The Earliest Years. The Growth and Development of Children by O. M. Woodward, I. R. Maxwell and F. H. Pedley (Auth.)

By O. M. Woodward, I. R. Maxwell and F. H. Pedley (Auth.)

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Extra resources for The Earliest Years. The Growth and Development of Children Under Five

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One of the greatest difficulties a child of this age (or indeed of any age, but it is more acute under three) has, is that of the mother " deserting " him in order to go into hospital to have another baby. However carefully the child is warned about it beforehand, however carefully he has been prepared, he still suffers a great shock. In the first place there is his desertion by his mother. This means to the child, unconsciously, that it is his fault. He must have done something bad and therefore his mother no longer loves him and has gone away from him.

She refused to speak at all ; she had disturbed sleep at night ; she had great difficulty with her food ; she lost weight ; she refused to play with anyone or anything or make any kind of contacts. It was eighteen months before she began to act normally again, by which time she had fallen away behind her normal development. This is of course an extreme case, and most children adjust fairly quickly to the new situation. The mother can help in many ways to ease it for the child. He must be warned well in advance by the mother's talking to him about all the things that they will be able to do with the new baby.

His spatial percepts are still not those of the adult world because he is a very small baby in a very large world, but he is beginning to develop sensory comparisons of spatial relationships far more than he was able to do. He finds that some things are big or little, or wide or narrow, although he cannot yet put these percepts into language. He has, by learning to walk, vastly increased the number of firsthand experiences. He finds out for himself that some things are hard and some are soft; that some things move and some stay still ; that some things hurt if you bump into them and others do not.

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