Trusting children 1: Responding vs reacting

When you find a ‘method’ that you have faith in, it is often very easy to forget that anything else exists. I recently started reading Pamela Drucker’s ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’ and to my surprise, as early as the time I am on Chapter 2, I am saying to myself, ‘This is Montessori!’ and texting my partner, ‘This book is sooo good…’ So alright, I can’t stop seeing Montessori in everything… or maybe all she ever said was common sense and happy parents are already doing it everywhere?

‘The Pause’ or what I call the ‘Wait-and-See’

In her research, Pamela Drucker gives an example of ”The Pause’ as a moment between a baby crying and a parent acting. She finds out that it is the general consensus in sleep science that what a successful baby-sleeper does is to learn to figure out his own patterns, to learn to sleep and to learn (through parents taking that pause to observe the real need of her baby) that he is a separate individual and can be by himself.

For example:

– Baby makes a whimpering sound or cries a little in his sleep. – parent picks him up. Guess what? He gets woken up! Parents are encouraged to wait and observe a little as the baby might just be in between sleep cycles or just making sleeping noises.

-Baby cries and gets fed in the middle of the night and parents don’t get to sleep because they are up every few hours feeding the baby. Guess what? It’s okay to be hungry and not eat because eating all the time and throughout the night is not healthy for anybody and babies need to learn that.

Unfortunately, if this is not done from birth, by the time the baby is over 4 months old, sleep is not learned and then one has to go to all the ‘methods’.

‘The pause’, as described by Pamela Drucker, is a wonderful cue word to remind us all to respond rather than react in life in general and especially in our child-raising efforts. Parents I have met often seem to carry a sense of guilt about their parenting and sometimes this has resulted in overcompensating by unhelpful parenting behaviour. The act of waiting and observing is a response in itself and what often encourages parents to ignore their better judgment and react immediately, are misleading societal messages- If I let my child cry for long, I’m a bad parent and it’s emotional neglect. If I don’t feed him when he’s hungry, it’s abuse.

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I haven’t finished the book yet but a wonderful message spans every line I have read so far: Parenting should be and can be enjoyable and EASY! But it must start from as early as birth. Being a parent does not at all mean the end of a fun and active life. In fact, you MUST live a life so your child can see what it means to be a person and not just a mother or a father. If you have limited time with your child because of other commitments, work on being present and attentive during the time you spend with her, be involved and interested whilst keeping in mind your child is an individual separate from you and capable of learning and facing little trials here and then. If you have no immediate commitments aside from childcare, now may be a good time to find some.

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