January 31, 2012
Babies, Baby bond, Breastfeeding, child psychology, parenting books
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From a health point of view, breastfeeding has lots of benefits in terms of increased immunity for the infant and less likelihood of obesity later on. However, there is a question over whether breastfeeding actually affects a mother’s attachment to her child (the strong emotional bond between a mother and he child). Many breastfeeding advocates say that not breastfeeding your child leads to a weakened emotional bond between the mother and her baby but is this really true? Many mothers who give up breastfeeding early on or who are unable to breastfeed from the start may feel guilty enough about it without being told it will worsen the emotional bond with their child. Many of my friends had problems breastfeeding their first child for various reasons, having a premature baby, having a baby with tongue-tie (a condition where the underside of the tongue is too tightly bound to the floor of the mouth for the baby to breastfeed easily), getting mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue) or not producing enough milk. I heard many comments when my son was a baby about breastfeeding leading to a better bond with your child but I felt pretty sceptical about this. Especially as when I was breastfeeding, my son’s face was turned inwards so there was little eye contact.
So what does psychological research say about breastfeeding and attachment? Britton et al. (2006) found no direct link between breastfeeding and the security of attachment (the strength of the emotional bond between a mother and child). However, they did find that the more responsive and sensitive a mother was to her baby, the more securely attached the baby was later on. Interestingly, although the study did not find the actual act of breastfeeding led to the secure attachment, it did find that mothers who chose to breastfeed were also more likely to responsive to their infants. Note that not all mothers who chose to breastfeed were responsive to their child. Furthermore, mothers who choose to bottle-feed for reasons outside their control may be just as responsive.
The idea that breastfeeding does not affect the emotional bond between a mother and baby relates to a study by Harlow (1969). He took baby monkeys and raised them in a laboratory, giving them a wire monkey to feed from and a cloth monkey to get comfort from or hold onto. The monkeys formed strong attachments to the cloth monkey, but not with the wire one. Harlow concluded that you need comfort more than food for a secure attachment.
Do mothers put too much pressure on themselves? http://wp.me/p29Oas-ml
The importance of family meals http://wp.me/p29Oas-nG
How to deal with tantrums https://psychologymum.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/how-to-deal-with-tantrums/
Choosing a nursery http://wp.me/p29Oas-mF
January 30, 2012
boys bedrooms, child psychology, gender stereotypes, girls bedrooms, parenting books
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I am as guilty as the next person for gender–stereotyping my son. He has lots of trains, fire engines and cars and I have just painted one of the walls in his bedroom blue with pictures of planets. However, according to Sandra Bem, it is not good for children to be gender-stereotyped too much. Children who are too gender stereotyped find it difficult to express themselves fully, have lower self-esteem and are more likely to suffer from mental health problems later. Girls may feel that they have to be passive, caring and helpful and boys may feel that they have to be competitive, aggressive and active even this goes against their natural inclinations. Obviously, it is better for children to feel they can be themselves and explore any interests irrespective of gender stereotypes. I certainly wouldn’t want my son to feel he couldn’t be caring and helpful.
Gender stereotypes may also be one of the reasons boys are doing worse at school than girls. Apparently, doing your homework and being conscientious is now considered to be for girls. Haywood and Mac an Ghaill interviewed boys in a secondary school in the West Midlands and found that the boys saw academic achievement as feminine. Gender stereotypes may also affect which subjects at school children choose to engage with. Cvencek and others investigated whether children had gender stereotypes about mathematics. They showed children two pictures, one of a girl doing maths and one of a boy doing maths. They found that the children were more likely to rate the boy as enjoying the maths than the girl.
So what can parents do to stop their children becoming too gender stereotyped? Parents can choose toys for both genders for their children. To address this, I have got my son a kitchen, dolls’ house and baby doll in addition to his more boyish toys. I am pleased to report that he has played with the kitchen extensively but the dolls’ house and baby doll were not great successes. He seems naturally more inclined to play with his train set but I have tried my best.
Parents can also buy toys in neutral colours and paint their childrens’ rooms in neutral colours, which I have already failed to do if you count my son’s blue space wall. I think it is pretty hard to resist your son’s desire for a Thomas the Tank Engine bedroom or your daughter’s requests for a princess or fairy bedroom. Finally, parents can try to be less gender stereotyped themselves. Men can do more cooking and women can do more lawn mowing, which is perhaps easier said than done. I have to say, my husband and I had more equal roles before I had my son. I seem to do more cooking and cleaning now due to working part-time than before my son. However, my husband and I do try to share roles as much as possible.
You might be wondering whether there are negative effects to avoiding gender stereotypes . Will your boy get teased if he chooses to play with dolls at school? Sadly, Sroufe et al. (1993) found that pre-teenage children who do not conform to gender stereotypes are less popular with their peers. However, I would still try to avoid gender stereotypes at home. I know my three year old son has already learnt gender stereotypes from others outside the home and he will quite clearly tell me that dolls are for girls and that he doesn’t like pink. I question him on these comments because I want him to learn that long-term he can like whatever he wants regardless of gender.
‘Psychology for parents: Birth to teens’ is for sale as an e-book on Amazon, Smashwords.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobobooks and Apple ibookstore.
- Pink and Blue: Gender Stereotype or Natural? (escapethenestblog.wordpress.com)
- On gender stereotyping (stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com)