Pearls of Wisdom: Emotional Bonding Part 2- The Toddler Years

shutterstock_113693497Social and Emotional Development in Toddler Years

I can’t count how many times a mother comes to the office in tears because she feels that she has run out of tricks in her bag to deal with her toddler. Feelings of frustration, bewilderment and guilt come hand in hand with surviving the toddler years.  One of the major dilemmas for parents is how to balance discipline with freedom, and create limits. Parents are left to follow their hearts, gut feelings and of course, their children’s cues to guide them.

Social and emotional development involves three major areas: the home, school/daycare, and the neighborhood. Of all of these, the home is the most influential in a child’s life: it is here that parents and children establish a secure foundation from which to venture forth confidently. The challenges that face a toddler include acceptance of limits while maintaining autonomy. Toddlers learn how to rein in aggressive impulses and interact with a growing circle of playmates and adults. Success in attaining this goal is based on prior emotional development, occasionally using images of trusted adults to give them security in times of adversity or stress.

Many parents find their toddler perplexing and difficult to understand and children of this age have rapid, frequent shifts between clinging dependence and defiant independence; between sophisticated-sounding language and infantile helplessness, and between pure joy and uncontrollable rage. These confusing behaviors can put a toll on the parents’ confidence and patience. Your pediatrician can offer you guidance emphasizing realistic expectations for behavioral and emotional development as well as acknowledging parents’ feelings of guilt, anger and confusion. A lot of moms and dads are hesitant to raise such concerns during their doctor’s visit because they feel embarrassed or assume that this is not an appropriate topic for discussion.

Toddlers, in general, need leadership. They need clear, realistic, firm but gentle guidance as well as praise and support when they are due. Sometimes, the best way to lead is simply to serves as a good example. Watching parents clean up spilled food or, even better, allowing him to help (when old enough) is an effective teaching tool. The old-fashioned message of “do as I say, not as I do,” is being rejected by many modern parents with whom I speak. Modeling the behavior that you hope to elicit from your child is the best way to teach the lesson. And remember that your commitment to establishing order, discipline, and responsibility should be modeled with or without your toddler’s participation. In other words, even before your toddler is old enough to clean up after herself, she will watch YOU creating an environment that is orderly and has limits. Eventually, she will want to mimic this herself.

shutterstock_10029688The first step in emotionally bonding with your toddler is to acknowledge, understand, respect, and meet their needs. Toddlers love to play and experiment and they need their parents’ votes of confidence. For instance, allowing a child to occasionally make a “mess” within acceptable boundaries during playtime allows him to feel worthy as well as trust your leadership and guidance. When limits are set, children respond, not out of fear or because they were  threatened with punishment, but because they want to reciprocate the care and love that’s been given.  Again, there must be a healthy balance between empowering your child by allowing him free expression, and saying” no” when the child wants something that may pose harm to himself and others, or is unhealthy or simply not feasible.  Your toddler can handle accepting the limits of reality as long as he knows that you understand his feelings and love him unconditionally.  Another pearl of wisdom I share with parents is that toddlers are not much different than we are in many respects; after all, what adult doesn’t like to have their feelings acknowledged and accepted, even if they are irrational?

It’s wise for parents to master the art of ”trusting and waiting.”  Try to trust your ability to teach and lead and wait for your children to model your behavior at their own pace. Children respond best to modeling and following leaders as opposed to control. Look at the long-term goal for your child’s sense of self over momentary convenience. Enjoying your toddler for who he is and not what you want him to be is key. Parents have to separate their own emotional needs from what their child feels and needs. Lastly, embrace your child’s uniqueness as well as your own.  Your toddler is his own person with his own motives and individual qualities. Every stage in a child’s life has its own purpose and we simply need to acknowledge and respect their needs fully during every stage, allowing them to mature and move on to the next phase.

*The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the writer.

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Dr. Pearl

 

Dr. Pearl Cenon

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.

Fashion Friday: Mothers (and aunts) of Invention, Pt 1

The old saying would have you believe that necessity is the mother of invention but in fashion, firsthand experiences with hard-to-dress infants and toddlers prove that a maternal instinct is often the golden touch. To celebrate Mother’s Day, the next two weeks we’ll take a look at the “aha” moments mom and aunt inventors experienced and discover how they’ve pioneered the kids’ market with their one-of-a-kind products. By Angela Velasquez

Paisley Baby Girl Jumpsuit

Paisley Baby Girl Jumpsuit

Zopheez

Kerry Newman, board certified pediatrician, mother of three (including twins) and founder of Zopheez isn’t being facetious when she says she likes “mindless” things.  In fact, it’s an interest shared amongst her family and the inspiration for her line of infant and toddler zipper one-pieces. For more than 20 years, the family has passed a child’s jumpsuit with a simple zipper closure bought in Paris down from generation to generation. “It’s threadbare and the print isn’t very nice, but every cousin has owned it because is the absolute easiest thing to put on a small child,” Newman describes.

That jumpsuit became the blueprint for Newman’s unexpected turn into fashion. She stopped doing shift work at the hospital and spent her newly found spare time designing and sewing her kids’ one-of-kind, all-encompassing outfits. “Thank goodness for the Internet. I read up on everything I could find about the fashion industry and went on websites for people who wanted to break into fashion,” Newman says. Living near a thriving garment district in L.A. helped, too, as local experts were eager to come to the rescue. “I met with pattern makers and sewers. I asked a lot of questions. People were incredibly nice and gave me tons of information,” she says, noting that one patient printmaker spent two hours explaining printing processes.

Boy Jumpsuit

Boy Jumpsuit

Zoe Mint Green Tea Kimono

Zoe Mint Green Tea Kimono

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The zipper construction distinguishes the one-pieces from the rest of the baby market, but the line’s signature fun prints and colors allow Newman to key into her crafty side. But not even Newman’s innate creativity can out-step her sensible mommy instincts, as she points out, “The prints also help hide stains, which is especially important for crawlers.”

Myself Belts- Cupcake

Myself Belts- Cupcake

Myself Belts

As if potty training wasn’t a difficult hurdle to clear on its own, Myself Belts co-founder Talia Bahr Goldfarb discovered how traditional belts complicate the process even further when her son’s pants wouldn’t stay on. “We were going somewhere where his sweat pants wouldn’t be appropriate. I look everywhere, but I couldn’t find a belt that he could work on his own. It was hard to watch him struggle because he was so proud of his potty training independence,” she recalls.

Her sister, Danielle Bahr Eason, could not believe a kid-friendly belt did not exist in the market and decided to do something about it. “She was the push,” Bahr Goldfarb says of her sister. “She’s not a mom and had a lot more energy than me,” she laughs. Together, the sisters began to cut up belts and came up with an easy loop design that kids could handle on their own.

“We started the patent process and from there the momentum took us from point A to B and so on,” Barh Goldfarb says. Plenty of lessons of their own were learned along the way. When the company launched in 2004, the first order to China was comprised of 10,000 belts. “It was risky,” Barh Godfarb admits, “but we wanted a big assortment.” The optimistic order paid off. The company has close to 800 retail partners worldwide with distribution in Canada, Australia, Europe and the Philippines.

Whimsy ABC

Whimsy ABC

Big Dot

Big Dot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barh Godfarb’s advice for future mothers of invention: “Go with your gut and do not be led astray. Don’t get swayed by trends because many of the things that appealed to us early on still work. And as someone who didn’t know anything about this business beforehand, I can say that you must be willing to ask questions. There’s so much information out there for you, ready to be absorbed.”

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About the Author:

Angela Velasquez

With 4 years of experience as a children’s stylist and magazine editor, Angela brings you an insider’s perspective on trends and seasonal looks that will make babies and toddlers shine in their holiday photos and at birthday parties!  Angela also has a way of making everyday clothes and accessories look special — she’ll show you how.

Pearls of Wisdom: Emotional Bonding- Part 1: Birth to 12 Months

We hear the term “bonding” so often in modern culture that it’s easy to minimize its importance and impact. But the bond between parents and children is so critical that immediately after delivering a baby, barring complications, a mother will be given some time to spend holding, stroking and looking at her baby. During this sensitive period when the newborn is very alert and responsive, the very first exchanges of touch, eye contact and sounds between a mother will occur; these first interactions are all part of the bonding process.

Many of the basic core emotions you feel for your child will begin during the period right after birth. Watching your baby look back at you, mirroring your facial expressions and following your movements, you will feel a wonderful surge of awe, protectiveness, and limitless love. This initiates what is called the attachment process. Moms who are sedated or who have babies requiring immediate medical attention may not be able to spend this time but should not worry. This will have no long-term repercussions on their relationship since bonding has no time limit. Once your baby is stable and you have recovered from the stress of labor, you will have this opportunity and achieve the same heightened connection.

shutterstock_78150679Parents have an active role in the infant’s state regulation, by alternately offering stimulation or soothing to lengthen the social interaction. Likewise, the parents are regulated by the baby’s signals, responding, for instance with a bottle or breast to answer cries of hunger. These interactions comprise a system directed toward developing the infant’s normal physiologic homeostasis and physical growth. This also forms the foundation for the budding relationship between parent and child. Your baby learns that you as the primary caregiver can alleviate her stress or tension by feeding and shows this preference by calming down quicker for the mom or dad than for a stranger. In turn, this gives Mom a sense of validation and strong connection with her infant. Breastfeeding is a wonderful means by which mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional connection they experience while nursing. These warm feelings are augmented by the release of the hormone prolactin, producing relaxation and the hormone oxytocin, which promotes the sense of love and attachment between mother and infant.

Babies learn basic trust when they realize that their urgent needs are met. The presence of an adult who provides consistency creates the scenario for a secure attachment. Studies show that infants who are consistently picked up and held in response to distress cry less at 1 year and show less aggressive behavior at 2 years.

shutterstock_130586048By the age of 2 months, infants have their first voluntary social smiles and their amount of eye contact increases, marking a change in the parent-child bonding and also giving the parents a sense of being loved back. The baby interacts with increasing sophistication and range, expressing varied emotions of joy, anger, fear, interest and surprise by different facial expressions. When interacting with a trusted adult, the infant and the caregiver have matching expressions about 30% of the time; the eye-widening, laughing and lip-puckering rises and falls together. If the parent turns away, the baby leans forward and reaches out to get the adult involved again. Infants of depressed parents have a different pattern and spend noticeably less time in coordinated movement with their parents, and make less effort to re-engage. They show sadness, apathy and a loss of energy when the parents are not available. This face- to- face behavior demonstrates a baby’s ability to share emotion and expectation from the relationships, which is the initial step in communication.

Babies 6-12 months old show advances in cognitive understanding and communication ability, with new tensions around themes of attachment and separation. Babies look back and forth between a stranger and a parent, as if to contrast a familiar versus an unfamiliar, and may cling or cry. At the same time, there is an emergence of asserting independence; hence, they attempt self-feeding and refuse to take the spoon from the caregiver. This is when temper tantrums arise as the desire for autonomy comes into conflict with parental control.

The unique emotional relationship that forms between you and your baby is key to him feeling safe, and also influences your child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. A secure bond ensures that your baby will have a firm foundation for life, which includes a healthy sense of self-awareness, eagerness to explore and learn, and trust and respect for others. When babies develop a secure attachment bond, they are better able to enjoy interacting with others, develop confidence, handle disappointment, loss or stress, form mature intimate relationships and maintain emotional balance.

How do you bond with your children? Share your stories in the comments or on our Facebook page!

All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site. 

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Dr. Pearl

 

Dr. Pearl Cenon

A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.

Staff Picks: Lauren E.

My name is Lauren Ezzi, the Associate Marketing Manager here at BabyUnited. I’ve had a love for fashion since an early age when I insisted on wearing dresses, tunics, and leggings almost every day! So it’s only fitting that BabyLegs’ warmers are near and dear to my childhood fashion sense. Though my personal style has evolved, I still love the look for babies and kids!

Romper by OshKosh B'gosh Jelly Sandals by Gap Kids Harp by BabyLegs

 

Harp:

This ruffled romper is an adorable alternative to dresses and skirts, especially if your daughter loves to swing, hang, and run around the park. Pair it with our ruffled Harp legwarmers and jellies (another personal childhood wardrobe staple) and this girl is ready to take on the playground, with no worries of scraped knees!

 

 

 

 

 

StaffPicksMagnoliasMagnolias:

BabyLegs are not only great as an alternative to tights; they also look great with shorts! The pink shorts and white tank coordinate great with the magnolias warmer and will help keep little legs warm on chilly spring days.

 

StaffPicksPoppies

 

 

 

 

 

Poppies:

When I was a kid you could find me in a similar outfit on any given day… if only BabyLegs were around in the 90’s! These floral warmers are adorable for spring, and add an interesting touch to a simple tunic. Pair them with a summer sandal and your little girl has the perfect spring outfit.

Fashion Friday: Clothes that look on the bright side of life

Don’t let the Fashion Police know I said this, but fashion can be pretty ridiculous. It can be absurd, extravagant and just plain silly and in the big scheme of things—especially when there are much more important and disconcerting headlines making news—trends are nothing but a blip in pop culture history.But fashion sure is fun, and on days or weeks when you need a little lift-me-up, a bright frock or a cheery accessory can add pep to your step. Here are some happy style tips for kids because smiles never fall out of fashion.

SayCheeseSay Cheese

According to Robert R. Provine, the author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, babies tend to begin smiling between 3 and 4 months and thanks to grinning pacifiers and tween-friendly accessories, a lifetime of smiles is promised. Smiley faces might make you feel old—chances are, you wore them as a kid—but that friendly yellow face is as warm and comforting as an old friend.

BooginHead pacifier, pillow from Justice, Charm It! by High IntenCity bracelet

 

 

 

Walk the TalkWalk the Talk

Send good vibes out into the world with statement-making T-shirts decked out with positive messages and confidence-building sayings. It is the fashionable way to pay it forward and as Oprah Winfrey once said, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

Tiny Revolutionary tee, Speak Nicely long-sleeve T-shirt, The Proper T Project shirt with lettuce hem

Sign Language

The peace sign, which first appeared in 1958, is as ingrained in kids’ fashion as hippie-style denim and funky tie-dye, but its message for harmony remains the same for Generation Z. The simple and bold symbol speaks volumes and becomes fashion-friendly in vibrant colors for girls and sweet designs for the tiniest peacemaker.

Sign Language

Target pajama set, Wildkin backpack, Target one-piece


Heart to HeartHeart to Heart

Designers agree: Love is all you need. Doodled on notebooks and carved into trees the world over, the symbol of love warms up the heart and is a subtle reminder of what makes the world go round. Kids can show their love with just about everything from cozy heart print sweaters and accessories to retro-inspired heart-shaped sunglasses.

crewcuts by J. Crew sweater, BabyLegs legwarmers, Children’s Place sunglasses

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Angela Velasquez

With 4 years of experience as a children’s stylist and magazine editor, Angela brings you an insider’s perspective on trends and seasonal looks that will make babies and toddlers shine in their holiday photos and at birthday parties!  Angela also has a way of making everyday clothes and accessories look special — she’ll show you how.