Objects – My Favorite Blanket…

Between the ages of six to twelve months, children tend to get emotionally attached to a favorite item.

 

 

What kind of an item is it?

It’s usually a soft item that is in the reach of the child. It’s often something that is associated with the crib – a cloth that we put under our child’s head, a sheet, a blanket, a handkerchief or a stuffed animal. However, it’s possible that it’s a more unusual item, such as an onesie, a sleeping bag, a bottle, etc. It’s also possible that a child associates some kind of a movement with this item – caressing the sheet, rubbing his nose… Basically, it’s not important what the item is – the child will pick it himself and demand it. No matter how easy it is to clean, no matter how pretty or ugly, it will always end up dirty, torn, indispensable and endlessly loved.

Psychologists call it a transitional object.

 

Are there good and bad transitional objects?

Not for a child. He always chooses wisely. For a mother though, an object is good if it exists in several copies, if it’s not too big and if it can be washed in the washing machine.

 

Why does a child choose a certain item over the others?

Children’s preferences have its odd rules. Out of all those toys that occupy his crib, he favors one more than the others. Parents usually don’t know about it and find out when a child refuses to go anywhere without this object. What we do know is that the important factors that play part in the selection of this item are touch and smell.

 

Why is the transitional object appearing now?

It’s associated with separation anxiety that is normal at this age. The object helps with this anxiety. A child starts looking for his item at around his sixth to twelfth month and his attachment could last up until he’s three to six years old.

 

Do all children have a transitional object?

Probably not. Children that suck their finger or a pacifier tend not to have a transition item. However, if we search deeper we can find something less noticeable, like a gesture that can be their transitional object. We don’t know why some children (a very small number) don’t have a transitional object. All we know is that no one ever discovered any noticeable differences in psychological and overall development between these children and those that care for their old torn teddy bear for years.

 

 What does a transitional object mean to a child?

The item substitutes for mom who sometimes leaves her child. The object becomes a substitute mom that gives the child security, but also a mom that doesn’t stop him from expressing all his feelings and doesn’t punish him for them. A mom that the child – although small – can control. A growing child finds security in the transitional object; the kind of security he experience as a baby in his mothers arms. Even though a child grows and become more independent, his development is not without dear and sadness.

The transitional object provides a child with strength and comfort. It helps him recover from tiredness and sadness. A child takes it everywhere, because it gives him security in situations that he fears (like visiting the doctor).

The favorite item that a child holds close to him at night when in bed helps him deal with night anxieties. If he’s alone in a room and wakes up seeing phantoms around his bed, he buries his face into this well known scent.

 

Can we take the object away?

Experts don’t recommend it, because the attachment is too strong. Parents shouldn’t interfere in the relationship since their child needs it. This phase plays an important role in his development. We shouldn’t wash the object without our child’s approval; the best thing is to buy the same item again and give it to him. Even if your child treats the item poorly, if he tears it or beats it, we shouldn’t interfere. Some kids aren’t so loyal, but others will keep it for years. Parents can only wait until their child detaches himself from the item. Until then, parents should make sure that item doesn’t get lost or forgotten – this would surely create drama and your child will have trouble falling asleep.

 

Anger – I would strangle you

Sometimes, the children act and speak in a way that can really anger us. It is easy for the psychologists to say: “Just make sure that you don’t get angry in such situations”, “ don’t get too upset and furious and don’t act in an ill-tempered manner”. But who can remain calm when the child is being rude while acting in the same stupid way over and over again!

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And the kids are really capable of this! They often, without knowledge, target the greatest weakness in us and our sensitive areas and they infallibly shoot the ‘poisoned arrow’ right into the spot that really bothers us. Or when our so far pleasant and obedient daughter says in an indignant manner: “I don’t like you at all”. Most of the time, however, the problems arise because the children act in a way in which they are best able to, in a way that is pleasant and convenient to them and this is often on the contrary with what the adults imagine and expect. The children in the present age are moreover taught a much greater aggression in behavior, assertion and activity and in some ways, they are verbally more mature than the previous generations. They have heard and learned a few things from the tv, and so they are able to create a sentence that totally puts us off with its directness and exactness and sometimes even with an open vulgarity.

 

The meaning of those uttered words – what our anger means

 

At what basis should we judge the words and behavior of our children (and that of other people as well)? How to understand what the child is doing and saying? How to interpret the actions and the words in certain contexts and specific situations? And how should we respond?

Many of us take the meaning of the children’s words literally and consider them seriously. “I will be good already”, “ I have never been there”, “ I have seen a snake. I don’t like you at all”, “I don’t want you”,  “You are ugly”. Alright, it is possible, the words certainly convey a crucial meaning and they make sense. In any case, I consider this “positive” version of interpretation much more suitable than when the parents doubt every word the child says in advance. There are numerous situations in which we do not have any other information and we have to base our understanding on the pronounced sentences.

But don’t we sometimes say: “You will drive me crazy one day”, “ you will weary me out if you will be naughty” ,”the devil will come and take you”, “you will be sent to a reformatory if you won’t behave properly”,  “I will throw all your toys out into the rubbish bin?” Do we really mean these seriously? Should the child trust all our words? Do we really keep all the promises that we say out? So should we really trust the words of our children for hundred percent? We all know those stressful moments, full of great rage, suspicions, distrust, fear and disappointment, when the awful words are yelled out and then suddenly more of such sentences can’t be held back.

What meaning do the uttered words have in such situations?  Sometimes, it begins with somewhat innocent deceptive words or half-truths and then it escalates into a chain of yet bigger lies and further tangles within them. Sometimes, with our actions, we push the child into the corner ourselves from where there is no escape. The child is then not capable of any sensible defense and so it acts in sheer bad manners or even in a hateful way. The child also usually does not exactly appraise the situation appropriately and it often overreacts. What is commonly acceptable among friends, is far beyond showing respect to adult authorities, the parents. A similar outcome can occur when the child wants to bring us some joy or when it wants to show us some obligation. Then he certainly promises the  impossible and with this brings a certain catastrophe upon himself.

A big problem arises when we perceive the child as a completely equivalent partner, an adult person. If this is the such case, then clearly, we cannot let the mess, the unkept promises or even the rude remarks go without any consequences, because precisely its attack jeopardizes our personality and authority directly as well as the basis of the partner relationship. Especially in the case of father-son relationship, aggression might seem as the only appropriate reaction. And this is especially so when the initiator is a maturing son. Nonetheless, the mums frantically “fight” in similar ways.

In such scenarios, the parents certainly don’t have any suspicion about the deeper meaning of what the child has said. Understanding can be very difficult sometimes. The adults definitely should not have just one and the only way of interpretation. If a three-years-old boy tells his mum who refuses to give him a chocolate before lunch: “I don’t like you at all”, I certainly believe that the mum easily understands that the child expresses his anger over the fact that his subjectively perceived willful wish wasn’t fulfilled and not because he has stopped loving his mum. If the mother doesn’t comprehend the situation correctly, and she concludes that the child does this on purpose so that he could trouble her, then she will go for a much less suitable reaction. But if the same happens to a grandma it is possible that a much bigger problem will arise from the situation because the grandma might use a totally different set of understanding. To the grandma it might seem that the child is being aggravated to act in this way by her daughter-in-law, or this could be a result of her bad bringing up and then further worries about the child’s future increasing misbehavior arise.

Sometimes the apprehension of the given situation can be even more complicated if the child starts to use words that are normally not used within the family. “Such words are not allowed to be used around mummy and can never be used on her, otherwise you will get slapped, you’ll see.” The adolescent child, however, is no longer influenced only by the family but his peers play a substantial role too and a  lapse  occurs easily when the child uses the words and vocabulary of the peer context in a family setting. It is also possible that the child accepts the coerced role of an adult, by the adults, and it then reacts to the parents’ words with the same caliber, in such a way in which he would not take the liberty to do so in a role of a child.

It is therefore not necessary to reject the words. They have its meaning. What is much more crucial is the behavior of the child. However, not just the isolated behavior of now and here, but also of yesterday, a week ago or a month ago. We should hence continuously pick up and keep in our memory the samples of a child’s behavior and apprehensions. In short, we should take note of the child’s actions in various time periods, situations and circumstances and maybe even towards various people. In their context, we can then easily understand the various acts at the spur of the moment as a deviation, as a particular reaction to an acute situation. How can a parent who is subjected to the child’s expressions of dedication and kindness on a daily long term basis believe his one-time frustrations and drifts of vulgarity to be true and to consider both the types of expression to be equivalent?

This could lead to some fatal mistakes especially with the maturing teenagers. Their exceptionally and overbearingly strong words, clearly expressed, as well as often very unfair words reflect the confusion and uncertain anchor in life, a persistent afford to find its place in it, the perpetual perception of life as black and white, the need to confine against those whom they actually love the most. It is important for them to be different from their parents, to contrast them strikingly. We also shouldn’t expect the child to be exactly the same as the way we are. If this would be so, we would probably still run around the forest as apes. As parents, we have undoubtedly got used to a compliance and admiration during the first eight or ten years of life, but during the maturing stage, the teenager has different preferences. Sometimes it is actually praiseworthy that it is different from us.

Sometimes with his inappropriate words and improper behavior, the child can call for a little bit of attention and concern from adults. “If I don’t make any mess, they won’t even notice me, they are at work all the time. Only then will they take some interest, notice me, talk to me and try to solve my problem.”

So how do we handle such situations in such a way so that we don’t unnecessarily cause stress to ourselves and at the same time so that the discrepancy that arises does not distress the relationship with the child? Sometimes, such situations can also lead to a significant deterioration of the relationship between parents in the case that their approach towards their child differs substantially. If the upbringing regardless the extensive afford put in, doesn’t succeed, they will look for a blame and the closest one at hand is the husband, the wife or their parents.

 

Take note of all actions

In the first place, we should regard the longterm deeds and expressions as the primary ones. Those one-time deeds and words should be considered as an acute deviation from the norm and not the more important ones just because they are the most recent ones on the list. It is also important to take note of all the actions of the maturing child. Most likely, we reasonably get angry over his frequent stays out of the home, his lenient approach towards keeping of a family order, but we should also consider equally seriously that he talks to us for a while, that he smiles at us, that he says “don’t worry”. Maybe these are just some seldom and volatile moments in comparison to that mess in everything else, to the demonstrative refusal of all that is adult, but their value is the equally important. In particular situations, the child might not even be able to do more than that. An exclusively negative perception of all situations from the adult perspective is not good for the maintenance and development of any kind of relationship. It is well-known that our expectations act in a strong way and they are able to significantly influence the child’s behavior in accordance with the expectation. If we therefore always show that we think that he is useless, that he is just a trouble to us and that he will grow up to be nothing at all, then we are certainly contributing to the fact that this will really turn out to be the reality.

We should educate our children from a young age and show them alternatives and socially acceptable ways of solving challenging life situations. It is certainly not necessary for him to curse and swear all the time, to take offense and blame the whole world using all sorts of words. Sometimes it is just enough for him to wait with his reactions for a little while and everything can turn out to be different. It is important to accept that even the very intensive emotions have their place in our lives, however, without the obligation to take those words and actions that tend to accompany them literally.

At other times, we could just keep silent, ignore some words and not hear others. When it is possible, we can leave the battlefield. It is also feasible to leave with the words: “Don’t get mad, but I don’t want to and I’m not going to solve this problem now. When you calm down, we can have a chat about it. Please count to ten and then you can tell it to me again.” At yet other times, we can force the child to leave himself.

I definitely do not recommend accusations, a cry or an emotional extortion. It is possible that these would help in some situations, but its effectiveness will be significantly reduced with its continuous use and after some time, these can paradoxically increase the child’s resistance towards the adult.

It is left up to us to communicate in a more polite manner than the child. We should not say things which are the products of anger especially when we don’t mean them deadly seriously. If we are not in control of ourselves, we should be more discrete with our reactions when the child uses the exactly same rhetorics towards us. In my advisory sessions, a twelve-year-old boy told me how he got a bad mark at school for being rude. He apparently reacted on the teacher’s complaint, that she is bored of constantly discovering whether he did something bad or not, with the answer that he is also bored of it. I consider this teacher’s remark highly unprofessional.

Some advices are in the form of compromise. The adults are more matured and their personalities wouldn’t suffer as much when not all is according to them.

Sometimes it is enough to wait with our reaction for fifteen minutes and then the discussion with the child can turn out to be completely different altogether. We shouldn’t forget that even we behave in a different way with audience around us. We can withstand so much more in a friendly atmosphere in between four eyes than when we have to face the critiques from the whole class or our co-workers.

The adults also forget that what has already happened cannot unhappen. And so they come back again and again to what the child has done wrong yesterday and a week ago, they repeat the same sentences and so as time goes by, they reliably make the child not want to listen to them.

When the child does something wrong, it doesn’t mean that it is a villain. He has just done a bad deed. Children are quite sensitive to how we perceive their misdemeanors. A girl in the seventh grade has copied during her test. The teacher has caught her, let her finish the test and then immediately examined her from the same study material. The girl received a grade five (1 being the best and 5 the worst). Here is an insight of the girl herself: “It was completely fair. I rather not copy again. Because it is not worth the trouble.”

It might seem that I’m pushing the adults into a defense position, that I’m refraining them from reacting to the child’s misconduct, that I’m leaving the upper hand to the children. By providing all the explanations for their behavior I’m actually justifying them. Nothing like that. Nonetheless the up-bringing needs to be effective. And if the child stops to take note of you, if it responds to all your propositions in an opposite manner, if it avoids you and goes to his friends instead, then you can be right a hundred times round and it is still all good for nothing. You will not be able to influence your child anymore. And here I’m trying to find ways which won’t hurt the child or the relationships with those closest ones, which won’t jeopardize his future and which will at the same time lead to the goals set by the parents.

 

 

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is – for many reasons – considered the best diet for a baby.

 

 

1)      Breast milk is a complete and a natural diet right from birth; it strengthens the immune system of your child.

Breast milk contains a combination of protective factors including antibodies and prebiotic oligosaccharides that help protect the child from illnesses such as stomach irritation or ear infections. Breast milk also helps protect an infant from children’s asthma.

Prebiotic oligosaccharides that are naturally found in breast milk are special nutrients that support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. An adequate amount of these bacteria help the body fight harmful bacteria and thus strengthen the child’s natural defenses from the inside. They also contribute to a healthy digestion and soften the stool so that the child can pass stool more easily.

Your child needs a constant supply of polyunsaturated fatty acid that he gets from birth from your breast milk, because they help his brain, eye and nervous system development.  Therefore, you should continue to eat foods like fish, which are rich on polyunsaturated fatty acids. If for any reason you can’t breastfeed, choose a formula that has added polyunsaturated fatty acids referred to as AA or DHA.

 

2)      Your body creates just as much milk as your child needs.

The volume of breast milk that your body produces correlates with how hungry your child is and the composition of it is modified to fit your child’s needs. And not only during a month, but also sometimes from day to day or even from the beginning to the end of one breastfeeding.

 

 3)       Breastfeeding helps with bonding.

The simple act of holding your child while breastfeeding is nature’s way of encouraging you to a lot of physical contact, to talking, eye contact and rocking. This closeness between a mother and her child provides warmth and comfort and also stimulates all five senses of your baby – touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste.

When a child is born, his eyes are only able to focus at a distance of only 20-37 cm. Breastfeeding brings him close enough to you that he can watch your features and facial expressions and will learn to recognize you while also developing basic abilities that will help the development of his sight, attention and concentration.

 

4)      Breastfeeding is healthy for you too.

Breastfeeding stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytocin. When your child latches on for the first time, this hormone triggers milk flow and also the uterus starts contracting. This contracting protects you from postpartum bleeding and helps the uterus return into its original size. The hormone oxytocin – sometimes known as the “love hormone” – also has a positive influence on your feelings; thanks to it, you feel relaxed and satisfied while breastfeeding. So breastfeeding is a calming thing for both of you.

Breastfeeding is also a natural and healthy way to get rid of the excess fat stored during pregnancy. A gradual weight loss is always safer and studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers reach their previous weight sooner and are more likely to stay at their target weight.

Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding has other long-term benefits to your body as well. Besides psychological benefits like decreased stress, it also helps metabolism and lowers the risk of osteoporosis (bone loss) or breast or ovary cancer. It also postpones the return of the menstrual cycle, which means your iron count will not decrease, and you will have a low chance of getting pregnant (although we want to remind you that it’s not considered an effective birth control method).