Trust Under the Kaleidoscope

521056 relaxing newbornI'll tell you a secret about your most important relationship, such as with your spouse/partner, close sibling, or dear friend. You choose who; the secret is the same. How much and how well you trust that person is governed mostly by the experiences of your first year of life. Yes. The process that leads to ownership of a healthy ability to trust others begins at birth. At first breath, a normal, maturational process of child development opens an internal pitshaft down to the raw ore of Trust, your birthright. Each of us comes programmed with that essence, that readiness for Trust. Then, the less-predictable part of human development takes over.

The infant's readiness meets an environment full of people and activities that may or may not meet her needs. From each experience of needs met, he gets a tool for mining Trust, or is left empty-handed when needs are not met. Sufficient experiences of Need Not Met, especially outweighing Needs-Met experiences, will leave the little infant miner facing a wall of rock, with no tools to bring the shining facets of her Trust up into the light of her life. Maybe that was you, back then. So how do you not replicate this experience for your baby?

Parents--and others who care for, nurture, and educate very young infants--provide the tools for mining a healthy, shining gem of Trust. That happens best when they tune-in to the child's communication strategies, and respond to her messages about what she needs. For the newborn infant to one-year-old baby, those needs are mostly fundamental to life and are best met as often as possible, on the infant's timeline...that is, at the time the baby expresses a need for them. Babies are built, from the start, for "serve and return" interactive communication--as in tennis, volleyball, and badminton. Little Mr. Infant serves up a message, in the form of a bubbly little giggle (translation:  "Hug me, please!"), and...your job is to return the serve. Reply. Just as you would in any other social conversation. Little Ms. Baby lets out an energetic cry, in place of what an adult would make a polite request, "I'm hungry; could I have a snack now?" Your job is to return her serve. Respond with the nutrition she needs; later you will teach her to be polite and diplomatic. Respond with the emotional connection he needs. Respond with the quiet alone time she needs to sleep. Reply to energy with play, to fussiness with comfort or rest, to hunger with food.... Learn your baby's language, how he expresses his needs to you, and respond to those expressions. Soon, baby will be returning your serves, too. And so begins the longest and most important conversation of your life.

The key to helping your baby mine the Treasure of Trust is, simply, to RESPOND. Providing opportunities for food, sleep, and comfort on your preferred schedule just doesn't work. Every parent must slow down, listen to their child, and learn to hear the needs being expressed.

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The kaliedoscope lens of the 7 Childhood Treasures brings color and texture to your understanding of the early childhood years, and to your understanding of yourself as a parent -- an adult who was once just like the children you have now. Don't miss a thing! Follow me at http://bit.ly/LCSOptIn

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Dr. L. Carol Scott.

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