Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Question from a Mom:

I am so tired!  We just moved and my baby isn't sleeping. He usually sleeps through the night, until now. Do you think the move is affecting him? He is only a BABY why should it bother him?

These are some of the thoughts your baby might want to verbalize if he could.

"Dear Mom,

Moving is very stressful for me. You are so anxious and busy. It feels like you don't love me and are too busy for me. Am I bad or did I do something wrong?  I was so familiar with our old house. This new room is so scary and the noises are all new and different. I feel overwhelmed. Where are my old friends, my room, my toys? I just feel sad. I wonder if I will I ever feel better.  If you can leave an apt or house, perhaps you can leave me too!  When I miss you I wonder if you are coming back , I am not sure?”

Brain Insights:

Your baby is expressing some very real feelings that are very natural as a result of the change in his life. As a caring parent, it is wonderful that even though you are not sure, you have considered that it could be the move that is affecting your son’s sleep.

Understanding a couple of areas of early brain development may help address your excellent questions.

1. Brains adapt to the environment they are most exposed to. Through repeated experiences a baby’s brain learns what to expect from their surroundings. The brain actually creates connections based on these repeated experiences. Your baby has adapted his brain to the sounds, people and familiar objects of your previous home.

2. Brains also are primarily focused on survival. All brains are constantly unconsciously scanning the environment for safety. It determines if the environment and the people in it are safe. The brain becomes alerted if there is something new or different. Until it decides if the new situation or objects are safe, the brain stays on alert.

Through this understanding you will better be able to help your son adjust and feel comfortable in your new surroundings. You can provide verbal reassurance. You are the person he depends on most to keep him safe. He has to rely on you to let him know if he is in a secure situation or if he should be frightened. So, in addition to your verbal reassurance, he will also pay a great amount of attention to your non-verbal expressions and feelings. The more you are calm and show comfort in the new home, he will begin to learn this is a safe place and will relax.

This trust and dependence on a parent is clearly evident in the Visual Cliff 
Experiment by Joseph Campos and shared by Mind in the Making.You can watch it here and get a better idea of the very real impact your actions have on your baby.

Ava Parnass from Listen to Me Please
provides additional valuable insights: 

One of the first things I learned about in college was the Hans Selye scale of stress. To this day it still stays with me despite all the other amazing interesting things I have learned and am learning since. Selye put moving to a new place,  death and divorce right at the top of the list of the stressors that families experience. 

As a baby-child psychotherapist for over 20 years I have seen how moving is just as stressful for babies and children as it is for adults. The stress of moving can cause some new or regressive sleep problems for your baby or toddler.  

As adults, we tend to stress over the details and even though babies and young children don’t stress as much about those details, they will feel the anxiety from you and also feel their own anxiety that such enormous change causes.  Moving is totally disruptive — new room, new house, new school, new caregiver -babysitters, new friends, etc. And let's not forget, the noises are different. New things are scary and most of all the grown-ups are preoccupied. 

Babies, toddlers and preschoolers thrive on routine, so when those routines are disrupted, it can make babies anxious and have many feelings that are keeping them awake at night.  Babies and toddlers lack the words and self-awareness to articulate their feelings. They may show a variety of different behavioral signs and ways expressing their feelings.

Things you could do and say:

1. Show me pictures of old house during the day. Play; Bye Bye old house, Hello new house. Connecting a picture to a feeling and event facilitates learning.

Say: "I know you must miss your friends and your room. Missing is a hard feeling." (empathy)

"I am sorry. Soon you will feel better and I will help you." (empathy and hope)

2. You can role play with stuffed animals, use a play crib, have animals  sleeping in the new bed and room during the day. This works even with a baby.

You play all the roles, keep it brief, and make it fun. Role playing helps kids cope with hard feelings and transitions, and helps build resilience.

3. Say, “Mommy (Daddy) always come back, but houses we say good-bye to sometimes.”

Repeat frequently during the day.  (empathy and building object constancy, that grown-ups do come back)

4. Keep in mind when babies are adjusting to a new sleep routine in a new home, an additional factor in not sleeping can be daylight saving time and time zone shifts. So adjust the routine accordingly.

5. Try to make sure that the first month or so after your move is as “normal” as possible.Try to minimize the amount of changes in the first weeks of the move.

6. You may have to start or restart gentle sleep training with Emotional Intelligence.
(e-book and a new book, Time-In not Time-Out coming soon, Ava Parnass)

A: Sit by bed for a few minutes as your child settles in at night after your regular routine bath book cuddles etc.

B:  When the baby cries say 2 lines with no affect (feeling)   (parents need to  make night time not interesting but at the same time feel safe and secure)

Say, "I love you, I know moving is hard and I bet you miss your old things!"
“Mommy or Daddy always come back to see you when you wake up. We will have fun and play in morning when the sun is up.”

7. Keep the routine as regular as possible throughout the day. Of course bedtime routine will be most important to keep consistent. 

8. Spend time in your son’s room with him. When you or he hear a sound, verbalize what the sound is. For example: “You hear the water running in the kitchen, don’t you?”  Or, “I hear the clock from the living room can you hear it? It sounds like it did at our old house doesn’t it?”

9. Arrange the furniture and belongings in your son’s room as close to the way it was in your previous home as possible. As you put things in place you tell your son, “This is like it was in your room at the old house isn’t it?” 

10. Make sure you provide fun interaction time together throughout the day, so your baby gets the attention he needs. Brain Development Activity Packets provide an extremely easy way to have ideas right on hand. Each activity also explains how it is good for your son’s brain development. Which will help relieve some of your worries! 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Not Surprising that love is good for brain development is it?

Brain Insights places a great amount of focus on the critical impact early relationships have on the developing brain. Due an emphasis to create this essential understanding, I can not be more trilled to share exciting research findings with you. 

This important research was posted in Neuron News in 2012, but I just became aware of it today. Of course, I wanted to share it with you immediately. 

This can be so reassuring for caring parents! These findings can also be inspiring to those wanting additional evidence that there is a critical need to place greater emphasis on this area and time of development. 

Below is the beginning portion of the article:

Mom’s Love Good for Child’s Brain

Not Surprising that love is good for brain development is it?
By Neuroscience News

School-age children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.
The new research, by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing.

Their research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

“This study validates something that seems to be intuitive, which is just how important nurturing parents are to creating adaptive human beings,” says lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry. “I think the public health implications suggest that we should pay more attention to parents’ nurturing, and we should do what we can as a society to foster these skills because clearly nurturing has a very, very big impact on later development.”  (Read more)

This article also complements and supports the focus I shared in the February, Brain Insights Newsletter:

Brain Insights ~early brain development ideas and support -

Loving Our Children!  

One of the primary reasons I started Brain Insights was to create a realization of the impact loving interaction has on the developing brain. My intent has been to help develop a greater awareness of the need for and positive effects of attachment.

Anyone that has heard me present knows how I emphasize this essential aspect of optimal brain development. As I often point out, it not only affects social/emotional development, behavior, and relationships, it also impacts cognitive development. This wonderful video clip of the still face experiment clearly illustrates the need for a secure connection.  

Through consistent and loving interactions, valuable connections are physically made in the baby's brain. The feeling of security and predictability that the child learns through these interactions leads to an emotionally healthy child ready for relationships and learning.

Recently it has become apparent that there continues to be both a lack of knowledge and understanding about the need for secure attachment, as well as confusion about what attachment is. Additionally, there are numerous children hurting and exhibiting "out of control behaviors" as a result of insecure attachment. So parents and educators are looking for help and information.  

This issue is therefore entirely focused on attachment.
It is my hope that through these resources, you will either find ways to directly help children in your life or use the information to help promote the much needed understanding. It truly makes a dramatic and long lasting difference!

Filled with hope, 


Let's each do ALL we can to make sure this information is used and shared EVERYWHERE. 

We need to do everything possible to ensure every child has the nurturing relationship they deserve! 

EVERY child deserves to develop their brain to their fullest potential and it begins with love!

Love Your Baby -
Love Your Baby Brain Packets Make  It Easy for Busy Caring Parents!




Monday, March 11, 2013

Your baby says: I have so many feelings!
There are so many things to think about as a parent or care provider of an infant or toddler. But there is one thing that makes life easier for you and better for the baby. When you stop to see things through the baby’s eyes, or think about how you would feel in the same situation, and then tell the baby that you understand, it helps… A LOT! 

This is a perspective babies would so love for you to know:

“Throughout the day there are SO many different emotions I feel. The thing is my brain is to immature to have the ability to deal with all of these feelings on my own. Because you are my parent or caretaker I SO need to you to help me with all I feel and it feels so good when you do!

Even though it may not seem like it, I do understand more about what is going on than you may realize. All that takes place throughout our day together creates 
many different emotions for me.

Do you know what is the absolute best feeling of all for me?

When you notice and acknowledge things from my perspective, it feels so good. When I hear you share that you understand, it feels so incredibly wonderful.

I love when you respect me as a real person.

Even though at times it may seem that I may not be affected by things going on in our life, this really is not true. My brain is designed to learn through interacting with the world and the people in my life. So, I pick up on everything. My brain actually tunes in on the emotional atmosphere within seconds. Even seeing you frown can easily impact my brain and my mood."

Recognizing and supporting the feelings of a baby ~
"I realize sometimes it is not always easy for you to see things from my perspective, but what I would love most is for you do to all you can to try. 

Then when you see things in this way, and then tell me that you understand, it feels so extremely comforting!

It so warms my heart, calms my brain and relaxes me to have you express that you realize and address how I am feeling. Through these caring interactions you are helping my brain begin to make the pathway connections for learning to deal with emotions."

Ava Parnass, a baby/child psychotherapist loves helping parents to start developing, Emergent Emotional Intelligence, in their babies. I am pleased that Ava has collaborated with me on this post to share valuable insights for contributing to a child's healthy emotional development. 

Every child is born with an emotional thermostat that can be developed, built up or broken down. At first emotions are expressed by crying, giggles, squirms, smiles, eye twinkles , turning away, etc., and then by behavior. As children mature it is important for adults to role model and help kids to develop the ability to regulate their emotions with words so they start to recognize and address their feelings underneath their behavior.   

One Example from a Baby's Perspective

“When I am strapped into a seat and cannot move or explore, I feel very restrained and frustrated. Please, understand this is not a good feeling for me and it really feels good when I feel you know that. Empathy can be felt and understood by me and it helps me deal with my emotions"

10 Tips for helping babies deal with car seat time!

Things Grown-ups can Say

“I know it is so hard to sit in your seat when you want to move!  (Expressing Empathy

"I imagine you would rather be held or play." (Becoming a baby detective: What emotions is your child's crying, mood or behavior expressing?)

“I know it’s frustrating. Maybe you feel trapped or confined.” (Label and identify the potential feeling)

If the baby is still crying ...

You could say, "I am so sorry, you are stuck in the car seat.”  Use a soothing voice despite how anxious the crying can make you. (Empathy expressed again)

 "I’m sorry, but I need to strap you in to keep you safe and protect you."  (Explanation of why you are doing something comes after empathy)

 "I know it’s hard to wait to play or be held! Let's take a break from the car seat for a few minutes, I see you are getting squirmy! Oh my, you have been in it for 30 min already!" (Realizing the perspective of the baby again)

"As you get older waiting gets easier." (Starting to assist in the development of patience, resilience and emotional intelligence)  

"We can play again later."  Time feels like forever to babies and toddlers. (Provide hope)

Ideas For You

Your Baby Says, "I have SO many feelings!" Role playing any activity can pave the way for adjusting to transitions. But, don't lose hope if role playing does not show immediate success. It may not work right away, but it has a lot of value as your child develops the ability to adjust to new situations.

 2. Play with the car seat in the house so the baby can get used to going into it. With very brief periods of fun play, the child learns it’s not just a 'jail'!

3. Make sure the baby gets enough activity, play, kisses and interaction before they get in the car seat.

4. Talk to the baby in a way that you'd like to be spoken too. Keep repeating a few times in a soft voice, "I know sometimes it can be hard to sit in the car seat. I'm sorry that it's frustrating. We can cuddle and play when we get out of the car.”

5. Make a car seat game. Instead of (I'm going to chase you) try instead, “I'm going kiss and cuddle you while I buckle you in."
6. Have a favorite toy or stuffed animal in car. And add new ones to explore and attract attention. In additional to things that are comforting and familiar, babies brains also love to learn and explore new things.

7. If you are not the person driving, read books or do finger plays with the baby.  Try fun ideas from brain development activity packets or Love Your Baby App

8. Use a soothing voice and sing to or play music to help calm the baby. Or use fun songs and music to entertain the baby.

9. Long trips generally need lots of feeding, play, cuddles and movement breaks depending on the age of your child and their temperament.

10. Some babies are okay being in their coat others need less restriction, so warm up the car or bring a blanket!

 It sometimes is quite amazing how simply letting your baby know that you understand how they are feeling, can make a remarkable difference! Hopefully these insights and tips bring you and the baby in your life great enjoyment of time spent together!

Ava Parnass - Author of My Feelings Are Hungry 

This post was co-authored with: Ava Parnass ~ Listen To Me

Ava Parnass, a.k.a. “The Kid Whisperer,” is an author, songwriter and child therapist who specializes in marrying Entertainment, Emotional Intelligence and Time-In not Time-Out for kids. Ms Parnass helps kids figure out how they feel through playing, talking, listening, reading, singing and dancing.
Her multi-media materials, books and songs encourage parents and  kids to read and sing along, in the process learning how awareness of  feelings “Emotional Intelligence” improves problems and behavioral issues.  Parenting is a hard job and the books and songs really help kids and parents put a finger on what is bugging them and change it.

Rainbows of Fun!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rainbows instill a feeling of happiness and fun!!  Of course fun and happiness is something we want for the children in our lives! Fun and happiness of course positively contributes to less stressed and healthy, learning brains.

In a post for the Pre K and K Sharing blog I have shared a rainbow of needs for children. You can enjoy it here:

Over the Rainbow: 8 Essential Needs of Developing Brains (click here)

 I have created a post of a RAINBOW of needs all children want all adults to know. This rainbow leads to something better than a pot of gold at the end and it doesn’t depend on luck!  Having these eight needs met will contribute to a happy life with a healthy and well developed brain!  (The scarecrow could have used these early in his life!) 

Winning terrific toys also leads to 

fun and happiness! 



Announcing the winners of the  

Soft Blocks Give Away!


Stacy Miller


Gena Barnhart

These winners will each win a set of Soft Blocks

  (click here to learn more & order your own set!)



Thank you to everyone who entered!


For additional fun.... Did you know there is a movie being made focusing entirely on the importance of PLAY?

 Enjoy watching this trailer: 


SERIOUSLY: A Movie About Play!  

(Click here to view and enjoy)



For ideas for ways to have fun with children while waiting in line, at the grocery store, while waiting for an appointment or anytime during your busy life grab one of the rainbow colored brain development packets out of your pocket and create happiness!


Have a VERY fun day!



Related Posts with Thumbnails