Child Psychological Development: BabyShrink's Thinking Points for Parents

Lately I've been getting a lot of requests for expert comments on baby stuff: parenting mags who want info for their stories. I've got a love-hate relationship with those magazines. They recycle the same old stuff,  and aren't in-depth enough to get down into the heart of the issue. So parents are left with a handy-dandy little checklist that MIGHT work with their child (but just as likely won't) -- and they're left doubting themselves and their parenting ability (or the development of their child.) "If National Parent Mag says this should work, why doesn't it work with my child?"

Most of the writers are simply learning right along with their readers. I recently spent 20 minutes explaining to one writer why sleep cycles (and parents' approaches to sleep) should change over time. Meaning that a 3-month-old is a totally different animal than an 18-month old, and therefore, responds way differently to sleep "training". There's no quick, "one size fits all" sleep-training answer. It hadn't occurred to this writer of a major parenting mag (a parent of a toddler herself) that since the psychological needs of a young child vary over time, so must our approaches to the various issues that come up.

This has me thinking of the simple but powerful ways that parents can consider the psychological development of their babies and young children (which really is the whole point of BabyShrink). I'm working on a book on the subject, which allows me more room to explore the issue, but for the time being I'm left with the same problem that parenting mag writers have: cramming a huge subject into a limited amount of space. So what I'll do is list some "thinking points" for you to consider in your parenting, and we can discuss further as you have questions:

BabyShrink's Thinking Points For Parents:

* Your baby's psychological needs change over time. 0-6 months is about getting oriented to the world and trying to feel safe in it. 9-12 months is a whole different ball game, and leads into toddlerhood, which is different yet again (check out "annoying toddler behaviors" under my Categories below and to the right). Vary your approach as your child goes through each stage.

* Psychological development doesn't follow a straight line. There will be "regression", and there will be progress. This is normal and expected.

* The fact that your young child CAN do something doesn't mean that she WILL do it. HAVING a skill doesn't mean your child is psychologically ready to USE it. Readiness to sleep through the night, potty training, talking, and most other issues have strong psychological components  -- handling that aspect artfully, helps your child navigate the issue more completely, and with less chance of later problems.

* Your child's temperament is a major Wild Card here. What works for an "easy" baby might be worthless for your "fussy" baby. An "intense" toddler needs a totally different approach than a "shy" one.  A "bold" preschooler needs a different approach than a more "sensitive" one.

Randomly trying new parenting "solutions" can be really frustrating. Understanding the psychology of your child, and making a parenting plan based on these "Thinking Points", is the key to finding your way with your child. If you want to to know more about how psychological development affects your parenting, and how it can best be handled given the unique temperament of your child, there are lots of ways to learn more. Click around my site, Twitter me your questions @BabyShrink, comment here, or email me at for Parent Coaching.


Dr. Heather The BabyShrink