Category Archives: Social & Emotional

My baby’s social world

Babies are social beings. it’s in their nature and it’s a key aspect for their survival and to connect with others.

From the moment they’re born, babies begin to communicate with others through their very own language: crying. A baby’s cry prompts the caregiver to offer comfort and fulfill the child’s needs, be it food, a diaper change, or simply cuddle time.

By responding to your baby’s needs, you are helping her become more efficient at communicating with you, and soon all those sleepless nights will be rewarded with your little one’s first toothless grin.

Your baby’s first social smile will emerge between one and a half to three months of age. You’ll be able to differentiate this smile from her first reflex smile since this smile occurs in response to a stimulus and not a spontaneous body reaction. For example seeing your face or listening to dad’s voice will elicit a social smile. Respond to your baby’s smile and your baby learn that they can communicate with their parents in more ways than just crying. Talking, singing and making eye contact with your baby helps her learn to socialize and express her different emotions.

Continue reading

Happy Parents, Happy Kids: What can I do to strengthen my romantic relationship?

If you’re like most new parents, then you probably focus most of your energy and attention towards your new baby, as you should, but what about your relationship with your partner?

Between the baby’s naps, your post-baby body, and the exhaustion of taking care of a newborn, be careful, you could be neglecting your relationship with your partner! Numerous studies show that new parents are the most uniformly dissatisfied group when it comes to marital happiness. But anyone who’s had his or her party of two crashed by a magical (but exceptionally demanding) third wheel doesn’t need to read the research, since he or she is probably going through it.

If this is your case, don’t worry! It is totally normal; most couples that have a new baby have been through this stage. The important thing is to recognize that you may need to put in a bit more effort in your relationship. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to keep it going: Continue reading

Why over-reactive parenting can negatively affect children?

As we all know, parenting has never been an easy task. Parents often get involved in situations where they feel the need to get angry with their children, so that they can learn right from wrong. Besides, many parents are too worried about being good parents that they miss out what’s most important: to help their children control their emotions so that they can be happy. Parents who constantly get angry and overreact to situations may not be helping their children at all, even though they might think they are.

According to Bandura’s Social Learning theory, children observe how other individuals behave, including their parents, and may later imitate those behaviors. As soon as babies are born, they start to decipher their social world and begin to learn everything about it. Researchers have found that babies tend to misbehave and get upset more than normal, whenever they have parents who constantly overreact and get angry. Continue reading

A New Approach to Childhood Discipline

Many educational practices are based on incentives and consequences that are all tied to a desired behavior. Why is my child misbehaving? He is not sufficiently motivated to follow the rules. Strategies such as timeouts, counting to three, sticker charts, privilege gain and loss emphasize obedience with adult commands and rely on power to achieve one’s goals.

But, is there a better option to remedy misbehavior?  How about shifting away from power and more towards collaboration as the primary means by which a parent can ultimately better influence kids? Giving kids a voice on their own affairs and the necessary tools to solve problems that affects his or her life is a much better way to prepare a child for the real world.

Parents worry about losing a sense of control and authority if they shift from power to collaboration, however parents fail to recognize that control is simply an illusion. No parent has any total control over their child’s outcome. The best you can aim for is influence – parents have a lot of influence and their voices have a greater likelihood of being heard, when they learn to hear their kids’s voices and involve them in finding solutions to problems that affect their lives. What about expectations? Yes, it’s impossible to parent without expectations. The issue lies when your child is having difficulty meeting a specific expectation. How can a parent or caregiver solve a problem in a cooperative manner? Dr. Ross W. Greene, author of “Raising Human Beings” outlines his environmentally focused method to remedying behavior: Continue reading

How to deal with the “Terrible Twos”

Is your baby’s second birthday coming up? Then you know that the “terrible twos” stage is approaching. Since it can hit at 18 months or at 34 months, it’s less of an age, and more of a stage of development – so you may be dealing with it when you least expect it.

But is it as dreadful as everyone says? It all depends on how you handle it!

Two-year-olds are just realizing that they are separated entities from their parents, which means they will be determined to define themselves, test their limits, communicate their likes and dislikes (as much as they can), and act independently.

The downside is that toddlers are just developing their skills, so they won’t be able to accomplish everything they set out to do and that is frustrating. At this age, your little one will have a hard time expressing his feelings and controlling his emotional impulses, so his anger and frustration tend to erupt abruptly in the form of crying, hitting, or screaming. During this period your little one will need your patience as well as loving guidance to help him navigate through the rush of emotions he will experience.

When you see a challenging behavior, it usually means that your child can’t figure out how to express his or her feelings in an adequate way or doesn’t know how to get his or her desires met. To cope with challenging behavior, your response should show a beneficial way to handle his or her feelings.

Here are some tips you can try to handle challenging behavior:

Continue reading

Affection or discipline? What children need for their healthy development

If there was a parent guide on what to say or how to act in each situation, being a parent would be one more task, and a very simple one. However, each person is unique, so you’ll surely realize that what works with one child doesn’t work with another one. In addition, life is unexpected and the future impossible to control. We are transformed by the different experiences that happen to us through life. Many of these are good, but there are also negative ones that cannot be avoided, and that have an effect in our human development.

In addition, different factors such as the family, economic situation and personality of the child, affect how our children react, act, feel and think in different scenarios. For parents, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to make decisions about raising their children. In fact, some people say that parenting is one of the most difficult tasks, as there are many factors in play that can’t always be controlled. However, experts have found that parenting styles have a strong impact on the development of a child. According to several studies, parents contribute and help shape a child’s behavior, personality, self-esteem, and psychology. In fact, it has been found that children’s development, either positive or negative, depends in part on the parenting style adopted by their parents.

Continue reading

Developing a Sense of Self

How do babies develop a sense of self? When does this realization occur? Does your little one recognize him or herself in the mirror? That’s only one part of a much more complex process.

Research has found that from the moment they are born, babies are well aware of their own bodies. Body awareness is a key skill that helps distinguish oneself from others. Since birth, they are exposed to information related to who they are – they can touch their faces and body and exert their influence on the world that surrounds them.

“Selfhood starts at birth, but children don’t start expressing an “idea of me” until toddlerhood.” – (Ross, Martin, & Cunningham, 2016).

At around the second half of your baby’s first year, he or she will begin to respond to his or her name. At first, he or she might simply stop to listen and focus his or her eyes in your direction when you call for him or her. Later on, closer to his or her first birthday, your little one will respond by turning, crawling or even taking a few steps towards you! Continue reading

How to raise a sympathetic child

In a world that at times seems to be full of conflict, parents and caregivers all hope that their children will grow up to be kind and polite to others. But is there something we can do to teach our kids to be sympathetic? How can children learn the best way to keep in mind the circumstances of others?

Sympathy is different from empathy in that it involves action. So, rather than just understanding what others are feeling, sympathy guides action – it makes people think of ways to relieve someone else’s distress. People who feel sympathy tend to engage in prosocial behaviors, such as comforting, helping, and sharing.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto, University of Plymouth, and University of Pavia, Italy explored how children of different ages shared. In their study, 160 four- and eight-year-old children received 6 equally attractive stickers. They were then given the opportunity to share any number of those stickers with a child in a picture. The child in the picture was shown in different conditions, which included: ‘needy’ (“She/he is sad”, “She/he has no toys”) and ‘not needy/neutral’ (“This boy/girl is 4 or 8 years old, just like you”).

The researchers found that children tended to share more with the ‘needy’ child and that 8-year-olds shared on average 70% of their stickers with the needy recipient (compared to 47% with the neutral recipient). The 4-year-olds shared only 45% of their stickers in the needy condition (compared to 33% in the neutral condition).

So the main question is why did 8-year-olds share more? Continue reading

Teaching our children to cope with challenges

Children who develop helpful coping strategies are more likely to become resilient by working through their worries and reducing stress. Coping strategies are what we do and think to get through difficult situations. For children, those stressful situations can present themselves as having to say goodbye to a parent, or through interactions with their peers.

Helping children cope with these kind of worries will give them the tools to later deal with the stresses they face during their adult life. Likewise, it helps reduce the risk of mental health problems.

 

How can parents help?

Psychologist Erica Frydenberg from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education says parents can help children learn to cope by discouraging unhelpful strategies and encouraging helpful ones instead. For example, parents can discourage blaming oneself, but encourage and model asking for help and staying calm when faced with a problem.

Encouraging children to talk to an adult about their troubles is particularly effective, especially when it leads to dialogs about coping strategies. Continue reading

Types of attachment: Fostering a secure attachment in your baby

Have you ever wondered why some people struggle to maintain close and healthy social relationships, while others don’t? According to John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist and researcher, the emotional responsiveness of our first experience of attachment could be the most influential factor in human development. Bowlby found that primates seek for an adult’s protection when they are in danger, just as we do. According to this pattern of survival, Bowlby concluded that we are programmed to form attachments, and possess an innate willingness to seek proximity to a protective adult.

During their first two years of life, babies form attachments with their parents. This means that the quality of interaction between you and your baby will be very important for his social and emotional development. Some factors that may influence the type of attachment that your baby will develop are: physical contact and attention to basic needs. The critical period to form an attachment to a mother or father is during the first two years of life. It’s very important to foster a secure attachment in your baby, as this will influence the quality of interpersonal relationships that he will have in the future – including romantic relationships!

How to tell if your baby has developed a secure attachment?

Continue reading