Why are some children easy going and others are, what we might call, more “challenging”? Why are siblings so different from one another? It all comes down to temperament.
Temperament is innate, something we are born with. It’s part of the unique wiring of each individual’s brain. Your child did not choose his temperament, and he is not the way he is because of something you did or did not do –although the experiences and interactions with other people during the early years could modify it.
By the school years, your child’s temperament will be well defined and easily detected by those who know him. It probably won’t change a lot in the future. As we mentioned before, these characteristics are innate, something your son is born with, and are separate from your own parenting skills. However, the way your little one adjusts to his environment does depend a lot upon the interaction between his temperament and yours, and how the people around him respond to him. A child that is comfortable in his environment and the people around him thrives!
In another article, we talked about how both temperament and the environment play a role in the development of shyness, and how parenting styles and attachment are key aspects that influence this characteristic. So, how does this look through time?
You can find the origins of shyness at the earliest stages of life, in the temperamental reactivity a baby girl has and the sensitivity and responsiveness of the parents that care for her. Imagine an infant that has very strong negative emotional reactions; caring for her can be very demanding and her parents might have a hard time being sensitive and providing appropriate support. In turn, this makes it more difficult for her to establish a secure attachment. Instead, this baby girl is more likely to develop an ambivalent attachment style, which would make her scared of rejection and failure, thus, unable to cope with social situations and challenges. Even more, research has found that ambivalently attached toddlers have higher chances of being withdrawn and insecure later on when they start going to preschool.
We’ve previously talked about how your baby’s vision is one of her main tools for learning and taking in all sorts of information about the world around her. Your little one’s first six months are a very important time in which she begins developing her hand-eye coordination, a skill she’ll need every day throughout her life. During this time, you’ll notice how she starts gaining strength and making new movements in an attempt to explore her surroundings. In this article we’ll talk about the specific movements she’ll accomplish and mention things you can do to keep fostering her development.
In part 1 of this article we talked about the strategies you can use when you find yourself in a situation in which your child presented an aggressive behavior. Some signs of this include hair pulling, biting, pushing, or hitting. In this article we’ll talk about what you can do to shape your child’s behavior and minimize these situations.
Every child is different and, like in every aspect of development, aggressive behavior presents differently in each child. The most important thing is that you provide your child with the tools he needs to understand and modify his behavior. This will not only foster his self-control, but it will also help him resort to more assertive ways when expressing his thoughts and feelings. This will also foster his self-awareness, emotional intelligence, thinking skills, and growing empathy; skills he’ll need throughout his life and in future relationships.
While most of the time your child’s behavior melts your heart with love, there might be other times where his lack of self-control is overwhelming. We’ve previously talked about how at around 18 months your little one will begin experiencing the transition from oneness to separateness. During this period of growing self-awareness, your child might experience difficulties with waiting, sharing his toys, and taking turns. We’ve also mentioned that tantrums are common at this age, but aggressive behaviors should not be a way for your little one to cope with his frustrations. In this article we’ll discuss important strategies to keep in mind when you find yourself in these kinds of situations.
Have you noticed how when you do something your little one is waiting to do the same? If you have a little girl, one of her favorite activities is probably imitating mom when she’s putting on her makeup. If you have a little boy, he might love to accompany dad while he shaves and pretend he does too. Your child’s wish to be like mom and dad is one of the most influencing characteristics of his emerging personality. This process of identification with you is a critical part of your little one’s socioemotional development. Let’s learn why.
As adults, we know one of the most important things we need to know is how to work well with others. It’s a skill we use every day in our personal and professional lives. We need to know how to respect other people’s abilities and opinions in order to facilitate working together. It is a move from the intrapersonal world to the interpersonal one, and it involves our social and emotional skills. Research has also showed that cooperating with others contributes to our happiness.
As your little one grows, his style and experiences of play will change. He’ll start to be more interested in playing with others. Around his second birthday you’ll notice that he’ll be able to name a couple of his friends and he’ll enjoy having them around. Although he likes having buddies to play with, his primary style of play might still be solo. You might notice some parallel playing in which he and his friend play alongside each other but each one does their own thing. Even though they are not working together per se, your little one is gathering a tremendous amount of sensory information, learning and preparing for future skills.
During her first years, home is the place where your child is going to spend most of her time. So, the best thing you can do is turn this space into the most enriching environment to promote her growing sets of skills. Music has been known to support your child’s development in multiple domains. We’ve previously talked about the effects it has on her cognitive, physical, linguistic, and social-emotional development. Research shows that a music environment helps you experience more positive emotions and lowers your stress hormone levels. It has also been proven to be beneficial for people with serious illness, pain, and depression.
Using music for positive experiences has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers such as Plato and the kings of Israel used to sing to sooth stress. Military bands used music to build confidence and show courage, and sports events provide music to promote enthusiasm from the crowds. You even hear music in the waiting room of the dentist or doctor in order to sooth your nerves. At school settings today, it’s used for learning and better recalling. In neuropsychiatric treatment it has been shown to influence positively on the mood of the patients by evoking pleasant memories. It’s safe to say that music has an effect on almost everyone, even babies as little as 4 months old have shown to be able to distinguish between different tones.
Do you remember that at school you had math, science, music, and P.E classes? Music, like any other subject, plays an important part in a child’s development and has been proven to have numerous benefits in multiple domains. Children naturally enjoy music and begin reacting to it since they are inside their mother’s womb. At about 9 months of age you’ll begin noticing how your little one attempts to move to the beat of a song. By 11 months she’ll be able to dance and move to the song’s rhythm. We’ve previously talked about how music influences your child’s linguistic, cognitive, and socioemotional development. Now let’s talk about the impact music has on her physical skills.
It’s well known that music has a positive effect on the brain, even babies inside their mother’s womb react to it. Music has been shown to contribute to the joyful experience of creating and fosters a higher motivation to learn. Think about how music makes you feel, does it change your mood? Your little girl is no different. The value of music in children’s education is a subject of discussion among researchers. However, this is not about raising the next Mozart, but about exposing your little one to things that positively contribute to her development.
How many times has a song been stuck in your head? We know that music can easily be ingrained in our brain. Studies show how music enhances the memory, recognition, and attention of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has shown that the left temporal lobe is larger in musicians than in non-musicians and that the first group might have better developed cognitive functions. Because verbal memory is mediated mainly by the left temporal lobe, research shows how music boosts memory skills. A study that compared adults that had music training before 12 and those who didn’t showed that music training in childhood has long term positive effects on the verbal memory.