Your baby has arrived and suddenly, you are looking into the eyes of a total stranger. You love this little being with all your heart and soul but you don’t know him or her at all.
This little creature looks up at you with worshiping adoration and your first thought is “Oh my God. I hope I don’t screw this up”.
You are overly conscious of the fact that you only get one chance to create a close and loving bond between you and this miracle, to do everything to give him his best chance at life. Unfortunately, he came with no instruction manual.
How do you avoid emotionally crippling the one you love most in the world?
Check out these parenting tips that can help you understand your children better.
1They are not animals
From the moment they are born, these little ones are watching, figuring and acting.
From making their tiny fingers curl around a bottle to keeping their little hands from hitting themselves in the eye, they must work out and practice.
No one is teaching them. They are teaching themselves.
When my son was 2 weeks old, I had him in his bouncy chair. I watched as he twirled his little foot in a circle to get the chair to bounce gently back and forth.
I held his foot lightly to stop the chair from rocking and then let it go. He did it again. He knew what he was doing and had worked out how to do it.
According to his doctor, he was not supposed to be thinking and working things out at that age. But as I observed my little man closely, I could see- without a doubt- that he was.
His doctor wasn’t looking at the little person in front of him when he made this statement but at a category called “babies”.
Categories are for things, not people. Don’t make that mistake.
Watch your little person, you will see ample evidence of an active little mind working overtime.
2The birth process is brutally painful and confusing for them
Babies are thrust into the birth process with no advance warning. You have had nine months and possibly more to fully prepare yourself, your family, the house and everyone around you for the big day.
This little passenger has not.
He has been in a state of suspended animation that ends abruptly in a cold, bright delivery room with people yelling “PUSH!”. And there’s a strange man grabbing him as he slithers out.
Your baby’s head has been squeezed hard. The medical procedures are painful and everything is in a confusing state.
He is confused to the point that he is the total effect of everything that is happening to him and he is overwhelmed.
The process is such an ordeal that it takes him months to recover.
So, be calm and quiet around your baby. Hold him, rock him and talk gently to him.
Any loud or angry words around him will upset him and make the adjustment difficult or even impossible.
3They have no idea of the sensations they’re perceiving
The lights are way too bright for his brand new eyes. The room is cold and your baby is wet and uncomfortable.
He has a fierce headache and there are strange smells. People are talking and making noises and there are movements back and forth.
If you have trouble relating, think how you might feel if you woke up wet and naked in a foreign country and the people around you suddenly started running and yelling. This is the state of a newborn baby.
Your understanding, compassion, and help will feel as if a kind stranger took your arm, covered you to keep you warm and led you to a safe place.
4They depend on you completely
Your baby knows too well that he cannot make it out in the world alone. He has no capability to survive and would not know how to if he did.
Your slight frown can make him anxious. He knows that if he displeases you enough, you may decide to leave him. Although you know you never would, he still doesn’t know that.
He also doesn’t know that someday, he will grow up and be independent. He may think he will be little and totally dependent forever.
With this, your slight disappointment can translate to abandonment to him.
5They don’t know the laws of the physical universe
Babies are completely new to this planet. They don’t understand things like gravity.
Yesterday, he dropped an apple or saw you drop one and it fell to the ground. So, how come when he let the balloon string slide from his grasp, the balloon went up?
He is upset. He has lost one of the very few possessions he feels was really his because the universe played a nasty trick on him.
If he lets his balloon go or falls or runs into a wall, don’t ridicule, laugh or yell. Just understand that he didn’t know what was going to happen.
Help him recover from his upset state and just get him a new freaking balloon.
6Their bodies are changing so fast that they can’t keep up
Have you seen how fast babies grow?
If you want to see an example, go to the store and look at the clothes for babies at three months, six months and nine months. The size difference is huge.
Meanwhile, your baby continues to figure out all the zillion things his little body can do and how to do them.
As he grows, he tries to stand.
And let’s face it, baby bodies are not designed with any faintest idea of function in mind.
Their heads are HUGE. They try to stand up and their heads pull them down fast and hard.
Can you imagine trying to walk with a 20-pound pumpkin on your head?
When you look at all of the tiny adjustments he has to make with his little body to make it crawl, stand and walk, you have to admit that it is mastery in physics.
It is the same process that produces a classical ballet dancer or an Olympic gymnast, except that every day his body is different, so the adjustments start all over again.
If he gets cranky, give him a break. He might have sore muscles or is extremely tired because he has been working all day on strengthening and perfecting the use of his growing body.
If he stumbles, he needs your understanding, care, and strong hands ready to stabilize him.
Anyone who has been grabbed by a kind stranger before they hit the ground knows how important that can be.
7They are super frustrated that they can’t communicate effectively
Communication is the most important thing we have in life. People in seclusion wither and die. Your child knows he cannot communicate and it is frustrating.
When I was 17, my family moved to Brussels for a year. I went to an all girl’s school and was taught in French, which I didn’t know. I cried all the time and I had never felt so lonely.
My schoolmates tried to help me but it wasn’t until I learned French that my depression ended.
Your baby is no different. She has so many questions and observations that she can’t tell you. It is upsetting her because you are the one she wants to communicate with.
She wants to ask you questions, tell you about the bird she sees and get you to look at the sky. Her world is just beginning and opening up in all its wonders and she has no one to share it with.
Watch your little person and try to tune in to what she is trying to tell you. Even if you don’t fully understand, you can at least acknowledge that she has spoken. That way, she’ll realize that she is not invisible and that she is worth to be acknowledged.
8They are way smarter and more perceptive than you think
Babies understand by perceiving. They tune in to our emotional vibrations.
Have you noticed that when you are upset, even if you don’t show it, he is tense and unhappy?
Babies are like little perception sponges. They absorb your feelings and reflect them. Your unhappiness, anxiety, and worry affect him.
If you can, put your troubles aside when you are near him. Focus on the two of you. It will make you both a lot happier.
9They are always doing their best to please you
Despite the difficult birth process and despite the inability to communicate, there is one thing that your baby knows- he loves you unconditionally.
You are his world. Every effort he makes is to please you.
When he feels that he was able to please you, he feels like he succeeded. So, validate his attempts to help you even if his help is more work for you.
As he gets better, his help will be more effective. Let him have his time and he’ll work it out.
10Love them for who they are
Babies are individuals. They are not categories, personality types or animations.
Some of the labels applied to children are frankly abusive.
The idea that they are all one group of mindless beings that have to be forced into good behavior is outdated and leads to misunderstanding.
These categories and labels have been invented by “scientists” who cannot understand any human being, much less a baby.
A baby is basically a tiny creature who has arrived on earth through a weird and upsetting process. He is thrust into this life with people he doesn’t know, places he has never been and rules and a culture he has never experienced.
Each one has his or her own ideas, viewpoints and goals. Understand this and let them move on with care and guidance from you.
Helping your little man or lady grow into the fine person he or she wants to be is all about understanding and having the right approach.
You love each other and you both have the same goal.
The relief they feel in knowing that they are understood is the difference between living in a calm and secure environment and living in a hostile one.
Remember the relief you felt when you left a bitter and hostile school or work environment and found one that was safe?
Their relief is the same.
And armed with this knowledge, you can make both of your lives easier and happier. You’ll be able to build a bond that can never be broken.