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Some Pointers About Human Development
Development of the "Spiritual Embryo."
The following commentary, regarding the nature of the child, includes bits of advice in raising a baby/toddler/preschooler 0-6 yrs. It is based on my current understanding of Montessori principles through working with preschool aged children in both home and school settings.
What is a child? A child is joy of life incarnate. He is love incarnate. He is perfect. He comes to us from the arms of the angels with a smile, a nod and kiss blown to us from heaven.
A child is a fresh start. A very fresh start. And he is yours… Well, only for a while. But, for now, he is small and needs constant tending to. Even a second of looking away can be tragic. So, never look away... until he is sleeping. And when he is awake, spot him as though you are a gymnastics coach. Children need to be "spotted" as they grow… all the way into adulthood. So get used to being attentive.
A child is a sponge absorbing everything around him. He will absorb what is good about you and what is bad. But, he will do it according to a mysterious process of self-choosing. Some things he will pick up, some things he will not. To be on the safe side, perfect yourself. Let him have access to only the good things! You have your issues... we all do, but now is a good time to resolve them. And happily, having to deal with our children gives us not only a reason to discover and tackle our weaknesses, but the opportunity, as well!
And protect yourself... avoid creating a spoiled, controlling brat. Spoiling has become more widespread in recent years. In the not so distant past, parents did not have such a problem, but in my view, they were overly reserved and undemonstrative. In the modern era, some parents are too close, to the point of being overly familiar. Parents need to assume an air of authority in setting boundaries so that their children will be free to explore their world and adapt to it. Love is a given and should be natural. No need to over-do it or under-do it.
Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid "catering" to your child.
1. Do not give in to the blackmailing efforts of a crying child. When a parent says NO, the parent MUST stand behind it. It is so easy to give in to the demands of a crying or whining child, but you must be consistent and mean what you say. A child who is given what he wants and allowed to feel as though he controls the show, actually feels insecure. After all, he was just born!
2. Get into the habit of not giving the child what he wants at the time of demand. Establish the reality that YOU decide if and when he is to have it. (Wait at least five minutes or so.)
3. Do not say "okay?" at the end of your commands or requests. Find a gentle but authoritative manner. Use " I " as in " I would like you to…"
In many ways toughness does comes into play when a baby is very young… But, YOU are the one who needs to be tough: with yourself. You must become very realistic. You must know when to give and when not to give. You need strength to consistently to stand behind your NOs. (Don't even say NO if you don't have the energy and strength to maintain such a position.) You need to be attentive. You need to be observant and objective. It is not, I repeat NOT about YOU anymore. If it is, you will miss the cues, you will flounder, you will falter and so will your child because you will fail to discover appropriate goals, (based on the CHILD'S innate interests and intrinsic motivations,) and opportunities. You will lose touch with your child.*
*Note: After your child's psyche is formed you can have more of yourself back, as one should always stay in touch with one's hopes, dreams and ambitions. Just put them on hold until the child is in elementary school. Of course, this is the ideal. If one must continue working, a good Montessori school is a good substitute for the home environment. Dr. Maria Montessori's schools were specifically designed to institutionalize the home.
The child's entire body was formed in the womb. He has it all. Your good looks and your spouse's intelligence. Thank God you married well. Thank God you married someone clean of drugs and substances. Thank God you had a good diet and good prenatal care. And thank God the genes were conducive to a perfectly formed little alien... I mean human. And if circumstances were not so perfect and your child was not perfectly formed, his soul is perfect. Souls are perfect like that. Thank God for souls.
And about that soul. The child's soul is incarnating into his wonderful vehicle/body via the brain and senses. He is adapting to his environment and programming his inner computer/brain. He is storing data and creating connections to that stored data: second by second, hour by hour, day by day. The child is cross referencing, absorbing, incorporating, building, constructing and adapting to so much information, that an adult would crash. Not the child. He continues his work creating mind-body-soul connections while sleeping, eating, playing, feeling, sensing, crying, pooping and peeing. All the while, his liver, kidneys and respiratory systems working perfectly.
Keep the organs working perfectly through good diet and health. First, good mother's milk (or substitute) and then good food. Good food consists of pureed vegetables, grains and legumes. Babies don't need junk foods at all. They need the most wholesome easy to digest foods possible. The evolution/perfecting of the human body occurred for centuries due to the partaking of natural foods. Not processed. Then add all the benefits of sunlight, fresh air, cuddling, soothing, nurturing... Enough said.
Now, Back to the Topic of this Article: The Psyche of the child and how it develops.
The psyche of the child is the spiritual aspect of the child. That is to say, the force operating within the child. This force is invisible. It is dynamic. It is intelligent. It is joyful. And we must allow this force to operate freely within the child. This force directs the sub-conscious growth of the child's psyche. This growth and development will happen just fine if we allow it. For instance, we did not open the womb to tell the child how to grow his toes or nose. No, we allowed the gestation process to occur uninterrupted the entire nine months. (Well, no, we didn't have a choice.)
Repeating: We allowed nature to form the body of the child within the womb. We must do the same for the development of the child's mind and personality. The whole child must be taken inconsideration: body, mind and (roll the drums…) the soul. The making of a child is a holistic endeavor and is being undertaken by nature. We must know how to cooperate with nature. Conscious cooperation is something we must learn, unless we have a lot of common sense.
But, let's say one doesn't have common sense and attempts to influence his or her child in a particular direction. In the past, some wanted to teach their very young babies how to read. (Glen Doman wrote a book, Teaching Your Baby How To Read.) I believe this is bombarding the outer consciousness of the child who should be working from within. Why hold up clumsy flash cards when your baby is watching your lips, your eyes, your voice; absorbing subtle nuances you aren't even aware of. He is absorbing cues you could never teach him on a conscious level. He is absorbing things based on mysterious operations within the subconscious of the child. Parents must allow this subconscious absorbing to occur. We must stand back and observe. Help when it is required, but put the baby down and do your work so he can do his. And he will do it. (As you do your work around the house, you must keep your eye on your child. This is why evolution has blessed mothers with the awesome ability to multitask.) It is easy when they are infants, as you can put them down near you. Toddlers, not so much.
Toddlers must have an environment which is not only safe, but rich in activities. Low shelves with interesting items to manipulate is best. A word of caution: don't feel obligated to entertain your baby. He must entertain himself through working in the environment you have created for him. If you constantly entertain him, he will absorb your behavior into his reality and expect it as part of life. We can assist nature, but not deviate it from its natural course of development. By giving the child freedom to work in an environment which is conducive to the natural urge to manipulate and explore objects, we can facilitate the development of the child's natural abilities and propensities. We can enable mastery of skills such as stacking, pouring and filling by supplying appropriate activities. Then, observe what he likes. Hint: it is rarely merely playing with toys!
And commit to learning, through keen observation of your child, when to step in and when to step out.