6 Important Things that Foster Compassionate Children and Teens

For over a century now, we've been getting well meaning, but harmful advice from 'parenting experts' on how to raise our children and compassionate people.  Long before Babywise, Ferber and Dr. Spock, there was no shortage of men giving advice to primarily women on how to raise their children.  Before the invention of experts, there was only one way to parent, but as inventions and experts came along, we gradually silenced what our guts were telling us and handed our hearts and brains and children over to people we thought 'knew better'.  So, how does one foster compassion in their children?  This isn't a one word answer in the least, and certainly there are many factors that go into the making a compassionate person, but according to this study it turns out that 6 essential elements of how our indigenous ancestors parented still apply today:

  • Lots of positive touch – as in no spanking – but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;
  • Prompt response to baby’s fusses and cries. You can’t “spoil” a baby. This means meeting a child’s needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. “Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant’s brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world,” Narvaez says.
  • Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child’s immune system isn’t fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.
  • Multiple adult caregivers – people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.
  • Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don’t play enough are more likely to have ADHD and other mental health issues.
  • Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

The U.S. has been on a downward trajectory on all of these care characteristics, according to Narvaez. Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breastfeeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up, and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970.

“Ill advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.

There is a modern term coined by parents that encompasses these principles.  It's called attachment parenting.  Did we really need this study to prove that we didn't need a study telling us what we already know?  Apparently the experts do, but YOU don't.  That's right, you know more than the experts.  C'mon ladies, trust yourself, listen to your gut.  You are already hard wired for motherhood and know what to do. 

This study begs the question, though….what if you are missing one or more of these elements, does that doom your child to be a hardened criminal?  My opinion is, of course not!  But shaping your child's experience to make up for the lack of any one of these elements just makes parenting a bit more difficult, but not impossible.  Parenting is one big puzzle, and each of these elements represent one large piece of the puzzle.  Take one out and you can still tell what the picture is, but remove most or all of them and then you have set your child up for a harder time in life. 


To learn more about attachment parenting, please visit Birthologie.com


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