Often times, new parents worry about their infants social and emotional development. Some will say “She has always been a happy baby” or “He is so shy”. When an infant is born, their capacity to express emotions is likely biologically based. They are responding to basic survival needs and trying to get those met. However, soon after birth, infants start to develop in their capacity to share their emotions. Within months, an infant can engage others in interaction, convey sadness, anger, and delight. Infants also gain the ability to use the emotional expression of their caregivers to determine how to respond to their environment. Based on this connection, you can understand why it is so important that caregivers assess their own mental health. Not only does that biologically impact infants through neurons but it also impacts them socioemotionally through assessing how to react to stressors, how to process environmental surroundings, and how to cope.
By the time your baby is a toddler, they typically have developed self-awareness, empathy, and self-conscious feelings like shame or embarrassment. How these feelings are developed, as well as emotional capacity of caregivers, greatly affects the child’s emotional development. Which can have a lasting impact into adulthood. Creating habits that can last for generations. Having a nurturing environment with developmentally appropriate responses to stressors, environmental ques, etc, can increase positive outcomes for attachment and bonding.
If you need help in maintaining, developing, or returning to socioemotional competence with yourself or your child reach out. Schedule your first appointment today by emailing, calling, or texting me. Visit my Contact page for more info. Also, sign up for my series, More Than Just the Nursery ™. Remember, you are not alone, and you are not to blame.
Traci Schank, LCSW