Changing Times for Children
- infants respond to their environment
- turning their heads at the sound of a parent’s voice
- Shape their environment, provoking a parent’s action with their gaze, cries, and movement.
- One study compared mothers and infants in Japan’s remote Goto Islands to mothers in Tokyo and to Japanese mothers in San Francisco.
- In the islands, where pregnant women commonly sat quietly mending their husbands’ fishing nets in a rhythmic motion, babies at birth had calmer temperaments and greater ability to pay attention: they could attend to a red ball, moved in front of their faces, for a full 30 minutes.
- The Tokyo babies could attend to the ball for 18 minutes, and the San Francisco babies for just 12 minutes.
- Brazelton also recognized that these environmental differences could reverberate through later development, as a parent responds differently to a child with a short attention span than to one with a long attention span.
- Brazelton’s fascination with cultural differences in parenting helped start a shift in paediatrics from pathologizing anything that differs from a single cultural norm to asking what adaptive purpose different cultural practices might serve.