Of course we all know that babies cry when they are physically uncomfortable, like when they're hungry or need a diaper change. But what about emotions like worry, sadness, anger, boredom or self-pity? No, babies don't experience these types of emotions. . . yet. When a baby comes into the world they are bright, alive and in total amazement. They are completely content and satisfied with their existence.
So if they aren't born with these emotions they must learn them. . . but how? No parent consciously sets out to teach their baby to be sad, angry or anxious!
Most new parents don't realize just how much they impact their babies with their own emotions. Plus everyone else in the baby's environment impacts them as well. Babies are like sponges taking in information all the time. Their own emotional response system is not developed until about the age of 18 months. So you can think of them like little mirrors –- mostly just reflecting the emotions around them.
Another good analogy is to think of babies like little radio receivers and everyone around them as a radio station transmitter. Babies simply tune in and “play" whatever the people nearby are “broadcasting".
I raised six babies and observed this often. I learned that whenever I got emotional and stressed, my baby always started to cry! When each of my babies was quite small, I would often take them with me to business meetings. They would usually be sleeping soundly, or contentedly awake. But the moment the meeting got tense, the moment it got a bit rough for me, my baby immediately started crying loudly!
I have often found that parents who complain about their baby not being able to fall asleep (excluding a medical problem) show a similar pattern. They are insecure about what they are doing and already afraid that the baby might not go to sleep. So before even starting the task at hand, they are already stressed. This emotion gets picked up by the baby who then responds to mom's stress with crying - this stresses mom even more, and so on. You can see the vicious circle forming!
The remedy is to start paying more attention to what emotions you are teaching your baby –- what emotions you are transmitting to your new little “radio". Obviously, you should always first make sure your baby's physical needs are met. But once you're sure they are, take a moment to “check in" with your own self to see what you are feeling. Are you feeling stressed, irritable, or angry at someone else and are replaying it over and over in your mind? Are you feeling sad, worried or sorry for yourself?
If so, here's some hints on how to step out of this emotional endless loop. . .
** First, this simple exercise of awareness is often enough to break the unconscious cycle. When you just step back and notice the emotion, instead of being immersed in the emotion, it will often evaporate by itself.
** Take a break! Do something that is fun for you and come back to your baby refreshed. Even a small break will do wonders. You'll see how dramatically things will change when you do this.
** Give yourself permission to make mistakes - you will anyhow! Whenever you feel yourself getting stressed or emotional, relax! Just remember the most precious and important gift you have to give your baby is your unconditional love.
** Drop the schedule for a day and just love and appreciate your baby.
** Accept assistance from others when needed. You don't have to do it all yourself!
And of course, always remember to have fun!
(C) Copyright 2005, Nue Nue Education
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Nicole Mackenzie's simple, yet proven Responsive Parenting Method shows parents how to raise more responsible and happier kids using non-judgmental awareness, curiosity and discipline without punishment - plus have fun in the process! Nicole is an author and mother of 6 children. She has been a facilitator, speaker, coach and trainer for 16 years. For a free parenting eClass, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://rulenumberone.com .