Did you know that a child’s brain is making its connections that will aid in lifetime learning from the moment they are born? These connections are made via experience. Every piece of sensory information provided to an infant from the moment it’s placed in his/her mother’s arms, make neural connections. Every smell (Mommy, Daddy, etc), every sound (the voices/tones used nearby), every sight (lights, scenes, interactions), every taste (when hunger is met and poisons hidden), and every touch (styles when picked up, changed, soothed, fed, etc) make connections.
I premise what I’m about to say with these developmental facts because I’m sure I’m going to get blasted for ‘not understanding.’ I watched a Daddy drop off his infant son in preschool today. As luck would have it, I happened to be driving right behind this family and we were going to the same location. I watched in annoyance (unknown to me that there was an infant in the car) as this driver was chatting away on his phone – HELD TO HIS EAR – as we drove the final block to our destination. We pulled in simultaneously but he had to get his child from the car, so I entered the building first. As I stood in the office, this father came in with his child. He held his phone to his chest with his free hand and said hello to the staff. I watched the baby. He seemed oblivious to the people, and to his Dad, as well. There was no greeting for him and there was no inclusion of him in Dad’s greeting to the staff. The baby was just peripheral baggage; the diaper bag hung from one shoulder, the phone was held in one hand, and the child was propped on the other shoulder. Dad finished his greeting and headed to the classroom. I watched as Dad reached the classroom door. He stayed in the hall because he was once again engrossed in his phone conversation. He paced outside the room for a bit, of course ignoring his child and had his conversation. When he finally hung up, it was because he ‘had to drop off’ his son but of course he promised to call the individual back momentarily. The drop-off was rather quick – certainly no gushy goodbyes and only one or two sentences to the teachers about his son’s current needs (just was changed, brought peas and peaches for lunch and will be picked up by 5pm). The ‘peripheral’ was plugged in!
A child’s brain suffers damage from neglect and neglect is not merely missing meals or inappropriate supervision. Neglect can simply be under-stimulation. Unfortunately, child abuse prevention efforts must be focused on the life-threatening and blatant neglect (educational and medical neglect) and the generalized emotional neglect is not of significant focus. Until ALL people who come in contact with babies and children realize that their words, tones, gestures, and overall ATTENTION are part of an infant’s brain development (and children’s emotional well-being), then we are going to continue having children grow up with emotional problems. Their attachments are not secure, their trust of the world isn’t strong, and their resilience factors are shaky. When I was in school, the children in Special Ed were mostly children with clear mental disturbances such as Down Syndrome but today Special Ed is overwhelmed with the young with serious emotional problems. Please, please, please….. on behalf of all the children – please pay attention!!!! They are all screaming, “Look into my eyes, pretend my face can speak to you. Read my feelings and react to them, touch me a lot and tell me what YOU feel about things!!!” Yes, all the parents out there love their children – but DAMN – you really all don’t pay real attention to them. And for those of you who do – this is not meant for you and you know it. In fact, you know the folks out there who are misunderstanding the importance of their essence in their child’s life. Please point it out to them – as kindly as you can – but do point it out. The children need all the advocates they can get!!!!
All the children want is YOUR ATTENTION!!!!!!
Thanks for letting me vent. And for all the attending parents – please let me know all the creative ways you squeeze attention into your very busy lives – so other parents can see it’s possible!!
Thanks for letting me vent.