ASK MARWA: How to raise a happy secure well-mannered baby?

Date posted: March 14, 2012


 

 

Published in Identity Magazine – March  2012

Dear Marwa
 

I am really inspired by you on many levels, but I really need to know are you planning to write something about how to raise a happy, secured, and well-mannered baby? My son is 15 months now and I am really concerned about how to help him develop a confident happy character as well as helping him to behave well. Me and his father are very anxious about this issue that we began applying rules months ago. I hope you can help me in that point. Best regards

D

Hello D!

I am very new to motherhood as you know so I will do my best to reply to your question according to what I have been reading and my little experience with Adam.

Secure children are the outcome of love; I know that all parents love their kids but the love I am talking about is delivered in a language that they are able to understand. Infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers need lots of hugs, caresses, kisses, smiles, games, and fun. They do not understand money and gifts, food and shelter, expensive clothes and sophisticated toys … they just want to be held and comforted as much as possible. They also need to laugh a lot to release tension!

There are a few myths about babies that you need to vanquish:

1) Babies are manipulative!
They are smart and resourceful but not manipulative! They are not evil! They are communicating their needs in the only way they know how to communicate; crying and fussing! How else can your baby say I need to be hugged or I am scared or do you love me?

Try to switch off all the advice you get from the outside world and listen to your child – what is he trying to communicate? What he is trying to tell you as opposed to what he is forcing you to do.

2) Babies have to be trained!
You can train a dog but babies are human beings – adults in the making.
Most of the advice related to "training" babies has nothing to do with the actual well-being of the baby; the advice is mainly tailored to relieve the parents. For example, training the baby to sleep all night by giving him herbs in a bottle! Training the baby to sleep in his bed so he grows up into an independent adult! Training the baby to self-soothe, to cry-it-out, and to fall asleep on his own!

Adam sometimes wakes up just to make sure I am there, sometimes he needs comfort sucking, and sometimes he is hungry. All the examples above were rules set by parents who were tired and exhausted and decided to "train the baby"!

3) Babies have to be disciplined!
Babies watch and imitate! This is where their manners come from. You need to repeat many many times what it is they should not be doing it, why it is bad, and offer an alternative. You should also control how you react! Shouting and throwing a tantrum is just you educating the baby how to do likewise.

I am an advocate for attachment parenting as opposed to authoritarian and disciplinary parenting. There is a lot of material online about attachment parenting but I can sum it up in the following points:

1)      Bonding from birth (lots of kisses will boost your immune system and his)

2)      Baby-wearing (as you can see me in the picture wearing Adam)

3)      Breastfeeding for as long as you can and as much and as often as the baby wants – feeding on demand.

4)      Co-sleeping

5)      Soothe your crying baby

As for me, whenever I get overwhelmed with exhaustion I remind myself that Adam is only going to be a baby once; it is a phase and he will outgrow it but  now I just have to enjoy how tiny and dependent he is on me. Look at all those teens around you and how they are fighting over their independence … soon you baby and mine will be just like them!

I would also advise you and your husband to enjoy having this little creature – just sit back and watch his character unfold. Do not try to shape him or mold him into anything. Just let him be.

Also, whenever you are unsure about a discipline technique, ask yourself: how would my baby boy see this? How would he understand my words? 

Most of the time when you tell your kid do this or don't do that so I love you … he hears: "mama does not love me" then he acts accordingly and starts punishing you by misbehaving even more.

I would also recommend you become a Dr. Sears follower; books and site and all: http://www.askdrsears.com/ His work is simply brilliant and his advice does work!

The following blogs are also great and you can communicate with the mamas: http://www.drmomma.org/ and http://www.ahaparenting.com/

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