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Early Childhood Today

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Activities that Promote Attachment

INFANTS

Your body is your best instrument for building secure infant attachment. Carry tiny babies around in a kangaroo pouch. Carry a scared or fussy baby on your hip for as many days or weeks as it takes until the baby becomes comfortable.

Smooch your babies. Burble some loving kisses on the tummy after a diaper change and after you have bathed or freshened up baby.

Snuggle baby on your lap while sharing a picture book and pointing to the familiar scenes in the pictures.

Make book reading time an intimate, body-pleasuring time. Sometimes you may want to sit on the floor with a couple of babies leaning against you as you share a book.

Be sure you caress baby's hair and smooth her cheek gently in a long palmar stroke to comfort her if she is frustrated.

From time to time, take a baby in your arms for a walk in the room. Point out pictures on the wall. Talk about other babies playing nearby. Point out how her "friends" are banging a toy or shaking a rattle or jabbering to each other.

Hold baby up to the mirror and admire how gorgeous her little face is! Wrinkle your nose at baby as you smile into the mirror and talk with her about her cute nose, her bright eyes, her wiggly fingers with dimples. Babies learn to listen for the delight in your voice tones. This is a deeply personalized message about how you respond to the little one.

Show patience as you feed the baby. If she is a slow, dribbly eater, try to offer her spoonfuls when she is ready rather than feeding too fast or too slow. Tuning into infant tempo is a wonderful way to convince a baby that you really understand her personality and her preferred ways of taking in food.

TODDLERS

Toddlers are on the go. They run and run. They have so much energy! Be sure you eat well and rest well so that you can run with toddlers to keep them cheerful. And be sure that you offer lots of body relaxing time. Just rock slowly and read to a toddler who is ready for a cuddle and a quiet, dreamy book-sharing time with you.

Of course, we want to help young ones learn more mature ways of behaving. But the pace and timing of our teachings and the expectations that we have must be attuned to individual toddler abilities and learning styles.

At nap times, try to give slow, circular back rubs and back pats to toddlers who need some soothing into sleep time. Croon favorite lullabies to your toddlers. As you familiarize them with the lovely melodies day after day, they will feel that they know all about the songs in their school.

Each toddler has a favorite blanket or "lovey" for naptime. They prefer your lullaby songs to be sung just so in a certain order. By providing these familiar routines daily, you enhance toddlers' feeling that all is well in the world.

Keep on giving your toddlers the message that although they are on the go a lot, your loving ways are still available for them. If a toddler takes a hard tumble, act calmly. If you overreact or if you expect her to be a "big girl" now, you will not be continuing the all-important message: "Yes you are learning so many new skills! You are even getting interested (sometimes) in the potty. But if you need me to comfort you, I am right here for YOU!" Such a message will build self-- pride and secure attachment in each of your toddlers.

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