Family

Children

In Creative Parenting, William Sears, a pediatrician and well-known author defines attachment parenting as an uninterrupted, nurturing relationship, specifically attuned to a child's needs as he passes from one developmental stage to the next.

During pregnancy, the baby moves with the mother’s body, in tune with the working of her mother’s body. She grows and thrives, and receives sustenance from her mother. They grow closer together as the mother becomes attuned to her baby’s movements, and the child also adjusts. Birth is a natural separation of mother and child. The important factor, when practicing attachment parenting though, is to make sure that the break is not abrupt. It is natural that the mother keeps her newborn baby close to her, and continues to love and nurture her outside her body as she did within it. In Creative Parenting, William Sears, a pediatrician and well-known author defines attachment parenting as "an uninterrupted, nurturing relationship, specifically attuned to a child's needs as he passes from one developmental stage to the next."

So how does a mother achieve the uninterrupted, nurturing relationship that will put her in tune with her child?

Baby wearing

One of the ways to help you become attuned to your baby is baby wearing. Your baby could be fed and nap in the sling, and you could do most of what's needed doing without putting her down. Babies thrive on human contact; research indicates this, and it makes good common sense.

Becoming empathetic to your child

Dr. Elliott Barker is a Canadian psychiatrist and the Director of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children describes attachment parenting as having two facets: Being willing and able to put yourself in your child's shoes in order to correctly identify his/her feelings and being willing and able to behave toward your child in ways, which take those feelings into account.

Imagine that you are a small child, learning about the world. It’s by turns exciting and scary, familiar and new. There are people who love and whom you love back, and new people whom you don’t know at all. You are learning to do things, and sometimes you fail, but at other times you succeed. However, most of the time, you cannot communicate your feelings and fears, because you don’t know how to. That is a glimpse of a child’s world. The challenge for you as a parent is to put yourself in your child’s shoes. If you did not have a voice, and could not communicate your daily challenges, how would you feel? If you were faced with daily challenges and learning experiences, and you did not have the experience and the knowledge of how to solve these challenges, what would you do?

Breastfeeding

Another key feature of attachment parenting is breast-feeding your child. Breast milk is the most natural food available for a child. Breastfeeding times also provide the time for mother and child to reconnect.

Breastfeeding remains a controversial issue for many reasons. The central point to this issue is that mothers work outside the home, bringing the much-needed income. Also, a breastfed child is dependent on her mother for nourishment, which means that the mother cannot be away from her child for an extended period of time. Another issue regarding breastfeeding is that parents are unsure about when it is a good time to wean a baby. Attachment parenting advocates believe that children grow at their own pace. When your child is ready to abandon the breast, she will let you know. Interesting enough, that may be sooner than most people would expect.

The family bed

For decades, one of the most basic issues governing sleeping arrangements is that the baby has her own nursery. Respected parenting experts were adamant that sleeping with a child was unhealthy and passively abusive. Parents were told that letting the child sleep in the nursery would enable her to sleep more soundly, uninterrupted; will not be in danger of being suffocated (parents could roll onto the baby) and will not develop an unhealthy dependency on her mother. What these experts ignore is that, Western society's deviance from the still-widespread practice of sleeping with children was a relatively recent development. Only 150 years ago in the United States, it was generally assumed that young children would sleep with their parents or other relatives. Most families could not afford separate sleep quarters for everyone in the household. Additionally, co-sleeping was a reliable way to make sure that the youngest family members stayed warm.

Mothers who sleep with their baby can quickly change a wet nappy or feed the child, without the child spending too long crying for attention. You don’t have to get out of your warm bed to take care of your baby either!

One of the key issues raised by attachment parenting opponent is about the marital relationship. Is it to be ousted out of the bedroom? Are the children in danger of becoming sexualised while they are still young? And when will the child leave the marital bed? Is the family bed going to become a feature in a married couple’s lives until the child becomes a teenager?

Attachment parenting advocates say that taking the marital relationship out of the bed, to other venues in the house makes it spontaneous and exciting. They believe that children are not in danger of becoming sexualised, as any sensible parent knows not to bring sex into a child’s life at an early age.

Independence

One of the concerns regarding attachment parenting is that the baby may become too close to her mother, and with the child’s growth towards independence being stunted. Every loving and responsible mother wants her child to grow to become a well-adjusted, fully functional member of society. That is why mothers who practice attachment parenting also encourage their children towards independence.

Children need no pressure to grow into adult people. They need a patient, gentle presence. Your child may take longer than societal norms dictate to become more independent, or she may turn out to be an old woman waiting to face life’s challenges. What is needed from a mother to learn and understand what her child needs and to provide for that need? What they will not need is our forcing them into growth, nor will they need our pulling them from it wilfully. It is a delicate dance, of careful attention but of resilient flexibility. A mother attuned to her child will be able to read her child’s cues much more accurately, and respond to them.

In conclusion, you should remember that the key factor when you are trying to find the best way to raise your child is to ask yourself, ’what is the best option for my child? What will provide the most nurturing and loving environment in which she can grow?’

Child care & work

Child care and early education are critical to the success of two national priorities: helping families work and ensuring that every child enters school ready to succeed.

The need for child care has become a daily fact of life for many parents:

Of all mothers in the labor force, 65 percent have children under age six, and 78 percent have children age six to 13.1 Additionally, 59 percent of mothers with infants (children under age one) are in the labor force.2

In 1999, only 23 percent of all families with children younger than six—and only one-third of married-couple families with young children—had one parent working and one parent who stayed at home.3 The majority (55 percent) of working women in the United States bring home half or more of their family's earnings.

The proportion of single mothers with jobs, after remaining steady at around 58 percent from 1986 to 1993, increased sharply to 71.5 percent in 1999.

Every day, 13 million preschoolers—including six million infants and toddler—are in child care.6 This is three out of five young children. Plus, millions more school-age children are in after-school and summer activities, and nearly seven million children are left home alone after school each week while their parents work. Additionally, children enter care as early as six weeks of age and can be in care for as many as 40 hours per week until they reach school age.

Child care arrangements of children younger than five with working mothers in 1995:

Definitions of child care settings:

Child care centers: Care provided in nonresidential facilities, usually for 13 or more children.

Family child care providers: Care provided in a private residence other than the child's home.

In-home caregivers: Care provided within the child's home, by a person other than a parent or relative.

Relative care: Care provided by an individual related to the child.

Child care helps shape children's futures and is key to school readiness:

The research is clear that the quality of child care has a lasting impact on children's well-being and ability to learn.9 Children in poor-quality child care have been found to be delayed in language and reading skills and to display more aggression toward other children and adults.

A study released in 1999 found that children in high-quality child care demonstrated greater mathematical ability, greater thinking and attention skills, and fewer behavioral problems than children in lower-quality care. These differences held true for children from a range of family backgrounds, with particularly significant effects for children at risk.

School-age children's academic performance is enhanced by attending formal child care programs of at least adequate quality, according to several studies. Children attending such programs have been found to have better work habits and relationships with peers, and to be better adjusted and less antisocial, than children who spend their out-of-school hours alone, in front of the television, or informally supervised by other adults.

Families struggle to find and afford quality child care environments:

Full-day child care easily costs $4,000 to $10,000 per year—at least as much as college tuition at a public university.13 Yet more than one out of four families with young children earns less than $25,000 a year,14 and a family with both parents working full-time at the minimum wage earns only $21,400 a year.

Even though some child care subsidies are available for low-income families, funds are severely limited. Currently, no state serves all families eligible for assistance under federal guidelines. Nationally, only 12 percent of eligible children who need help are getting any assistance.

Despite nearly 35 years of investment in Head Start, the program still serves only about three out of five eligible children.

In 1998-99, 42 states had prekindergarten initiatives. Yet most serve only a small percentage of children at risk, and a number lack adequate quality standards. Many initiatives support only part-day programs that fail to meet the needs of parents working full time.

Good care is hard to find. Studies have found that much of the child care in the United States is poor to mediocre. One four-state study found fully 40 percent of the rooms serving infants in child care centers to be of such poor quality as to jeopardize children's health, safety, or development.

Another national study found equally alarming patterns in family child care programs. This study found that over one-third of the programs were rated as inadequate, which means that the poor quality was enough to harm children's development.

Hairdressers and manicurists must attend 1,500 hours of training at an accredited school in order to get a license, yet only 11 states require child care providers to have any early childhood training prior to serving children in their homes.

Professional, quality child care is hard to find in a marketplace where child care teachers and providers do not earn as much as funeral attendants ($17,320) or garbage collectors ($25,020).21 Child care workers earn an average of only $15,430 per year. In addition, child care workers tend to receive no benefits or paid leave.

Scarcity of after-school programs leaves school-age children home alone:

Nearly seven million children are home alone after school each week23 during the afternoon hours when juvenile crime peaks.

A 1990 study found that eighth graders left home alone after school reported greater use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana than those who were in adult-supervised settings.

Good after-school activities can be particularly difficult to find for children in low-income families. Children living in families with a monthly income of under $1,500 are less than half as likely to participate in enrichment activities such as sports, lessons, or clubs as are children living in families with a monthly income of $4,500 or more.


Children
Age: 3 Year Old

Physical Development

Climbs upstairs and downstairs without support
Throws a ball overhand
Moves forward and backward with agility
Rides a tricycle; pedals
Improved small motor control such as holds pencil and utensils well
Can dress and undress self (may need help with zippers, buttons)
Builds a tower of more than six blocks

Ideas For Parents

Be patient with toilet training. Accidents may still occur for a while.
Encourage independence. Buy clothes that your child can pull on and off.
Play make-believe with your child. Encourage a creative imagination.
Allow your child to help with chores, putting toys and clothes away, clearing the table and making the bed.
Teach your child his first and last name.
Read to your child and encourage your child to tell your stories.
Play outside (throw and catch balls, ride a tricycle, play in a sand box). Encourage physical activity.
Allow times for your child to finger-paint, draw on paper and other art activities.
Let your child brush her teeth every day
Give your child choices and let him choose.
Encourage your child to count items, name counting (may know some numbers)

Cognitive Development

Draws crude, but recognizable pictures
Copies shapes (e.g. circles and squares)
Speaks clearly enough that strangers can understand
Speaks in sentences of 3-5 words
Correctly names some colors
Begins to understand concept of objects and tell what color things are.
Listens to and recalls parts of a story
Has mastered some basic rules of grammar (e.g. plurals)

Social Development

Cooperates with other children
Increasingly inventive in make-believe play
Becomes more independent
Assumes a gender identity
Uses words to express emotions

What To Expect: Sharing

Sharing is an important skill to be mastered. Although preschool children are egocentric by nature, at age three, they can begin to understand the concept of sharing. Learning to share does not come naturally, but you can help your child learn.

Tips to Encourage Sharing

Do not force your child to share. When friends come to play, help put away the special toys your child does not want to share.
Help your child select "share toys" that won't break or get used up.
Buy or collect toys that are good for sharing such as construction sets, blocks, swings, slides, puzzles, toy telephones and tea sets. When there are plenty of items to go around, it is easier to share.
Model sharing. Offer to share with your child. Ask your child to share and give praise for being a good sharer.
Play games which require taking turns and cooperation.
Don't expect perfection. Learning to share takes time and practice.

Toys

make-believe props (dress-up clothes, play kitchen items, etc.)
puppets, dolls
riding toys, tricycle
balls of all sizes
play dough, crayons, paint, paint brushes, chalk, etc.
large piece puzzles (3-6 pieces)
books
music tapes, tape player

Age: 4 Year Old

Physical Development

Runs, jumps, hops, somersaults, may be able to skip
Throws and catches a ball
Swings and climbs
Cuts on a line
Copies geometric shapes (circles, squares, triangles, etc.)
Draws a person with some body parts
Dresses and undresses by self
Usually toilet-trained completely
Uses fork, spoon and dinner knife without assistance
Brushes teeth

Ideas For Parents

Read to your child every day. Visit your local library and encourage your child to choose books. Encourage your child to tell you stories.
Say nursery rhymes and fingerplays together. Sing songs.
Allow your child to practice writing. Have your child copy shapes, letters and numbers.
Foster your child's creativity by allowing her to paint and color. Provide materials such as play dough, chalk, glue and crayons. Allow your child to use scraps to make collages.
Praise your child's accomplishments. Foster independence by encouraging self-reliance.
Encourage physical activity by playing follow the leader (run, jump, hop, skip and swing).
Provide multicultural experiences and foster an attitude of acceptance for diversity.
Expand dramatic play by providing a variety of props for themes such as grocery store, beauty salon, restaurant and birthday parties.

Cognitive Development

Recalls parts of a story, tells own story
Says name and address
Can count ten or more objects
Correctly names at least four colors
Combines two or more sentences
Understands meanings of words
Makes of words and rhymes
Asks questions (Why? How?)
Follows simple rules

Social and Emotional Development

Likes to imagine and is able to distinguish fantasy from reality
Likes to sing, dance and act
Is able to play with a group
More likely to agree to rules, can begin to understand games
Learns to express sympathy
Shares with others
Seeks out playmates
Shows more independence
Aware of sexuality

What To Expect: School Readiness

Success in school readiness involves good health, being socially and emotionally mature, having good language, problem solving and creative thinking skills, and a general knowledge about the world.

Prepare your Child by Focusing On

Physical Well-Being: Be sure your child eats nutritious meals and gets plenty of sleep and exercise. Regular medical care and immunizations are important. Regular dental checkups should begin at age three.
Social and Emotional Preparation: Children are often not socially and emotionally mature when they enter kindergarten, but it is important that they have an opportunity to begin developing confidence, motivation, independence, curiosity, persistence, cooperation, self-control and empathy. You can help your child by setting good examples (e.g. treating everyone with respect and sharing). Your child will also know if you have a positive attitude toward learning and school. Encourage self-reliance to foster independence. Provide chances for your child to socialize with other children and adults who are not family members.

Language and General Knowledge

It is important for children to learn to solve problems and communicate with others. You can help foster these skills by providing opportunities to play, answering questions and listening to your child. Reading aloud and monitoring television viewing are also important.

School readiness depends on a combination of many aspects of child development. It does not mean your child needs to know the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers and how to read.

Toys

dolls, puppets
balls
trucks, tractors, trains
blocks
dramatic play props
blunt scissors, washable markers, crayons, paint
sewing cards
simple board games
books
play dough

Age: 5 Year Old

Physical Development

Can run, hop, skip and jump
Favors one hand over the other
Has increased poise and coordination
Begins to lose baby teeth and acquire secondary teeth
Dresses and undresses with little assistance (can button and zip)
Can throw and possibly catch a ball
Ascends stairs with alternating feet

Ideas For Parents

Provide space and opportunities for your child to run, hop, skip, jump and other large motor skills.
Give your child opportunities to sort, count and match items in the house. Let him help match socks in the laundry, count the number of settings at the table, etc.
Help your child learn to follow rules by playing simple games in a small group.
Listen to your child. Ask and answer questions. Be honest with your child.
Be understanding of your child's fears and anxieties. Reassure your child's safety and give lots of comfort.
Give your child praise for good deeds and accomplishments. Be specific (e.g. "You did a great job putting the toys away!").
Provide a place for your child to be alone and have privacy.
Help your child to express feelings with "I" messages (e.g. "I feel angry", "I feel sad", etc.).

Cognitive Development

Has a rapidly expanding vocabulary (approximately 2000 words)
Knows full name, address and age
Can order events (before and after)
Loves to learn
Knows basic colors
Can repeat stories and likes to tell stories
Can usually separate fact from fantasy

Social and Emotional Development

Has a basic sense of right and wrong
Cooperates and takes turns, but doesn't always like to
Protects younger siblings
Invents games with simple rules
Can be bossy
Understands when he/she is being praised or punished

What To Expect: Off to Kindergarten

The transition from child care to kindergarten can be scary for children. Entering a new school with unfamiliar faces can produce terror and clinging in a youngster who was happy and independent in child care.

"Separation anxiety" is normal for children at this age, just as it is for toddlers. Some signs of stress include changes in sleeping and eating habits, being unusually quiet, and clinging when it is time for you to leave. These signs normally disappear after your child has been in school a few weeks.

Tips to Make the Adjustment Easier

Prepare your child for the transition - Talk to your child about the changes that will take place.
Give a lot of attention to your child.
Reassure your child that learning new things and going to school is fun. Be positive about school. Be sure your child understands there will be friends and fun at school. Talk about your own school days.
Visit the school before classes start so your child can see where he/she will be going.
Listen to your child-- Be there to answer questions and ask about the school day. What did your child do and learn and like about school today? Be interested. Display school work where people can see it. Praise accomplishments.
Become involved with parent groups at school.
Maintain a routine schedule-- Be sure your child has a regular bedtime and is well- rested for school. Nutritious meals, regular medical checkups and daily physical activity will help to keep your child healthy and ready to succeed in school.

Toys

board games, card games
puzzles
blocks, building sets
play dough
scissors, glue, paint, crayons, markers
books
dress-up clothes and props
bicycle, swing set


DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

Principle 1

The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.

Principle 2

The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.

Principle 3

The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.

Principle 4

The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.

Principle 5

The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.

Principle 6

The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother.

Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.

Principle 7

The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.

The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.

The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.

Principle 8

The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.

Principle 9

The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.

The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.

Principle 10

The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.


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