This week involves a theme that encourages snuggles! Maternal sensitivity, simply defined, is to respond to your child’s needs in a timely and appropriate manner. In other words, when your baby needs a diaper change, you do so promptly and don’t try to feed them instead, or if your child needs a nap, then you get them to bed. This is something that has been proven important in the development of a secure attachment between parent and child, specifically over the first year of life, when they are learning about trust. The first year is a critical time for learning how to trust another person, according to attachment theory (research origins with Mary Ainsworth & John Bowlby), or trust vs. mistrust according to E. Erickson. A parent (or primary caregiver) is a child’s first friend, so all their first impressions of friendship and the nature of relationships and interacting with other people is taught by this first “friend” during the first year outside the womb.These initial relationship(s) seem to affect the success of future friendships in school and romantic relationships as adults. To learn how to interpret a baby’s limited communication techniques, spending quality time with him or her is very important for getting to know the baby well enough to respond sensitively and appropriately.
Needs get more complicated as kiddos grow, so the importance of knowing your child well enough to respond sensitively stays strong. Quality time that includes reading, face-to-face interactions, talking about likes and feelings, hand games, and anything that you and your child can enjoy together equally is important for maintaining a relationship that will help us, as parents, continue to exhibit maternal sensitivity. So, recommendations for activities this week include assurances of our love for our kids, looking them in the eye, letting them express their individual preferences, and valuing their handprints!
Craft Activity #1:
Turn handprints into art. My daughter loves the feel of me painting her hand with a paintbrush, so she mostly enjoyed this craft. I spread an old shower curtain on the floor as a paint shield. We started off with her in a craft smock, but it started bothering her, so I stripped her down to a diaper. I also had baby wipes very handy to wipe off paint as soon as done with each print. Once they had dried, I added the rabbit and heart/flower decor with crayons and sharpee. The bunny idea came from The Gingerbread House, and the heart flowers came from Just a little creativity. Sorry that my bunny ended up as “after” and “before;” I didn’t think about that when I was coloring…
Craft Activity #2:
For a get-to-know-your toddler activity, spend time perusing old magazines (oftentimes, libraries will have old magazines that are free for the taking) with your youngster, letting them pick out pictures that they like or that they think are like them, depending on age; pick a theme they like if you want, such as animals or flowers. Depending on kiddo’s age, let them use scissors to cut out the shapes or you can just tear them out together (I don’t want to have any scissors even out, or Pen Elaine will be completely distracted by wanting to use them). The next step (or prepare beforehand if you’re on top of it!) is to lay out a piece of contact paper, sticky side up, or tape it to the wall with masking tape to be more like a mural. The mural or “sticky wall” approach is good for wiggly ones! They can simply place their cut/ripped out pictures onto the sticky paper, no glue required! Once all pictures placed, cover the art with another piece of clear contact paper that’s approximately the same size – voila!
I chose the first song because it involves facing each other and watching each other’s moves; I also subsitute my Pen Elaine’s name for “baby” and use her first letter (P) instead of marking it with a “B.”
Then, in Barney’s signature song, I get to sing about how we love each other, we’re family, and give my little one a kiss and hug!
Both of these books have are some of Pen Elaine’s faves – the links give the cover art and why we both love them: