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Are you contributing to the “cradle to prison pipeline”?

Daseta Gray | 2/19/2014, 10:09 a.m.

You can put the baby in the box and say wow you are in the box and when you take the baby out say now you are out of the box. You can add items to the box also. You should start this when your baby is sitting up. Babies love to do drumming on empty boxes.

You should also allow your baby to move around freely. This means making your space baby proof. When babies are able to move freely they do not hear NO often. They get a chance to explore and build self-confidence. When a baby hears “NO” most of the time it restricts her ability to explore as the word “No “adds an element of fear/hesitation within your baby. Just imagine if someone is saying No you most of the time would you be motivated to try anything new?

You are preparing your baby for the world which begins the minute you got pregnant. Once your baby is home you are obligated to socialize, guide and positively discipline your infant/toddler.

You should try your best not to put your infant/toddler through too much stress, Dr. Perry , Director of Child Trauma programs at Texas Children’s Hospital and Bay nor College of Medicine says” During development the brain grows and organizes itself in a use-dependent way” .Those parts of the brain that are not getting stimulated and activated will be modified. If the stimulus is extreme, as in the case of abuse, then the fear response is on all the time. These children can end up having the persisting physiology of the same fear that they experience during the trauma.”

Many parents put fear into their infants and toddlers by not allowing them space to grow. If you have your child strapped in a stroller most of the time this restricts the child’s gross motor development. If you have a pacifier in the child’s mouth most of the time and do not speak with infant/toddler this restricts their language development.

If your toddler is climbing on the table and you shout from across the room, ”Pooky don’t go up there” you are restricting the child’s brain development. You need to support the infant by making the space safe for her to climb. Add a pillow to the floor to cushion the child if she falls and you should get close and observe, be calm and if the toddler needs support provide it. This is one way of building self-esteem in your toddler. You are also giving your toddler an opportunity to take risk and trust that you will be there to support her adventures.

Last week I was in Central Park, the section for infants and toddlers. Most parents had their children getting wet, getting in the sand box etc. This African American mother had a cute little girl. She allowed her on the swing, slide and the spider web. She did not allow the child to play in the sand box, she put her back in the stroller and when the toddler indicated that she wanted to go into the water the mother kept her in the stroller and placed some water in her hand and threw it on the toddler’s feet. As she pushed the stroller towards the exit the child began screaming. There was no interaction between the child and the mother while the child was screaming instead the mother just kept pushing the stroller. Another observation that I made; the child was not dressed for the park. This is a major problem in our community. Many parents spend money on purchasing expensive clothing for young children and then restrict the infant /toddler’s natural process of development because they do not want the “clothing to get messed up”. Children are born naturally curious and want to learn, however many parents hinder their children’s natural process of brain development. A young child must be given opportunities to practice critical thinking and logical reasoning. Infants and toddlers must be given opportunities to take risk. Confidence and self esteem is built during these critical years. However, the infant must be given opportunities to feel that she can accomplish things with the adult support when need. Many parents in the African American/Latino community place an emphasis on the wrong things during the critical years of brain development. Last month I had a table at a flea market in the Bronx I was selling children’s books and I was there all day and did not sell one book. I had books for infants and toddlers, just an observation.