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…

 

Fight Over a Princess

Should Fighting Be Incorporated Into a Child’s Game? Do you give your children the chance to learn to fight? Should a fair fight have a place in an upbringing of a child?

In every man’s hearth, there are three wishes: to undergo a battle, to experience and adventure and to save a beautiful woman. And that may be true for boys as well. Do we give our children the chance to fight? Should an honest battle be a part of raising a child?

Many children enter their peer group with a preconceived notion (brought from their families) that they shouldn’t be weak and they should establish their position in a group, even if they have to use force. Other children are told that they shouldn’t fight, that everything can be settled by communicating or by backing off and every little sign of physical aggression in these children is suppressed by their parents.

 

Which path should we choose?

Aggression cannot be excluded from a child’s life we shouldn’t try to suppress it. Especially, the younger the child is the more likely he is to try to settle his disputes physically (remember: aggression is not only expressed by boys, girls can be aggressive as well). Of course, it’s important to show our children alternative ways to solve problems. But is it right to control and suppress children’s aggression as much as possible?

Don’t run at school. Don’t fight anyone at school. Don’t push your brother…. But when do children ever hear: let’s go scream, lets pillow fight or wrestle? Children, especially boys need these kinds of games. Kids get a chance to physically express themselves if they attend judo, karate or other physical sport classes, where physical contact with other children is a part of the activity. But what about other kids? School age children usually spend most of their time sitting down at their desks, at afterschool activities or at home in front of the TV. Home games are usually reduced to doing puzzles or other “brain activities”, so that our kids don’t break something or make too much noise.

If a child needs to get out his energy, computer games or plastic soldiers are used. And so slowly but surely, their bodies and aggression are suppressed to a minimum.

Aggressive behavior is a part of life

Aggression is a challenge and we should approach the natural aggression of children creatively.  An over-organized time (organized and controlled by adults), passive fun, not enough time and space for simple games are all reasons why many children don’t challenge their bodies. Yes, we cuddle our babies, we tickle them, throw them in the air; but the older the kids are the less physical their games are. But all children need physical contact during games. Children should learn that stroking has different effects than a firm grip. They should learn to distinguish positive and negative effects of a contact with another person.  Children are often not able to use their muscle strength reasonably. And so, instead of a friendly poke, a painful hit comes when a child wants to be friends with other children.

If the body disappears from a child’s upbringing, then the child never learns that he should have respect the physical inviolability of others.

 

 Don’t be afraid to fight! 

Not that long ago, all children needed in order to play was a ball, a rubber or a few sticks. But most of all, their bodies. Hide-and-go-seek, chasing and all the variations of these games were all they needed for a fun afternoon. Kids today have so much toys, so much technology and over organized activities that the only times they feel their body is if they sit in front of the computer for too long.  But physical games can teach a child a lot – mostly to respect his body and control it. The aim of these physical games is to create a fair fight and not hurt anyone. These games should have clear rules that are agreed on in advance. Also, make up a sign that anyone can make if he wants to terminate the game; or perhaps the fight. Yes, a fight. That is  one the games that’s disappearing. A fight that we parents are sometimes so afraid of and try to prevent. Of course I am not encouraging the stronger one attacking the weaker one or fighting our way using force.  What I mean is a friendly battle that happens between friends in order to compare their strengths, or just for fun between fathers and sons.

We usually deal with our child being in a fight, starting a fight or being the victim of the fight after it happens – in the park or at school. But did we teach our children, that physical fighting can be a part of a game and not a medium of communication? In an Internet discussion, one mother asked what she should do with her son who fights at school? And what was that anonymous answer? „Do you have a father or a grandfather? Boys just fight. They always had to protect their tribe. It’s good when their father fights with them and teaches them what the boundaries are – that everyone involved has to enjoy it, no one should be in pain and that some parts of the body are taboo. Of course it would be ideal, if all fathers did this.”

 

 Battling while following rules 

A thirty-year-old Martin thought of a great idea for his son Ondra. „I have a new game. We will fight over the princess. And who else is a princess her, then your mother!“ Ondra ran to his mother and started hitting her with his little fists. „No!“ said dad, „we will not be fighting with the princess, but over the princess – me and you, Ondra. Whoever wins, get a kiss from mom. She will not be looking, instead she will be reading in the other room.“ Martin then explained to his three-year-old what is allowed and what not during this fight. Little Ondra agreed to the terms and wanted to play. At first he won of course – his dad held back. But the next day, dad won. And then the third day as well. And then, Ondra won. Mom gave kisses to each winner as promised. Dad was proud that he made up this game, and Ondra was proud that he could fight according to the rules as a good knight.

I personally like the idea of „mom is not looking“. Because honestly, what mother can handle watching their son getting beat?

Surely, a boy’s fight can end with “Stop it – your hurting him.”. Because our desire to protect our property is very strong! But what about men’s desires? As John Eldredge puts it in his book: “In the heart of all men, there are three desires: to undergo a battle, to experience an adventure and to save a beautiful woman.” I wish to all fathers that they can fight with their sons for princesses, and to experience an adventure full of love that way. This is one way to successfully handle children’s aggression. And I’m sure many dads will enjoy such a game.

 

Newborns and Human Speech

Even a five-day-old newborns is able to recognize a human speech from the other sounds.

 

This is evident from the results of the Japanese-French research study team, which investigates brain activity of the youngest children. It seems that this finding will be the beginning of the next research studies about the brain development of a child.

 

Twelve five-days-old newborns from France have participated in this research conducted by the Japanese and the French scientists from the Advanced research Laboratory and Laboratory de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique.

 

The scientists used the optical topography method (using the infrared rays) to measure the changes in a blood flow in the brain cortex of the newborns. First, a newspaper article was read to the children and then the same text was played to them again, but this time it was read backwards. The investigators of the study found out that in the first case, the blood flow in the brain cortex was doubled in comparison to the second case (reading backward). In addition to that, it was also shown that already at such a young age, the brain hemispheres are highly specialized. Throughout the experiment, a greater activity was always demonstrated by the left hemisphere which plays an essential role in speech capabilities.

 

According to the head of the research team, Hideaki Koizumi, the newborns are able to recognize a human speech according to the rhythm and intonation of the voice.

Speaking is Hard Work

Speaking is hard work – motivate your child! Child starts to speak about the 12th month of life. At first it uses one word or often one syllable expression that is relevant to current situation (bye bye, wee) or particular person (mo mo, da da, na na) or animal sounds (like woof, meow…) or thing (neee nooh, brrrum).

 

These expressions are not just names they can also represent full sentences or they are relevant to situation in context where the meaning isn’t certain. When a child says “ brrum” it can mean “look I have a car” or “ I see that a car is passing” or “are we going in a car” or “ I can hear a car” or similar.

Interjection

Common things in child speech are interjection words used instead of verbs. So “hop”- to jump, to throw; “hammy” – to eat, I am hungry; “bye” – see you later, to leave etc. The way we respond, repeat or finish the sentence we show positive feedback to the child. It enables it to expand its own vocabulary. A sentence will develop by linking words together like “dada brrum bye bye, momma hammy…”

 

Vocabulary

Firstly a child puts words in order by their meaning and emphasis or following our example. Because it is difficult to pronounce more syllable word it adapts words to its ability and shorten them or makes own kinds. It learns to recognise words like mine, my it will see the difference between I and you. It is able to respond correctly to yes or no. The vocabulary expands due to the incentive of the environment and mutual communication.  If we talk with our children a lot and encourage our child ‘talking appetite’ it will have a vocabulary of about 400 words about the 3rd year of its life. It is only for orientation, each child have different ability.

 

Childs development

Child’s development is a complex issue. All abilities are interlinked and follow each other. Independent walking and better dexterity has effects on the progress of its brain ability and vice versa. Between the first and the second year the locomotion develops significantly.  Because child is more active it expands its surrounding and have more opportunities to expand own ability.

 

Hearing

To progress in speech it is important to have good hearing. A child has to learn to make differences between variety of sounds and pronunciation of various letters. This skill is called phonematic differentiation and it is decisive in the correct pronunciation. Any kind of hearing impediment gives child a disadvantage. The development of a speech with hearing defect is impaired and it needs specialised care from early stages of life.

 

Sight

Also sight can affect the speech development. Child carefully watches our lips and tries to imitate the movement in pronunciation. It is important for a child not just hearing but also seeing their opponent. Between the second and the third year of life a child is equipped enough to progress well in correct forms and content. Vocabulary is active and passive according to experience and impulses from its environment and it expands and develops progressively. The child practices the pronunciation of syllables from our phonematic system. Three year old is able to use speech as a communication tool, for covering its needs, to fit in its surrounding and of course to please its ancestors. The communication is for the child a necessity but also for fun and entertainment.

 

Environment

Each child is unique and it carries specific equipment of abilities. It is surrounded by loved ones with similar manners. speaking is hard workThat is why the development of each child carries the specific marks typical for its family that differ from others. Development of a child is subtle and continuous. Each child progresses in its abilities systematically step by step. Some children’s development can progress in leaps. A period of fast learning can be suddenly changed to a period of stagnation. But the development happens no matter what; it is harmonic and direct in all areas. Third group of children whose development is uneven, for example a child is more mature in some areas but slower in others, special care should be taken to “tune up” the complexity of their development.

 

Taciturn

There could be many causes to the child’s speech development. If a child is healthy, its normal phycho-locomtive development  is without deviation and has the right surrounding for speech development, and does not start speaking about the age of three we call this the extended  physiological taciturn. It shouldn’t lead to worries. This kind of child just needs all-round careful lead including support in its communication ability. It has a very good chance to catch up and fit in among its peers.

 

Repetition

Parents’ attitude and encouragement largely contributes to child’s speech development and its form and content. You cannot separate them. Taking up correct pronunciation of syllables requires manifold repetition of particular syllable in variety of words. It has to practice it in many situations as well as it has to have the opportunity and has to know how. It uses its senses and our willingness to repeat it many times. It is of course time and patience consuming process. In the first year of life child need to strengthen its emotional attachment, feel secure and parent should take the activity in hand. In the second year we aim to teach a child to use communication tools to be able to covet its needs.

Several principles to follow:

  1. We should always speak to a child in correct form of a word, don’t use ‘baby talk’.
  2. Pace of speech should be calm and understandable.
  3. Modulate with emphasis but don’t over-do it.
  4. Repeat child’s words in correct pronunciation and don’t pick on wrong-doing.
  5. Let child watch your face when you are speaking.
  6. Alternate activities with a break, don’t over-work your child. Make sure it sleeps regularly.
  7. Use song, rhymes, read fairy tales or stories. Look through pop-up books. Comment on the stories or the activity which you do together. Use communication games.
  8. Avoid drilling. Don’t ever use: “Say it now!”. You must not force your child to speak to you. The appetite to speak to us freely is important. Use positive feedback.

 

Questions

Somewhere around year three children might start asking: “What is it?” and immediately following with “Why?”. The essence of these questions lies in gathering information. However we discover soon that child is asking the same things over and over even though it knows the answer. If we consider the content of our ‘dialog’ we find out that child is not seeking information but it exercises your attachment to it and your personal guard. It is showing us that it has an interest in communication with us and wants to speak to us. Sensitive and understanding parent responds to this challenge with patience, doesn’t shout at the child and encourages with the answer their child to speak. It is not always easy to answer the probing question. However if your child hears only: “ Leave me alone. Don’t ask such a silly question. What is it now?”, your child will stop asking and its communication development will come to stop. If we feel tired or are not in the mood or just had a hard day, we have the right to say just “I don’t really know” or “I will find out” or stir the conversation to something else. It will give us at least a little break. Good dialog is always two sided and child will learn this for its future life.

 

Speaking

Even if we are caring and supporting our child in communication skills very well, it is also common, that you child is not able to say many words. It may even have some handicap in comparison to other. Around year three a child is able to actively use about 400 words (as mentioned above). Its speech is the major communication tool with its environment. It does not happen automatically. It is the result of many experiments and mistakes made while learning. Parents have the responsibility to support their child in any way possible, praise it, and motivate it. It can be impossible to judge objectively your child development by yourself. You are not able to compare and you may also be bias. If a child, at the age of three, doesn’t speak, I’d recommend visiting your local speech therapist who assesses your child and suggest further progress.

Speaking is hard work… When a child is learning to speak it becomes the busiest mentally overloaded person on the planet who, luckily, isn’t aware of it.

Smiling in the Womb

You may have heard that babies are able to smile from two month old and that all that looks like a smile is actually just face-making and has nothing to do with actual smiling.

Actually babies are able to smile straight away after birth and maybe even earlier. We can see on the ultrasound images that babies are smiling already in the thirds trimester. Of course it is hard to tell what they are smiling about. “According to research babies in the womb are smiling mostly at times when they are falling asleep and just as they waking up” says Alan Fogel from University of Salt Lake City, Utah. “Staying in the mothers’ womb is possibly so comfortable that they are showing their pleasant feeling by smiling.

Womb baby smiling - fetal 4d usgBut the truth is that infants are able to react, to various inputs from their surrounding, with a smile from their second month. So you might need to wait a while after giving birth before the baby returns your smiles. In the third and forth month babies start to giggle and even laugh.  You might even like the laughs so much that you will try to make him laugh more often. But be careful not to overtire your little one. Babies need peace and quiet and too much stimulation could prove hard on them. Believe that your child have many happy years ahead where it will enjoy smiling and laughs as much as you will.