Mothers and fathers in the education of a child

A few years ago Infant Massage Australia brought out  Bert Weir in sharing the Circle of Security, the “attachment theory” .  Below is a excert from , “Science Daily” where Daniel Paquette talks about ‘activation theory’. As Paquette mentions, ” that mothers and fathers intervene differently in the education of a child and these complementarities benefit a child.”

Daniel Paquette, a professor at the Université de Montréal School of Psychoeducation, says the ‘activation theory’ is just as important as the ‘attachment theory.’ The latter was the prevailing 20th-Century notion that children usually connect with their primary caregiver since they fulfill their emotional needs and guarantee their survival.

“In attachment theory, a child seeks comfort from a parent when he or she is insecure. This theory underestimates the importance of exploratory behavior in children,” says Dr. Paquette, who completed his study with Marc Bigras of the Université du Québec à Montréal.

As part of the investigations, kids aged 12 to 18 months (accompanied by a parent) were placed in three different risky situations: social risk (a strange adult entered his or her environment), physical risk (toys were placed at the top of a stairway), and a forbidden activity (parents were forbidden to climb the stairs after the child succeeded the first time).

“We found fathers are more inclined than mothers to activate exploratory behavior by being less protective,” says Paquette. “The less the parent is protective, the more activated is the exploratory behavior in the child. Children who were optimally stimulated, meaning they were exploratory yet respective of the rules, were 71 percent boys. Meanwhile, 70 percent of children who were risk averse were girls.”

The parent’s behavior was measured by the distance they kept from their child as he or she climbed the stairs. “For a child to become self-confident, the parent mustn’t be too far or too close,” says Paquette. “The ideal distance seems to be an arm’s length. This distance was statistically significant with fathers yet not with mothers.”

According to Paquette, classical attachment theory doesn’t highlight these differences between boys and girls. This is why he feels his theory is better adapted to evaluate the role of the father while factoring in the temperament of the child and the level of protective parenting, both of which trigger the activation relationship.

Paquette is convinced that mothers and fathers intervene differently in the education of a child and these complementarities benefit a child. “Even if both parents change diapers and give the bottle, they don’t do it the same way,” says Paquette. “By stimulating exploration, controlled risk-taking and competition, fathers provide something different to the child who will benefit greatly from this singular contribution.  With infant massage so many mums coming to learn baby massage love sharing the joy with their partners.  Infant Massage is a bonding for dads to introduce their own ways of doing things.  So, if your partner is not following the strokes you learned in class yet he is spending time connecting with his baby, celebrate the differences.

Infant Massage Instructor training.

Infant Massage Australia proudly offers intensive 4 day trainings throughout Australia.  Our delivery of the 4 days is either consecutive or two by two days with a month break in between.  Over the four day training we cover the History of Massage, the pioneers of touch, one of whom is Amelia Auckett the Maternal and Child Health Nurse that introduced Infant Massage to Australia families in the late 80’s with the assistance of a Nigerian midwife.  We cover elements of what massage oils to use and their benefits, touch deprivation and its impacts, neural development, the older child, high need families and high need infant and how we assist them, bonding and attachment, colic and colic strokes, attitudes, premature babies, special needs, discussions of biochemistry of the body when there is touch and its benefits.

Our trainers throughout Australia have a wide professional background and have to go through and extensive application and delivery of baby massage to over one hundred babies and to go through a trainee programme for two years.  We have this process so that we choose trainers that are committed to families and the importance of our work for parents and children.

Our organisation is the largest and only non-for profit organisation in Australia.  We look forward to a bright future with Australian families. And welcome you to enquire about becoming an instructor of baby massage.

Please see our website for training dates and more about our trainers

connection through touch

For many children the joy of having your fingers painted is getting to choose the colour of the nail polish.  Boys love choosing black nail polish so as not to miss out.  When we sit and have 10 minutes of holding little fingers, talking, giggling, listening to the wild imagination of boys wanting to be pirates and girls planning on going to the ball. Then the pirates going to the ball, and of course  Cinderella stealing the treasure and sailing the seven seas it is not about the nail polish at all!!! In this small exchange of painting nails there is so much that is occurring for the child and also the adult.

Really when we touch in a loving way and listen to  children a lot is happening for their brain development.  Through touch the natural endorphins  producing serotonin in the brain greatly influences the neural plasticity of the brain.  Neural development is shaped by positive and supportive interactions.

For further reading we have attached a link below for you otherwise to seek an instructor in your area please see


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