From this article:
Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say
By Alvin Powell
America's "let them cry" attitude toward children may lead to
fears and tears among adults, according to two Harvard Medical School
Instead of letting infants cry, American parents should keep
babies close, console them when they cry, and bring them to bed with
where they'll feel safe, according to Michael L. Commons and Patrice M.
Miller, researchers at the Medical School's Department of Psychiatry.
ATTACHMENT PARENTING EXTENDED
La Leche League is many people's first intro to attachment parenting, and that has led many people to unschooling. The problem is generally that once a child reaches "school age," parents can justify dropping the attachment parenting idea entirely. Some drop it when the baby weans. The principles, though, are as true of three year olds and six year olds as they are of infants. And once a child and parent have a close and solid relationship, why dissolve that unless it's unavoidable?
Links on SandraDodd.com to connect with these thoughts:
Notes from a presentation on attachment parenting in November 2011
About bedtimes and sleep
Eating "on demand" ends when?
Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life
Creating a Nurturing Unschooling Environment
Saying "Yes" to Children
Toddlers, and other siblings
the idea of "spoiled" children
Raising a Respected Child
Precisely How to Unschool
From The Big Book of Unschooling, page 57:
As no infant is required to be in school, this isn't strictly about unschooling, but there are families in which the desire to unschool comes before the pregnancy or adoption, and so it's worth pointing out a few things.
La Leche League is many people's first intro to attachment parenting, and that has led many people to unschooling. The problem is generally that once a child reaches "school age," parents can justify dropping the attachment parenting idea entirely. Some drop it when the baby weans. The principles, though, are as true of three-year-olds and six-year-olds as they are of infants. And once a child and parent have a close and solid relationship, why dissolve that unless it's unavoidable?
Attachment parenting isn't "an unschooling concept," but it is something many unschoolers consider, although some come to it late. You can find more with a web search or asking at the library. There is an organization separate from La Leche League now, with a magazine and a great deal of literature.
Basically, they advocate holding babies as much as the babies want, letting them be with adults day and night, gently, and sweetly. If people can breastfeed they should do that instead of bottlefeeding. If people can sleep with the baby, they shouldn't use a crib.
From a learning standpoint, when babies are carried they see more, they hear and smell more. If they are given things to touch and taste besides just a few baby toys left in the corner of a crib or playpen, they will learn by leaps and bounds. They will spend less time crying and more time being in the real world.
The parents will know the child better, and the child will know the parents better. They will be building a partnership based on trust.
The pair examined childrearing practices here and in other
and say the widespread American practice of putting babies in separate
beds -- even separate rooms -- and not responding quickly to their cries
lead to incidents of post-traumatic stress and panic disorders when
children reach adulthood.
The early stress resulting from separation causes changes in
brains that makes future adults more susceptible to stress in their
say Commons and Miller.
"Parents should recognize that having their babies cry
harms the baby permanently," Commons said. "It changes the nervous
they're overly sensitive to future trauma."
The Harvard researchers' work is unique because it takes a
cross-disciplinary approach, examining brain function, emotional
infants, and cultural differences, according to Charles R. Figley,
of the Traumatology Institute at Florida State University and editor of
Journal of Traumatology.
"It is very unusual but extremely important to find this kind of
interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research report," Figley said.
accounts for cross-cultural differences in children's emotional response
their ability to cope with stress, including traumatic stress."
Figley said Commons and Miller's work illuminates a route of
study and could have implications for everything from parents' efforts
intellectually stimulate infants to practices such as circumcision.
Commons has been a lecturer and research associate at the
School's Department of Psychiatry since 1987 and is a member of the
Department's Program in Psychiatry and the Law.
Miller has been a research associate at the School's Program in
Psychiatry and the Law since 1994 and an assistant professor of
at Salem State College since 1993. She received master's and doctorate
degrees in human development from the Graduate School of Education.
The pair say that American childrearing practices are influenced
fears that children will grow up dependent. But they say that parents
the wrong track: physical contact and reassurance will make children
secure and better able to form adult relationships when they finally
out on their own.
"We've stressed independence so much that it's having some very
negative side effects," Miller said.
The two gained the spotlight in February when they presented
ideas at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's
meeting in Philadelphia.
Commons and Miller, using data Miller had worked on that was
compiled by Robert A. LeVine, Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education
Human Development, contrasted American childrearing practices with those
other cultures, particularly the Gusii people of Kenya. Gusii mothers
with their babies and respond rapidly when the baby cries.
"Gusii mothers watching videotapes of U.S. mothers were upset by
long it took these mothers to respond to infant crying," Commons and
said in their paper on the subject.
The way we are brought up colors our entire society, Commons and
Miller say. Americans in general don't like to be touched and pride
themselves on independence to the point of isolation, even when
difficult or stressful time.
Despite the conventional wisdom that babies should learn to be
alone, Miller said she believes many parents "cheat," keeping the baby
the room with them, at least initially. In addition, once the child can
crawl around, she believes many find their way into their parents' room
American parents shouldn't worry about this behavior or be
baby their babies, Commons and Miller said. Parents should feel free to
sleep with their infant children, to keep their toddlers nearby, perhaps
a mattress in the same room, and to comfort a baby when it cries.
"There are ways to grow up and be independent without putting
through this trauma," Commons said. "My advice is to keep the kids
they can grow up and take some risks."
Besides fears of dependence, the pair said other factors have
form our childrearing practices, including fears that children would
interfere with sex if they shared their parents' room and doctors'
that a baby would be injured by a parent rolling on it if the parent and
baby shared the bed. Additionally, the nation's growing wealth has
the trend toward separation by giving families the means to buy larger
with separate rooms for children.
The result, Commons and Miller said, is a nation that doesn't
caring for its own children, a violent nation marked by loose,
"I think there's a real resistance in this culture to caring for
children," Commons said. But "punishment and abandonment has never been
good way to get warm, caring, independent people."
April 09, 1998
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