Friday, August 05, 2011

Year One

At some point during the past nine months plus 16 months, someone (I wish I could remember who) told me the Gessell Institute of Human Development series were the best books on understanding your kids. You may have seen these around, they're a series that runs from "Your One-Year-Old, 12 to 24 Months: Fun-Loving and Fussy" to "Your Ten-to-Fourteen-Year-Old." The focus is on developmental milestones standard to the age, what they can and cannot do, and what the parent can do to cope. They're way old-school, some apparently are based on material first published in the 1950s, my edition is published in 1982 and very much of the 1970s. (The pictures of '70s tots in snowsuits are excellent!)

Anyway, I found the one-year-old book at one of my used bookstores, and here are my takeaways:
  • Apparently if you raise a human infant and chimpanzee infant together, their capabilities don't really start diverging until they are 18 months old.
  • There's one chart of how 18-month-old kids move around a room versus say, four-year-olds. The 18-month-olds move like they're the ball in a pinball game; apparently they "think on their feet" or their feet are their brains or something. In the same timespan, the four-year-olds move, like, once.
  • They claim 15 months and 21 months is easier than 18 months when so many things are aligning for them at 18 months that they kinda freak out. (The book says this in science talk, I say it in Valley Girl. Forgive me.) On pages 86-87, they have some nice developmental schedules that split the year into three parts, rather than considering all one-year-olds en masse. 
  • Apparently many 15-month-old kids can combine two words, but I'm really not sure Jackson has done this yet. I am waiting with bated breath, I tell you. Apparently Jackson's spoon acrobatics are normal at this stage, and they can't really handle a spoon right until sometime after age two. Also, at this age, he should be able to "imitate a stroke of crayon upon paper" rather than just scribbling. Hmmm...All I know is the kid likes his Mickey Mouse Magnadoodle.
  • One-year-olds are very often shy around everyone except primary caregivers; they are able to loosen up again around age two.
  • In case of meltdown, "Gross motor activity may be his best outlet." Apparently stroller rides count (or maybe even car rides) as well as setting them outside to run in circles.
  • If the kid gets one meal and two snacks a day, he's probably getting adequate nutrition. (Sigh. Jackson eats like five meals a day.)
  • They describe a body-type personality analysis that is now said to be outdated junk science, but just the same, this is pretty much my kid: "The plump, good-natured endomorph will enjoy good food, will enjoy other people, couldn't care less whether he comes out ahead." In the face of such fatalistic pronouncements, however, I must respond with a quote from the great revolutionary Sarah Connor: "No fate but what we make." So there!
  • I have applied this advice repeatedly since I read it and it's made my life much better: "You will get much farther with the child of this age by lifting him bodily and putting him where you want him to be than by talking to him." Also: "Do not expect him to do things to please you. Do expect him to do things to please himself."
Their recommended reading list for this age, in Appendix B, is mostly a relic of the 1970s that boils down to "small children need durable board or cloth books filled with rhyming verse," but I was introduced to and will be ordering Charlotte Zolotow's The Storm Book from the library based on the Amazon description. 

In any case, I found a lot to value in the first of the Gesell series, and I will probably read the followups eventually. Of course, I have a lot of other baby reading to do as well. My bedside table currently includes The Girlfriend's Guide to Toddlers, Diaper Free Before Three and Potty Training for Dummies. Plus I have six pounds of apples from our Anna apple tree that I need to do something with, I have to pack for Vegas and so, yeah...I suspect the kid will potty train himself before I get the required reading done. 

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