Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Due to the many myths that exist on the topic of early brain development, I am dedicating this week to sharing the realities of what children need. Each day throughout the week, one myth will be clarified. It is my hope that we can quickly make truth common knowledge.

Myth #3: A Child is "spoiled" by responding to their cries and meeting their needs.

Truth:  Meeting a child's needs is the opposite of spoiling. Through repeatedly and consistently meeting a baby's physical and emotional needs, the baby is calmed and feels safe. Over time the baby begins to learn what to expect due to these repeated positive experiences. Having an attuned caregiver who predictably meets a baby's emotional needs leads to the ability to process emotions, to delay gratification, to have empathy for others, and to form healthy relationships.

The bottom line: Healthy emotional development and the basis for relationships later in life begins through having the cycle of needs expressed and met. 

Dr. Bruce Perry explains how responding to a babies needs leads to self regulation and healthy emotional development:   

"The capacity for self-regulation matures as we grow. The first time your baby felt hunger, he felt discomfort, then distress, and then he cried. You responded. And after many cycles of hunger, discomfort, distress, response, and satisfaction, your baby learned that this feeling of discomfort, even distress, will soon pass. You helped him build the capacity to put a moment between the impulse and the action. With this ability, he will eventually learn to take time to think, plan, and come up with an appropriate response to a challenge.
As young children learn to read and respond appropriately to these inner cues, they become much more capable of tolerating early signs of discomfort and distress. When your child learns to tolerate some anxiety, she will be much less reactive and impulsive. This allows her to feel more comfortable and act more mature when faced with the inevitable emotional, social, and cognitive challenges of development."

You can read a full article on this topic by Dr. Perry here .

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