It was a Sunday and Melissa was at home. She and her family had recently welcomed a new baby boy into their house. Melissa had no school that day and she was excited to play with her new sibling. She went to her mom and said, “Mumma, since today I am at home, I will be taking care of the baby. You can do your work without any tension.” Her mom smiled and said, “Okay, looks like I am free today and can relax. You can play with your brother but be gentle.” Melissa went to her brother and started playing with him.
Both of them were having a lot of fun until suddenly the baby started crying. Melissa did not know why her brother was crying and tried to calm him down. After many efforts, when she was unable to calm the baby down, she went to her mother and said, “Mom, the baby is crying. I tried to calm him down but he is still crying. What’s happened to him?” Mom replied, “The baby is crying because he is hungry.” Melissa’s mom gave her a bottle of milk and told her to go and feed the baby. As the baby drank the milk he was quiet. Melissa started playing with the baby again, she had the idea that if the baby cried again it meant that he was hungry and must be fed.
So the next time her brother started crying, she tried feeding him but it did not work. The baby was avoiding the milk bottle and crying loudly. She went back to her mother and said, “The baby is crying again. I tried to feed him but he is not stopping.” This time mom said, “Oh dear, he is not hungry, this is the time of his sleep.” Mom went with Melissa to her room, cuddled the baby around her arms and started patting his back. Slowly the baby stopped crying and went to sleep.
Melissa saw this and had a very curious question in mind. She asked her mother, “Mom, how do you know about the reasons why the baby is crying? How do you know when he wants to have food or go to sleep?” Mom answered saying, “This is because I have experienced why children cry for certain things. The child has a daily time of doing certain things like eating, sleeping, etc. If we don’t provide them with what they want at the right time, they start crying.” Melissa then asked, “But why only crying, why not any other hint?” “This is because a baby can express its discomfort only through crying, and if we have an idea of what is the problem, we can try to calm them down,” her mom added. Melissa learned what her mother told her and the next time onwards she tried first understanding and then helping with the discomfort faced by her little brother.
What we learned
Knowing what others are feeling through their gestures and cues is important, especially in the case of smaller children to understand and help them.