Your baby is growing up!
What a child needs from Mom and Dad changes as she transitions to early childhood, but self-donative empathic parenting doesn’t end when the toddler becomes a preschooler.
We are no longer meeting an infant’s intense needs through nursing on demand, babywearing, etc. (though you may still be nursing your preschooler a few times a day if she isn’t weaned), but our child continues to need our help in developing her full capacity for imaginative play and in understanding and exploring her role in the family. We must continue to nurture the rapport between the preschool child and her family so that her attachment and sense of security become even stronger.
Are you nervous about all this talk of attachment and rapport in a discussion of kiddies who are getting past the baby years? I understand your concern. In our culture, children are pressured very early to be “independent” and parents are made to feel they are coddling or spoiling their child if they try to encourage strong bonding between the child and her family.
However, children become naturally independent as they gain confidence in their environment. Pushing independence on them almost always backfires. Is the child really independent or has she given up looking to her parents and family for comfort and a sense of well-being? A deep family attachment doesn’t impede independence, but in fact gives the child the kind of confidence and sense of well-being that allows an authentic independence to emerge, and eventually a Godly interdependence in the family’s community of love.
Children at this stage love to imitate their parents and older siblings, which keeps us on our toes! Whether we are washing the dishes, speaking to a store clerk, or praying, these little people are paying attention. This is the stage when our example and guidance are very powerful in shaping our child’s attitude and heart.
Dr. Gregory Popcak explains in Parenting With Grace that the major goals of the early childhood years are:
- Furthering initiative and competence
- The beginning of emotional control
- Fostering spirituality and conscience
- Laying the foundation for healthy socialization
- Getting ready for first school experiences
CAPC will explore these goals in articles and blog posts!
Parenting with Grace by Dr. Gregory Popcak
The Discipline Book by Dr. William Sears
The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley
Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen
The Mass Book for Children by Donna Piscitelli
Considering Choices for Schooling by Kim Cameron-Smith
Fostering Spirituality: Little Acts of Stewardships by Lisa Stack
Photo credits: Daniel Hurst (girl on swing); Jupiter Images (girl in shoes)