My Parents, My Heroes. The significant parent’s roles in child development
8 minute(s) read
After birth, parents’ roles are of the maximum importance for child development. Healthy child growth and development means that children of all age groups are able to grow up efficiently where their physical, social and emotional needs are met. Parents are their child’s first teacher and should remain their best teacher throughout life. Functioning as a coach, parents expose their children to age-appropriate challenges to promote development as well as to explore experiences that allow the children to discover things on their own and learn from interacting with their environment.
Encouraging your child development as a masterpiece
The proper role of the parent is to provide encouragement, support, and access to activities that enable the child to master key developmental tasks. However, in each stage of child development, different approaches are required. This parent’s task is relatively similar to “completing jigsaw puzzle” that needs a lot of time, special attention and care. This jigsaw puzzle consists of thousands of small pieces. Starting with the right pieces at the main corners enables other pieces to be correctly connected, resulting in a higher chance of success. This refers to when parents start understanding the needs of their infants, they can react to their infants promptly and appropriately. As a result, this greatly promotes a profound parent-child bonding, leading to trust and respect in the future.
Nonetheless, parents might be confused or hesitant whether they have placed correct pieces of their jigsaw. Some parents might make the comparison of their children to others with similar age group. For instance, when a 10-month old infant cannot start walking like others or a 18-month child does not speak a proper sentence like others. Making such a comparison inevitably makes the parents feel disappointed or worried about their child development. In fact, this 10-month old infant might be able to walk perfectly with less falls while grabbing baby walkers and a 18-month child who does not speak is able to pay a full attention and follow all instructions. Child development might vary among individual children, based primarily on biological, psychological and emotional changes as well as family background.
On the contrary, some parents connect their puzzle pieces with high confidence without being aware of misplacing until it becomes too late to fix the problems that have already developed. For example, if the parents have promptly reacted to please their children for whatever they seek for when the children grow up to reach certain phase that they need to learn how to wait and regulate their emotion when they are disappointed, it can potentially result in improper responses, such as being short-tempered, irritability and anger.
Some parents want to enhance language capability by allowing their infants to watch the screen that displays VDO or other media with foreign languages. As a matter of fact, the ability to understand languages and to learn from the screens does not exist in infants. Instead of having appropriate child development, wrong practice might be a major contributing factor to speech development and social interaction problems. Child development consists of different aspects, including physical, intellectual, social, emotional and language developments. Therefore, parents should follow a comprehensive guidance for each phase of child development to provide the support and learning experiences necessary for their children to grow and develop according to their unique developmental blueprint.
Get ready for all stages of child development
Since different phases of child development need different approaches, it remains essential for parents to understand the changes of each stage. If warning signs of inappropriate development arise, medical assistance provided by child development specialist should be immediately sought in order to solve the problems in time.
For 2-month old babies
- Babies do not stop crying: In case that the babies start crying without any reason, the parents might not be able to respond to the needs of the babies correctly. This might be worrisome, causing anxiety and concerns to the parents whether their crying babies would turn to be anxious and moody children in the future. During the first year, babies need to be responded according to their desires in order to create trust from their parents. Expert opinion given by child development specialist substantially helps the parents to understand and react to their babies appropriately.
- Mothers are unable to manage and take care of themselves: Considering the sleep deprivation, new responsibilities and lack of time for taking care of themselves, it is no surprise that a lot of new mothers gradually develop emotional distress and depression. It might be silent until the relationship with the babies and spouses has been ruined. Useful advices obtained from child development specialist enable the mothers to understand and cope with their challenges and difficulties, allowing the problems to be solved more effectively.
- Concerns of the babies when the mothers need to return to work: When the mothers need to return to work, they might worry whether it affects their child growth and development. In fact, a proper planning greatly helps to get the babies prepared, thus reducing the chance of family problems in the future.
For 4-month old babies
- The babies are frequently awake at night: Parents might be worried when the babies are frequently awake at night since it can potentially affect growth hormone secretion, resulting in improper child growth and development. Sleep training methods and recommendations made by child development specialist allow the babies to sleep smoothly throughout the night and the regular sleeping schedules can be properly obtained.
- The babies do not roll over or start talking with consonant sounds: If warning sign of abnormal child development exhibits, it is highly advised to consult with child development specialist in order to find out the problem and solve it accordingly.
- The babies do not allow nannies to take care of them: Some families have changed nannies or baby-sitters quite often. This causes high degree of unfamiliarity to the babies, thus they might not accept the care given by these nannies, but their parents. If it is a case, parents might not be able to work or go out since they need to spend time taking care of their babies all the time. Recommendations made by child development specialist help to encourage the babies to stay with their nannies more efficiently.
For 6-month old babies
- Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) practices: Baby-led weaning is where handheld finger foods are introduced to the babies when they start solids rather than spoon-fed purees. It largely helps the babies to feed themselves by using their fingers. Certain foods with proper amount are good for baby-led weaning. However, it can be adjusted depending on individual family.
- The babies cannot sit or respond when calling their names: If warning sign of abnormal child development arises, consultation with child development specialist is crucial in order to find out the problem and solve it accordingly.
- Appropriate toys: Toys are more than just fun for the babies. Most toys provide at least some opportunity for the babies to learn. As they grow, infants can use toys to explore object permanence to develop their physical and brain functions. Babies of different age groups need different toys. Recommendations made by child development specialist can help to select suitable toys and appropriate playing techniques for the babies.
- The babies cry excessively without control or prediction: When the babies scream loud or high-pitched cry, the parents might feel unconfident to take care of their babies, causing relationship problems with the babies. Shaking the babies to stop crying might lead to Shaken Baby Syndrome (also known as Shaken Impact Syndrome) which is a serious form of abuse inflicted upon a child. It usually occurs when a parent or other caregiver shakes a baby out of anger or frustration, often because the baby do not stop crying. In fact, shaking babies does not stop crying and it can cause traumatic brain injury and brain hemorrhage, leading to long-term disability.
For 9-month old babies
- The babies do not gain enough weight: Since many parents worry whether their babies eat enough, it turns to be pressure that they need to force their babies to eat more foods to grow properly. Nutrition advices from child development specialist helps to find the correct solutions.
- The babies do not sleep throughout the night: The babies might be awake at night seeking for breastfeeding. In fact, the babies should stop being breastfed at night before they are one-year old since it helps to reduce tooth decays (dental carries) and promote a smooth sleep throughout the night.
- The babies do not start crawling, or the babies are scared of the strangers or the babies cry when someone leaves the house: Child development specialist can provide useful guidance for the babies who develop separation anxiety or stranger anxiety by enhancing the baby to regulate and express their emotion more appropriately.
- The parents feel exhausted due to holding the babies to sleep: To send the babies to sleep, there are several techniques instead of holding the babies in the parent’s arms. Advices for alternatives from child development specialist is helpful and the babies can start how to sleep by themselves.
For 1-year old babies
- The babies cannot say daddy or mommy, cannot walk or saying bye-bye as instructed: Parents might worry if the babies show certain signs of delayed development. Talking to child development specialist can guide whether the babies have impaired development and the problems can be corrected accordingly.
- The babies scream or high-pitched cry when they are not pleased for what they want: When they do not get what they wish for, the babies might express their disappointing feelings by screaming loud or crying aggressively. Instead of these reactions, the babies should be able to communicate what they want and regulate their feelings when they are disappointed.
- The babies express inappropriate behaviors: Parents and caregivers can help shape and mold their baby’s behavior by modeling the behaviors they want their babies to emulate. If the babies demonstrate their inappropriate behaviors, such as throwing things and biting other people, they should be explained and punished appropriately in order to correct their behaviors.
- The babies refuse to sit on high chair, car seat or sleep: These problems can be corrected if the discipline is applied.
Taking care of the babies can be very challenging for a number of parents. Although more sources of recommendations are available in different platforms or channels, they might not be practical. Child Development Neuropsychiatric Clinic, Bangkok Hospital has created “My Parents, My Heroes Project: The Significant Parent’s Roles in Child Development” to encourage parents of the babies aged 2,4,6,9 and 12 months (3 families per age group) to join puzzle activity with an exclusive coaching approach conducted by our child development specialists for appropriate child development in all dimensions, covering physical, intellectual, social and emotional aspects.