LEARN TO RELAX
"The imagination needs long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering" ~Dan Rees, Ph.D., a family therapist and associate professor at Western Maryland College.
We spend so much time teaching our children to read, to write, to sing, to dance, to swim, to ...and the list goes on and on! But, have we imparted to our children one of the most important skills of all? Have we taught our children the art of relaxation? ....Relaxation is a Learned Behavior.
We know as adults that we encounter stress, but we may forget that Baby also experiences stress and frustration as she learns and grows. Helping Baby learn to intentionally relax will serve her well all her life as she encounters the stresses of the world.
Babies clearly need stimulation and engagement in age-appropriate learning activities but high stimulation activity must be balanced with wakeful leisure time ... unstructured time ... time to do simply nothing. This down time is actually physically necessary for your child's brain to process the learning that occurs during the structured activities and interaction. Your baby's most rapid growth and development occurs during the first two years of life. It is important for this little learner to have quiet times to just be aware without actively being stimulated by you or his environment. And "do nothing time" is good for more than the brain, according to Dan Rees, Ph.D., a family therapist and associate professor at Western Maryland College.
"When children amuse themselves, they're actually exercising a different part of their brain than when they're engaged in organized activity." This unstructured time helps them to "grow emotionally and intellectually."
Setting aside time each day to not be engaged in an active, thinking activity helps Baby learn to enjoy quiet play and learn that relaxation can include times other than naptime and bedtime. Quiet Time can also be a restorative time for you! Of course, music is always a very useful "tool" for creating quiet time. Not only is it a way of soothing the spirit, but it is an auditory cue and reminder that this is the time to just be, to listen, and to relax. Try to model listening and "just being" as you enjoy quiet music with your child. If Baby becomes fussy, you might need to add some movement. If you are sitting, try standing and rocking or walking slowly back and forth.
In today's hurried society knowing how to relax is a precious skill. Creating quiet time at home with your baby using gentle, slow songs helps your baby learn to intentionally relax. Having this skill will be essential in helping your baby grow to be a balanced person. Here are some other ideas for creating restful, restorative times at home.