Emotional health for children and babies

Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start by Linda Acredolo, PH.D. and Susan Goodwyn, PH.D.

Click here to purchase Baby Hearts: A Guide to Giving Your Child an Emotional Head Start

I grew up with absent parents who weren’t interested in me at all and I became a very shy and timid wallflower/doormat/underachiever. It took me a long time to really understand how the abusive childhood was still affecting me as an adult, so when I was expecting my first son, I knew I wanted to be the best parent I could be and give him a good start in life. I read dozens of books on the topic! This one was one of the best. I cannot emphasize enough that giving your child emotional support is just as important as giving him or her shelter and food, and the way you validate them and respect them as children sets the stage for how they will see themselves and others for life. I knew I wanted my child to grow up in a loving and supportive environment so he could become a healthy and successful adult. I was very impressed by this book and how much sense it made. I’ve been recommending it to other parents ever since I read it.

Here are the chapter titles:
1. Nature’s Contribution: The Biology of Emotions

Part I–The “Big Five” Goals for Healthy Emotional Development
2. Welcome to the World: Feeling Loved and Secure
3. I’m Feeling Sad: Expressing Emotions Effectively
4. Kid Kindness: Evoking Empathy and Caring About Others
5. I’ve Got a Friend: Developing Healthy Friendships
6. I Can Do Anything: Having Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Part II–The “Big Five” Challenges to Healthy Emotional Development
7. Monsters and Meanies: Addressing Fear and Anxiety
8. No Need to Hide: Dealing with Shyness and Withdrawal
9. Tempers and Tantrums: Handling Anger and Defiance
10. Sticks and Stones: Avoiding Hostility and Aggression
11. Everyone Makes Mistakes: Steering Clear of Shame
12. The Puzzle Pieces of the Heart: Putting It All Together

Early in the book, the authors tell us how important parents are for an infant’s body regulation. For example, feeling our breathing and our skin helps them regulate their breathing and temperature. In fact, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is far more rare in cultures where mothers co-sleep with their babies because the mother’s breaths help regulate the baby’s rhythm. The authors also give an important reality, “…if that parental support is itself erratic or disorganized, then the baby’s developing ability to regulate himself will be compromised accordingly.” No one will be perfect, but it is important that infants know they can can count on the stability of the world around them. From the start, parents need to create an environment to help them regulate their bodies and emotions.

The authors note that babies are born with their own individual temperaments. Some babies will be “easier” than others and some babies will be more “difficult.” They give tips on how to understand and relate to your child’s natural personality so that you can best nurture them. It’s important to form a strong attachment with your child as early as possible because children with a secure attachment are more empathetic, friendly, generous and successful. The authors describe the types of attachment, how to determine what kind your child is and how to nurture them. They go on to give many wonderful ideas and tips and easily explain the scientific studies behind their recommendations. They make it easy to understand how a baby’s mind develops and it is an easy, but important book to read.

Lasting Lessons:
You cannot spoil a baby! They are completely dependent on you to make them feel secure and safe and that is essential to their future emotional health.

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