Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Help baby calm himself

How does your child sooth himself when he is emotionally upset? This is a good thing to know about your child. Is your child able to sooth himself? how long does it take for him to calm down? Even more important , how do you maintain your calm and sometimes your sanity during these times? How do you reconnect with eachother after such an energetic disconnect?

We come into the world with all the potential ingredients to learn to calm and sooth ourselves. In the ideal world, our nervous systems learn quickly with the guidance of an attentive parent. In the first month of life the baby is encouraged to suck on a finger or thumb or little fist or pacifier for comfort; to be held close and rocked; to look up into the eyes of an engaged parent etc. This is the ideal and it is something very few older adopted children got to experience. Their ways of managing or calling attention to their 'upset' are often very skewed and can be extremely damaging to themselves and to their close relationships. So what to do?

I am not encouraging parents to treat their older children like babies. However, it is useful to feel into this deficit to understand more about your child and what might be needed during these times. Give a quick reassuring hug or hold your child; sit quietly together, or apart in the same room or if necessary apart in different rooms for a short period of time; talk to you child about what is happening to her; reassure your child that you know this is not all she is.
Responding to the body cues and facial expressions of a teenager and maintaining your own cool, can help a lot more than being lost in an intensely emotional maze of words and decoy of cognitive debating that can go on for hours.

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