Jessica Stebbins, MS, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Discovery Institute, P.A. Rockledge, FL
321-631-5538 Serving Brevard County
I heard a story recently where a new mother was visiting with her friend and ignored the cries of her newborn. The friend was surprised about the mother’s inaction and stated that it was alright, she would wait while the mom tended to her newborn. The mother’s response: That’s okay, we were told we should allow our baby to cry in order to show her that we are the ones in charge. You bet that shocked the friend, and it sure appalled me when I heard this.
It seems as though in today’s society some people are so afraid of spoiling their children that they actually create bigger problems. Our goal as parents should be to raise our children to be well adjusted, secure, intelligent individuals. In order to do so, we need to give them a solid foundation when they are infants.
Although it may seem as though there is not a whole lot going on with babies in their first year of life, this is actually a time of rapid growth and learning. A baby’s brain is developing at enormous speeds and they are able to process more than we realize. The more love and attention you give your baby, the more baby is stimulated, and the stronger the connections within the brain. This is precisely what is needed for baby to reach his/her highest brain power potential.
In addition to affecting brain growth, the way in which parents respond to their baby’s needs determines how free they feel to explore their environment. It has been found that there are four different styles of attachment that can develop in children based on their relationship with their primary caregiver(s): secure, anxious-avoidant, anxious-ambivalent, and disorganized. Which style a child develops is largely based on their caregiver’s treatment of the child. When a parent consistently meets the needs of a child, the child learns to trust in the caregiver and feels secure in being able to explore their environment, which helps them to learn more about the world around them.
The type of attachment a child develops with their caregiver becomes a prototype for the way they will engage with others throughout life. The child who develops a secure attachment learns that they can trust others without needing them. They are able to find other people who are well adjusted and create and maintain healthy relationships with them. In addition, parents are not likely to change their parenting habits, so if the parent learns to listen to their child early on, the child will follow suit and be more likely to listen to the parent as the child gets older.
The foundation for all of this is set in baby’s first year of life by responding to their cries and attending to their needs. Of course development is ongoing and other life events can and will influence a child’s development, but why not give your baby the start they need by simply showing them how much you love them!
If you are in the Central Brevard County area and looking for a therapist/counselor, please contact me to learn more about my services offered.