Attachment breach and abuse in the first two years of life almost always instills an inability to self-regulate emotions in a child. Providing emotion regulation is one of the fundamental functions of a mother or caregiver for a newborn baby. That looks like consistent caregiving in the form of meeting a baby’s survival needs to be soothed, dry, full, and safe. Separation from a birth mother or abuse by a mother or other person in this formative time prevents the child’s emotion regulatory system from developing properly, which can cause regulation problems for a lifetime.
As adoptive parents or parents of children from difficult beginnings, our job is to understand, teach and practice emotion regulation with our children. When we do this, we help develop parts of the brain that are underdeveloped. We can literally create new neuro-pathways in the brains of our children. Cool, right?
So, resist the urge (and the headache) to keep your child calm “all the time.” Instead, at regular intervals (practice every day), purposely get your child excited with sensory stimulation, then help your child calm down. That is what is needed. Being calm all the time will not teach your child to self-soothe. In a playful manner, amping up and calming down, over and over, is the way.
Ready, set, go play. Fall down, calm down, and start again.
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
Practice makes perfect neuro-pathways.
NOTE: If you are planning to sign up, please go ahead and do it because I think the space will end up being limited this time around. The next REVISED Trust-based Parent Training Course in Sacramento, CA is scheduled for January 24th and January 31st. Register here. If you have been through this course in the past, you will be getting significantly more hands on experience than ever before.
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