Contentment means to show satisfaction with things as they are. Development experts say that contentment and being happy are closely linked, but they’re not something you can give a child. However, according to psychiatrist and author Edward Hallowell, any parent can lay the groundwork for it, and he stresses the importance of helping little ones develop a set of inner tools they can rely on for life.
1 UNDERSTAND THE SIGNS
Babies express their needs in different ways – know the signals. Distressed babies cry with the corners of their mouths turned down and their brows arched in the middle. Angry babies become flushed, have clenched jaws, turned-down brows and let out an uncontrollable yell.
2 LEARN TO HAVE FUN
Edward says moms make their babies happiest: “Connect with your baby, play with her. If you’re having fun, she’s having fun. It’s by far the best step to guarantee your child will be happy.”
3 HAPPY BABIES LIKE TO LEARN
Spend time teaching your baby new skills, and allow him the freedom to choose. Children, like adults, must follow their own interests or they’ll find little joy in their achievements.
4 HEALTHY BODY, CONTENTED CHILD
Make sure your child gets lots of sleep – and pay attention to his diet. Observe connections between their moods and certain foods. Sugar, for example, boosts some babies but makes others fussy. Food sensitivities can also affect behaviour, so talk to your paediatrician if you suspect his diet is linked to signs of distress.
5 THE VALUE OF ROUTINE
Apart from helping you, establishing a routing provides a feeling of security for your baby. Keep in mind that premature and low-birth-weight babies may sleep for shorter spells and feed more often.
6 DON’T CONFUSE UNHAPPINESS WITH NATURAL FEELINGS
Being unhappy now and again is okay and part of growing up.
7 SET A GOOD EXAMPLE
Your moods can be passed on to your baby. Negative feelings can make him unhappy and also the opposite – channelling happy thoughts will influence him positively. If you think you’re depressed, seek help, so you can restore the bonding and fun times with your baby.
8 BRINGING DAD INTO THE MIX
Your partner should put these tips into practice, too, as he plays a vital role in your baby’s development. As he approaches 12 months, the strong security and comfort your child gets from Dad will bring much joy and contentment.
9 THE BOON OF BREASTFEEDING
Close nurturing at a mom’s breast brings comfort and contentment and provides an opportunity for bonding. If breastfeeding is not available to you, make sure you hold your baby close as you would while breastfeeding – don’t prop him up with a bottle.
10 BRAIN-BOOSTING EFFECTS
“A baby’s development unfolds on a set maturational schedule,” explains Darcia Narvaez, associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame University in the US. “So if there is inadequate food or attention during this rapid-growth period, the brain will build less-than-optimal systems. A poor foundation leads to poor mental and physical health later, even though it may not show up until much later.”
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