concern and what’s a fear of what could happen develops with time and experience.

So take one concern… your biggest one and explore it with a clear mind, positive outlook and then do some learning. Let’s say your concern is about biting.

Last night, a young mom was telling me that her 8-month old had just started biting her. She was concerned, for one she didn’t want to get bit, but also she didn’t want her baby to bite anyone else. A legitimate concern!

But let’s think about WHY an 8-month-old is biting. What else happens at 8 months? Teeth are coming in. It feels GOOD to bite down on something when your mouth is achy. She’s increasingly aware of other people and becoming attached to her primary caregivers. What do we do with people we love? We kiss them. Does an 8 month old understand the different between a wide-mouth or pursed lip kiss? Nope. Babies are in the oral stage of development – they learn everything through their mouth! She’s doing exactly what her nature is telling her to do. Is this a concern that requires further action? Nah, likely not. It does require a patient parent who gives her baby something to chew on, who is ready to quickly intervene if she sees that mouth open and leaning toward someone and who models gentle touches and loving actions, giving lots of opportunity to snuggle close.

When we take a whole developmental picture approach to deciding whether something is truly worth getting worried about, usually we can relax – your kid is just doing what they’re supposed to at that age!

 

Is your child curious?

 

You know your baby’s brain is developing when they leave your arms to explore, begin climbing, looking all around, following sounds with their eyes, touching and tasting everything — and all this before they can speak. Once talking, curiosity takes the form of questions, “Why? But why?”  It’s a good thing, even though one mom described the constant barrage of questions from her child, “a little mind-numbing!”  Yep. 
Curiosity has many benefits both for children and adults. It’s an important ingredient to learning something new – in fact, it’s got to be there first if any learning is going to take place.  Curiosity indicates an active brain. In the first few years of life, your child’s brain will make more connections than it ever will again.
Curious people achieve more, are more empathetic, have stronger friendships, are healthier and in general, happier. So take note. A sense of curiosity is a great thing to observe in your child!  If you don’t see much curiosity, be mindful of what’s available to play with and experience. Put things out that will make him wonder. In our family room we have a floating globe — it appears to float in the air as it slowly spins. It fascinates every kid who walks in the house! I love to ask questions and talk with them about it then show them the secret of how it works (magnets). Present opportunities to do new things often. Go new places, explore nature. Take a magnifying glass and sit in the grass. Listen to sounds and try to identify them. Encouraging curiosity for your child will be good for you too. You’ll learn new things.

Are they developing friendships?

There are distinct stages of social play and we need to know where our kids should be.  Generally, children go from noticing other children, playing side by side but not together, doing the same things at the same time but independently, sharing a toy, back and forth exchange of a toy taking cues from each other, entering into play with another child, allowing and being open to another’s ideas and flexible enough to follow instead of lead the course of play, creating a pretend scene together, playing games that require understanding of rules, strategy and being able to win and lose gracefully.
All these skills, these ways that children interact with each other, indicate their success later in life. So do all you can to support making friends at an early age.
Find other families with kids the same age and hang out, enroll in early childhood programs where your child can be with other kids – there are so may great options in most cities, make play dates, host get togethers and be around people. It’s good for your child and it’s good for your soul as a parent. We all need each other! Find your people and hang with them often.

 Happy new year! We wish you peace and contentment as you nurture your child and yourself in 2020. We are here to support you, so let us know what you need. 😍

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We’re a mother-daughter duo sharing developmentally appropriate ideas for teaching little noggins and nurturing new parents.

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