Blogger Bunmi Laditan sent her 10-year-old’s school a clear message.
“Hello Maya’s teachers,
Maya will be drastically reducing the amount of homework she does this year. She’s been very stressed and is starting to have physical symptoms such as chest pain and waking up at 4 a.m. worrying about her school workload.
She’s not behind academically and very much enjoys school. We consulted with a tutor and a therapist suggested we lighten her workload. Doing 2-3 hours of homework after getting home at 4:30 is leaving little time for her to just be a child and enjoy family time and we’d like to avoid her sinking into a depression over this.”
Infants do not cry to upset you. They don’t have a concept of hurting others and they don’t have any reason to want to do so.
Infants do not have any other way of communicating distress or an unmet need. They do not have a choice about crying.
Do not ever yell at, shake, or punish an infant. They will not learn from this – but they will be upset and afraid and possibly harmed, either in the moment or via problems in brain development.
It’s okay to take a minute to set an infant down and go into a
quiet room if you are having a hard time staying calm and comforting,
and come back when you have more self-control.
The only way to get an infant to cry less is to meet their needs. If
you spend a lot of time with infants you can actually learn to notice
when they need something, before they cry about it at all. Most infants
show signs of discomfort, hunger, or having a full/wet diaper, before
they get upset enough to cry.
Infants whose needs aren’t
usually met right away may learn to cry immediately. Regularly not
responding to an infant’s crying teaches the infant to panic every time
they need something, and the trauma of being so afraid so often as an
infant can cause issues with healthy brain develoment.
If a baby is crying, they need something.
Is their nappy/diaper clean and dry? Even if it’s just wet, it should be changed right away.
Are they hungry? A quick way to check is to run your finger over their mouth and see if they try to grab it with their lips.
Do they have air bubbles? You may be able to tell if this is the problem by feeling the infant’s tummy for unusual firmness.
Infants need to be burped right after they eat to help them get
rid of air bubbles that may get trapped and cause discomfort. If it’s
been little while since they last ate, it may be more effective to lay
the infant on their back and move their legs in a bicycle motion.
Are they too warm/cold? Touch the infant’s hands and feet to see if they need more or fewer coverings.
Are they overstimulated?
If it’s too noisy/bright or they’re being touched by too any people,
etc., they may need to be held by one calm person with a blanket over
their head. Like most people, infants tend to get more easily
overstimulated when tired.
Are they able to breathe freely? Infants cannot blow their own nose. A nasal aspirator is an inexpensive tool you can use to help them clear nasal congestion.
Are they in pain? When
an infant is sick or otherwise in pain, it may be beneficial to give
them pain medication formulated for infants, such as baby tylenol.
Always follow the instructions on the bottle and consult a doctor or
pharmacist with any questions.
If a cold doesn’t start to improve within a few days or the infant seems to be in pain but you don’t know why, consult a doctor. The infant may have colic, silent reflux or other issues which can sometimes be treated.
If the infant is more than a couple months old, they may be teething. Baby tylenol will still help but a numbing paste, like orajel, on their gums may be more effective. They may also need teething toys to chew on or a cold wet (clean) washcloth.
Do they just need reassurance? Infants like being sung to, murmured to, and soothed with rhythmic “shhh”-ing. Calm and steady sounds help reassure them that they aren’t alone and help them relax.
Another way to comfort an infant is to bounce them gently and rhythmically in your arms, and/or pat their back rhythmically.
Some infants, including most newborns, may need to be swaddled. A tight swaddle helps the infant feel secure and warm. Ask a doctor, nurse, parent, or YouTube to show you how to do a proper swaddle.
Do they need to be held? The
need for touch is the need most often ignored. Infants are significantly
more likely to thrive with lots and lots of skin-to-skin contact. They
also just need to be held, in general, a lot of the time.
held (especially with skin to skin contact but even without it) helps
the infant release hormones necessary for healthy brain
development. Being close enough to feel an adult’s steady heartbeat is
calming and beneficial for an infant.
For these reasons and many
others, infants need to be held - a lot. Our closest primate relatives
maintain constant physical contact with their babies for the first year
of life. Historically most humans have lived communally, which allows several people to take turns providing the necessary physical contact.
Infants don’t need to be held every single moment, but the more they are held, the safer and more secure they’ll feel and the more likely they are to be healthy. A sling, baby wrap, or wearable infant carrier can help an infant get necessary contact time.
If an infant needs contact to sleep, consider getting a cosleeper cushion to safely allow you or someone else to sleep next to the infant. If that isn’t possible, sleep training where you pick up and comfort the baby each time they cry, and then put them down slightly sooner each time that night, may help.
Do not let an infant cry and cry for help and not give it to them.
“When I ask you if you want to do something, you know it’s always okay to say no, right?”
“Let me know if you get uncomfortable, okay?”
“How do you feel about (x activity)?”
(When someone’s insecure about having said no and asks if it’s okay/if you’re mad or upset they said no) “I’m disappointed, of course, but I’m really glad you were willing to tell me (no/that you were uncomfortable/etc.). That’s really important to me. Thank you.”
“I’d ALWAYS rather be told no than make you feel pressured or do anything to hurt you or make you uncomfortable.”
“I care about you, so when something I do hurts you or makes you uncomfortable, I want to know, because I don’t like making you feel bad.”
“Wanna do (x)? It’s okay if not, but I think it would be (fun/worthwhile/prudent).”
(When starting a social phone call): “Hey, are you busy right now?”
(When confirming plans made earlier): “Hey, are you still up for doing (x) at (time) on (day)?”
“Can I vent a little about (x)?”
“Can I tell you something (gross/depressing)?”
“Are you comfortable talking about it?”
“Do you think you could talk me through this problem I’ve been having? If you have the time and emotional energy of course.”
“It’s okay if that doesn’t work for you.”
“I’m interested in spending more time with you. Would you be interested in doing (x) together on (y day)?”
“No? Well let me know if you ever want to do something else.” (leave it open! don’t nag! let it go!)
Consent culture - it’s about way more than just sex!
Givepeople as much freedom as possible to make their own choices without pressure or control.
Even children deserve as much autonomy as allows them to remain safe and get their needs met - remember, you can’t train a child to make good/safe/healthy choices without ever giving them choices. A child who is taught to respect consent is a child who doesn’t assault people! A child who knows they have a right to say no is a child who knows that someone who infringes on their autonomy isn’t supposed to do that.
A consent-conscious relationship is a healthier and safer relationship, and a person who is aware of and deliberate about asking for, giving, receiving, refusing, and being refused consent is a healthier and safer person.
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
Honestly parents should start teaching their kids about consent and boundaries and how to cope with rejection very early on. If children were raised with a fundamental understanding of these things and viewed them as an unarguable reality of human interaction the world would be a very different place.