How do you explain to a moth­er that there’s a hap­pi­er way to greet her daugh­ter at the end of the day? How do you explain that her daugh­ter has ‘fallen in love’ with a piece of music with video, that I play…every day…and that her daugh­ter now ‘requests’ what I call “the pret­ty music” just by search­ing in my bag for my phone? How do you explain how calm­ly and peace­ful­ly her daugh­ter lays across my legs to lis­ten to ‘her’ favourite song, slight­ly sway­ing her body and occa­sion­al­ly ‘singing along’? How do you explain that because that music is in four part har­mo­ny, voic­es only, there may be some­thing in the lit­tle girl’s brain that is attract­ed to, fas­ci­nat­ed by, that com­bi­na­tion of sounds, or per­haps just that one song – and she’s only 15 months old!

We don’t yet know if she’s musi­cal (although we know she loves music), or has per­fect pitch, or has one of mil­lions of oth­er pos­si­ble abil­i­ties, strengths and attrib­ut­es which will stand her in good stead as she grows up and (hope­ful­ly) devel­ops her pas­sions in life. But it is crit­i­cal that we car­ers rec­og­nize her bur­geon­ing abil­i­ties in all facets of her dai­ly under­stand­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. (Sad to say I’m the only expe­ri­enced intu­itive car­er right now)

Here’s my oth­er prob­lem. I believe her moth­er is self-cen­tred – she whines a lot when she picks up her daugh­ter and can­not seem to grasp the need for a calmer and hap­pi­er tran­si­tion time at the end of the day. Mean­ing, she can’t put her daugh­ter’s emo­tions before her own needs.

“Give me my hug” or “I need my hug” are her ‘commands’ to her 15 month old at the end of the day. The moth­er doesn’t seem able to wait for her daugh­ter to come to her or to allow her daugh­ter to say good­bye to her car­ers — whom she loves, by the way. 

And she’s not the only moth­er who acts that way! 

Par­ents (moth­ers and fathers) most­ly don’t accept that their chil­dren form strong bonds with their car­ers. I don’t think they even think about what hap­pens to their child in the 10-hour day their child spends with us.

The attach­ments young chil­dren form, to par­ents and car­ers, can be healthy or oth­er­wise – I’ve seen both and more fre­quent­ly see unhealthy attach­ments to par­ents and car­ers result­ing in severe emo­tion­al and behav­iour­al prob­lems. Not for­get­ting the litany of pos­si­ble devel­op­men­tal delays I fore­see in that child’s future.

When the attach­ment to a car­er is healthy it is because the child has a very strong and healthy attach­ment to their moth­er AND the moth­er also val­ues and respects their child’s healthy attach­ment to the carer. 

The whole rela­tion­ship is mutu­al and all par­ties to those car­ing rela­tion­ships under­stand their own pieces of the puz­zle. Their mutu­al pri­ma­ry focus is the health and neu­rotyp­i­cal devel­op­ment of the child.

Let’s respect every child the way we should. 

Why is it so hard to explain respect? 

It was Mag­da Gerber’s (RIE) rule of thumb for car­ing for young chil­dren and I know it works. But sad­ly I now also recog­nise that her method only works if we have expe­ri­enced respect through­out our own lives and show it in every­thing we do with every per­son, with every child.

Respect can’t be explained.