Monday, June 8, 2009

30) Stages in growth - Infancy

Whenever God creates a person, He whispers to the infant:"You are my favorite. I have never made such a beautiful person before. I am not going to make another so beautiful again. You are simply unique". Arabian Proverb

Some specialists, in child rearing, maintain that children(boys and girls)pass through three stages. Stage one:Infancy, the first two years; Stage two:Childhood, 3 to 12; Stage three:Adolescence, 13 to 21. Anticipating changes in children, parents have to keep adapting at each stage. Following the same methods and style for the three stages, would bankrupt the bank of love.

In infancy(stage one), the mother sends strong signals of security to the child when:
a) she presses her infant to herself, b) she maintains face to face contact with the child, c) her verbalization to or about the child is positive, and d) she promptly and correctly responds to the needs of the child. The child senses how strongly the mother is attached to him. A survey done some years ago in India, in Maternity Homes, revealed that Nurses accidentally dropped new born babies. Surprisingly, there was not a single case of a mother dropping her infant, even if she was in her teens. The finding only confirmed what we know, that a mother would never drop her child; literally or figuratively.

At birth a chord unites the mother with her baby. From the moment the chord is cut, the child is separate; to be treated as a different person; an unique individual. He must be taught to be self-reliant, not helpless; and not be suffocated by his mother's possessive love. To develop the infant's potential and skills, the mother can resourcefully try the following options: 1) talk to her baby, in the womb, and after birth; make him feel wanted and loved. Such talking helps babies develop their own vocabulary. Most of them, by the time they are three, learn to form short, clear sentences. 2) Let them listen to music to enjoy melody and rhythm. Soon they will identify familiar tunes. 3) Encourage them to explore, rooms in the home, toys and things he can reach, as long as they are not dangerous to handle. 4) Label things as the green car, the red fire-engine and so on. Very early he will learn to identify common colors. 5) Cheer him as he tries new activities. 6) Hug him often.

We cannot adequately stress the importance of cleanliness. Keeping the child clean and the home clean are not negotiable requirements. Despite all precautions, babies will fall ill. They will catch a cold, have a bout of coughing, run a fever, suffer from a stomach upset, cry from colic, be peevish because of sleeplessness and so on.
Some mothers are crazed with anxiety when their babies fall ill. This is unnecessary
and unwise, because anxiety clouds the mind. Instead, find a good doctor who is genuinely interested in children and can empathize with anxious parents; and stick with him/her, unless the services of a specialist are required. Follow the doctor's advice. Avoid administering drugs to the child without doctor's approval. Only when parents know what drugs are specific to medical conditions, know their potency and side effects, should they attempt giving the child even the common over-the-counter
(OTC) Products. Watch the height and weight of the child to ensure that at no stage his growth is stunted. Very early get his sight and hearing checked. Guard against ear, nose and throat infections, to which children are prone. Also, check with the doctor on the need for vitamins. Experienced mothers are likely to come up with suggestions. Give them a patient hearing, but check with the doctor before trying anything different, even if it is time-tested. Please do not give the child a Soother(pacifier). A soother is habit-forming, delays the child's ability to speak, and fills the child's stomach with air, spoiling his appetite. A soother in the child's mouth reflects poorly on the mother's child-management skills. Dr Ong Eng Keow, Child-Specialist in a Singapore Hospital, strongly recommends playing with the child, right from the time he is one month old. Grasping, holding and pressing toys
increase his muscle-strength and improve his motor-skills.

Some mothers are obsessed over the eating habits of their children. They insist that children should eat enough of what they consider staple food - rice, bread, meats etc. Children prefer an assortment. Mothers ought to know that children will not stay hungry. When they are, they will ask for food. So, forcing them to eat what they dislike, is not in the interest of the children. As long as they do not gorge on junk food, aerated drinks and chocolates, it is fine. If they enjoy variety, let them. Ultimately, the nutrition, taste and calories count.

Some parents are flippant in giving their babies names like: Simple, Dimple, Twinkle,
Happy, Lucky and possibly the worst, Adolf Hitler. Somewhere in the USA, a Baker refused to bake a birthday cake for a child with the name, Adolf Hitler. Imagine the child's trauma when he is teased by his peers and given labels by adults who find his name 'funny'. Naming the child is an important decision, for which parents have to take time to check options(available on the net), and short-list a few; then discuss them and choose one which makes the child proud to own it; after all he will be called by that name for the rest of his life.

Actually, everything parents do for the infant, from the time of conception, is a manifestation of their love for the child. That explains the words of Penelope Leach:
"Loving a child is a circular business. The more you give, the more you get, the more
you want to give". The tribal woman, in the story that follows tells us how. In the Andes, South America, two tribes occupy opposite positions - one lives on the plains and the other, in the mountains. Their rivalry is perennial. Once, the tribe from the mountains raided the one in the plains and stole somethings and took away a baby.
The best climbers from the plains decided to scale the mountains to retrieve the baby. On their third failed attempt, they spied the mother of the baby descending with the baby strapped to her back. Flustered, they asked her how she did it. "Not your baby", she replied nonchalantly. Did she have to say more?

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