There is no single effort more radical for saving the world
than the way we bring up our children.
than the way we bring up our children.
Facebook? If you fancy daily inspiration to ponder on you might like to check out my facebook page Dance with me in the Heart. Each day I post two quotes, little memes that are kind-of like advertisements to encourage those of us who live and work with babies and children. Check under the 'more' tab on this site to see what I mean.
If your baby could tell you what she would really like from you, she would tell you that she would like three wishes:
from Dance With Me In the Heart by Pennie Brownlee
2017 has arrived, and with it the realisation that if things are going to change for the better for our babies and children, then we need to keep up with the research that lets us know what works for the baby's brain-biology. When we know that, we can tailor our practice to meet the baby's deepest needs rather than someone's idea of "what would be good for babies". So what is our job description?
Nurture, nurture, nurture.
Every single one of our babies needs one thing above all else - nurture. Because each of us does the best that we know how, we might think we are already nurturing our babies and little ones. But if that were true, there wouldn't be any of the violence that we see in families and society. None. As Robin Grille says, "We know from neuroscience and epigenetics that no human being was born destined to lead a life of violence. Chronic violence is the result of severe brain changes."
So what changes the brain at home?
Putting it bluntly, the changes are caused by adults who won't meet their baby's deep needs. Such a baby knows only lack: a lack of human warmth, a lack of empathetic nurture, a lack of trust in those who care for her - all of which add up to stress. It is stressful for a baby to be separated from her mother (or whoever stands in for her) in her first years, especially in that first year. You know yourself that being separated from loved ones is stressful in and of itself, but you can manage nights alone because you are an adult. You know you will be okay because you know the separation is only temporary. Babies cant work that out so, they cry - and that's stressful. For example, when adults advocate 'Crying it out' (CIO) to manage their baby's sleep, it is so stressful that the baby does go quiet - because that is what happens when babies go into shock - and that changes the brain.
What changes the brain when the child is in care?
All of the above, which is why places that provide quality care always practice primary caregiving, they have one person who is the trusted emotional anchor for each child. Always. In many centres there is the added stress of too many babies/children in a group making every day ultra-stressful. Ultra-stressful is unfortunately the norm in childcare. Teachers and children suffer, yet it is our children who pay the price in their critical years of brain-building. Stress in those early years impairs brain-building which has lifelong affects.
Nurturing love and relationship at home
Over the last 30 years parents have come to believe it is 'normal' to put your baby into care. But it is not even close to normal to have large numbers of children all the same age in a group. Group care for babies is a very new phenomena which is all about money; it is not your baby's education or socialisation even though childcare is funded by the Ministry of Education. Neither education or socialisation happen successfully for the under-threes in group situations. If you really want the best for your children in the long term, assess your circumstances before you consider putting your baby into care. Consider 'tightening your belt' for those first three years. If, however, you absolutely have to find care for your baby, find the smallest group size you can. That's why home based care is a good option because there will only ever be four children in the group (here in New Zealand).
So here's to 2017 and our united efforts to make it better for babies and toddlers at home, and in care. Here's to the parents and teachers who care for them, and here's to warm empathetic nurture over money.
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