Connection Leads To Independence

I recently read this article and it made so much sense.  So many times our children act up because they are feeling disconnected from us.  In this technological age, we are usually attached to a screen most of the day.  Sadly, this is disconnecting us from each other more often than not.

A few of my friends have grown children who have moved out.  They truly enjoy being with their children and always made time for them.  I also know of grown children who are not doing as well because they were harshly parented and they knew the parents didn’t always want to deal with them.

Starting at birth, children are extremely sensitive to our vibes.  They know if you don’t want to be with them.  I have observed many times that children who have parents who do their best to remain connected with their children and truly want to be with the children have more independent children.

Why?  Because when children get their fill of our love and attention, they are free to enjoy times when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with them.  They know that if they need us, we’ll be there.

The Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Approach recommends starting this deep connection at birth.  Infants require so much care that we should be using this time to really connect with them instead of rushing through daily care activities.  This means being fully present with the infant during changing diapers and clothes, feedings, bathing, and nap time and bedtime routines.  When we are fully present, we are making deep connections with the child that fill their social-emotional needs.  Then they can do brief sessions of independent play more easily.

As infants become toddlers and preschoolers, many outbursts and meltdowns have their roots based upon feeling connected with us.  Spending at least 15 minutes twice a day one-on-one with the child can help fill his/her connection bucket.  And in situations where we can’t be fully present with them, doing simple things such as making eye contact, smiling at them, touching them, nodding to acknowledge them can make a huge difference in their behavior.

I know pro-spankers and other people who believe in harsh parenting will ask, “Doesn’t this make them more clingy?”  What these people fail to understand is that forcing children to be independent before they are ready is what makes them “clingy.”  Sure, you can spank/hit them to teach them not to “bug” you when you don’t want them to, but you’re actually breaking connection which usually backfires.  Even if they don’t bother you, they will do things that are wrong just to get attention from someone.

Then when they are adults, they may have trouble with their relationships.  If they’re never taught how to truly connect with others then it will hurt them throughout their lives.

I love parents who are able to be there for their children even when they are socializing with adults.  For example, at a party I witnessed a mother who was fully engaged with her adult friends but the minute she thought she heard a child say, “Mom,” she paused to see if the children were in need.  The children played with each other as well as came in with the adults without being rude.  They didn’t interrupt.  They were very respectful.

 I think part of the “problem” with “today’s children” is that they are not getting the connection they need.  Then they get punished for acting up.  We need to put down the screens and the demands of life and do our best to connect with our children.

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Compassion Matters!

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The other night I posted a post called ALL LIVES MATTER!  Imagine my horror and frustration when I find out on Facebook A.K.A “Hatebook” that some white supremacist groups have taken over the “all lives matter” phrase and it is seen as racist.

First, I’m truly sorry that evil groups have hijacked something that is so true.  I thought I was clear that I condemn both the two police brutality cases in which two black men were murdered for no good reason AND the cop killing!

Sadly, extremely sadly, it seems that context no longer matters. Just because hateful people misuse a phrase does not mean that someone like me who had no idea about this is using it to be hateful.  When I say “all lives matter,” or now, “every life matters,” I truly mean just that!

I don’t mind if you’re one of the following:

“American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. Terms such as “Haitian” or “Negro” can be used in addition to “Black or African American.”
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

Ethnicity Categories
Hispanic or Latino: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race. The term, “Spanish origin”, can be used in addition to “Hispanic or Latino”.
Not Hispanic or Latino” (http://www.iowadatacenter.org/aboutdata/raceclassification).

Your life matters!  You matter if you’re gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.  You matter if you’re physically disabled, mentally disabled, or both.  You matter if you’re a baby in the womb or an elderly person.

You matter if you’re a woman or a man.  You matter if you’re a Jew, Christian, Muslium, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic or any other religion.

You know what is truly unfortunate?  My post the other night focused more on how to stop violence and racism and bigotry, but due to a phrase that I unknowingly used, instead of people thinking of ways to stop the hate, they are arguing over the phrase!  They are arguing that cops don’t deserve respect because of a few bad ones who did wrongly by murdering two black men that were not doing anything to warrant being shot!

Right now, as you argue about this, children of all races and ethnicities are being left to cry-it-out, spanked/hit, taught that they don’t matter, being murdered in the womb, being murdered by evil people, and being harshly punished.

Right now, as you argue about whose lives matter most at the moment, a child dies of cancer, hunger, illnesses that can be prevented with modern medicine, and infection. Children are being raped, forced to do hard labor, forced to get married to older people, sold into sex slavery, murdered and/or beaten for being gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or queer.

Right now, as you argue that black lives matter, a child is being abused or murdered because he/she is disabled.  Children are murdered because they are the wrong race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

Right now, as you argue about what is loving, children are losing parents due to hate. Cops are parents.  Blacks are parents, Hispanics are parents. Native Americans are parents.  Asians are parents.  Whites are parents.  Homosexuals are parents.  Jews are parents. Musliums are parents.  People with disabilities are parents.

Go ahead.  Waste time arguing.  Ignore the hate you are perpetuating by insisting that one group is more important than the other because they are oppressed.  Go ahead and use other hurtful words to other groups of people such as “retard,” “fucktard,” “spaz,” “handicapped,” “slow,” “cripple,” “incapacitated,” “invalid,” and “disabled people.”

I hear these regularly, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  We are discriminated against in small and big ways, but I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”  I have a Master’s Degree but can’t seem to get my career off the ground, and yet, I don’t scream, “People with disabilities lives matter.”

Look, Black people have been treated horribly throughout history. Racism is alive and well.  But that doesn’t make you better than the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Jews who are still murdered today.  Or other groups who are regularly murdered for being who they are.

And, I’m sorry but a black man shooting white cops is just as racist as a white cop shooting a black man for no good reason!

We, unfortunately, have many, many oppressed groups, children included. How about we stop the arguing, hate, side taking, approval of violence against whoever we’re currently angry at, and work together to make this a better place?  That begins with valuing all human life from conception on!

Get off Hatebook and start showing love to all!!!  Because in the end, COMPASSION is what truly matters!

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NASB).

My husband and I enjoy Reggae music.  We heard this song Heaven Help Us All by Luciano and were brought to tears. It is exactly the message I am trying to get across. Take a listen.

ALL LIVES MATTER!

With regards to what’s been happening in this world lately. I am broken-hearted over the two cop brutality cases. Shooting in a car with a 4-year–old in the backseat is SICK!  I cried over both cases.  It is clear that both were brutality cases.

That being said, I cried over the cops who were murdered and injured FOR NO REASON!  Yeah, there are always bad cops but the majority of them are GOOD and risk their lives to protect us!  Don’t take it out on them!

FINALLY, peace begins at HOME! Stop spanking and punishing children!  There’s an epidemic of corporal punishment in the black community in combination with the fact that they don’t have dads around and usually live in poverty.  See Beating Black Kids for more info.  Teaching all children empathy and respect through respectful parenting would do A LOT to stop violence!  Also, stopping them from playing violent video games and watching violent stuff would also help to stop violence as children get desensitized to the violence.

And social media seems to desensitized us because we’re behind screens and feel a sense of anonymity.

This ISN’T a Democratic or Republican issue. This isn’t a gun issue!  This is a HUMAN issue and we need to come together to fix it.  ALL LIVES MATTER!!

Please see my follow-up to this post here.

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What Is REALLY Wrong With Today’s Youth?

Believe it or not, every generation complains about “today’s youth” being “out of control.”  But, what drives me nuts about this is that many people claim that the reason children are “out of control” is due to a lack of spanking/hitting children.

The reality is that between 70-90% of parents still admit to spanking/hitting their children. Obviously, corporal punishment isn’t helping at all. And since there are a huge array of harmful effects of corporal punishment, it will never help children to be more respectful.

I believe that in addition to children being treated harshly there is another huge reason why today’s society and youth seem so disconnected. Technology!

Yes, I said it, technology is one of the reasons why our society is so disconnected.  The very thing that is supposed to keep us more connected is actually tearing apart human interaction.  Go to any public place and observe the people.  I can guarantee that the majority of the people are looking down at a screen instead of interacting with each other.  Couples at a restruarant text or update their Facebook statuses instead of talking to each other.

What is even sadder is that I recently heard on the radio that children are getting hurt more often at playgrounds because their parents are too busy staring at their phones to even hear their children calling for help.

Here is an interesting study from an Exchange Everyday email:

“‘A new Chinese ad campaign illustrates the way smartphones can affect family life and relationship,’ reports The Huffington Post “Titled Phone Wall,” the campaign by Ogilvy & Mather China is a literal representation of the barriers to human relationships that screen addiction creates.’

Juggi Ramakrishnan, Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai, told The Huffington Post, ‘We want people to see [these ads] and rethink their relationships with others and their phone in a different light. This is a definite pressure point that Chinese society is facing on its path of rapid development.’

‘This pervasiveness has the potential to be especially detrimental to families with kids,’ says Ramakrishnan. ‘There is an alarming trend of parents ignoring their children of all ages, paying more attention to their phones and tablets than their immediate surroundings. Consequently, children may feel they aren’t getting the attention they need…. Addiction to mobile devices can put a strain on romantic relationships as well, as partners may become less responsive to each other’s feelings and have fewer meaningful interactions.'”

This addiction to technology starts way too young in this society.  There are now bouncy seats for infants that hold iPads for the infant.  I’m sorry but as an early childhood professional, this really disturbs me.  Infants and young children need lots of human interaction as well as using real toys such as balls, blocks, plastic dishes, dolls, trucks, cars, musical toys, push toys.  Manipulating concrete items and having real experiences are absolutely crucial to healthy development.  By giving an infant an iPad, the infant is going to be more interested in the iPad as a whole because their brains don’t truly understand what’s actually happening on the screen.  Too much screen time can actually hinder development.  A toddler should be able to do a range of fine motor activities, not just swipe on an iPad or phone!

Also, infants absorb and are affected by everything in their environments. It’s much better for a baby’s brain development to have music playing in the background rather than a TV.  Another thing is that we are almost constantly exposed to violence thanks to the media. This is desensitizing us to violence and so many other disturbing things.  Besides sex, violence is a common theme in our movies, television shows, music, and videogames. Plus, the news is constantly reporting acts of violence. We are so much more aware of violence whereas prior to when media was so prevalent people were not as exposed to or aware of the violence that was occurring and they could shelter themselves and their children from it because there was no television or Internet.

Children didn’t watch cartoons or play videogames filled with violent images like they do today. Because so many parents have to work full-time in order to survive today, children are being left alone with all this access to violent media with little guidance from busy, stressed out parents. Research shows that all of this exposure to violence is desensitizing children and adults to violence. Greven (1992), page 129, states:

“Research has demonstrated that television must be considered one of the major socializers of children’s aggressive behavior. Two major behavioral effects of heavy viewing of televised violence are: (1) an increase in children’s level of aggression; and (2) an increase in children’s passive acceptance of the use of aggression by others. Both aggression and apathy thus are intensified by an immersion in television violence although the roots of both undoubtedly are to be found in the life histories of punishment and abuse of those who view such violence with either indifference or enthusiasm.”

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All this being said, I do understand that there is a time and a place for technology. If a parent or relative is far away, using Skype or FaceTime to help them see the child is perfectly fine. And once children become preschoolers, it’s ok to slowly introduce them to technology.

It’s just important to naturally limit technology by having plenty of other activities for children to do. This way, too, by not putting much focus on technology, we can avoid power struggles when it’s time for them to put it away.  Always allow children to finish the game they’re playing or show/movie they’re watching before having them move on. I love this article by Janet Lansbury regarding introducing and limiting technology with toddlers.  We need to be present while our children are using technology to protect them from all the evil things and people lurking on the Internet.

And, of course, technology is a must for children with special needs/disabilities. With my severe cerebral palsy, technology allows me to write and communicate with others whereas I otherwise would be unable to do so.  Amateur radio is another great use of technology. It allows people to talk to each other over the airways.

In sum, technology definitely has valid uses. However, we need to stop allowing it to consume our lives.  We need to be totally present with our children and intentionally interact with them throughout the day. Children should not have to compete with technology for our attention. Technology cannot substitute actual parenting. Nor is it fair to only interact with our children to spank/hit or otherwise punish them.

Do you want children to be kind, empathetic, and not self-entitled?  Put down your phones, tablets, laptops, and other consumer electronics and model how to interact with people. Talk with your children. Let them see you actually watching them play.  Stop spanking/hitting them and discipline (teach and guide) them.  If you are a Christian, make Jesus the focus of your home rather than technology.

Reference:

Greven, P. (1992). Spare the Child. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

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