[RFHF] In the News: It's okay for babies and parents not to be in sync all the time!

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Fri Dec 2 08:28:59 PST 2011

Hi!  I don't have a lot of time this morning, but I thought this blog post<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky/trusting-relationships-ar_b_1123524.html> about the Tronick experiment (mom looks at baby, but doesn't respond when baby tries to engage with mom and baby starts to cry) is very interesting and pointed out two things that are new to me.  I thought they may particularly interesting for Healthy Start staff.

1)      Does this study mean we have to be constantly 'in sync' with children, responding to their every move? [No] In fact, Tronick has found that moving in and out of sync with others -- repairing a mismatch with a match -- is not only normal, it can be a positive learning experience for both parent and child.

2)      You can also try the same experiment with adults. Ask one person to share something important and the other adult NOT to respond. You will find the results are the same. When the connection between us and another person is broken, we wonder if there's something wrong with us, we try to engage the other person, and then, if there is no response, we pull back -- if not physically like the infant, at least emotionally.

The first point may be really good to share with overburdened and stressed out parents who have anxiety about not being able to be in sync with their child all the time.  It's important that they know this is not only okay, but that getting back into sync when they've been out of sync is an important learning experience for their child. This may also a great opportunity to bring up discipline, behavior management, and/or conflict resolution strategies as tools parents can use to create positive experiences around getting back in sync.

The second point makes me think about the high-risk parents we all work with. How can we use the knowledge that adults react similarly to better engage families?  Many of the adults we work with grew up in situations where they rarely were in sync with a parent, caregiver, or any other positive adult role model/mentor.  How has that impacted how they communicate with and respond to us as we try to establish a connection with them?

Here is the URL to the blog if the hyperlink doesn't work, try copying and pasting this into your browser:

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

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