Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mistakes we make in caretaking ... Post 1.

I've always felt that the goal of a human caretaker is to encourage independence while providing a safe, loving environment in which this independence can flourish. Sometimes it's difficult to encourage independence (thinking back to when my mom got old and counted on me). Looking back on the early childhood years of my three children, No. 2 (the "sandwiched" child) got the least attention from me and this lack of attention basically forced her to become independent earlier. No. 3 was the new baby, kicking her out of that slot after just a little more than a year, and No. 1 was still trying to adjust (at age 4) to two siblings now taking the time once reserved for her alone.

We all have our own ideas on how to caretake and for that reason do it differently. My kids had numerous caretakers through the years and I'm sure they all did it differently. It never occurred to me to "blame" a behavior on a caretaker.

Lately, I've noticed that Astrid has been having tantrums and they always seem to occur after she's spent time with Dave's folks caretaking. Dave's folks like to hold her ... all the time and walk with her ... all the time. So, Em said that he was going to take Astrid for a walk outside (in his arms) yesterday. He said, "It seems to calm her." At one point I asked if he was ready to take her for a walk and he said, "When she's fussy." So, when she got fussy he came and got her and took her for a walk and she calmed down and when he sat down with her after the walk she got fussy again because the walk ended.

Mistake: Rewarding fussiness.

Better Approach: Not sure ... open to ideas. Typically, I put her in the swing when she throws a fit because I think she needs a nap AKA mental reorg, but if it's close to time for No. 1 to pick her up, I hate to get a reorg started that won't be able to complete. Since she obviously enjoys a walk with Em, it makes sense to include it in the routine when he's home versus reserving it for fussy periods.





Diane said...

You may already know what I'd say:

Pick babies up, hold babies, show them attention. It's not rewarding bad behavior, it's caring for a baby. If you can't fix (or even know) what's causing them to cry, at least comfort them by holding them so they know they're not in it alone, that they can count on your to be there, that they can trust. Babies are little humans and sometimes just have bad days or tummyaches that they can't tell us about. If you want something that doesn't fuss, buy a houseplant.

I've held the crap out of my babies, worn them in slings, slept with them, and they were all exceptionally happy - and independent! - babies except for a couple of cases of colic -- and you can bet I held them through that as well.

Not that I have strong opinions on this particular issue or anything. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Way to tell it Diane!

I try to let her play independently when she likes it and hold her when she gets bored or fussy. She very badly wants to get moving so I encourage the right muscles to develop by putting her on her tummy as much as she likes it then try to get some back time in when her arms and neck get tired. She is working on her roll, so the back time is important too IMO. She rolls from side to side enjoying the different toys and sounds they make. I am still waiting for her too roll from back to front. She has done it a few times on accident, an does not seem to have much desire to do it on purpose.

She recently discovered how to turn her body in a different direction on her tummy so I think crawling is coming soon.

It seems she is too impatient to wait for me to figure out what she wants. She wants to get it on her own.

Anonymous said...

Daddy Blue...

I'm not sure the walking around thing is spoiling. We pick her up and care for her if she fusses, but were getting better at knowing when that fussiness will end quickly and only jump when we know it won't. This child is impatient to be mobile and walking her around gives her incentive to do it herself... independently. She is playing more and more independently and enjoying her alone time with her toys more so we'll keep trying to leave her to learn on her own as she becomes ever more amazed with her abilities to touch, grab, sit up, crawl and eventually walk herself around.

No. 2 said...

From what I learned in Psychology class, you cannot spoil a baby. According to Erikson, for the first year of development, the baby is the stage Trust vs Mistrust. It is the time where the baby decides whether he can "trust" his/her parents to deliver a safe, consistent, and dependable environment that satisfies their needs. See link:'s_stages_of_psychosocial_development