They may have brushed their teeth with ashes and scrubbed their hands with sand, but research shows that cavemen had it absolutely spot-on when it came to child-rearing.
Thanks to almost universal acceptance of nuclear families as the basic units of society, these days most parents are their children’s only caregivers.
In fact, many people would be annoyed if someone else started dishing out parenting advice. In prehistoric times things were a little different.
Granted, most Paleolithic approaches to parenting were more about survival than raising all-rounders. But studies have shown that many of their ancient practices were beneficial to a child’s physical and mental health.
As University of Notre Dame researcher Darcia Narnaez said: “They instinctively knew what was right for a child, and children thrived because of that.”
So what else did the cavemen get right? The practice of swaddling infants was possibly invented in the Stone Age, and swaddling has all sorts of benefits.
It limits the startle reflex, so junior won’t wake himself up in the middle of the night. It also apparently simulates a nice toasty womb.
On the down side, a baby’s body can easily overheat, so it’s necessary to keep a close eye on the little one’s temperature.
There were no prams in those days, of course, so how did cavemen get their little chips off the old rock from point A to point B? By wearing them, of course.
“Babywearing” is pretty much exactly like it sounds; it involves wearing your little one in a sling across your chest.
Not only does it keep mum’s hands free, but it’s also good for the munchkin. Babies who are carried develop faster and cry less. Also, babywearing is proven to reduce the chance of developing post-partum depression.
When cave-tots got older, there were no Xbox games to keep them occupied. Instead, they stayed outside. All of the time.
Psychologists think this helped young cave-dwellers to be less susceptible to hyperactivity or mental health issues than today’s overly E-encumbered youth.
Of course that doesn’t mean they were always well-behaved. Every kid throws the odd tantrum, even those who lived long before the invention of ice-cream.
But here’s a surprise: Paleolithic parents never spanked their children. Other familiar punishments may have been used, such as exclusion from campfire activities or bed without supper, but corporal punishment was not the norm.
The bottom line? Cave-kids were less stressed, more active and closer to their parents than the average Justin Bieber fan. After all, their folks rocked!
Alfablue, December 2012