Monday, December 17, 2012

When imagination develops!

Babies are not born with fully developed powers of imagination. In the infant and early toddler stages, their understanding of the world is based-solely on direct interaction with the people and things around them. Then, usually at about 18 months, a child develops the ability to form mental images and, as her vocabulary expands, to give these images names. Now that she is able to like her knowledge to symbols – to create and name a mental image of a boat and how it works, for example – the child begins to combine objects and ideas in creative ways. She uses one object represent another: A bar of soap floating in the bath becomes a boat crossing a pond. Emotions, too, come into play. The child imagines a doll as a new baby to be fed and loved.

 Fantasy becomes the child’s tool for exploring the adult world and, by trail and error, for finding a place in that world. The child is constantly seeking ways to assimilate new experiences into her picture of reality. Confused by the differences between male and female, a little girl may announce that she is a boy and try to sample life from that perspective. Troubled by feelings of anger or aggression, a boy may shout “Bang! Bang!” and lure his father into a make believe fight. Imagination also provides the opportunity to fulfill a wish, to be in control or just to hold onto good feelings for a while longer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Nightterror Part.II

All you can really do for night terrors is making sure that the child does not hurt herself. Remove toys from the floor around her bed so that she does not trip if she sleepwalks. Do not try to wake the child up. That will usually just agitate her more and prolong the episode. If she wants to be held or comforted, then do so, but do not force your help on her. After a brief period, she will simply settle back to sleep.

 Children of any may enjoy an elaborate fantasy life as a normal and healthy part their development, but fantasy plays a particularly vital role in the years between two and five. Almost any exercise in imagination – whether it is pretend play, humor, an imaginary friend, a tall tale or even an outright lie-may, at bottom, be part of the child’s effort to understand the world and learn how to behave. Remember that there is a big difference in the way you see reality and the way a young child sees it: Toddlers and preschoolers are still learning to distinguish between what is real and what they have imagined.

 Most of your child’s fantasies will be make – believe games. The child feeds a toy bears with an empty spoon or dresses up and marches of “to work”. But you may also see pretend behavior that it disturbingly aggressive. What do you do when your child spins out yarns about murdering the new baby? And you will definitely see behavior that, while not disturbing, is perplexing and demands a response. How should you react when your little girl keeps shooting your with a banana? Should you be concerned when your little boy prefers to dress up like Mama or jokes endlessly about “poo-poo”? Strange as it may seem, any of this behavior may be part of your child’s learning process.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Night Terrors Part.I

Some children have more nightmares than others, and frequency of bad dreams is not necessarily cause for alarm. It is not unusual for a child to experience nightmares for several nights in a row, followed by several nights of calm sleep. But recurrent nightmares may indicate that the youngster is having difficulty adjusting to a trauma, such as and accidents are to stress in the family. One other possibility to consider is a medical condition called apnea, in which the child’s breathing, is interrupted, causing him to awake frequently. The disorientation and fright that accompany this wakening may easily be confused with a nightmare. If your child has prolonged and repeated nightmares, you should consult your physician.

 Night terrors are much less common than nightmares and are often mistaken for bad dreams, although the two experiences are quite different (Box, right). The name ‘‘night terrors’’ is somewhat misleading, since the child will not always be terrify. He may scream or thrash about, but he may also talk quite calmly, sleepwalk or just stare into space. Parents frequently describe their child as looking possessed during such as episode. Because night terrors occur in the deepest stage of non-REM sleep, the youngster never fully wakes up even if he becomes very agitated.

 Night terrors tend to run in families. Researches believe that they are related to quirks in a child’s awakening mechanism: Instead of shifting smoothly from deepest non-REM sleep to the dream state of REM, the child partially rouses. But night terrors do happen more often when a youngster is very tried, so their occurrence can also tell you that your child needs more sleep.

One of the real problems in helping a child who is having night terrors is that it is not always obvious just what is happening. You may be groggy yourself and assume that the youngster is simply distraught from a nightmare. Keep in mind that night terrors most often occur in the first four hours of bedtime, when the child is most tried and spends more time in the deeper stages of sleep. Nightmares generally occur in the latter half of the sleep period, especially in the hours near dawn when REM sleep prevails.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


    Although nightmares represent only a small percentage of children’s dreams, they may seem more prevalent than is actually the case if they frighten your young sleeper into waking, crying and rousing the entire household. Researchers believe that all children have bad dreams, probably beginning in their second year, but that the earliest such dreams are infrequent and very simple. A two –year –old, for example, may relive a frightening experience such as getting stung by a bee.

     Nightmares are more commonly experienced by children from three to six years of age. Fevers and certain types of medication sometimes provoke scary dreams, but in most cases nightmares are brought on by the fears and other normal emotional concerns that arise from the developmental changes of early childhood. For example, a three year-old child struggling with new found feelings of anger and aggression may project these negative feelings as frightening imaginary monsters that threaten him in dreams. Certain stressful experiences can cause daytime feelings of jealousy and rebellion that may surface during sleep as nightmares. A youngster who has a new brother or sister may find that his hostile feelings toward the baby are turned in upon himself in his dreams.

    He may envision beings chased by someone big and threatening, or being left alone by the side of a desolate highway. These nightmares seem utterly real to children and often cause them to awake in a panic. It rarely will soothe a child to tell her that a nightmare was not real or that it was only a dream. Real or not, it genuinely frightened your child, and she needs your sympathy and support. The best thing you can do is to hold her close and talk to her in a calm, reassuring tone of voice. Let the youngster know that you will always take care of her and protect her. Stay with her if she is afraid to go to sleep. It is not wise to make a habit of lying down with the child or taking her to your bed. But sometimes a story, favorite toy or simply a night light will help the youngster get back to sleep.

     With older children, it sometimes helps to talk about the dream the day after. You might encourage a five or six year old child to act out the drama and to think of ways to overcome the things that frightened her. Though this may not alleviate the specific fear that caused the bad dream, it may reduce the child’s anxiety about nightmares.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How children's dream evolve

       The nature of a child’s dream life generally mirrors his overall pattern of mental and emotional development throughout the early years. True dreaming seems to begin between the ages of 18 and 24 months, after the child develops the ability to form mental images. If you could enter the world of your toddler’s dreams, you would find it a rather one dimensional place, visited here and there by static images of the things the child has seen during the day. You might see animals – most likely farm animals or small species such as monkeys, squirrels and birds. Researchers studying the dream experiences of youngsters three years of age and older speculate that young children portray themselves as such animals in their dreams because they cannot yet envision their self portraits in human form – and, perhaps, because they identify with the impulsive behavior of small creatures they see out-of-doors. At this stage, too, children’s dreams frequently appear to be influenced by physical states such as thirst, hunger or fatigue, which may combine with animal imagery to produce dreams of small creatures drinking, eating or sleeping.

      Early dreams involve very little dramatic or social interaction, and the settings are vague and nondescript. But as children reach the age of five or six, their dreams become more sophisticated, in parallel with their mental development. Story lines grow more complex and are less influenced by the child’s bodily states. Now when a child dreams about food, the eating takes place in a social context. Animals still appear frequently – sometimes dressing and behaving as people – but family members are portrayed as well, and there is increased interaction between the characters in a child’s dreams. The faces of strangers, sometimes frightening ones, may also appear in the dreams of a five-year-old. Researchers believe that these may simply be failed attempts at constructing more familiar characters. Recreation and play are dominant themes, and settings are more specific: Buildings and landscapes that are a part of the child’s waking life now appear in dreams.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The dreaming stage of sleep!

       In addition  to sleeping longer hours, children up to the age of five spend a proportionately large amount of their sleeping time in the light stage of slumber known as REM asleep-named for the ‘‘rapid eye movement’’ beneath closed lids that characterizes the stage. This is the part of the sleep cycle in which most dreaming occurs, as opposed to the deeper, non-REM stage. Newborns spend up to half of their sleep time in the REM state, with the proportion of REM sleep decreasing gradually as the child grows older.
      Much remains to be understood about children’s dreams. In fact, no one knows for sure whether infants and very young children really have dreams at all, since children under the age of two do not have sufficient language skills to describe such experiences. Sings that infants experience REM sleep are obvious.  They twitch their eyes, kick their feet, such, smile and grimace in slumber. Some experts argue that this is not necessarily proof of dreaming. They speculate that the child’s brain, like a computer running a program, is simply rehearsing reflexes for actions like sucking, smiling or moving the arms and legs. Others believe that the REM sleep activities are indeed physical reactions to primitive dreams about sensory experiences.
     What is clear is that when a child first begins dreaming, bits and pieces of recollected dream images lap over into her daytime consciousness and become mixed up with real experiences. Consequently, your preschooler may ask questions about unfamiliar people and events that you cannot possibly answer, because they refer to things that took place in her dreams. These seemingly nonsensical questions may be the first clue parents have that their child has indeed begun to dream.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dreams and Nightmares

      Dreams and nightmares loom larger in a child’s emotional life than in an adult’s. The reason is simple: Young children need more sleep than older people do so they have more time to dream moreover children may be confused and disturbed by their earliest dreams- which are isolated images quite unlike the complex pageants of grownups’ dreams-because they cannot understand where these images come from. To a three-years-old, a dream experience may seem as real as anything that happens in daytime life.
     While the great majority of a youngster’s dream images are pleasant or at least neutral in feeling, it is perfectly natural for him to suffer an occasional nightmare whenever the normal stresses of growing up spill over from his waking hours. It is these few unpleasant experiences-scary dreams of monsters and other threats-that will usually demand your attention in the middle of the night.
     You may also have to see your child through a rather unusual sleep disturbance called a night terror, during which the youngster may appear to be wide awake and reacting fearfully to a nightmare, but in fact is still deeply asleep and unaware of what is happening. These mid sleep dramas aside, most young children are able to take their dream adventures in stride.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fear and Causes to concern

     In extreme cases, a child’s fears may be so intense that they interfere with his daily activities. A youngster who has an obsessive fear of insects, for example, may balk at going outside and can make life difficult for himself and the entire family. If common sense tells you that your child’s fear is unusually severe or long-lived, then it is time to seek professional help for this problem. For the most part, however, you will find that young children’s fears are as fleeting as they are varied.

   You can help your child to be less fearful generally by encouraging him to be as independent as his age and his abilities allow. It is only natural to want to protect your youngster against potential danger and frightening situations, but keep in mind that children need opportunities to develop a sense of competence and self-reliance. Meeting their fears head on gives them that kind of opportunity. Eventually, experience is the child’s greatest weapon against fear. He learns that though his parents leave him, or a jackhammer startles him, or shadows play on his bedroom wall, in the end nothing bad really happens to him at all.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fear of Strangers

A threatened sense of security, in fact, underlies many childhood dears. A child’s first predictable anxiety - a fear of strangers – surfaces midway through her first year. Before this time, a baby will smile at anyone. But by about six months, her mental development enables her to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces. Because the unfamiliar ones tend to leave her confused and uncertain, she may cry or try to hide her face when a stranger – even a close relative – approaches. The best way to minimize this fear is to expose your child early on to a variety of people.

 Another security-related fear that arises at about this time is the child’s fear of being left by her parents – a development often referred to as “separation anxiety” or “separation protest.” It begins around the age of seven months, at first as a simple mental awareness that a familiar parental figure has disappeared from the scene. Later expressions of separation anxiety are more related to the child’s deepening emotional attachment to her parents: Distress at being apart form these primary suppliers of love and security, even for brief periods, usually emerges at around 18 months and may continue until the child is three years of age.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How Children cope with fear

Despite their vulnerability to fears, children may develop a surprising array of psychological strategies for dealing with their own anxieties. You may notice your youngster, for example, going through a superhero phase of pretend play between the ages of three and five, when imagined fears tend to proliferate. Constantly reminded of their smallness and lack of control over events, children of this age often play the all powerful hero in their fantasy games as a way of fending off the fantasy villains that threaten them.

Other children try to overcome fears by experimenting with the source. For example, a child who is fearful of being flushed down then toilet may try to flush a toy down the drain. Mommy may find it annoying to have to retrieve a sopping wet toy from the toilet bowl, but the child’s reaction is quite the opposite: he feels reassured to see that the toy does not really disappear.

A youngster may also become quite strongly attracted to an object that he once feared, in an instinctive attempt to desensitize himself. If he was afraid of dogs, the child may suddenly stop to admire every dog that he sees. And may children use rituals as a method of holding their fears in check. A child who grows anxious and upset at the approach of bedtime is often comforted by a familiar routine – listening to a story, brushing teeth, then being tucked in and kissed goodnight – because it reinforces his sense of security.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The role of Imagination

But the main reason for an increase in irrational fears after 18 months is the child’s awakening imagination, which begins to intermingle with such emotions as anger and jealousy. These strong feelings often find expression in fears of imaginary enemies, such as robbers, monsters and bogeymen. The toddler may refuse to stay in a room by himself, or he may demand that objects like scary masks or stuffed animals be put somewhere out of sight.
Fears arising from his imagination reach a peak between the ages of three and five. Struggling to distinguish between real and make-believe, children of this age often invent fantastic explanations for things they do not understand, and in the process, they may assign human feelings and motives to inanimate objects.
In the movie The Wizard of Oz, an apple tree gets angry and hits Dorothy when she picks an apple. A scarecrow talks with a lion and a mean lady turns into a witch. To a three year old, all this is quite believable. And because of a young child’s egocentric view of the world – his tendency to see himself as the pivotal player in every event – he imagines how all this might affect him. It may be a natural step for him to go from watching the movie fantasy to worrying that a witch or a tree might attack him in his own backyard.
Children also acquire fears through experience. A child who has been stung by a bee may fear all insects, just as one who can remember a painful inoculation may cringe at the mere mention of the doctor’s office. Fears can be triggered as well by abrupt changes in the family situation, such as the birth of a new sister or brother, or the divorce of the parents.
From your perspective as an adult, it is not always easy to anticipate the impact of the things that your child sees and hears. Realistic scenes of violence on television are a case in point. A preschooler who laughs in delight as Saturday morning cartoon characters get flattened and “ker-boomed” might react quite differently to a dramatized gun battle between humans or to news coverage of a car bombing. The child might jump to the conclusion that such live-action disasters could happen to him. As you think about appropriate viewing guidelines for your family, remember that the moving images and dramatic sounds of television make it an extremely vivid medium for a small child.
Occasionally, even the words and expressions you use in casual conversation may spark fears in your child, whose grasp of the language is not as sophisticated as yours. When you offhandedly say “May boss is going to kill me,” your youngster might take the statement at face value and start to worry that your life is really in danger.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why children have fear

All human beings feel fear at times; it is an innate reaction to potential danger, part of the human instinct for survival. And because babies and young children are so dependent on others for their security, they are prone to many more fears than adults.
A child expresses certain basic kinds of car long before she can talk. An infant, for example, will startle or cry when she hears a loud noise or feels like she is falling. As children grow older, more complex anxieties arise naturally from rapid changes in their emotional make-up and their expanding perception of the world around them.
Children’s interest in their environment increases as they enter their sound year of life, but their feeling of security is easily shaken by new experiences. They may be particularly skittish about sudden, unfamiliar sounds, such as the vacuum cleaner, passing fire engines or barking dog. During the toddler stage, a child’s fears seem to grow more ill-founded rather than less so. Partly this is because of her immature sense of spatial relationships and the child’s distorted sense of her own size in relation to the size of the thing around her. The youngster may display a fear of the toilet or the bath that is based on a concern about somehow being sucked down the drain.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fears and Fantasies Part.II

Baffling as such developments may be to parents, this age of flourishing imagination is essential to a child’s well-being. Unfettered fantasy is the magical language of childhood: It helps the youngster adjust to the demands and frustrations of the real world by sheltering him from it. More importantly, it gives him the daring to explore. And imagining what can be is the first step toward true creativity – that uniquely human gift that your child will carry with him always.
Fears big and small are a universal fact of early childhood – probably unavoidable even for the securest of children. Your youngster may voice anxieties as farfetched as “Are monsters real, Mommy?” or as logical as “Will the doctor give me a shot?” The thing to remember is that any worry, however silly it may seem to a grownup, can be quite real and utterly daunting to a young child. As you offer your youngster reassurance and comfort at such times, you should try to do so without using the words “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” To the child, there certainly is.
Many common childhood fears, such as the fear of strangers and fear of the toilet, result from developmental changes and therefore appear at certain ages. These fears wax and wane and sometimes reappear at later stages, but in general, children simply outgrow them. By and large, if you let your child know that strong and loving adults are watching out for his welfare, this will provide the security he needs to overcome the passing fears of childhood.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fears and Fantasies Part.I

For the first few years of life, children’s thought processes resemble those of our primitive ancestors: Youngsters are powerfully affected by invisible feelings and ephemeral images, but they cannot understand where these sensations come from. With their limited knowledge, young children find just about everything around them potentially scary. Until their mental abilities have matured enough to distinguish the real from the unreal, the external from the internal, youngsters are naturally susceptible to some degree of confusion and distress.
A child’s imaginative life begins to quicken around the time he turns two, a result of his newly acquired ability to create independent ideas on his own. Suddenly the youngster is the possessor of an entire kingdom of images that exist solely within hid mind: Side by side with the external realities of feeding and dressing, of riding in the car and playing with toys, the child now is contending daily with such illusory complexities as bears under his bed, monsters that chase him in his sleep and “friends” that are visible to him alone. At the same time, the child is struggling to sort out an inner world of intense feelings. Strong impulses that he will one day know by such names as jealousy and love and anger now strike him only as powerful sensations over which he has no control. These and other emotions, half-formed and only vaguely understood, blend with fantasy to create a host of fears and anxieties.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Curiosity and Privacy of a Child

As you strive for a balance between society’s sexual norms and your youngster’s natural curiosity, make sure not to shame or punish childish exploration. When your child innocently touches himself of plays with his genitals in public, try to distract him with a game or a story. Then matter-of-factly explain that touching his pensis is private – something not done in public. When sex play involves other children, the situation becomes more complicated and emotionally charged. Few parents remain composed upon discovering their three-year-old son playing doctor with the little girl next door. While shaming would be purely destructive, you should not allow this type of play to continue, either. Children’s curiosity is basically harmless, but youngsters also sense that this approach to uncovering mysteries is improper, and their explorations are mingled with anxiety and discomfort. They will be secretly grateful when you suggest that they get dressed and switch to a different game.

 Explain that while it is natural for them to be curious, you would prefer that they seek answers from you. Children are curious about adults, too. But at an early age they are not emotionally prepared to handle excessive exposure to adult nudity and sexuality. While an occasional glimpse of unclad parents is not cause for concern, frequent exposure to parental nudity is disturbing for young children, who may find the experience secretly exciting and feel guilty about their reactions. Take particular care that your child does not interrupt sexual intercourse. Children are likely to misinterpret it as physical or verbal violence and conclude that their parents are hurting each other.

If you do forget to lock your bedroom door, do not punish your child’s curiosity. Instead, ask that he leave the room while you get dressed, then sit down with him and respond to any concern he may show. You may wish to explain that sexual relations are so private that not even members of the same family are allowed to share in them. The respect for sexual privacy should be mutual. As you child approaches school age, he is apt to become suddenly modest and to show his own desire for privacy while dressing and bathing. Whenever such feeling develop, honor them matter-of-factly and accept them as once more sign of your child’s progress toward sexual maturity.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Parent as teacher

As your child’s sexual curiosity increases, she will turn to you for answers. Whether you welcome this role or not, your responses to her questions (box, above) will reveal not only what you want her to know but your own values and attitudes as well. If you fail to provide answers, she will get them elsewhere; more often than not, she will also get them wrong. In dealing with your child’s inquiries, remember that she is interested in reproduction, not grow-up sexual feelings. It is best to label anatomical parts correctly from the start; changing from the familiar to the formal name later adds unnecessary confusion. Avoid confusing your child, as well, by giving her more information than she asks for. Answer her questions promptly and briefly, and let her ask for repetition or clarification when she is ready. Finally, avoid farming and gardening analogies in your explanations. Children associate eggs and seeds with eating, leading them to imaginative but erroneous jumbles of the digestive and reproductive systems.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sex Role and Stereotypes Part.II

The preschool and kindergarten years are often an emotionally trying phase of sexual development. As part of the natural effort to understand what it means to be male or female, a child predictably forms an intense attachment to the parent of the opposite sex and a confusing love-hate relationship with the same-sex parent during this time. Such behavior usually begins around the age of three, as the child’s strengthening identity and self-confidence instill a new sense of omnipotence. The little girl feels that she can do anything her mother does, while the little boy thinks he can do everything his father does. The sense of omnipotence may become so overpowering that the child secretly desires to take the place of the parent of the same sex. Under this childish spell, the boy’s attachment to his mother increases; he wants to have her all to himself and wishes his father out of the way.

He may announce that he is going to marry his mother when he grows up. The girl develops similarly possessive feelings toward her father. While these childhood fantasies are ultimately harmless, they create tensions and anxiety in the child. The boy still loves his father and realizes that he needs his protection – even as he is rejecting him as a rival. Such tensions often lead to unpredictable outbursts of obnoxious behavior and stubborn defiance of the same-sex parent. Child psychologists also point to these conflicts as the cause of frightful nightmares in which animals and monsters chase the anxious child. Parents can ease the tensions of this transition in several ways. First, you should recognize that it is a normal and necessary stage of sexual development. Gauge your reactions accordingly; remember that your child needs your love and support even if he appears to be rejecting your affection.

Above all, do nothing to encourage these fantasies. The kindest response is to explain firmly and patiently that children cannot marry their parents; while you appreciate the child’s affection, you already have a spouse, and a special grown-up relationship with him. Your reaffirmation of your own parental role and relationship will help your child resolve his conflicting emotions. By the age of five or six, children come to accept their place in the family hierarchy. If he cannot replace his father, the boy decides, then he will be like him, and the girl aspires to be like her mother. The normal and healthy outcome of this phase is a strengthening of masculinity in boys and femininity in girls, and an increased identification with the same-sex parent.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sex Role and Stereotypes Part.I

Sex roles tell children what types of behavior are acceptable for their gender. Unlike gender, however, sex roles are not irrevocably molded. Adults may share or exchange roles such as breadwinner, housekeeper and nurturer, depending on their age and culture. And during childhood, toddlers experiment with, and even reverse, sexual roles before reaching a healthy norm. Providing model’s for a child’s sexual behavior used to be simple: Boys imitated their fathers and girls followed their mothers.

Nowadays, parents must compete with outside influences, from the peer pressures of preschools to the appeal of television. At the same time, many parents have abandoned the rigid concepts of role - or stereotypes – that encouraged assertive, aggressive behavior only in boys, while ascribing passive, dependent roles to girls. In guiding your child through this confusing and controversial stage, remember that rigidly-enforced stereotypes can damage your child’s emotional and sexual development. While boys will be boys and girls will be girls, parents should recognize that both genders encompass shades of masculinity and femininity.

 In their attempts to learn who they really are, boys may play with dolls and pretend to have babies, while girls may favor trucks and act out the parts of fathers. Such role-switching play is perfectly normal at the toddler stage and should not be interpreted as a sign of sexual confusion or maladjustment. Allow your toddler to experiment, while at the same time helping her understand clearly that she belongs to one sex. You can reinforce your child’s gender identity and still react positively to cross-gender play. If your tow-year-old son is bathing a doll, do not assume that he is playing at being a mother; instead, praise him for being a considerate daddy. Usually children’s experimentation with sex roles will diminish around the age of three. Regardless of how they play, make sure to instill in your little ones the feeling that you value them for the individuals they are, whether male or female.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Child's Sexual Identity Awareness

During the first two years of life, as your child begins to explore her own body and to notice sexual differences, your actions and reactions will help her from a healthy sexual identity. As early as their first year, children begin to wonder why they are made the way they are. Their tentative explorations provide the first awareness of their bodies as a source of pleasure; before long, they learn that touching or rubbing their genitals creates feelings of excitement. Parental acceptance of this early behavior is important. For your child, the romantic fantasies and fixations of adult sexuality do not exist; her sexual exploration and experience reflect nothing more than a natural curiosity and healthy delight in her body. If her hand is angrily slapped away from her genitals, the toddler feels that there is something bad or forbidden about a part of her body – a part that, to her, is no different from her nose or toe.

 During the second year, the toddler’s growing awareness of differences between males and females sets the stage for the establishment of her own sexual identity. Increasing contact with siblings and playmates, coupled with the uncovering of body parts previously hidden under diapers, leads the toddler to a truly exciting discovery: Although children look pretty much alike with their clothes on, they are made in two distinctly different ways. This realization leads to close identification with the parent of the same sex. The little girl, observing that she resembles her mother, strives to be as much like her female parent as she can. The little body, noticing that he has the same parts as his father, is eager to imitate him in every possible way. Fascinating as these discoveries of similarities and differences can be, they sometimes cause anxieties in young minds. A little girl may silently wonder way she does not have a penis like her brother. A little boy may feel anxious about the obvious differences in size between his own body parts and those of his father. Parents can relieve such anxieties by clearly explaining sexual differences. Tell the toddler that boys and girls are made differently from the beginning; no one is missing any parts, and no one is going to lose the parts they already have. Emphasize the positive aspects of each child’s gender, pointing out that boys can become fathers, and girls can become mothers, when they are older.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Night wanderers

Once the learn how to climb out of their cribs, some toddlers not only wake up in the middle of the night – they get up. This is when you may have to decide whether you are going to let your child get in bed with you or be firm about her returning to her own bed. Other children, especially those three years or older, actually get out of bed and walk about without waking up. The sleepwalking child’s eyes will be wide open, but when you try to talk to her you will realize that she does not know what is happening. Sleepwalking episodes can be as brief as a few seconds or as long as half an hour. Try to get her back into bed without awakening her. Later, she will not recall the incident. Children usually grow out of a sleepwalking problem, but persistent, frequent episodes may indicate some underlying disturbance that should be explored with your pediatrician, a child psychologist or a sleep clinic.

As a parent, you play critical role in your child’s sexual development and adjustment. Your influence goes far beyond the traditional concept of sex education; in countless subtle ways, from the tone of your talk to the type of toys you buy, you help shape your child’s attitude toward her own sexuality and that of others.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Putting our toddler to bed

When your child is two or two and a half, you may find yourself a participant in series of bedtime rituals that are a toddler’s way of making the transition from being awake with plenty of company to being asleep alone. All the simple, practical processes are elaborated into a carefully choreographed ceremony: the bath, brushing the teeth, putting on pajamas, and selecting the right stuffed animal and the right book for the bedtime story. Everything must be in the same sequence every night or the spell is broken, so beware of adding any new elements that disrupt the ritual. Also beware of the delaying tactics that some children try to slip into the ceremonial routine: I went to change pajamas; I want another drink of water; I left something downstairs.
Your child may be more skittish about sleep on days when he has endured long separations from you or when he has experienced other daytime worries. The proverbial monster waiting at the foot of the bed after rears its head during this period of childhood. You should demonstrate to your child that you are in charge and able to protect him – even if it requires your loudly banishing the demon from the house.
Try to make bedtime the same time every night or as nearly the same time as possible. But keep your attitude toward your child’s sleep positive and nonpunitive. If he is having trouble getting to sleep, do not try to force or threaten him. Your child needs to be shown; instead, that sleep is a welcome and pleasurable retreat. You can help foster this attitude by teaching him to cherish his bedroom as a pleasant heaven for comfort, rest and security, rather than making it seem like a place that he is banished to for punishment.
Although many children consistently go to bed voluntarily, some do not, especially when the rest of the family is awake and doing interesting things. Give a 10 minute and a five minute warning as the time to start the bedtime ritual nears. If your child insists on putting up a fight about going to bed, try a neutral signaling device, such as an alarm clock. This way, the source of the unwelcome news is impersonal, and the child cannot argue with it. Let him know that you understand how much he does not want to go to bed, but tell him firmly that it is, nonetheless, his bedtime. If he is playing, assure him that in the morning, he can return to what he was doing. Sometimes children feel less victimized when they are given options: “You can either go get in bed now, or you can kiss me good night and when get in bed.”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maintaining good sleep habits

Even if your baby takes readily to drifting off to sleep on her own, your troubles may not be over. At some point between seven and nine months, she may suddenly begin to protest with anguished cries your departure from her room each night. Her panic is a sign of separation anxiety, which emerges at about this time in a child’s life. She has become strongly attached to you and does not yet understand that when someone disappears from view, that person continues to exist and will return. She is afraid you are going away forever.
Soon after this time, the baby’s drive to master body skills such as walking becomes so intense that she often finds it difficult to unwind for sleep. You may discover her in the middle of the night crawling around in her crib or pulling herself up to a standing position, as though her drive to practice her skills outweighed her heed for sleep.
Help your baby find her own methods for soothing herself to sleep, while reassuring her that you are not abandoning her. One way to accomplish this double purpose is to casually leave and reenter the room several times after she has been put to bed, making reassuring sounds but concerning yourself with some other bit of business rather than hovering over your protesting child. Presents sometimes interfere too much at bedtime, when their babies really just need a chance to complain a little before setting down to some humming or jabbering and then to sleep. Small gestures can help ease a baby’s resistance to sleep. Let your child have a favorite toy or blanket for comfort when you leave the room. A night light that allows her to see her familiar surroundings when she awakens at night might also help.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Maintaining good sleep habits

Some parents swear that the best way for everybody to get a good night’s sleep is for everybody, parents and baby to sleep in the same bed or the same room. Their reasoning is that the baby soon gets onto the same sleep cycle as the parents and thus never awakens them during the night. They also contend that the child develops a feeling of security that he simply cannot achieve when he sleeps by himself. Some authorities maintain, however, that this arrangement actually makes it harder for anyone to get a good night’s sleep. And they say that many parents who use it only do so because it is easier than compelling a child to get back in his own bed when he arrives in his parents room at four or so in the morning. Where you want our child to sleep is a purely personal matter, of course, but if you are considering this arrangement you should bear in mind that once your child stars sleeping with you, it may be extremely difficult to switch back to separate accommodations, because the child will be so un happy about being displaced.

Even if your baby takes readily to drifting off to sleep on her own. Your troubles may not be over. At some point between seven and nine months, she may suddenly begin to protest with anguished cries your departure from her room each night. Her panic is a sign of separation anxiety, which emerges at about this time in a child’s life. She has become strongly attached to you and does not yet understand that when someone disappears from view that person continues to exist and will return. She is afraid you are going away forever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to put your baby to sleep

Unless you enjoy rocking your baby so much that you want to do it several times a night, you may wish, by the time your child is five or six months old, to alter the way you put him to bed in the first place. You need not deny yourself the joy of rocking him, but rock him when he is wakeful. That way your baby gets a bonus: he is fully aware of the pleasure of snuggling in your arms. When it is bedtime, put him into his crib in his favourite sleeping position, tuck him in, and kiss him good night and turn off the lights, perhaps leaving a night light on. Leave the room so he will get used to falling asleep alone. If he protests, you can pick him up and cuddle him, or do some quiet chore such as sorting his laundry.
Or you can leave the door open and give evidence of your presence just outside his room by talking and making soft other soft noises as you move about. In some cases a few evenings of this routine is sufficient for your baby to learn how to go to sleep on his own and he will apply that experience whenever he awakens in the middle of the night but if your child reaches the age of five or six months and is still demanding your attention throughout the night, you may wish to try the special sleep training program devised by some pediatrician specializing in sleep problems.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Routine for bed time!

It is not wise, however, to try to achieve this ideal state by ignoring the nighttime cries of your babies. In the first few months of your baby’s life, you should be more concerned with responding to her needs than worried about establishing a correct sleep pattern. If she is crying at night, it is probably because she is wet or cold or hungry or uncomfortable, and you can solve those problems for her. The quicker you answer her call for help the easier she will be to soothe. If good sleep patterns do not develop on their own you can take remedial steps later.

What you can do, during these early months is establish a bedtime routine that will help your baby build a good sleeping habits. It is perfectly natural for a mother or father to want to rock a new baby to sleep every night. That is after all one of the supreme pleasure of being a parent. But by the age of three months, many babies are ready to start sleeping through the night. That is they no longer need a middle of the night feeding and are far enough along in their sleep development that they pass the night moving through various stages of sleep broken intermittently by brief arousals. If your baby has learned that the only way to fall asleep is to be rocked. He will not get back to sleep when he awakens alone in his crib. He may not be cold or hungry and his diaper may even cuddling arms?
Where is the rocking motion? He has no choice but to summon your assistance in the only way he know: he takes a lungful of air and stars howling.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baby's different form of sleep

To understand a child’s sleep problem, you need to know something about the nature of a child’s sleep. A full term infant emerges from the womb already practiced in two distinct modes of sleeping known as active sleep and quiet sleep. The form called active sleep in newborn infants is also known as rapid eye movement sleep. It is distinguished by slight but frequent body movements, irregular breathing changes in facial expression and the easily visible rapid movements of the baby’s eyes beneath his closed eyelids. In older children, dreaming takes place during REM sleep. In the quiet sleep mode, the infant’s breathing is regular and deep, and most other body movement is markedly diminished. In the first month however you may see fast body twitches, called startles, and rhythmical sucking notions while the baby is sleeping in this state.

At birth a full term baby divides his sleeping time roughly in half between active and quiet sleep. Until the age of three months, the baby falls directly into active, REM sleep; after about three months, he falls directly into active, REM sleep; after about three months he falls first into non REM, or quiet sleep. During the first six months of life the quiet mode of sleep evolves into varying stages similar to that seen in older children and in adults. When the child is in the deeper stages of non REM sleep, he can be very difficult to awaken. It is this kind of sleep that enables you to dress him in his pajamas and tuck him into bed without waking him up when he falls asleep on the sofa or floor. By the time he is six months old his sleep moves through cycles of non REM and REM sleep in a way which will remain fairly constant throughout life. In his REM sleep he may awaken if only for a few seconds. He may open his eyes examine his surroundings and shift his position. He might do this as often as nine or 10 times a night.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Child’s sleep Duration

Before you can help your child develop successful sleeping routines, you need some idea of how much sleep she actually needs having a realistic understanding of what to expect helps keep down your level of frustration. While a new born will sleep about 16 ½ hours out of every 24 hours, the average six month old baby will need only slightly more than 14 hours. After that the number of hours the average child sleeps drops about an hour each year until the age of four. Preschoolers need average about 11 to 11 ½ of sleep a night.

The timing and length of sleep periods also change as children grow older. A newborn may spread her sleep over six or seven periods evenly distributed throughout the day and night. But by six months, she probably will be napping only twice during the daytime and if you have helped her form good sleep habits, will have settled into regular over night sleep, waking you only occasionally. Your child will most likely abandon her morning nap early in her second year. While her afternoon naps may continue until three years of age or even later.

Although such information can serve as a yardstick for roughly assessing your child’s sleep patterns, do not worry yourself by making close comparisons. The figures are averages, and each child is an individual. For example some perfectly normal, healthy two and a half year olds may need only nine hours of sleep at night, especially if they nap well during the day. Others, equally fit, may snooze for 13 hours at night and may even get another one to two hours during the day. But if your child’s total daily sleeping time differs by several hours from what is indicated for her age group on the chart and if she consistently seems tired, irritable or overactive during the day you should consider the possibility that she has a sleeping problem and take steps to eliminate it.