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WHY IS THAT BABY CRYING?

This lesson is taken from UNIT I: BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH, in the Preschool Curriculum of Parents Under Construction, formerly Primary Prevention: Promoting Mental Health in the Next Generation. The curriculum is part of a series offered for Pre-K through Grade12 by Childbuilders (Houston Advocates for Mental Health in Children). It was created to teach children TODAY the parenting skills they will need TOMORROW, making the critical connection between parenting practices and a child's mental health. Designed with and approved for the Houston Independent School District in 1992, it has reached over 20,000 children to date, and has succeeded in eight independent evaluations.


Janet Pozmantier, Parents Under Construction
Childbuilders (Houston Advocates for Mental Health in Children)
713-783-8470 ext. 25 (phone)
713-783-8858 (fax)
jpozm@aol.com
http://childbuilders.org/programPUC.htm


OBJECTIVES

Students will be able to:

  • explain why babies cry
  • relate 3 ways to calm a crying baby

KEY DEFINITIONS

  • communicate -to let someone know you need something
  • frustrated -feeling kind of bothered and angry because you can't get something or someone to do or understand what you want or need
  • newborn baby -baby that has just been born

PREPARATION

  • dolls children have brought from home or made
  • (optional: diapers. bottles. pacifiers. blanket. baby bed, .etc. for dolls) .
  • "Primary Prevention" crying baby audiocassette tape
  • cassette tape player
  • book: Arthur's Baby by Marc Brown (or equivalent)
  • Optional song resource: New Baby from Bahamas Pajamas tape by Joe Scruggs

ACTIVITY 1: ARTHUR’S BABY

  • READ THE BOOK ARTHUR’S BABY
  • DISCUSS THE BOOK- ASK CHILDREN:
  1. How do you think Arthur felt about becoming a big brother? (not sure: maybe felt jealous)
  2. Why do you think Arthur was a little shy with the baby? (maybe because he didn't know how to or didn't remember how to take care of them)
  3. How did Arthur learn what to do with the baby? (not sure: maybe by watching others, like mom/dad)
  4. Did Arthur's sister D.W. think she knew everything about babies? (YES!)
  5. How do you think D.W. felt when she couldn't get her little sister to stop crying? (maybe confused, scared, helpless)
  6. Yesterday we talked about what wonderful parents (and friends) we are going to grow up to become. Today, we're going to pretend that we really are parents of a brand new baby!

ACTIVITY 2: CRYING BABIES

  • TELL STUDENTS:
  1. A brand new baby that has just been born is called a newborn.
  2. Ask what kinds of things do you think newborn babies can do? (cry, go to the bathroom, drink breast milk or formula, etc.)
  3. Today, we’re going to pretend we are real parents of newborn babies!

  • ACTIVITY:
  1. Have all students stand in a circle, each holding his/her doll, stuffed animal, etc. (If you don't have enough dolls, be creative! Use a shoe, eraser, plant, etc.)
  2. Play the crying baby tape. Instruct the children to try different strategies to help the baby stop crying (cuddling, feeding, diapering, talking, etc.). (You may need to demonstrate with one or two children at first.)
  3. The leader should walk among the students, commenting on what the children are doing. For example: "Aaron is changing his baby's diaper." “Chelsea is bouncing her baby," "Jeff is feeding his baby," etc.
  4. Have the children try each action they observe other "mom's" and "dads" are performing. Stop the tape after the students have tried at least 3 strategies or appear to be frustrated.
  • ASK STUDENTS:
  1. Why was the baby crying? (something was wrong; the baby needed something; to communicate a need -be sure to define communicate! )
  2. How do you communicate to someone that you're hungry, thirsty, tired, etc. ? Do you cry'! (no -talk)
  3. Can newborn babies talk? (no}
  4. But they can cry, so that's how they communicate -or tell us -that they need something! Should we just let the baby cry, or should we go and try to see what the matter is? (go to the baby}
  5. Why? (because it helps the baby to feel safe; babies who feel safe are happier and learn better)
  6. What kinds of things did you do to help the baby feel better? (holding, singing, talking, feeding, rocking, changing diaper, etc.}
  7. How did you feel as the mommy or daddy when your baby kept crying? (angry, sad, frustrated, scared. etc.)
  8. Is it OK to have feelings like that? (yes)
  9. Would it be OK to hurt the baby when you have feelings like that? (no)
  10. So what would you do if you were helping to take care of a newborn baby that wouldn't stop crying, no matter what you did? (find someone else to help, put baby gently down in crib for a few minutes, etc.)
  11. How did you feel when the baby stopped crying? (excited I like I could help, tired, etc.)

ACTIVITY 3: WHY IS THAT BABY CRYING? PARENT/CHILD ACTIVITY

  • ACTIVITY:
  1. Invite children to partner with their parents. (If parents are not available, they can partner with another student.)
  2. Tell student/parent pairs that they will take turns playing a newborn a baby. When playing the baby, they have to act exactly like a baby (i.e., no talking, pointing, gesturing, walking, etc.). The "baby" has to let his partner know he needs something (e.g. to communicate a need) such as:

    “My diaper’s wet --change me"
    “I'm hungry"
    “I'm lonely"
    “My ear hurts"
    “My tummy hurts"
    “I'm tired"
    “I'm scared"
    “This is uncomfortable; please move my body so I'm not so cramped in this car seat"
    “Ow! This diaper rash is killing me!"
  3. The "baby" may only cry or use facial expressions to communicate this need. The partner has 1 minute to figure out what the "baby" wants.
  4. IMPORTANT! THE "BABY" MUST HAVE SOME SPECIFIC NEED IN MIND, AND MUST STOP CRYING WHEN THAT NEED IS MET. Often, preschoolers will need a visual aid, such as a picture of the "need", or the leader can whisper a "need" into each participant's ear.
  5. repeat activity having partners change roles.

  • DISCUSSION - ASK CHILDREN/PARENTS:
  1. How did it feel to be the baby? (frustrating. silly, hard, helpless, etc.)
  2. How did it feel to be the parent? (frustrating, made me angry, made me feel helpless, etc.)
  3. What did you learn doing this role play? (to help us understand how hard it is for babies to tell us what they need: to help us understand how frustrating it can be for a parent to try to figure out what a baby needs when it cries; to help us understand that crying is the only way for a baby to communicate or tell us what they need)

ALTERNATE ACTIVITY

  • IF PARENTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, THIS ACTIVITY CAN ALSO BE CONDUCTED AS FOLLOWS:
  1. Provide pictures of the baby's different needs, or plan to whisper "needs" into children's ears.
  2. Gather children into a circle.
  3. Let one child select a picture, show it to the leader, and then lay on the floor. Or, leader whispers a "need" into child's ear, then child lays on floor.
  4. Child then "cries": rest of students try to figure out what "baby" needs.
  5. What can you do when you get too frustrated with a crying baby? (get someone else to help you. put the baby down gently m a crib. etc.)

CLOSURE

  • ASK STUDENTS:
  1. Why do babies cry? (to let you know they need something; to communicate)
  2. What should you do when a newborn baby cries? (go to it; see what you can do to help, etc.)
  3. Why? (helps baby feel safe: babies who feel safe are happier and - learn better)
  4. What kinds of things can you do to help a baby feel better and stop crying? (rock, sing, talk, look in eyes, hold close, swaddle, change diaper, feed. etc.)
  5. What can you do when you get too frustrated with a crying baby? (get someone else to help you. put the baby down gently m a crib. etc.)
 
 
 

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