Babies are born with just enough neurological wiring to stay alive, but they grow fast. Caregivers see surprising new abilities appear with each week of life. During these early years, faces, bodies and voices help young human beings regulate their emotions and understand the world around them. They notice when face, voice, words and demeanor don’t match, and they make a primitive kind of sense of the mismatch, incorporating it into their map of how the world works.
Children can tell when things aren’t fine, when you are sad but say you’re happy, or fearful but claim to be OK. Sharing details of adult problems doesn’t work out well, but lying (the mismatch) doesn’t work either. The young child learns, for example, that sad is okay and being fearful is normal.
For your child’s well-being and for your own quality of life, it is important for you to be as safe as you can be as often as possible, and as calm as you can be whenever you can. That way, happy looks and feels like real happiness, and peace and safety are felt as genuine, not an act.
Making changes so that safety and calm are part of your life can be very difficult. Gathering support from other people who believe in you and will help you can make a significant difference in shifting toward safety. Look for people you can trust to help you take care of you, so you can be flexible and open with your child.
Read the 20-page series “Helping Children Cope…” which includes this page. Download the free PDF to read, print, and distribute.