Basic trust: How your baby develops emotional security

How to make your baby strong for life

07.02.2013, 17:19 | Jenni Zwick,

In the first few months, you can’t spoil a child too much. (Source: Archive)

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“You’re spoiling the kid!” or “Let him scream, it’s good for the lungs.” Young parents often have to listen to such sentences – often they are very unsettled by them. After all, they don’t want to attract little tyrants. But psychologists, midwives and bond researchers agree: You can’t spoil a little baby! In the first months of a person’s life, the “sense of primal security” is created and this cannot be big enough to lead a fulfilled and successful life. The baby learns “Mom and Dad are there when I need them – I am not alone” and thus receives a valuable treasure for further development. Through the security and security it develops into a stable personality that can usually handle crises well and has a positive attitude towards life. But how do parents give their baby basic confidence? And when should they begin to set limits and “educate” consciously?

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How to build basic trust

In order for trust and commitment to develop, a number of conditions must be met:

Above all, the baby needs stable caregivers. An infant can also form a bond with several persons, it is important that the persons spend a lot of time with the baby.

The baby’s needs should be addressed immediately and sensitively. It is not important that mum, dad or grandma immediately know why the baby is screaming and reacting accordingly. The attention and the attempt to satisfy the respective need already creates trust. The caregiver shows the baby by reacting quickly to the screaming that she is trying to find out what she needs. This makes the baby feel taken seriously. If the baby has to struggle for help and attention with a long cry, it learns that its needs are not important. He will not learn self-respect and will not feel comfortable in “his skin”.

Often the familiar voice is enough to calm the baby and to regain the trust lost in this moment.

The calmer the person tries to fulfil the baby’s wishes, the more security he or she gives the child.

Babies love repetitions and recurring processes. Fixed times for sleeping, eating and playing give the children security – they can “rely” on the daily routine and thereby gain confidence. Of course, rituals need time to come to life. After all, babies are initially breastfed or fed every two hours. But through recurring activities, such as closing the curtains in the evening and lying down together on the bed at noon, even very young children experience a “regular” daily routine. After three to four months, most babies who can rely on such regular routines have found a stable, inner rhythm.

Trust begins in the womb. The movements, the warmth, the voice and the smell of the mother during pregnancy are among the earliest (unconscious) memories. The unborn child hears the voice of the mother and the father, the newborn child immediately feels their closeness through the so-called “bonding”, which is now practiced in the circle halls. The newborn is placed on the mother’s stomach, so that mother and child are not separated immediately after birth, but rest and time have to get used to each other and to the new situation. The baby smells the mother’s familiar smell and feels her warmth. This reduces the “shock” of giving birth.

  • Love, love, love: For the baby to learn to trust the world, there is no need for expensive toys or early intervention programmes. Above all, the love of the parents is decisive. Even if they are sometimes stressed in everyday life and don’t make everything “perfect” – if they lovingly integrate the baby into their lives and are happy about it every day, the child feels the parents’ love and thus experiences respect, security, self-efficacy and appreciation.
  • When does the time of borders begin?

    In the first half of the year the needs of the infant are in the foreground. Parents, grandparents and friends usually automatically follow the baby’s rhythm and requirements. Only in the second half of life should you begin to set limits carefully. The child gradually realises that it can trigger reactions with certain behaviour patterns: When it screams, mummy or daddy come; when it laughs, the others laugh with it; when it drops an object, it is lifted. During this time, parents can teach their child that they also have needs. Letting the child wait briefly when he wants the ball because he is washing the dishes himself now has nothing to do with “screaming”. It rather promotes the independence of the child. It is possible that the baby will be able to grab the ball himself while waiting and will thus have a sense of achievement.

    The child slowly becomes independent

    During this time the parents are faced with the difficult task of recognising whether the child really needs help (then, of course, action must be taken quickly) or whether it is just trying itself out and testing the reactions of its fellow human beings. It is a tightrope walk, whether one takes things from the child, which it could actually already do itself and “spoils” it thereby or whether one waits too long and the child experiences negative feelings by helplessness and despair. But with every day the parents also learn and know how to behave in order to give the child the right amount of attention. And as a rule of thumb, the older the child, the more likely parents are to be able to wait and see whether the child can cope on its own or whether it can calm down on its own.

    What to do in case of binding disorders?

    Actually it is easy to love your child and to give him the necessary trust. But under certain circumstances the bond between parents and child can be disturbed, then one speaks of a bond disorder. This can happen, for example, if the parents experience separation, grief or strong stress. Also, ten to 15 percent of mothers suffer from postnatal depression after birth. During this time it is difficult for them to care for the baby appropriately and lovingly. Bad experiences from their own parental home can lead to the fact that the parents of the newborn child do not take up any connection to the child and cannot get involved with the child. In such cases, parents should seek professional help. Even if the environment of these families observes that the parents are not “in relationship” with the infant, intervention should be taken. Of course, it is difficult to interfere in such structures. However, parents need help and are often grateful when they are offered it. Most of the time they love their children as much as other parents do, but they cannot show this love and are helpless towards the little being. Even discussions with the midwife, the paediatrician, family or friends can help to get out of this situation.

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    Christina Cherry
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