“I had a dream & I heard music & there were children standing around, but no one was dancing. I asked a little girl, why not? & she said they didn’t know how, or maybe they used to but they forgot & so I started to hop up & down & the children asked me, Is that dancing? & I laughed & said, no, that’s hopping, but at least it’s a start & soon everyone was hopping & laughing & it didn’t matter any more that no one was dancing.”
Week 7: Child Development
This week was SO beautiful for me, definitely in part due to the beautiful-ness in our teacher Leslie Freeman. Leslie’s husband Scott taught us last week, and everything we covered last week about our God of Love and Justice spilled into this week as well, as we talked about the development of children and also children with disabilities. Scott and Leslie have four sons: Kai, Ezra, Jude, and Koa, which made for lots of fun stories from them both, and definitely lots of wisdom from Leslie about the things she taught us, especially discipline.
I decided a long time ago that I would never spank my children, but my dilemma since then has been one of trying to figure out how to raise respectful kids while “sparing the rod.” Lucky for me Leslie doesn’t believe in spanking either, and had lots of information about effective discipline. The most important concept I took from that is that it’s scientifically proven that when children are afraid, their ability to learn stops. When a parent puts fear into a situation by using physical discipline, or the threat of physical discipline, the child is actually unable to learn from that experience. Leslie explained that instead of spankings or time-outs, she has time-ins on the couch, where she talks about what happened with her child and why it’s not okay to do what they did. She also explained to us that when a child is too young to have a conversation with on the couch, they are also too young to have the ability to connect their actions with the punishment, so they won’t understand that they are being spanked because of their actions, they’ll only understand that they can’t trust their parent not to hurt them.
My very favorite thing that Leslie talked about is Attachment. This is the theory that it is essential for babies to develop a secure relationship with at least one primary caregiver in order for them to develop normally. A securely attached child will actually develop into a more independent adult, because they will feel safe to explore their world. A secure attachment between a mother and her baby develops when the mom consistently meets the infant’s needs, which is why leaving a baby to cry is never ever EVER a good idea, because from that they will learn that what they have to say (through their cry) isn’t important, and that they can’t trust their parent to respond to them consistently. Furthermore, the attachment relationship is a foundation on which every other relationship a child develops through their life will build upon. Leslie told us passionately, “I am convinced that attachment is the heart of God.” Why? God’s intention for families is that they would model for a child the Love of Himself. God wants to build a solid relationship with us, by consistently being there for us, and the more secure we are in our relationship with Him… the safer we will feel to live our lives, and the healthier our relationships will be with others. It is SO interesting to me, and soon our school will have an entire week on attachment disorders.
Leslie told us that 5 year old Ezra processes things by singing songs he makes up to himself when he thinks that nobody is around, but she’ll write down the lyrics when she overhears him, and she sang us part of one of his songs, and it’s been making me laugh for days: “God is so big and so awesome and so great… and my brothers hit me sometimes and it hurts a lot, just like God dying on the cross… ”
I’ve been learning lots of facts in these months, and my favorite from this week is that newborns can only see 8-10 inches in front of them, which is the exact length between the faces of a mom and baby when baby is being breastfed. Which has made me think a lot about how perfectly God has designed us, and with how much intention He created motherhood. I’m reading the book “Why Not Women?” by Loren Cunningham, which explains in great depth the attitude Greeks, Romans, and even Jews had towards women when Jesus lived. Because of the way women were portrayed in Greek and Roman mythology, women were usually viewed as evil, worthless, and sub-human, even by their husbands. This week we talked about how much newborns need their MOM, and how in the first months of life the mother/baby relationship is the most important for the child. I’ve been thinking how beautiful and redeeming it must have been for those oppressed women then, and even still now, that while most of society said “you are nothing” they would know that to their child they were literally everything.
The only downside to this week is that now.. I’m craving babies more than usual = ) ahaha.