The articles The Amazing Power of Baby Love” and “A Year to Cheer,” written by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Emily Abedon, respectively, advocate for intense coexistence between the child and caregiver.
These articles, taken from Parenting Magazine, provide guidelines for parents and caregivers to ensure proper development of their child up to the second year. The articles also educate the reader that every child develops at their own pace, and there is no exact timetable to gauge their progress. Regardless, both articles emphasize the importance of deep mutual interaction between the child and caregiver. Stanley Greenspan’s The Amazing Power of Baby Love teaches that simple gestures and interactions help babies develop intelligence, language, and character.
It states that at 2 to 4 months, the child becomes more involved with the caregiver. Notice the correlation between the author’s statement and Ainsworth’s Stages of Attachment (p463-465): Birth through 2 months – indiscriminate social responsiveness – At first, babies do not focus their attention exclusively on their mothers and will at times respond positively to anyone.” 2 months through 7 months – discriminate social response – “During the second phase, infants become more interested in the caregiver and the other familiar people and direct their social responses to them.” From birth to approximately 2 months, the infant does not really care who handles them.
Afterward, from 2 to 7 months, the child develops into the next stage. Once the child is in the second stage of Ainsworth’s theory, Greenspan suggests that the child is intelligent enough to distinguish differences between people. Your child seems to be more intensely involved with you. She may look longingly into your eyes or wiggle in anticipation when she hears you approaching.”
By 5 months, the child should have their own ways of expressing affection:
- Responding to facial expressions
- Initiating interactions
- Making sounds or moving in rhythm with motions of your own
- Relaxing when being held
- Cooing when attention is given
- Looking at the face as if studying it
- Looking uneasy/sad when you move away
The last in the list above relates to stage three of Ainsworth’s stage theory, focused attachment. The child suffers from separation anxiety, or fear that the caregiver will leave and never return. This action can relate to Piaget’s thoughts on object permanence because the child fears or believes that once an object is out of sight, it is gone for good. By definition, object permanence is the knowledge that objects have a permanent existence that is independent of our perceptual contact with them. In Piaget’s theory, object permanence is a major achievement of the sensorimotor period. Greenspan then begins to talk about the beginning of communication.”
He states that children have a comprehension of language before they say their first words. Gestures take the place of verbal communication. At first, gestures are purposeful for requests and referential communication, later for functioning as symbols to label objects, events, and characteristics. When the caregiver responds to the child, the following interaction supposedly helps boost the child’s self-esteem. More importantly, the child learns about other’s moods and, in turn, learns the ability to react to them.
By responding to a baby, they learn that their actions have an observable impact on their environment. Two-way conversations also make the child more empathetic. Once they see that they have an impact on the caregiver, they see that person as an individual, someone separate from themselves. In the end, Greenspan emphasizes again that children develop at their own pace. On top of that, they have their own response to a stimulus. Just because they react in a way that a caregiver was expecting does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong.
When interacting with a child, one should study how the child reacts and then do what the child seems to enjoy to bring the most pleasure, without being too obvious. Finally, Greenspan suggests the following:
- Talk in babble, using high to low pitches
- Use a variety of faces while babbling
- Massage the baby, telling them what you’re doing
- Move the baby’s arms and legs while talking and looking at them
- Do not exhaust the baby; stop when signs of fatigue or overstimulation arise
Emily Abedon’s A Year to Cheer discusses the development of a child from 12 through 24 months. The most important thing, again, is that Abedon emphasizes children develop at their own pace, and parents should not push them.