Parents want their children to trust and feel connected to others. Use these 8 principles to create an emotionally healthy foundation for your child's interactions.
- Step 1: Provide consistent care-giving, ideally from a parent. If needed, establish an alternate caregiver who has bonded with and cares for the child. Minimize stress and fear during short separations.
- Step 2: Develop the child's conscience, using positive discipline that is empathetic, loving, and respectful, rather than merely a reaction to misunderstood behaviors. Preserve everyone's dignity in finding solutions.
- Step 3: Set realistic family goals and recognize individual needs without compromising physical and emotional health. Find a way to have fun with parenting, and take care of yourself.
- FACT: The "Strange Situation," by researcher Mary Ainsworth, is a series of laboratory experiments designed in 1978 to assess how infants are attached to their mother.
- TIP: Despite successes in some cultures, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Academy of Pediatrics issue warnings about co-sleeping in modern American beds, linking the practice to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Step 4: Soothe and regulate intense emotions like hunger and fear. Rather than practicing sleep-training techniques, sleep with the babies to reinforce secure feelings.
- Step 5: Follow guidelines on breast-feeding or bottle nursing to create a secure attachment. Babies should eat when they are hungry and stop when full. Throughout the child's life, choose healthy whole foods and model sound eating habits.
- Step 6: Communicate with and respond to your child's emotions consistently with calm sensitivity. Share their joy.
- TIP: Relax and enjoy the time with the baby. A child can experience fear and anxiety, sensing our tension even if we try to conceal it.
- Step 7: Touch the baby to engender a sense of security and healthy stimulation. Breast-feed, bathe, hold, hug, rub, and play physically to reassure children.
- Step 8: Prepare for childbirth by researching health care providers, birthing environments, and particularly basics of newborn care. Understand developmental stages of childhood to set expectations.