The habit of affection
How I believe a good night's rest, affection and the interdependence between you and your child are connected.
Sleeping, playing and giving real attention to your child; these three are more connected than you might expect. A working mom told me about her story and the method of Eduard Estivill which got me curious. Estivill is a Spanish Neurologist and the writer of the book: Sleep baby sleep. We all know that sleep can be quite scarce in the life of a parent with young kids but is invaluable to us. A lack of sleep puts both you and your child in a terrible mood. Your kid is less patient and cries more often, while you are short-tempered and feel more insecure than usual. Your child requires more attention and shows that by protesting when being left alone for example. So, a regular good night's sleep is important to the entire family. That is where the connection between real attention and a good night's rest comes in.
You are the key to your child's night rest
According to Estivill, it all starts with you learning your child to go to sleep. While some babies find their way into sleeping by themselves, around 30% of 6-months old children need help learning how to do so. Around those six months, the sleeping cycle of a baby changes into needing a proper night's rest. Learning how to sleep the entire night is something that can be quite challenging for some kids. While some figure it out themselves, others require more structure and explanation from you. Essentially, you’re trying to teach your child the habit of sleeping. Estivill explains that habits are created through repeated actions. That’s how children start to associate certain events with specific people, places or items.
It doesn't make you any less of a parent if you're unsure whether you use the right techniques to educate your kid when it comes to sleeping. It is important to know that how you respond is what affects your kid most. If your child is screaming for attention in the middle of the night, it is up to you to decide which step is the right one. You are the only one who can teach your child to go to sleep. If you’d like to do so according to Estivill’s theory, then there’s a roadmap you can follow. On this roadmap, you can find suggestions which items to use when you want to you child to do certain activities. An obvious example of this is the association of a spoon and a plate with eating. Other examples are a teddy bear, a lullaby or a good night story with sleeping time. The idea is to use the same attributes and actions in the same order every time you want your baby to go to sleep. Do so with a confident attitude and no hesitation to show you’re the parent and you know best. Estivill's theory is one of the ways you can teach your child what sleeping is all about.
The interdependence of your child is connected to a good night’s sleep. Sleep, in its turn, is connected to the habit of affection.
The habit of affection
An important step in learning your child to go to sleep is how affectionate you are together. The moments you are with your child are the moments to show how much you love him or her. It can be as simple as 5 to 10 minutes playtime. You can read a book together, have a tickling contest or build a tower for example. Those moments are what we call the habit of affection. Your child can feel if your attention is real and how affectionate you are. By having these moments together during the daytime, your child learns that it doesn’t need the attention at night. Playtime is simply not something you want your child to require at night. If your baby does call for attention at night, be sure only to give what it needs and no play time. This way, your child learns the difference between play time and sleep time.
Estivill feels strongly that the moment for this habit of affection is between dinner and bedtime. However, I noticed that it works anytime during the day. The sincerity of your attention is what's most important. For me, as a working mom, I love to combine tasks by doing the laundry together with my child. The habit of affection, however, is not something that should be done while multitasking. The habit of affection is playtime that is the key to a good night sleep for the whole family, your child's interdependency as well as your own and, in the end, affects your entire life.
I love my kids more than anything, and I love seeing them grow as interdependent humans. I also truly enjoy being able to combine family time such as this with my own business.
How do you deal with the habit of affection?