Secure Attachment

What happens when the mother reassigns a different motive to the child's cry and decides not to be responsive?

A youngster cries for a reason - not to manipulate his parent, not to be mean, or nasty, or to be a "pain in the neck." When, instead of trying to discern what her youngster needs, a mother simply says - "oh, he's just tired," or "he has to deal with sleeping by himself now" - she has given her baby the idea that expressing his inner-self is wrong or bad. A baby is like someone who is quadriplegic. He can't do very much for himself - but that doesn't mean that he isn't thinking and feeling. When the baby cries and his mother responds, the youngster learns to have trust in the world around him and to have trust in himself. When the baby cries and his mother listens, the two join together in a moment of oneness that transcends the separateness, the aloneness, which the baby knows all too well.

If the youngster has not been responded to, if he has not been attuned to or empathized with, he begins to feel more and more powerless, alienated, and detached. You know, sometimes the best you can do is to simply empathize with your child - "I know, you are angry because . . ." or "You want to get out of this car seat right away!" Saying something like that is much better than ignoring your youngster. The less empathy that is developed between mother and baby, the less understood the youngster feels, and from there, the disconnection between the two just grows and grows.

Parenting Defiant RAD Teens

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