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Plan B with the Baby

Eminent pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton had published a short opinion piece that we thought was of interest and worth reading.

In it as seen here, he advocates, as he has done for so very long, for an investment in high-quality supports and services for babies, toddlers, and their families to foster optimal social, emotional, and intellectual development.

Here at Think:Kids, we’re aware that our work is not always automatically considered to have a role in the years of early childhood and preschool, although thankfully that’s begun to change.  We get many more inquiries from groups working with children “zero to 3,” who appreciate the role that our work can play at this age.  Brazelton’s piece makes reference to some very interesting recent research that’s documented the astonishing finding that “a child from a high-income family will hear 30 million more words within the first four years of life than a child from a low-income family.”  While, as he says, it’s crucial to listen to babies, it’s equally crucial to talk to them.

Collaborative Problem Solving may surely need certain kinds of adaptations for the younger set.  But here’s a hypothetical bit of talking that hopefully one could imagine doing with a toddler:

A child is trying to build something with blocks, having trouble, and getting evidently frustrated:

“You really want to be able to build a castle with these blocks, but they just keep falling down!”

“I really want you to enjoy this playtime and have fun.”

“Hmm, what could we do?”

“I know!  We could work on it together.  Or we could draw a castle instead.  Or we could build something different that’s a little easier!  What should we try?”

That’s 63 words right there, not counting the “hmm,” and of course it involves some real “listening,” not just talking.  Hopefully you can also “hear” the underlying structure of what we call a Plan B conversation: empathizing with a child’s concern or perspective, sharing an adult concern, and brainstorming to find a solution to the problem at hand.

We believe that if parents tap into Plan B from the earliest beginnings, it’s not only a wonderful foundation for making our children feel heard and understood, and not only an obviously advantageous exposure to our words, but also a terrific chance to institute Collaborative Problem Solving as a key aspect of one’s parenting.  No need to “wait” on getting going!

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