Here’s a good article on training our children. I think this is a very important concept that has been lost among today’s busy young families.
It’s interesting – I am a big believer of things like on-demand breastfeeding and attachment parenting. I think we can’t love our kids too much and we can’t hold them too much. I think newborns NEED bodies and arms and breasts and voices and faces in order to thrive. They are sponges, soaking up every sensation that comes their way, and their busy little brains are categorizing and applying it all like crazy.
I think babies know instinctually how much to eat, and how much sucking they need to do, and how much holding and communication they need. I think they need warm bodies with them at night. I think we should watch them for signs of being ready for solid food (sitting up well, watching you eat, reaching for your food), and let them have some input into when to wean.
So how and when does this “baby-led or baby-centered” philosophy give way to setting the rules and teaching the kids that they have to fit into OUR world?
Well… let’s think about it. It starts almost immediately when the nurses and doctors want to exam and poke baby after birth. When you go home from the hospital. That car seat is mandatory. When mom goes back to work and baby is taken from bed, put into the car seat and dropped off at day care. When it’s bath time and bed time.
All of these things teach the baby that he’s on your schedule, even if you’re squeezing on-demand feeding into the picture.
Just build on that as baby grows. Day care means your baby has to learn social skills and parents must teach them to treat others right. How to take turns. How to share. It’s important to know that kids must grow into these skills. A six month baby is not capable of sharing, but a two-year-old is. Learn about child development, then watch YOUR child to know when he’s ready to learn the skill. Appropriate ages for skills are going to vary from child to child, but most kids will follow the general age.
And remember – the baby who never had to wait an hour to eat because of some arbitrary schedule – that baby may easily learn to treat others with respect. It’s the baby who had to scream and fight for basic needs who might turn into the bully.