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.


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I was just thinking about this the other day. I was pondering our baby and thinking, "I'm going to pretend that she is a grown-up from now on. When I interact with her I'm going to pretend that she knows everything I'm saying and doing. I'm going to pretend that she will remember EVERYTHING I say and do for the rest of her life." So when I snuggle her I think in my mind, "She will remember this." When I speak gently I think, "She knows I'm being gentle." It's a little game I play with myself in my own mind and it helps me to stay focused on approaching things from her perspective. She would WANT me to snuggle her, to be gentle, to be loving, to be kind, to be patient, etc. She may not in fact remember every little detail of everything I do but she will certainly remember *feeling* loved and wanted as an over-all life experience.

March 11, 2013 at 8:39 PM
Ava Parnass said...

Thanks so much Deborah for the wonderful co-write.
I appreciate the invitation and all your expertise and experience!

Shara, So true! The gentleness love and feelings we help them with are reflected years later on who they become!

Our gentle voice is the kind voice in their head when they grow up!
The twinkling in our eye for them is their self-esteem when they grow up!
And time spent with them +play+ fun +laughter +love + addressing feelings are their mental health!

March 12, 2013 at 1:56 PM
Naomi Richards said...

Ava I love that you have written this article as through thew babys eyes. As you know I see things from childrens eyes and not all parents do that. If they did there would be greater understanding. Lovely post.

March 14, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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