Brain Rules for Baby
Baby seeks safety (survival), above all else. Leaning will only happen when baby first feels safe.
We are social beings, relating everything to others. Our skill at this is directly tied to our happiness.
Exercise helps in countless, countless ways.
Pay attention to baby’s emotions. Interact with them, respond to them, do not force them or overpower them. Be there for baby (p198)
- 4 basic essentials to help brain: Appropriate weight gain, Healthy nutrition, Limiting stress, and Regular exercise.
- Don't stress!
- Eat fruits & veggies.
- Get enough folic acid, iron, iodine, B12 and omega-3.
- Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Exercise helps reduce stress, make mommy and baby happier, reduces labor pains, controls blood sugar, increases mental functioning, improves rest, & betters health in many countless more ways.
- Build and use a supportive social network of friends & family.
- Have a good and loving marriage: keep constant open communication, practise empathy, frequent sex, share work, work out the kinks. Remember: pregnancy and child-rearing are an incredible stress on almost all marriages, and measures must be taken to counteract the damages.
- Bond with baby as much as possible and responding to baby's needs.
- Talk to baby - describe everything you see.
- Give baby ample time and space to play. Also, you play with baby.
- Don't hyper-parent. Too much pressure from parents or unreasonably high expectations can extinguish the joy and natural development of baby.
- Praise effort, not ability.
- Limit TV and digital inputs.
- Foster friendships with babies of similar age (play dates).
- Teach empathy: Talk about how other people’s point of view.
- Read together.
- Practice empathy: Describe strong emotions as they appear, and speculate as to their origin.
- Verbalize your own feelings.
- Promote music. (Start before age 7 and continue at least 10 years).
- Relationship conflict comes from sleep deprivation, social isolation, extra work, and hormonal changes (depression). First step: Be aware. Second step: Practice empathy, empathy, empathy.
- If you have a fight with your spouse in front of baby, make up in front of baby too.
- Develop these five areas of intelligence: Curiosity/exploration, verbal communication, interpreting non-verbal communication, creativity, and self-control.
- Learning sign language helps baby with non-verbal communication.
- Baby needs time to look into your face and study your various emotions. (Autism is not being able to read this type of non-verbal communication). This aids future teamwork and sets them up to be leaders/innovators.
- Let baby play, play-act, pretend, imagine worlds, work out rules with other babies (mature dramatic play).
- Baby should get as much exercise as possible!
- Baby's secret of happiness: more friends. Secret to more friends: emotional regulation and empathy.
Six steps to make a happy baby: (p199) Pay attention to their emotional life: detect, react to, promote, and provide instruction about emotional regulation
- Be firm but warm: Give direction, rules, and expectations, while expressing love and support of baby. Allow for independence, encourage baby to express feelings about familial expectations, and have healthy emotional communication with baby.
- Be comfortable with your own emotions.
- Track baby’s emotions. Be in tune with baby’s cues and respond appropriately. Can be seen in games like peek-a-boo. Pay attention to baby’s emotions carefully and in a loving, unobtrusive way, like a caring family physician. Know how baby feels without even asking. This allows you to predict how baby will feel or react in any number of situations, and act accordingly (one of the most important parenting skills to have). Kids change as they grow and this keeps you in tune and from being caught off guard by the changes. Make sure to give baby space though, because if you smother her it is counterproductive (know when to back off).
- Verbalize emotions: Give emotions names. Name your own, and name baby’s. Talk to baby about her emotions and help her to identify and explain her own. This helps baby self-soothe, regulate her emotions, and make friends. (Verbalizing has a tested, soothing effect on baby’s nervous system). Talking helps baby to connect the physiology of the emotion with the verbal communication of it, and to understand what is going on.
- Run toward emotions:
- Don’t judge emotions: let baby feel what she will - let her be human.
- Emotions are reflexive: Don't ignore “bad” or “hot” emotions. They are real and don't go away by wishing it so. Validate them and empathize with them.
- Emotion isn't a choice, but behavior is: All emotions are approved, but not all behaviors. Consistently teach baby what behaviors are approved and which are not.
- Crisis are teachable moments: Be calm in face of baby's emotional meltdowns. Put out the fire quickly, with empathy, instead of ignoring it.
- Empathy, empathy, empathy: Verbalize and validate the feelings, even if there is nothing beyond that that you can do to resolve the situation.
For moral baby:
- Clear, consistent rules and rewards: Rules should be realistic and clearly communicated. Be warm and accepting at the time of rule enforcement. Praise baby for following the rules. Shape behavior with praising each step leading up to the desired action using positive reinforcement. Praise good behavior as well as the absence of bad behavior. Try to see yourself as you come across to baby.
- Swift punishment: Give attention to the desired behaviors (positive reinforcement) and not the negative ones when the child is starved for attention. Let baby make own mistakes and suffer the consequences (most effective punishment strategy known). Punishment by removal - time out, lost privileges. Must explain when punishing. Punishing strains / damages your relationship with baby so must be done carefully. Punishment must be firm (aversive), enforced every time (let your yes be yes, and no, no) and the same way with the same expectations by all adults in their life, done as soon as possible, and baby must feel safe (rules actually help baby fell safe).
- Explanation of the rules: Explaining rules and reasons for punishment help baby internalize the moral reason for obeying.