ELLEN GALINSKY: PARENTING EXPERT
Ellen Galinsky, president and cofounder of the Families and Work Institute, is one of the most noted experts on child development today. She has published more than 40 books, including the classics The Six Stages of Parenthood and Ask the Children: The Breakthrough Study The Breakhthrough Study That Reveals How to Succeed at Work and Parenting. She is a noted keynote speaker and recipient of numerous award and honorary degrees. Her book Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs is one of Galinsky’s most unique and valuable parenting books. We highly recommend it for the parents of our Stellar Caterpillars. For more info, visit mindinthemaking.org.
THE SEVEN ESSENTIAL LIFE SKILLS FOR CHILDREN
Galinsky examines how our interactions with children in conversation and play potentially cultivate seven valuable life skills. The book is organized with each chapter devoted to one of these seven skills. Tips for parents and specific activities for children are included in each chapter for play with children. These seven life skills are:
- Focus and Self-Control: Includes paying attention, remembering rules, and maintaining self-control. This is necessary for achieving goals in life.
- Perspective Taking: Learning to figure out what other people are thinking and intending. Children who learn this skill are less likely to engage in conflicts.
- Communicating: More than just speaking and writing, communicating is the ability to know what one would like to express and then figuring out how to make that understood by others.
- Making Connections: Sorting into categories what is the same, what is different, what is unusual, and then using this information. This skill is at the core of creativity.
- Critical Thinking: Learning to search for accurate or reliable information to guide decisions, beliefs, and actions.
- Taking On Challenges: Some children learn to avoid challenges and others learn to take them on. Accepting challenges and working with them is an important part of learning and development.
- Self-Directed, Engaged Learning: We will not always have someone like a teacher to direct us in life. As children learn to follow their own curiosity and learn they thrive in school and outside of school.
GUIDED PLAY WITH CHILDREN
Through several examples Galinsky teaches the concept of guided play with children. This means that parents can not be the boss and tell the child exactly what to do such as “put that block over here.” Instead they must guide the child to see more clearly what is in front of them. For example, if you explain to the child that a particular block in their hand does not fit because it is “too long,” then you can ask them to find a shorter one. They now learn the difference between short and long. Focus on describing the experience rather than telling them what to do. This is part of their learning process.
Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs: by Ellen Galinsky: (New York: Harper Collins, 2010).
WHAT IS INFANT MASSAGE ?
In our busy world today many adults have learned the benefit of a massage. It has become a treat to indulge in while on vacation, a part of healing an injury while in physical therapy, or a way to reduce the stress of daily life. There is also an increasing awareness of the benefits of massage for babies. Many new parents are now seeking instruction in the art of massage for their baby. However, massaging your baby is a custom that has a very long tradition in some cultures such as India and Sweeden. They knew the benefits of a daily massage for baby and passed down the technique from one generation to the next. In her book Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, author Vimala McClure shares the technique she evolved after spending time volunteering in an orphanage in India and learning about the benefits of massage for babies. McClure’s book is considered a classic and her technique is taught internationally.
BENEFITS OF INFANT MASSAGE
In her book, Vimala introduces massage as a method of communication between mother and baby, facilitating the process of bonding. She also explains that babies benefit in numerous ways from massage. In fact, numerous research studies have been published that substantiate the benefits of a daily massage for baby. Some of the studies focus on the benefits for babies born premature and show that babies in the NICU unit receiving daily massage gain weight faster and are released from the hospital sooner that those who do not receive massage. Other benefits of massage for babies that McClure mentions in her book include:
- Bonding between mother/father and baby
- Decreases fussiness or colic
- Improves sleep
- Decreases digestive discomfort
- Releases muscular tension as the body develops
INFANT MASSAGE TECHNIQUE
McClure’s book is complete with step-by-step instructions of her massage technique for babies. Beautiful photos illustrate each of the strokes along with clear and detailed instruction. How to choose a good massage oil, how to massage a baby with special needs, and how to adapt the massage for the baby as she becomes more physically active and grows older are also topics of discussion. This book makes a wonderful gift for a new mother. You might include a gift certificate for a series of classes in infant massage with a local instructor. Contact Infant Massage USA for an instructor in the United States or the International Association of Infant Massage (founded by Vimala McClure) for an instructor in your country. Both organizations teach Vimala McClure’s method.
The gift of nurturing touch is a beautiful gift.
Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents: by Vimala McClure (New York: Bantam Books, 1979).
BABIES AND EMOTIONS
Motor skill development and emotional development occur in babies during their first year. Although we focus primarily on the development of motor milestones, it is important to discuss emotional development from time to time. We have habits of how we respond emotionally just like we have movement habits that exercise teachers try and change. Through a bit of education we can become aware of our habits and then improve them, whether it is our physical movement or expression of emotions. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting, by John Gottman, Ph.D., is a book for parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and anyone else interested in nurturing the capacity of young children to feel and express their true feelings. He introduces the concept of “emotion coaching” as he guides parents to the understanding that it is important to help a baby or child feel their true feeling in the moment rather than bury it.
MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND EMOTION COACHING
Emotions go hand in hand with learning movement. From the joy of learning to execute a new movement to the pain of falling down, babies and children move through a range of experiences on a daily basis in both emotions and motor skills. Parents can learn to react to these moments with baby through the simple steps outlined in Gottman’s easy-to-read book. By learning to see the disappointment on a child’s face when her favorite toy just fell apart in front of her, a parent can first identify the emotion first and then provide a solution. He also recommends a unique game for babies that allows parents to share the emotions of their day and invites baby to share her emotions in return.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN
One of the most valuable sections of this book is the list of books for babies and children that focus on emotions. Selected books from this list makes a wonderful baby shower gift. Adding books to baby’s first library that teach emotions makes a nice addition to a collection of books on colors, counting, and ABC’s. After all, aren’t emotions also the colors of our life?
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting: by John Gottman, Ph. D. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997).
A MANUAL FOR CHILDREN AND BABY’S HEALTH ISSUES
Treatment Alternatives for Children presents side-by-side comparisons between conventional and alternative treatment options for over 100 common childhood illnesses, allergies, and health incidents such as bee stings. The information is presented in a way that is easy for parents to understand and apply. Written by Lawrence Rosen, M.D., and Jeff Cohen, this is a must-have book for parents. Rosen is a “nationally recognized expert in pediatric integrative medicine and Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Integrative Medicine.” He is the founder of the Whole Child Center, a primary care practice in new Jersery with a focus on integrative medicine. Cohen has authored three books and is the holistic parent of two children. Together Rosen and Cohen combine years of clinical and parenting experience and expertise with a well-organized writing style to create an essential addition to one’s collection of parenting books.
The clarity of presentation makes it easy to navigate this book. The table of contents groups ailments into categories such as tummy, temperature, skin, first aid, nervous system, and breathing. This is followed by an alphabetical list of ailments. Each ailment is presented with a brief discussion followed by a chart containing categories such as how the treatment works, active ingredient, dosage, side effects, and less serious side effects. The chart allows parents to find the information needed immediately without having to read a lot of extra words. Specific brand names of products are recommended as well as the use of items from your kitchen cupboard such as honey or baking soda. The chapter “Baby Matters” addresses the following common baby health issues:
- Cradle Cap
- Diaper Rash
- Newborn Eye Discharge
- Spitting Up
- Umbilical Cord Care
The reference section at the back of the book includes three alphabetized lists for quick reference: ailments, conventional remedies, and alternative remedies. It also features a section with a few top ten treatment lists such as:
- Ten Spice Rack Resouces
- Ten Curative Foods and Beverages
- Ten Indispensible Oils
- Ten Healing Herbs and Plants
- Ten Helpful Homeopathics
The authors also touch on issues such as failure to thrive, bed wetting, ADHD/ADD, and sleep issues. If your child has an ache, bee sting, allergy, or accident, it is probably covered in this book. For easy reference in the future, buy the book and read it to familiarize yourself with the layout.
ACTIVITIES FOR BABIES
Every mother is looking for ways to interact with her baby. Games for baby, or baby play, are simple activities that every mother can learn to do with baby at home. Author Jackie Silberg compiled a book of over 225 simple activities that every mom can learn. As baby’s social, motor, and cognitive skills evolve with each new month of development, mom needs to learn new games to challenge baby’s emerging abilities. Silberg’s “Games to Play with Babies” is a handbook of bonding and stimulating activities for moms and babies. Organized by age from birth to month twelve and categorized by developmental benefit, moms also learn more about the development of baby as they play Silberg’s games. Topics include:
- Bonding with Baby
- Five Senses
- Developing Trust
- Body Awareness
- Shapes and Colors
- Speech Development
Using simple rhymes, sounds, rhythm, touch, and basic toys, every mom has exactly what she needs to engage with baby through these games. An early game for newborn babies through age three months involves touching baby’s skin with various objects of soft textures, such as a piece of silk, a cotton ball, and a blanket. She can feel the subtle variations in texture against her skin. Later in the year, a game for speech development sits baby in the high chair with a doll, a block, and a ball in front of her. Mom says “This is a doll. This is a block. This is a ball.” She repeats a few times and soon asks “Which one is the ball?” Baby will soon point to the ball. Each game is simple yet stimulating for baby. Silberg’s book also makes a great baby shower gift.
Games to Play with Babies: by Jackie Silberg. (Lewisville: Gryphon House, 2001).
What is colic? Colic is a term used to described babies who cry loud and for long periods of time with no explanation. Often their faces are twisted as if they are in pain. Parents think they may have gas and a trip to the doctor reveals everything is normal, yet baby continues to spend a large portion of daily awake time crying at the top of her lungs. Parents often feel at a loss as to what to do for these babies. Dr. Harvey Karp, a respected pediatrician, researched this dilemna and began working with parents of babies with colic. The result is his book The Happiest Baby On The Block.
The Happiest Baby On The Block addresses the question “How Can I Calm My Baby?” by looking at the top five actions parents have taken across cultures over thousands of years. Now a national bestseller, Dr. Karp’s book presents “the 5 S’s”: Swaddling, Side Position, Shhh Sound, Swinging, and Sucking.” Dr. Karp’s theory is that babies respond to the 5 S’s when used in combination because they provide an experience for baby that closely resembles the experience of the womb. Soon, with these techniques, even the fussiest baby learns to be calm. Dr. Karp presents the “5 S’s” in a simple manner so parents can try them at home and quiet baby’s cries.
The Happiest Baby On The Block: by Harvey Karp, M.D. (New York: Bantam Books, 2002).