This month I would like to tell you a bit about some of the things I learned on my course Bringing Baby Home. I was encouraged to know that the methods I have been using to help baby settle have NOT, as some have presumed, caused long term emotional problems. Which of course I already knew otherwise I would not have been teaching it!
As I have previously mentioned and which the Gottman Institute also stresses is that the first three years of life are the most important time in a child’s brain development. Little brains are constantly developing connections in the neural pathways to allow information to pass through the brain. These pathways act like roadmaps for later learning. Early childhood experiences help or hinder the learning process such as speech, solving problems, building relationships, and managing stress. The parent-child relationship developed at this early age is, as you can imagine, the most important factor in building the foundations for a child’s healthy physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
What does a child need to establish emotional well-being. All children need to feel they have a reliable caregiver, one that they can not only trust and feel secure with but who has their well-being in mind. A parent not only needs to cloth and feed their child but they also need to know how to read their child’s non-verbal cues. As new parents this can sometime be very confusing until you learn to recognise your baby’s cry – hunger, overwhelmed, tried, unwell or pain. Learning your baby’s non-verbal cues will help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Understanding their physical needs will of course help you eliminate some of the guess work. For example if you have a good routine and know how long you baby should be sleeping between meals this will help you to eliminate if baby is showing signs of being over tired. And if your baby is fed well every 4 hours and putting on weight, you will know that if they cry it is not because they are hungry. Or if you baby has been sleeping well and has become unsettled then there may be something disturbing them – reflux, teething, unwell.
Gottman Institute confirms that a child who is well loved builds up positive emotional pathways. These pathways are established through a constructive parenting relationship and have positive implications throughout the child’s life. The early life experiences affect the child’s future ability to succeed in school, make friends, and achieve goals in work and family life. Constructive parenting involves setting boundaries, discipline, routines, house rules and social etiquette. So when does a parent start with constructive learning for their child? It can be as early as a few weeks if your child doesn't know how to self settle. Sleep is a primary need for all newborns.
‘Knowing’ your child helps to buffer or prevent potential problems or stressful situations. Teaching your child early will prevent potentially stressful situations later. ‘Knowing your child you will also be able to engage more fully with them in activities they enjoy, making learning more productive and play time more enjoyable. (Gottman Institute Bringing Baby Home)
Here is one of several helpful video from the Gottman Institute that I would recommend you watch Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.