Changing Times for Children

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.

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