Take time out to meet baby’s needs

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

One of the most com­mon mes­sages par­ents take on board who come to our par­ent in­fant/ tod­dler classes is to slow down. The ba­bies and tod­dlers love it too be­cause they get to have their Mum or Dad’s com­plete at­ten­tion for a while. This is a real gift to the child.

Have you ever no­ticed how much and how of­ten a baby or tod­dler looks to their par­ent? It is many times a day and when their par­ent is look­ing back at the same time we can see the child’s ob­vi­ous de­light.

‘‘I see you’’ is some­thing our ba­bies and tod­dlers love to hear. They also love to bring things they col­lect or find back to their par­ent to no­tice and en­joy with them. Com­ing back to their par­ent way the pace of ‘‘life in the fast lane’’ seems to be in­creas­ing. In­fant spe­cial­ist Magda Ger­ber says: ‘‘In our so­ci­ety we are trained to do, do, do. And if you don’t, you must act as if you are very busy, be­cause be­ing busy is vir­tu­ous.’’ She adds that, ‘‘the more we do, the busier we are, and the less we re­ally pay at­ten­tion’’. I agree be­cause I was raised to feel that be­ing busy was vir­tu­ous.

Help­ing par­ents to ex­pe­ri­ence the ben­e­fits of slow­ing down and giv­ing their child their full at­ten­tion at times, has taught me as much as it has taught them. I get a real buzz and learn so much when I hear how they de­velop unique strate­gies that work for their fam­i­lies.

Although it isn’t easy to slow down it can be done, as some of our par­ents have been dis­cov­er­ing. One mum finds now that when things start ‘‘turn­ing to cus­tard’’ at home with her three un­der-5 year olds, she re­alises it’s of­ten be­cause she has been in busy, busy mode. To get things back on an even keel she ap­plies her own strat­egy called ‘‘slow down and sit down’’. In­stantly the kids come in for con­ver­sa­tion, cud­dles, rough and tum­ble and/or play and the stress lev­els and at­mos­phere im­prove. She clears her mind to give them her at­ten­tive pres­ence and doesn’t worry about din­ner or think about to­mor­row. She stops and gives the kids her fo­cus, lis­tens and talks with them and gen­uinely takes an in­ter­est in them.

She says: ‘‘It fills them up emo­tion­ally and it doesn’t take all that long.’’ She’s hap­pier, the chil­dren are hap­pier and the house­hold re­turns to nor­mal quicker than it used to.

An­other mum found she was spend­ing any spare time she got while her baby was asleep rac­ing around do­ing house­work. Her four-year-old of­ten watched TV so she could clean. When she re­alised that she was caught in the ‘‘busy trap’’ she de­cided to have one re­lax­ing day at home a week to just be to­gether and play to­gether with her chil­dren. Chores and TV were banned that day. She looks back now and says it was one of the best things she has done for her­self and for her fam­ily. She is a more re­laxed per­son and mother and has more fun with her kids. That’s got to be a good thing.

And what about work­ing par­ents? I was talk­ing to a mum yes­ter­day who has to go back to work very soon. Be­cause she un­der­stands more now about the vi­tal im­por­tance of the early years she has with her baby, she is adamant she doesn’t want to spend her week­ends oc­cu­pied with chores that will cut into the pre­cious time they can spend to­gether. She has de­cided to pay some­one to do her clean­ing dur­ing the week so she can slow down, re­lax and have time for her baby and part­ner when she’s not work­ing.

When our par­ents grasp just how im­por­tant they are to their child they come up with all sorts of ways to re­ally BE WITH them, many of which start with slow­ing down.

SLOW DOWN: South Waikato News par­ent­ing colum­nist, Fran Thompson-stevens says tod­dlers and in­fants en­joy it when par­ents slow down.

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