Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bringing Up Baby


By Rachel Goodchild

BRINGING your new baby home can be one of life’s most thrilling experiences. But wouldn’t it be great if they came with an instruction manual?

Since they don’t, it might be a good idea to read up on various forms of children’s behaviour and how to get off to a good start. In years past, parents turned to books by such well-known authors as Dr Spock, but parents today are lucky to have the vast amount of information available on the Internet.

Of course, each child is different, and it will take a lot of trial and error to find what works best for your child. The most important thing is to curtail resistant behaviour before it gets out of hand.

A newborn human child is the most helpless of all mammals. Unlike a pony, it can’t jump up and walk at birth; it needs about a year to do that. So, it is totally dependent on its parents for survival, since it has no way to obtain nourishment.

At first, the major problem with having a new baby in the house is that it makes it difficult for anyone to get a good night’s sleep.

Whether mum nurses, or gives the baby a bottle, it will be weeks or even months before baby will sleep through the night.

Your pediatrician is the best source for advice on handling feeding problems.

Resistant behaviour is going to become a problem as babies learn to sit, crawl, walk and talk. It’s not surprising that a baby’s favourite first word is “No”.

What parents need to do is inform children what is going to happen and not give them a choice. Don’t ask the child if he is sleepy; simply tell him cheerfully that it’s bed time, pick him up and out him to bed.

It’s important to establish a routine, such as brushing teeth, a bedtime story and other, comforting rituals. Then, it’s lights out, and the toddler remains in bed.

If he tries to climb out and come in the parent’s room, he must gently, but firmly, be guided back to his room. Once parents let a child climb into their bed in the middle of the night, it’s a hard behaviour to stop.

Potty training is also an issue which can cause a lot of resistance. Again, you might want to look to the Internet for suggestions. The most frequent mistake parents make is to try to potty-train before the child is ready.

New parents may be surprised that to learn that 25% of children are still not trained by age three or even four. Parents should look for signs of readiness such as staying dry for two hours at a time and being uncomfortable in dirty diapers.

Sometimes it’s okay to let the child make choice. For example, if your daughter wants to wear an orange, striped blouse with purple-flowered pants, it really does no harm to let her do that unless she’s going somewhere special.

It would also be a good teaching moment to show your child what colours go together.

Children are people, too, and they need a chance to express their feelings, but they should never be allowed to feel they are the boss.

Punishment often doesn’t work, because it doesn’t stop the resistance behaviour. One mother, when he daughter threw herself on the grocery floor store and started kicking and screaming, promptly fell down, too, and emulated the girl’s behaviour. The girl jumped up, embarrassed, and that was the end of the tantrum.

Toddlers want to now who’s in charge and you must lovingly show them that it’s you.

[You can get in touch with the writer at]

The art of parenting
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
(Page 20)

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