Reading Notes – Sensory Awareness Foundation: Bulletin 14: Emmi Pikler

My Notes

  • “ …. the seed of natural development is in every living being; be it plant, animal, or human it does not need to be “helped” to develop.” Charlotte Sever. p 1
  • “Emmi Pikler proved that teaching a baby something she could learn by herself was not only unnecessary but harmful, depriving the beginning being of experimenting independently and of the energy this involves, as well as the delight of reaching a goal. Elsa Gindler and Heinrich Jacoby recognized the damage brought about by early interference with the baby and the growing child, interference which inhibited his curiosity and spontaneity….” Charlotte Sever. p 1
  • “The most important thing has not yet been mentioned; namely that an infant’s own movements, the development of these movements and every detail of this development are a constant source of joy to him.” Emmi Pikler. p 12
  • “If one does not interfere, an infant will learn to turn, roll, creep on the belly, go on all fours, stand, sit, and walk with no trouble. This will not happen under pressure, but out of her own initiative — independently, with joy, and pride in her achievement — even though she may sometimes get angry, and cry impatiently.” Emmi Pikler. p 12
  • “What is most important, however, is not the result, but the way to it. This learning process will play a major role in the whole later life of the human being. Through this kind of development, the infant learns his ability to do something independently, through patient and persistent effort.” Emmi Pikler. p 12
  • “Unfortunately, many mothers don’t sufficiently appreciate their infant’s efforts to move. They don’t even notice that they discourage their infant’s development. On the contrary, they are usually even proud of what they are doing. While on the one hand these mothers obstruct the unfolding of movement and don’t allow the stretching, rolling and creeping, on the other hand they push an infant into movements which she cannot manage at that time.They do not allow a child to quietly experiment while lying on her back, but, instead, turn her over, sit her up, stand her up, walk her around supported by adult’s hands. Mothers urge these movements at the time when they think, “This would be the right time to learn them.”” Emmi Pikler. p 12-13
  • “It would be better if mothers did not brag to each other–in this way, for example: “My daughter never crawled,” or “My son does not want to turn himself from the back to the belly, he already clings to the edge of the pram in order to sit up. That’s what interests him.” It would be better if those mothers would think about what mistake caused this behavior–why certain development stages in the motor development have been left out. The pride of these mothers arises from an error. Each believes that her child develops differently from others because her child is skillful, is smart. It is true, however, that the smarter a child is, the more joy that child will find in development of movements and the more quickly progress will be make in learning more and more movements–in other words, the more quickly he will make progress in motor development.” Emmi Pikler. p 15
  • “A growing tree diverges from its upright direction only when either internal disease or external circumstances hinder its upright growing. Motor development also is an organic chain of specific developmental stages. It, too, can be diverted from its course only through diseases or through circumstances which disturb it from the outside. Thus, the motor development of an infant will only get off course if that infant cannot move in the way she wants.” Emmi Pikler. p 15
  • “We must not demand from the child that his clothes look as though they came fresh from the closet, or the child will become like the clothes: stiff and lifeless.” p 15
  • “We hinder the child when we encourage it, spur it on and ask it to perform certain movements. Also when we acknowledge certain “accomplishments” in an exaggerated way. As an example: a toddler tries things out, experiments attentively, with pleasure, immersed in himself. He is the middle of attempting something in which he might be successful… maybe. But in this moment the storm breaks! “Look, the baby is standing!” – “He can stand already!” “Do it again!” “Stand up again.” “Show daddy how a little boy stands!” “Come, I’ll help you!” “Come, give me your hand!” The effect of all this incalculable. The child’s attention to what he is attempting and his experimenting with his movements is being distracted. He discovers that he can influence his audience with what he does. It is commonly known what toddlers are capable of doing to please their audience! As a consequence, the child will not experiment with what is called for by his development and its moment-to-moment condition; he will not try out what gives him pleasure, but that which he assumes will please the adults.” Emmi Pikler. p 15-16
  • “Taking both hand of the infant, pulling it up and forcing it into a standing position: “The baby is standing!” The child is standing in a forced, insecure position, but is standing. (Later she laughs, is even happy, seeing that the adults that surround her are happy, acknowledging and praising her accomplishment.) The child, however, cannot correct the cramped, stiff, bad standing. She is not mature enough, either physically or mentally. If she were, she would get up by iherself without being forced. When forced by others’ hands, the child cannot correct the mistakes of her “accomplishment.” Getting used to it is all that can be done, and establishing a physical posture in accordance with what has become habitual. When mature enough to experiment with a better posture, the child is no longer bothered by the bad posture. Even worse: the more she stands, the bigger her body gets, the greater the ailments grow. Often the arch of the foot lessens of does not develop at all. The knees are straight (too straight: pushed backwards) and the area of the sacrum is out of line with the rest of the body; the back becomes round; etc. The weaker joints get loose from too big a burden and lose their original elasticity.” Emmi Pikler. p 16
  • “If an otherwise healthy infant is “bored”, “bad-tempered”, or “high-strung” (as it is called) these tendencies always are the result of the behavior of the environment — or, to be more percise, of mistakes in upbring. What mistakes are these? Usually the child is seen as a toy or as a “doll”, rather than a human being… “ Emmi Pikler. p 18 — This whole section is so, so good.
  • “Many mothers believe that they are caring for their children best when they do everything as fast a possible: “One, two, three and done!” That’s not the way to be. Whenever we are doing something with a child, we should never be in a hurry. Even in the speed of our motions we should adjust to the child, who prefers it when we are calm and take time with him…” Emmi Pikler. p 21
  • “We do not force a toy on a child; we don’t put anything into his hand….We never take over a child’s playing, and never expect a child to play in the manner we imagine she should….” Emmi Pikler. p 23
  • Favorite Article: Forty Years at Loczy. By Judit Falk