GRAND Magazine - July/August 2018 - 24
alleviate it. You can also play some games with your grandbaby
that help - either peekaboo (where you hide your face and then
make it reappear) or a variation with toys.
Children are hardwired for independence so as they develop, they
will have a natural curiosity and drive to explore and master their
world. It's important to give babies some time to play and explore on
their own. That doesn't mean leaving them ALONE, it just means not
being right in their face all the time. It may mean putting some fascinating objects on the quilt with the baby and letting the baby fool
around on his own. You can stand back and observe.
As your grandbaby explores his world and attempts new tasks,
there's always a chance of frustration. And as someone who loves
her and wants her to be resilient and self-sufficient, your job is not
to instantly rush right in and make it all better. The wise grandparent will know when to let the baby struggle a little and when
to help. Is that bright duckie just out of reach? Stretching for it
might just be the first step toward crawling.
At the beginning, you can be sure your baby isn't deliberately
trying for a response from you - that baby just knows she NEEDS
something. The very youngest babies don't even know they
HAVE a self, apart from you - and during the first year of life, that
will be one of their major learnings.
At about 4 months, your grandbaby may begin to
understand that when she cries - you respond. And when he
smiles, you smile. Your grandbaby is just beginning to discover
intention, maybe getting the first inkling of cause and effect.
At about 6 or 7 months, a realization dawns on the
baby - she is SHE and you are YOU - and that can lead to separation anxiety. Are you, or her other loving caretakers, going to walk
away? What if she needs you while you're out of sight? Will you
Sometimes this anxiety lasts for many months - and your
reassurance, and the fact that you DO reappear, will usually help
MAY JUNE 2018
As infants grow to toddlers, so does
their quest for independence
egg? Use a whisk? Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups? The
results may not be perfect - but the process is fun.
* Feeding the dog or cat. Help setting the table.
* Keep "their stuff" where they know where to find it. Have
them pick out a book. Choose the pair of socks for the day.
* An experienced grandma tells us that her best strategy for
encouraging her toddler to "come along" is to give him something to carry or help with. "Do you want to push the elevator
button?" "Can you pop the button on the car?" "I'd love your help
carrying this bag into the store."
* Give choices so they get good at making them. "Red hat or
blue hat today?"
#1 recommended tool for
independence: the step stool
You can't do it if you can't see it! When we talked to grandparents, they told us that having a step stool handy for their grandchild opened a whole new world of possibilities for fun, for helping, for learning.
The way parents and grandparents react to a child's efforts
can have a great influence over that child's self-confidence.
Of course, doing something when you're just learning takes
longer. It can have questionable results. So being a grandparent
through those stages requires patience and good judgment.
You can also create learning experiences. When your grandbaby
is no longer an infant, but a walking, running, reaching, grabbing
two-year old, he may enter the "Me Do It" stage. You can either fight
it or facilitate it. After all, a toddler feeding herself usually makes a
mess. Putting on clothes takes longer. And choosing clothes? That
can result in some very weird outfits. And only you can decide what
you're comfortable with. But somehow, the toddler needs to get
practice and to do a job imperfectly at first to become proficient.
Some ways to facilitate:
* Come up with tasks where you can use their help. Simple
baking or cooking, for example. Break down the steps. Break an
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GRAND Magazine - July/August 2018
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