Expectations, Brains, and Vacation!

I know that I had said that I would do my next mommy blog on sleep, but I have recently read a couple of books here on vacation that I want to chat about first. Mina and I are in Turkey right now visiting relatives and I always bring tons of books to read. We are early risers and I need something to keep me occupied! I am really glad that I have had the time to read these books, which have been collecting dust on the shelf for so long.

I am trying to lay a foundation of expectations, I guess one might call it, for Mina–behavioral expectations. I worked in a day care center for two years before having Mina, specifically in the baby room. It was apparent to me that parenting is not always an innate ability and it is better to be forewarned and forearmed with information! So, when I was pregnant, I devoured baby books and now I am transitioning to toddlerhood with the “terrible two’s” rapidly approaching!

I bought the book Parenting with Love and Logic from TKE a few months ago and just sat down to read it Saturday. It was a pretty rapid read and I found the verbiage very accessible, the scenarios plausible and very relatable. I was surprised, however, to see that each chapter began with biblical Proverb excerpts. This was not a problem for me and they were not too preachy, but I am not a very religious person. Someone of a different faith may have a problem getting past that point because it does quote a religious text, but it would be a shame to let that stop you from reading this book.

I think I am going to start implementing many of the recommendations right now! For example, I liked the part about giving up control and putting it in the hands of the child in certain aspects because it fosters independent thinking and decision making. Too many kids relay on the parents to decide for them and it does not lay a firm foundation for the future. How will the kids ever be ready to enter the real world and decide how to live in it? So, the other day, instead of just putting shoes on Mina, I asked her what shoes she wanted to wear: Dinos. Ok. Fine. Sunday we went to the park and I brought her sweater. I asked her if she was cold, she said no. I left it at that. A few minutes later, she came up, signed “Cold, Sweater, in” and we put on her sweater. It is really working out well! Before we go out, I ask her if she wants to walk out by herself or carried. First she says walk, and then sometimes she puts her hands up after a few minutes and says “up”. I can see how this application can prevent tantrums and foster independent thought processes to develop naturally.

There is one story that really illustrates the basic parental command: “Put your coat on, it’s cold outside.” The kid says no and there is a tussle to get out the door. The example in the book recommends this instead: “It is cold outside. You might want to consider wearing a coat. I am because I don’t like being cold.” The child decides not to and is shivering the car, rethinking his decision. Is the kid going to catch a cold with a quick car ride? No, but the lesson he will learn will last a long time.

The other book that I am about done with is called Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth to Adolescence. Mom gave it to me months ago and I am just getting to it now. It has been really interesting to see how the brain functions with regard to learning and enrichment, how it grows and shrinks due to positive and negative influences at such early ages. The author, Marian Diamond, is a brain specialist and you can really feel her excitement for her work as you read.

I have to admit that I skimmed some of the basic brain segment information area–I am on borrowed time when Mina is sleeping, so I wanted to get to the juicy parts! The short version is, they conducted tests with rats in two different cages: one big and full of toys and friends and one small and isolated. Then they measured the size of the cortex. The rat from the bigger cage had a thicker cortex! In some instances, rats with no stimulation had no cortex growth at all. It is a very interesting read about how early treatment of children really affects their learning capabilities later in life.

It was unbelieveable to me how long lasting these early experiences chart the course for life. Another example : A girl is raised by a controlling father who decides what she eats, when she eats, and so on. She doesnt do anything before consulting him. Once she was removed from that environment and was asked what she wanted on her sandwich, she looked blank. The area of the brain that could have made that decision was stunted and she was, at that moment, physically unable to make that decision. The book also goes into how much reading and playing with children enrich their lives and give them such an advantage. Not only do they learn faster, they grow faster too! They said that the increased enrichment process also stimulates the brain metabolism and the kids grow faster, teeth come in faster, etc.

I guess I could go on and on with other examples, but you get the idea. There is a lot of science in this book, but the authors have main-streamed the researc for the everyday reader. Definitely something to read before you get pregnant or while you are pregnant, because i don’t think you will ever get the time to fully absorb all the science after the baby comes (unless you go on vacation!). ~ Elif

One Response to Expectations, Brains, and Vacation!

  1. Anne says:

    Giving my kids choices from a very early age worked well for us too. Fewer fights and happier kids meant a happier momma.

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