Fun. Do They Need It?

Should we encourage babies and toddlers in individual play or should we always try to play with them? Are they even capable of entertaining themselves? Is it possible to teach them?

 

Every child is different. Sometimes, when a toddler age child is out of sight and you don’t know where he is, you can expect trouble. Children are very creative – pulling out wet wipes or unwinding toiler paper, smearing anything on anything – toothpaste on tiles, dried dirt on walls, the content of a diaper or potty over on bed or floor…A toddler can entertain himself, but he doesn’t know how not to be destructive while doing it. A different child may surprise us by entertaining himself while not destroying half of the house. He plays with his plastic animal toys and cubes for a half an hour and then looks at a book for another fifteen minutes, without destroying it.

That fact is, that there are children that can entertain themselves from an early age, and then there are others who, without TV, would be pulling your leg up until puberty. Why can’t they entertain themselves? Some can’t, because quite simply, no one has ever taught them. But toddlers can still be taught. Mainly due to underdeveloped attention, they concentrate with difficulties and can do so only for a short amount of time. Many parents make it even harder for them – when they try to entertain their child for a while, they bring him toys as diverse as possible and when their child starts playing with them, they quietly leave.  This is not the best solution. Children today are not threatened by stimulus deprivation; in fact the have too much of it. Their immature brain has trouble dealing with many stimuli at once and it can distract them, making it harder for them to concentrate. If you want to help your child to have on his own and help him increase his concentration abilities, limit the amount of his toys. More specifically, offer him toys gradually. Even a baby should know, that he could do something interesting with any item. For this he needs enough time to touch, taste and take apart the items (watch out for small pieces). If he doesn’t have enough ideas, inspire him. But wait for when he wants to put away a toy. Don’t be too quick in trying to show him what it can do. If you interrupt him when he’s interested in something, you aren’t really helping his independency and attention development.

 

 The key is the feeling of security

 

Another thing that prevents babies and toddlers from individual play is a missing feeling of security. Recently, my friend Ema asked me how come her nine-month-old son Jacob can stay in bed for so long and play with just one stuffed animal and a blanket. And anytime later during the day he can’t stay entertained by any toy and what Ema doesn’t do in the morning, she does not have a chance of doing later in the day. Paradoxically, many mothers have an opposite experience – their children can play on their own during the day without problems, but they can’t stay in bed in the morning even for a minute. The key to this problem is the previously mentioned feeling of security. In order for a baby or a toddler to play alone, he has to feel safe. Some children feel safe in their crib. Others only feel safe it they are close to their mothers. But they definitely won’t be able to play alone, if you will frequently apply the strategy described in the previous paragraph. That is if once your child is interested in a toy, you slowly leave which he will probably figure out and his sense of security will be disrupted. Then, he will have trouble concentration on his toys, if he’ll constantly have to make sure his mother is not leaving.

A missing sense of security is also the reason why when we need our child to give us some rest (whether it’s because we need to get something done, or just because our nerves are about to explode), he is hanging onto our leg and demands our attention. A thirty-year-old mom Sabina describes what we probably all know well: “Elisabeth is a pretty independent child, that can play alone without my company with no problems. That’s why I was able to work from home. I usually have enough time, but when I have unexpected extra work to do, it’s like Elisabeth has a radar for it and starts demanding my attention and the time, that I so desperately need.” If your child has a radar – he can sense his mother’s uncertainty and stress, but is unable to recognize the reason. Children don’t know that the only source of their mother’s uncertainty are them and their behavior and they do what’s typical for all children – they resort to safety, which is their mother, and demand attention and comfort.

 

Fun. Is it even necessary?

 

Most mothers dream about a toddler that can stand being alone without her assistance, but there are also those that are convinced a mother on a maternity leave should always be with her child.

Is it even necessary for a child this young to be able to entertain himself? Can it harm him? As I wrote earlier, the ability to concentrate is very small – but training helps it and that’s good to remember in terms of child development. With independence, self-confidence increases and a child can then discover the world independently of his mother. He learns to solve problems on his own, to manipulate with items and to be creative. So yes, you should definitely support a child’s individual play.

I don’t have to point out that individual play does not equal freedom without supervision; safety is something you should always keep in mind. Mothers often ask how long a toddler should be able to play alone. That is very individual.

Even though theories indicate certain times during which a newborn or other children can pay attention and play themselves, with older toddlers my experience tells me it’s so variable that it’s unreasonable to follow recommendations. It’s not possible anyway, because play can’t be forced and if a child is not capable of playing alone than every parent soon finds out that giving him toys leads to nowhere.

 

The recipe for „play alone“ …

 

… unfortunately doesn’t exist. You have to adapt to your conditions and the personality characteristics of your child. Don’t try to teach your child independent play just when you really need it, because that usually doesn’t work. On the contrary, take advantage of situations when your child feels good and is doing something he’s enjoying. That is the perfect time to leave him alone for a while. However, if you haven’t tried to see yet if he minds it or not, don’t leave. Stay quietly beside him and just watch him or – if needed – encourage him verbally. Imitation works well for children that can’t entertain themselves.

Just about every toddler wants to do what his mother is doing. Is your child pulling you away from the stove when you’re cooking? Give him a small pot with a lid and a spoon and show him how you stir; and if he’s in a good mood, he’ll surely catch on.

Besides that, another good technique is „forbidden food“. The cabinet from which you are constantly trying to push him away, the toilet paper that you always put out of his reach, the package of tissues that you never let him investigate. Sometimes we tend to be overly careful and stress over little things. “My older daughter liked to take paper napkins and tissues off my kitchen counter and destroy them. I used to get mad at her a lot, but then I put them out of her reach, ” a 35-year old Magdalena remembers. “Now I have a one- year-old son and he’s the prototype of a child that constantly needs to be entertained. Once I had to take care of something, so I let my daughter play with him. I went into the other room for a while and when I got back, half of the kitchen was covered in torn pieces of napkin. I almost fell down at the doorstep, but I bit my tongue to avoid yelling at them. When I watched my son for a while (my daughter was already drawing) and I saw how passionately he was taking the napkins apart and was fine being alone, I though – maybe it’s worth it. Since then, I changed my mind a little bit about what I should let my son do, because taking anything apart is the most fun for him. Even though I have a little more cleaning up to do now, it’s worth knowing that I can relax once in a while”.

Instead of “forbidden food” you can also use a different strategy. No matter how carefully we protect our children, they end up having way more toys then they need or then appropriate.

Sabina advises: “After every Christmas or birthday I leave Julia just a few toys that she’ll have time to play with. I put away the rest. I also put up some older toys that she is no longer interested in. I gradually switch them around and sometimes we exchange toys with her friends. Thanks to this, Julia always has just enough toys and I always have something new in stock. Besides this, I also have a “last resort box”. There, I have a few toys that Elisabeth doesn’t know and it’s a type she likes – right now it’s a puzzle, a children’s telephone and a magazine. When I desperately need to entertain my daughter, I reach for this box.” It’s good to find out what works on your child. Some like colored picture books, other puzzles, building blocks or toys that make sound. Old colored magazines, a pack of paper tissues, cleaning out the kitchen cabinets or playing with water are fun for about every toddler.

Jana adds: “My younger daughter is quiet and can play alone. Even she can surprise me though. Like yesterday she slept in her room. Well, after being completely quiet for two hours, we though she was sleeping. When I decided I had to check and looked into her room,  a child ran to me saying she “slept like a pink pwincess” and she actually was pink. Somehow, she managed to find a children’s pink lipstick that belongs to my older daughter (who is very messy by the way) and she completely covered herself. Yes, a quiet child…”

 

 A predator in a school of fish

 

Did you ever think about why fish or small birds gather together when threatened by a predator? You would think that for a hunter it must be much easier catching a fish when there are hundreds of them, then if they’re is just one. But that’s not true. The movement of a school and the presence of many fish distract the predator and makes catching a prey more difficult. If the predator doesn’t manage to separate one fish, he usually leaves without dinner. It’s similar with a toddler who is surrounded by many interesting toys. He can’t look at one at a time and give it attention. He either (a better option) takes one that’s closest and plays with it, or he’ll wander from one to another and then to the first one and he will never actually stop and play with once, because of all the other ones are so interesting. And unlike the predator who knows exactly what to do with the prey (eat it), a child often doesn’t even know what fun to do with a certain toy.

 

The Nutrition of Toddlers and Preschool Children

It’s well known that children prefer sweet taste and prefer sweet foods. Too much sweetening can result in a lesser intake of other food components and this could have a negative effect on a child’s development.


Nutrition is an important factor that influences the growth and development of a child from birth

up until adulthood. Nutrition is life’s „fuel“ of all the metabolic processes in the organism. The needs for energy, nutrients and other substances are well known and defined for different stages of life, including the toddler and preschool age.

 

Nutritional needs of toddlers and preschool children

 

A toddler (a child between one and three years old) grows slowly in comparison to a newborn. However, there are changes in his physical development. The limbs lengthen, body fat amount decreases and more muscle tissue is produced. A child starts walking and thus the demand for a strong bone structure increases. These changes in growth and development effect nutritional needs. The energy requirement of a toddler is smaller then that of a newborn per weight (kg). Because of the increased muscle development, the need for protein increases; especially for those that are biologically valuable – animal proteins. The strength of bones is determined by sufficient mineralization, which needs the right amount of calcium and phosphorus. Also, the increased volume of blood requires a higher iron intake.

A healthy preschool child (between three to six years old) grows according to its genetic code, which he receives from his parents. The need for energy for a preschooler increases, but decreases per weight (kg). For example, the energy need of a five-year-old child (no matter his sex) is from 50% intended to ensure basal metabolism (maintaining the basic life processes of the organism during rest), 26% for movement and 12% to ensure an appropriate growth. The rest of the energy gets lost during metabolic processes related to the processing of food and its exclusion from the organism.

For proper growth and development, besides an adequate intake of energy, a preschooler also needs a good amount of quality proteins that are found in milk, meat, cheese and eggs. It`s necessary to saturate the need for calcium and iron, just as during the toddler age. There is also an increases need for vitamins, especially vitamins A and C that are found in fruits and vegetables.

 

Eating habits

 

A child is a passive recipient of food after he is born. It’s this way for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and even some of older school age.  Infant and partially toddler diet is at the forefront of scientific interest. The principles for nutrition at this age are well refined. Even though the selection of nutrition products for the smallest children is less varied, the recommended foods are rich in everything a child’s organism needs. With age, the specific recommendations decrease and a child’s diet is more and more determined by the dietary habits of the family. A child gradually and subconsciously accepts these habits and creates the basis of his own dietary habits for adulthood and for upbringing of his own children. The active approach in food selection of a child is at first influenced by whether or not the taste is pleasant of not, by the child’s mental state or by other factors. It’s well known, that a child prefers sweet taste and chooses foods that are sweet. Too much sweetening though can result in a lesser intake of other food components and this could have a negative effect on a child’s development. Already in infancy, for example during the transition from milk to non-milk diet, a child often refuses vegetable soup. Parents often react to this by sweetening the soup, by adding the familiar “milk taste” to it, or by doing breaks. Forcing food could lead to an opposite reaction in the mind of a child and a permanent refusal of that food from childhood until adulthood.

Preschoolers gradually form a relationship with different foods. Children at this age usually accept fruit well. However, they usually refuse vegetables with a sharp taste (onions, cabbage, etc.) and prefer frail and non-cooked vegetables. Children usually drink milk and like cooked or scrambled eggs because they can touch them. Meat has to be tender and easily cut and chewed. Children eat cereals in all forms – which make up the majority of their energy intake.

Preschoolers learn dietary habits from adults, from their family. The question is, if these habits are always ideal.

 

The diet of toddlers

 

The daily diet of a toddler consists of four to five meals. For breakfast, milk and a piece of bread or some pastry with butter, jam or honey is served. Snack is similar to breakfast; we can add a piece of fruit or cheese, Cottage cheese, yoghurt or other dairy product. Lunch should include meat – for children under 18 months of age it should be two tablespoons (about 25 g) and for children under 3 years of age three tablespoons (about 40g). Meat can be substituted with an egg – a half of one for children under 18 months and a whole one for older children. We can serve potatoes or mixed vegetables with potatoes as a side. After lunch, give your child some fruit, fruit desert or a dairy product. Give him water, mineral water or juice to drink. Dinner can consists of pasta, rice or potatoes that you can mix with vegetables or some other recipes. Again, it’s good to serve some milk or a dairy product.

Don’t ever give nuts to toddlers. Children at that age can’t chew that well yet and they can inhale the nuts.

 

The diet of preschoolers

 

A preschooler should have milk or a dairy product during every day meal. A child should drink half a liter of milk a day or eat four diary products a day. Milk and dairy products are rich on calcium, protein and vitamins. A rich source of proteins and also irons is meat, poultry, eggs or fish (which we serve boneless). A child between three or four years needs 40-50 grams of these diet components. A four to six year old needs about 60-80 grams. 50 grams of meat is nutritionally equivalent to one egg. Fruit and vegetables provide a child’s organism with vitamin, minerals and fiber. Fiber significantly influences the digestive processes and helps prevent some lifestyle diseases up until adulthood (constipation, rectum or colon cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity or others). In preschool or school age children, the daily intake of fiber should be 5-10 g. Dietary habits of a preschooler with enough fiber is also significant because they last up until later period of life. A child should have raw fruit or vegetables – or possibly cooked in some way if the child wants – at least twice a day. Cereals (bread, pasta or others) are a source of carbohydrates, B vitamins and also protein. Out of fats, it’s best to use oil, which is rich in unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, as well as fresh butter or even cream rich in vitamin A. We should sweeten foods in a child diet carefully, as a part of an individual portion.

 

Our child doesn’t eat well and enough! What should we do?

 

It’s an often-asked question that parents ask their pediatrician. A doctor has to evaluate if it’s not a symptom of some illness. Most of the times, none illness is found. All children aren’t the same and parents or grandparents have different expectations. A good way to tell if your child is getting enough nutrition is to watch his weight and height, or other changes in a certain time period. These data need to be compared with data of the rest of the population. If a child really isn’t getting enough nutrition, it will manifest itself in a delayed development and we should consult a doctor.

 

How to avoid problems with eating

–          Give your child a varied diet and give him a chance to pick out what he wants to eat – at least partially.

–          Don’t punish him if he doesn’t want to eat something, but don’t reward him if he eats something without any problems (“You can play outside if you finish your carrots“)

–          Don’t spend too much time preparing separate children’s food – it’s than that much worse for you if he doesn’t want to eat it.

–          If your child eats too slowly, don’t try to speed him up. It’s normal that kids take a little more time than adults.

–          Don’t force your child to eat more than he wants. If he is growing well, it’s obvious he’s eating enough.

Hair, hair, hair….

Each person has several types of hair during his or her life. Before birth, in the mother’s womb, a baby has very soft smooth hair usually without any pigmentation. If a child is born on its due date the hair usually falls out before birth.

You can see some of the hair on prematurely born babies or in a newborn within the first few days of their life. Majority of children have children’s “veluse” hair after birth, they are very fine and short (less then 2cm) without core and usually with no pigmentation (that is why most babies appear to be blond). In some rare cases babies have thick hair layer, where others can be completely bold or even some can have fine thin hair that last for three years.

 

A COLOUR AND THE QUALITIY OF HAIR CAN RADICALY CHANGE EVEN TWICE BEFORE THE CHILD REACHES PUBERTY.

 

In the first year of life majority of hair fall out. Later these hairs grow back thicker. Intermediate hair layer covers the head gradually, this type of hair are the intermediate stage of hair grow between the child and adult hair. In some children you may not even notice the gradual change of the “old” hair for new. Some baby can be born with a thick dark curly “mane” and within the next six month lose all of it. And then later fair smooth hair may grow in their place instead. In majority cases the script of hair-grow is so: all first “veluse” hair are similar length and at one point their growth stops (usually between the 4th and 7th month) and all the hair then fall out. The intermediate layer of hair starts growing by the end of the first year they also become thicker. Between the ages of 9 to 12 years (just before puberty) the baby’s hair and the intermediate hair will change into the adult/ terminal hair under the influence of the hormonal changes. Before this period the terminal hair are only present on the eye brows and the eye lashes. The change can be radical – a blond boy with straight hair may over the course of 6 month become a dark haired boy with many curls. Blond hairs have the highest density. And ginger-red hairs are the thickest with the lowest density.

 

DENSITY, STRENGTH AND QUALITY OF HAIR IS A GENETICAL AND AN INDIVIDUAL MATTER.

 

The above is the reason why it is impossible to increase the number of hair follicles during one’s life apart from a surgical hair implantation. You cannot increase the density of hair by cutting it not even according to the advice of your grandmother. It is a myth. The truth is that when you cut your hair to a similar straight length it will look better a kept well. It is also a myth that when you cut your child’s curls it will grow straight. It is possible to meet some mums that might say: “My little one had looked like an angel. He had such beautiful blond curls but they had grown out of control and the summer was too hot so my husband took him to cut it, although, I didn’t agree. I was worried that he will lose his curls and so it happened his hair is now dark and straight.“  Was the mother wrong? No, the reality is that the quality of hair didn’t change by cutting. It was just the time of development where the original curls started to fall out and new dark straight hairs were ready to replace them. The cut caused only a radical perception instead of the gradual change. It is good to consider what is more important – a good well kept look and comfort or the beautifully looking angel curls. Of course not all children will lose their curls in time. Do look around your family, your parents and grandparents, and check their hair to see what you may expect your child’s hair to be if the quality is dominantly a genetic matter.

 

CARING FOR CHILD’S HAIR

For the sensitive children’s skin we use a baby-soap at first. Later we start using baby shampoo. All to a point – most shampoos are at high concentration so before using it on baby’s hair dilute it at one-to-one ratio in a cup. It is enough to use the shampoo just once per wash and rinse it well with water. Well rinsed hair will lower the development of dandruff. It is also not necessary to wash your baby’s hair daily. If you need to do so use just water. Baby’s hair is very sensitive to chemicals so limit the use of shampoo to a minimum in the first years.

 

IT’S NOT GOOD TO COMB WET HAIR

 

When you comb wet hair the hair become damaged by friction they stretch and break. They can also break more easily after drying.  An excessive combing of dry hair is also damaging and especially using a hairdryer. Same goes for adult hair.

 

PROTECT YOUR HAIR IN THE SUMMER

 

Particularly children with dryer sensitive skin need to be protected from chemicals in swimming pools. Make sure you wash their hair well after that. Do protect your child scalp and hair in excessive sun and wind and also on dirty environment.

 

CRADLE CAP – A COMMON ISSUE

 

Majority of toddlers have on their scalp greasy well attached brownish scabs. It is neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis. In more serious cases is can also affect other parts of body with higher number of sebaceous glands or skin folds. There are two forms: dry, where there is small white flakes present in the area of hair with no inflammation. Usually comes out with combing and makes small visible particles on the clothing; the second form is the greasy type with yellow-brown scales or scabs on inflamed skin. We can also see red rush in the affected area or weeping. The cause of it isn’t well known; some genetics preposition or hormonal misbalance can affect it. Also an excessive production of sebaceous glands or outbreak of yeast cell can cause it. Higher number of skin cells is produced; they stick in layers and form scabs and flakes on the skin. It also affects the acidic protective coat of skin. This illness affects children usually between 3rd month and 2nd year. It isn’t generally chronicle. It can also happen in adulthood (particularly in men) but it usually disappears within the 2nd year of child’s life.

 

FOLLOW THESE MEASURES:

 

  • Limit the use of shampoos (a change of brand can sometimes help)
  • Rinse hair well after using soap or shampoo
  • Use cotton, or breathable clothing, hat
  • Feed your child a healthy diet without spices, chocolate, sweets (should not be in toddlers diet anyway)
  • Use food rich in vitamin B (a pediatrician can prescribe supplements in older children)

 

WHAT TO DO WITH THE SCABS

 

Never comb it out with force or scrape it off! In not so serious case use natural olive oil, massage it into the scalp and leave for 24 hours. Then brush the scabs out with soft brush. Wash hair out with baby soap. You may need to carry out this process several times within a few weeks. In more serious case contact your pediatrician to help you.

What is he going to become?

All parents dwell on the future if their offspring as soon as the child starts walking. The kids are not even able to speak yet. They are slowly recognizing the world around and learning the basics of life. It will be a long process before they start choosing hobbies or even a future job. However, most parents are already sure of it. So what is he or she going to become?

 

Your little one starts clapping hands and shuffling to the rhythm of the sound of music; of course there are no doubts that it has a musical ear. It has a sense of rhythm and a fantastic sense of music so it would most certainly become a composer. A why not even a new Mozart?

It keeps singing? It could become a singer one day. A four year old clever preschool little boy, very agile and able to move well “He’ll be good at sports, he has a talent for it.“ a parent draws attention of a friend who came to visit and they also add “what sport should be good for him, what sport would he be good at..?”

If the friend lightly suggests if it isn’t too early to recognize a big talent; parents readily shake their heads saying convinced „it’s obvious”. But can you really recognize it? Are we able to guess if our child, who is not even at school yet, has talent for a specific thing? Where is the certainty that parents would be right?

 

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s….’

 

It is not just a question of the future job. Parents are ready, on the bases of child’s behavior, to judge its personal characteristics. A little girl likes her reflection in the mirror; she keeps trying on mummy’s’ clothes, puts secretly mums lipstick on? She’d be very fancy. She refuses to put on the clothes that you’ve prepared; she has to pick her own? I hope she won’t be so vain and stubborn.

A boy looks in the mirror rather too often? Hopefully he won’t be too feminine; it’s a hope of many parents. Is he defiant, aggressive or keeps breaking his toys? He could become abusive…parent don’t even want to hear that that is possible, they quickly turn and say “he just have a wild temper he is hyperactive (commonly used term nowadays) – he’ll grow out of it and will calm down. Sometimes this privy judgment is laughable.

About a year ago we were talking with one of my friends about kids in general and Caroline, the mother of four-year-old Valentine, started to describe excitedly how her young daughter has a big interest in cosmetic, she spins her body in front of the mirror, and when they get to the shops she darts towards the combs and the hair pins section… I need to add that Caroline has a degree in art history and even though her relationship to fashion isn’t too bad, it is not the drive of her life. So the interest of her daughter is hard to grasp and she also suggested that she is slightly worried about it.

 

A football player or an architect…..?

 

“If she were to play with my lipstick only sometimes it’ll be ok, I suppose” she explained “but it is actually her favorite activity to put make up on her dolls then wash them and start again” “What will become of her!”; “She’ll be a cosmetician” said another friend. “A cosmetician? I have nothing against that but I was hoping for her to have other hobbies and to study, I really hope she’ll go to university…” with a sigh, Caroline ended the thought. “I am also hoping my son will go to university” Lilly, a mother of five year-old David, mouthed. “Of course I leave it up to him, but to study architecture would be great for him. He draws lovely pictures, he might like it. Even his art teacher told me so, he has a talent. But my husband keeps saying that he is very good a kicking a ball about, well I haven’t noticed; god knows what plans does he have with him?” Lilly adds with a smile. “He doesn’t even hit it sometimes and I haven’t noticed that he actually enjoys it. I think he’ll be the quiet type, less noticeable than most boys.” And she closed the discussion with “he might even surprise us all”.

 

Bad conclusions?

 

Actually it can easily happen. “Although something can be read from the behavior patterns of a small child the majority is many a time interpreted wrongly by the adults on fallacious conclusion” Says a psychologist Serge Ciccotti.

One of the reasons why parents see their children more or less distortedly are their own ambitions. Their own dreams, desires and activities are reflected in the plans for their children and if they are not able to recognize this they will push their kids towards something that the child cannot comprehend.

It is more common in parents who are very ambitious and tend to see their offspring more talented than it possibly is. If the child doesn’t progress according to its parent expectancy the parent becomes disappointed and shows his or her disappointment to it or that it should work harder or that it is too weak to carry on doing it.

I can simply explain it by the following: Parents will find the talent which they want to find. It does not depend on the possibility that the child may not have any inclination in that direction.

I can reach for Lilly’s example, whose husband found a big football talent in their five year-old David: About a year later she said:” It took some doing to convince my husband that our son doesn’t really like football. He kept telling me that he’ll get used to it. But finally he agreed with me that we cannot make him to be happy among lively little football players.”

Of course this is the more positive result. However some parents are not able to come to the conclusion that they could have made a mistake in judging and that they are the only people who can see it even if others cannot. Another reason why we see our kids a little distortedly is little knowledge.

Even if we don’t put our ambition onto a child we take absolutely natural expressions like the signs of future character. Surely you have heard a sentence similar to this one “If he is this naughty already, how will he behave when he grows up?” or “So little and she keeps smiling at men, she might become a flirt. She’ll have every one wrapped round her finger…”

The genes and the environment

 

Can we actually tell how will our child turn out? Partly, yes. Although we come to this world not fully equipped we all have particular genetic picture which forms us somehow. Scientists suggest that some psychological characteristics develop almost the same not depending on positive or less positive environment. It is mostly relevant to temper.

From a meditative, calm, closed little observer will never become a choleric that needs to be seen and ‘uses its elbows’ to show its mark. Of course the environmental influence, such as family, friends, school peers, is also very strong. We are born with a particular temper but how we’ll react to life’s issues forms throughout our life.

Dean Hammer and Peter Copeland, the authors of ‘Living with our genes’ book, are adamant that although the environment co-form our personality it is predominantly our genetic code that is decisive in our future, where or what environment we are going be comfortable in. For example a calm and thoughtful child who likes drawing or reading will not be looking for a noisy company.

He or she will be looking for an environment where he finds similar interests in others which at the end will affect his attitude. A very active, lively child will certainly be looking for energetic environment where he can lose some of its energy and it will also eventually form its personality. The environment where we feel comfortable in can give us some positive but also negative experience and those experiences are forming us as we progress in our life.

Many types of characters

 

“The temper is not fully formed at birth” the authors of Living with our genes explain. “Newborn develops its particular temper like a reflection to its environment, The genes predetermine not only the type of character they also affect our choice of future environment, they manipulate our thought towards picking up the right ‘place’ which will then affect us certain way to behave according to our experience.

Newborn does not come to this world with a complete set of human emotions; throughout our life only the chosen one will have the benefits of being able to express all kind of emotions. We also learn to control our temper while constantly learning but not like a phone number but on the bases of feeling.

The origins of these reactions lie in the chemical processes of our brain in the evolutionally oldest part – the limbic system. This system is responsible for the emotional behavior, how people feel, for the spontaneous reactions, fight and flight mechanism and feelings which are far beyond our consciousness.

Deep within the limbic system lies the roots of fear, aggression, last or happiness. If everybody would have the same genes making up the profile of limbic system they would experience the same things or would have the same characteristics. Each limbic system is different, similarly to our genes.

The experiences we live through vary because we are in a world of many possibilities. No two people, even identical twins brought up in the same environment, cannot share the same experience. This is the particular reason for the character to have its own dimension and an infinitive image.

David Hammer adds: “It isn’t just the nature or just the up-bringing, it is the nature and the up-bringing combined.” What kind of experience your child is going to have, at least up to the school age, depends heavily on you. If you would like your child to have an interest in something particular, and develop in that area, the best way is to be an example and give it those experiences in which its interest will rise and not the opposite. Forget your own ambitions. Let your child have its own journey through its life. It is especially up to him/her what is he/she going to become…

 

Exercising With Toddlers

Just don’t neglect anything – that’s the motto of many parents of small children. There are several ways to develop your child’s skills and one of them is physical activity. But not everything truly benefits the child.

 

More and more mothers today are searching for anything they could do to help their child develop as best as possible. Hand in hand with that, there are more possibilities today – swimming, massages and different kinds of exercises. Also, the number of different clubs and Maternity Centers is growing. Enthusiastic mothers that often lack sufficient knowledge and skills usually organize such activities. So what should we look out for?

 Is exercising necessary?

At first this sounds humorous. Is it really important to exercise with a baby or a child under 3 years of age? The process of physical development (in terms of turning over, sitting, standing…) happens on its own; on the basis of a loving relationship between parents and their child. A child loves his parents and imitates them, because he wants to be like them. That’s how he learns. He doesn’t learn to turn over because we turn him over or sit because we sit him up. On the contrary, if we do any movement for him, we can slow down his development. When a baby starts sitting up, he learns to work with his center of gravity; he seeks balance and receives feedback about him through – for example – his falls.

Our job is to create proper conditions for this development. If we try to intervene and try to speed up our child’s development, he may lose his motivation to discover his body and develop his skills. We could decrease his self-awareness and teach him to depend on people around him. For the rest of his life, even as an adult, he will be constantly looking for support in others rather than in himself. Therefore it’s good to do any movements with the child after we’re sure that he can do them himself. If he can’t turn around on his own yet, we should lay him on his tummy only if needed. Until a child can get up into a sitting position on his own, we shouldn’t sit him up. We also shouldn’t hold his hand while walking, until he can walk on his own without support.

 

Don’t try to speed up your child

 

If you lay a child on his tummy too early, he often tries to lift his head unnaturally using his back muscles. There is also more tension in the arms and legs of a child sleeping on his tummy rather then on his back. They often fix their position by putting their arms to the sides instead of having them in front of their eyes (which is important). It’s not true that babies need to exercise by lying on their tummy. Healthy babies that are left alone can turn on their tummy naturally and spontaneously at the same time as any other baby. Additionally, their laying position is clearly more confident. It’s also not true that we can support the proper development of the hips by laying a baby on his tummy. Yes, hips need to be at the right angle, but unless the legs aren’t wrongly fixed then the hips will assume this angle on their own. Furthermore, for the development of femur necks a baby needs movement, which creates friction and that stimulates ossification – that doesn’t happen while lying on the tummy.

When a child lies on his back, he learns to support himself with his scapula and his pelvic bones and gradually learns to control his body. He can watch his surroundings (and especially his mom) better this way; he can turn his head both ways and exercise his neck, head and back muscles. His limbs can freely move around and the baby gradually increases his range of motion in his joints. He is like a seed that is poking out his first sprout and growing his first leaves. After he waves his hands in front of his face, he realizes for the first time that those are his hands that he can control. Once he realizes that, he will start reaching for the world. This will the start up the important impulse to turn over on the tummy.

 

Let your child play

 

The second most important method of learning is play. A joyful game that a child initiated himself is the most harmonic way of developing motor skills in a child. Even work at home or in the garden can be considered a game or play. He develops his versatile motor skills much faster this way then through targeted exercise. A study, which measured the performances of 4-year olds in basic skills like running, throwing, jumping, etc. showed that children who were allowed to play outside everyday without supervision scored the best. It’s important to provide our children space in which they can explore and develop their own skills (like the possibility of climbing over, down, through, etc.)

We should be careful with targeting strengthening. Certain muscle groups could get out of balance, which could interfere with the development of the whole body.

 

Give your child space

 

The wishes and expectations of parents shouldn’t overwhelm the child. Some pre-school children don’t even have time to play because they have so many activities and responsibilities.

If we try to intervene and try to speed up our child’s development, he may lose his motivation to discover his body and develop his skills. We could decrease his self-awareness and teach him to depend on people around them. During free play, a child develops his imagination and creativity much more, as well as his appetite to explore and learn, the appetite to do and to change his surroundings.

This trend is affecting younger and younger children. Parents take their children swimming, exercising, singing and to many other places. We should choose a tolerable amount of activates for our child. During free play, a child develops his imagination and creativity much more, as well as his appetite to explore and learn, the appetite to do and to change his surroundings. During play with other children a child develops his communication skills, assertiveness and also the ability to help others and share. However, if the goal is to win, if competitiveness is encouraged, then the children are overtaken by aggression and rivalry.

Free movement is also much more important than developing the intellect using various tools, books and computers. Activities that don’t encourage movement can lead to much more than bad posture and movement problems. They also take away the children’s life strength for development and growing. Children that often watch TV (even if they are watching educational programs) and don’t move a lot are often pale and get sick a lot.

That leads us to another principle: don’t ever force a child into an activity. If he doesn’t want to participate in a game, its best if the parent plays alone. A child will probably join him sooner or later. If we force our child or put pressure on him he may start despising the activity all together. Even if it may not seem so, a child that is only watching others or is playing alone is still perceiving his surroundings and learning. Some children refuse to do anything, but then at home they repeat everything they heard or saw.

 

Rhythm

A child needs to experience rhythm. It gives him a sense of safety, peace, security, life strength and much more. Rhythm can be regularity or repetition of something familiar. For example, it could be beneficial to participate in an activity every Thursday. Rhythm is also inhaling and exhaling.

After an activity, a child should have time to take it in – a time for himself – during the day or in the middle of an exercise. A child that has an afterschool activity everyday can be very stressed. Similarly, if we change games and poems too much without giving our child time to exhale, it can lead to tension and overload. The lecture should flow as inhaling and exhaling, it should always have a similar structure and a ritual that signifies the beginning and end; the poems and games can be repeated…

A small child basically learns nothing of what we tell him. As we said before, he imitates us. He does so with other people he loves as well. That’s why the personality of the teacher is so important. Choose an activity for your child with your heart. The joy and laughter are just as important as the teacher’s expertise.

Parents often think that going to afterschool activities is also important because a child can hang around his peers. But that’s not the truth. A child under the age of three doesn’t really need to be in contact with other children. What is important is the contact between mothers (or fathers). Sharing of similar worries, exchanging information and inspiration, mutual support and understanding makes parents more confident and calm. The children can sense this calmness and then the „exercising“ becomes beneficial for them. The space for sharing, whether it is during a lecture or after it, should not be left out. The joy from the game, the meeting and life itself are also important.