Before I had children I believed strongly in nurture over nature. I can remember reading an article that said put a girl and boy in a forest alone with a stick and the girl will put it to bed and the boy will shoot with it and thinking ‘what rubbish’. And then I had kids and everywhere I look there are dolls beds. In my house my kids even use sheets of paper as doll sheets!
I can remember another time catching one of my children in the car playing a game of dolls with her fingers. For a while after that I honestly believed that as a result, my children’s development happened more in spite of me than because of me. I mean, if they play with their fingers anyway (the development of imaginary play, an early childhood skill) then I don’t need to do anything right?
What I learned later was that this both is and isn’t true.
The most important thing you can give your kids is love and interaction. It needs to be the right sort – in a calm safe environment, time spent making eye contact and cuddling them, talking quietly to them is what stimulates their brain. In fact this kind of stimulation and interaction with your baby and small child is what develops the neural pathways in their brain more than anything else. If you are doing this then you actually put their brain in a place where it can take on all the other experiences that just happen. Of course I am not saying that reading and singing and talking aren’t important – they are – but a large part of why they are important is the interaction and stimulation they provide.
I don’t know if this strikes a chord with you? I knew a colleague who had a very upset colicky baby and she was so concerned about his development that she was constantly trying to teach him things. About 4 months on she was so stressed that she gave up and just started singing to him and relating to him (a natural talent for her) and things quickly got better. Have you had any similar experiences with your baby?