How much attention is too much?

We recently had our second child. Watching her and our first tells us that we made a couple of mistakes with our first child. Not major mistakes mind you. Just little ones. When our first was a little bubs we were incredibly attentive to her. We never let her cry out for particularly long. Always entertained her. Reflecting on it I’m starting to wonder how much attention is too much? When do you reach the point where you are just spoiling your child?

This winter holiday I spent a lot of time with my two daughters and noticed a few things. For one thing I noticed that when I am around my daughter wants my entire attention all the time. I don’t mind as my girl is a lot of fun to play with but it does make me think. Our early obsessive attentiveness to her needs have led to a few positives and negatives. We have a little girl who loves us dearly and loves a good laugh. Another bonus that I’m sure is derived from the way we treated her is that she is an excellent big sister. She gives our second one a lot of hugs and often wants to feed her or help us change her nappy. Since she is copying our behaviour this must reflect on how we treat her. The downside though is our little girl is very dependent on us. She isn’t good at playing by herself. When we are around she expects that same amount of attention we gave her when she was a baby. Due to this I am unable to give our second one much attention. Fortunately this seems to have had a very positive effect on our second little one. She plays on her own for an hour or two without grumbling and she doesn’t need many hugs. She definitely gets more mum time than dad time. The first is my little girl and the second is mummy’s little girl. In a strange way I feel like it’s a bit of a social experiment.

The terrible twos aren’t so terrible if you think about it

We’ve all heard the term terrible twos well and truly before we even think about kids. I know the first time i heard it was in primary school. For those who don’t really know why the twos are considered terrible I’ll fill you in. Two year olds are just starting to flex their independent muscles. They start saying no to things they don’t want to do and they insist they do things for themselves even if they have no hope of being able to do it. So what’s so terrible about that? Well the thing that people think is terrible about it is that you tend to butt heads with your two year old a lot. It can get frustrating. The thing is though, it doesn’t have to be frustrating.

It’s all about how you look at it. A two year old is not a fully developed human. Their brains are still going through the process of growing and changing. They won’t have the full mental capacity of a human adult until 25 years old. Up until 2 they have been observing and absorbing everything they can about how humans live and function. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that babies are blank slates. This is so that we can adapt to every variant of human society there could possible be. At two your child is ready to start testing out what they’ve learnt. They want to try it all for themselves. The key to this age as the parent is to let them. Let go of your control and your fears and let your child try things for themselves.

The other trouble with this age is how often your child says no. Don’t get angry about this. Again it’s part of their development. They aren’t being disrespectful to you and they aren’t being insolent. You have to bite your pride and ignore any rising anger. They’ve said no to something. You shouldn’t force it on them. That will just lead to more resistance and resentment. They say no, you change the topic. Accept their answer. They’ve said no for a reason. You may not know what that reason is but they’ve said no and you should be the adult in the situation and accept it. Move on from it. Then perhaps after a time you can try and do what they said no to. You may know better than your child but until they learn for themselves they don’t know that. You need to hold their hand and support them as they explore the world. Not be a barrier against them.

The key to this age is embracing them because while it may be famous as the terrible twos it’s also an absolutely amazing time. It’s important not to waste your time on anger otherwise you’ll miss all the amazing things your child is learning and picking up. The terrible twos aren’t terrible. They are a time when your baby is starting to become human. Starting to act on their will rather than yours. The amount of first times that occur in this age is remarkable. A time that you should enjoy and cherish.

Boys should play with dolls

Boys should play with dolls. In this blog I’ll write why I think so.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the toy store. She wandered around most of the store and played with a range of demonstration models. One of the toys she played with was a doll you could feed with a fake milk bottle. She did it very deftly. We don’t have any dolls in our house. Not because we are against it or anything just because we’ve never bought one. At the time I wandered if she had been a boy would she have picked up the doll and played with it? In my opinion he would have and I’ll explain why I think so.

Children are geared to learn how to be human. One of the major ways they learn how to be human is playing. Children copy what they see adults doing. My daughter sweeps and vacuums the floor. We never asked her to do this it was something that she copied from us. Similarly she puts the teddy bears to sleep by giving them hugs, shushing them, placing them on the bed and putting a blanket on them. She is basically practicing how to be a parent. Dolls, and in our household’s case teddy’s, are a good way for children to mimic being a parent. They see how we act towards them and mimic it to the doll or teddy. This is why dolls are a good toy. Children can practice being parents with them.

Given that dolls and teddies are a means for children to develop their caring and parenting skills why does our society tell us that boys don’t play with dolls? It’s not because they don’t. It’s because people don’t give them the option to. It’s considered something that girls do. Some parents will even tell off their boys for playing with dolls. This is essentially telling boys not to learn how to be parents from a very young age. Our society should encourage boys to practice their parenting skills. Boys should practice babying a toy. It’s a natural part of development and will give them the skills they need to be parents when the time comes.

Encouraging Positive Behaviour

Lately my baby has taken to biting.  It started with biting my nose now it’s nose, fingers, arm, stomach, basically wherever she can sink her teach in.  It all started with the nose though.  Baby would lean in for the chomp grabbing my ears to make sure I couldn’t escape.   At first I thought it was funny and would make the funny I’m in pain noise and then tickle her.  She is usually not ticklish except when she is tired or when she is trying to bite me.  Clearly we have established the biting tickling routine.  I still tickle her and think it’s quite funny but I’ve been wondering if I’m just encouraging negative social behaviour.

This is actually something that I am always wondering no matter what I am doing with baby.  I always ask myself what is she learning from my behaviour.  For us playing with a child is just fun.  For the child though this is an important socialising experience.  Through play children learn how to be human.  They also learn how to be human by observing everything we do.  My daughter has learnt that humans sweep and vacuum the floor and so always wants to do this.  This of course is a positive behaviour which we encourage.  It’s up to us to make sure they learn positive social behaviour.  Sometimes I make a funny noise when my daughter hits me.  I wonder if this is the starting point for bullying behaviour latter on.  Did a bully learn that if i hit someone they make a funny noise when they were toddlers?  Whether it is true or not I am always checking my behaviour.  Making sure that I am encouraging positive behaviour.