The child from Earth. Letter from Elisabeth d’Ornano
We dedicated last year to the child’s pre-birth stage and now we wish to focus on their emotional development in the first three years of their life. The start of a child’s life is very important and it is the foundation upon which they will build up their personality. Conveying to a baby that they are welcome in the world in which they are born, making it known that one is here ready to accept them just as they are, will make the baby feel valued and will help them enjoy the security they need in order to grow with confidence and be ready to experiment life.
Birth entails many changes that the baby has to assimilate. The bond with the mother and father will continue to be essential for the security needed so as to be able to integrate the passage of being born into life. A healthy bond with the parents, being carried, rocked, clothed and loved, knowing that their basic needs will be met right away, will enable the baby, as he grows throughout his life, to be able to face the difficulties he will find along the way and be more confident to overcome those difficulties. A baby will easily take in the emotions and mood of his parents and of others around him and he will require, to the extent this is possible, a peaceful atmosphere, with plenty of silence, calm and ease. Being aware that one is fully focused when feeding, bathing or playing with the baby will allow one to connect with the baby at a deeper level. The key is listening not only with your ears but also with your heart. Look at your baby in the eye and seek the true meaning of what he is communicating and learn to understand his messages. The souls of the parents and the baby come together by looking at each other, reinforcing the strong bonds that unite them. During these times of union you can pass on your positive thoughts, highlighting the good and the luminous so that he grows with confidence, feeling capable and eager to express himself to the world.
Feelings and emotions will have a repercussion on the child’s behaviour, that’s why it is so necessary to connect with them, resounding with the baby and observing your own feelings. This is so helpful for a child. Often, developing the qualities that the child needs is exactly what one needs also. We must be humble enough to admit that a child can teach us, bringing us a message just by their way of being. A child is aware of his surroundings and he will build up his personality as he experiences life. If the child is at a nursery he will likewise be influenced by the surroundings, by the place where he is and by the emotional state of the people around him. We must be aware of our emotions, watching over them and creating the organisation that children need, leading them to appreciate harmony and beauty from a young age so that he can indulge in his own harmony and beauty.
Babies learn through their senses. I have mentioned eye contact and how a child can read what is expressed by his parents’ faces, and I also wish to add that touch is one of the first ways of communicating with a baby, a child immediately responds to skin contact. It is a soothing feeling for baby and parents alike, and at the same time it favours the healthy development and the growth of the child’s nervous and immune systems. The French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer, in his book on shantala massage, says that “babies crave attention, and receiving food and feeling loving hands.” Massage is a way of communicating, sharing and strengthening bonds, especially if the adult makes it a point to convey love, connection, peace, security and motivation for life. The sense of touch is something that should be further developed at the nursery, doing things such as playing with clay or taking care of a plant that will connect the child with the earth. Touch will help people to be able to shake hands naturally, with feeling and awareness.
Let’s allow children to express themselves by moving rather than forcing them to sit still. Experts in early education have shown that babies and little children, when they are allowed to, instinctively move in ways that develop and strengthen the neurological connections in their brain, which is essential for their learning. As a child grows and incorporates new specific movements, their brain development follows suit. It is advisable to work on child reflexes in order to strengthen and integrate them, because at the same time increasingly complex neuronal networks are formed that will help them to learn and will develop their personality. This will provide a child with security, self-esteem and courage. Children today are prone to experiencing energy blockages because they may suffer difficulties in their adaptation to the environment due to their high sensitivity, because of different ways of functioning or because of high parental or social expectations, and also because of imposed competition and lack of creativity at school centres. It can be helpful at the beginning of the day at school centres to do some brain gym exercises, also to work on the union of the two hemispheres, reducing the stress that often blocks learning, focusing emotions and improving self-control and the awareness of limits. Education is not only a matter of storing knowledge but also of boosting the optimal development of the brain and of the person in a global manner.
With today’s children it is recommended that they have daily contact with nature. Our ancestors were well aware of the connection that joins us to the elements of Earth. Let’s go back to showing children how to establish this connection from an early age, to feel the sun and the wind on their skin, to honour the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water. We can also organise activities such as drawing out in the open, speaking to them about how food grows from the earth. If it is not possible to take them outside we can focus on growing plants in pots, having pets that are easy to take care of or collecting stones, minerals, sticks, dry leaves. Let’s talk to children about the things up in the sky, about other planets, the moon and the starry night sky so that they can feel connected to this. Anything leading them to touch the earth or to look up at the sky, where they can play a connecting role between the two, will harmonise them with their surroundings.
Earth constantly talks to us through its colours, through birdsong, through its rivers… let’s try and capture this language so that children can hear it. Native Indians when speaking of existence say that everything on Earth has a purpose, every disease has a plant to cure it, and every person has a mission on Earth.
A baby arrives in the world with a lot behind him, with an open conscience, and they perceive much more than we can imagine. From the moment the baby is born we must learn to trust his capacity to solve the difficulties they encounter, to take them by the hand as a guide, but without controlling or directing their lives. Everyone has his own needs and a way of functioning that may be different from his parents and each person will need to learn lessons his way. When becoming a parent we do not all of a sudden take on the full meaning of parenthood, but rather through the process of opening up our conscience and asking ourselves questions we gradually fit into our role as a parent. Falling and getting up again is part of the game. Because of this, we must count on there being mistakes on our part, but we have to learn from these mistakes and try to go forward every day to do things a little better. We are here to experience life, to be happy and to love. We have to look after the thoughts that lead us and the emotions that influence us. This will allow us to put a sense of direction into our lives and to handle all the difficulties that we shall encounter. Now I would like to convey and share with you some words I found in a precious book on childbirth, with a message for the newborn child that really moved me: “…it’s nice to go back, to go back down. But you know something? … I think, well I know, that nobody ever goes down. I can see a ladder that only lets you go up … So we always, always go up. Will you pass on this message?”