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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

HOPE for happy, healthy children


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every child developed the ability to: deal with emotions in healthy ways, delay gratification, have empathy for others, and form positive relationships?

Sadly, there are many myths and misunderstandings that prevents this for many children. The critically important myth that needs to be completely dispelled is …… A baby is "spoiled" by responding to cries and meeting their expressed needs.

The wonderful news is, we have the knowledge of why this myth is not true. Research clearly provides this needed understanding.

THE TRUTH IS: Consistently meeting the needs of a baby is actually the opposite of spoiling.

Through repeatedly meeting a baby's physical and emotional needs, a baby is calmed and feels safe. Over time a baby begins to learn what to expect due to these repeated, predictable and positive experiences. So, having an attuned and loving caregiver who predictably meets a baby's emotional needs, leads to the overall healthy development all children deserve.

For real insights on this topic….Enjoy understanding this through a baby’s perspective!

Anna says………

“Good morning! I just woke up and see I am in my crib. I feel good after having all those hours of sleep. I can’t fully express that feeling yet, so I just coo a little to myself.
But wait… the feeling of contentment is beginning to fade. I am beginning to feel lonely in here all by myself. I am also beginning to feel wet and hungry. These sensations make me cry. I need someone to come and take care of this discomfort I am feeling.
When I cry, I have found that my mommy or daddy comes to me to see what they can do to meet my needs. This feels so good and comforting. I am completely helpless. I have to have someone take care of me!

See… I told you, here comes my daddy already. He looks like he is glad to see me. He smiles at me and says, “Good morning Little Sweetheart!”, as he walks into the room. (He calls me a lot of different names. It is fun to see which name he will call me each time). I stop crying right away, smile back and wave my arms and kick my legs in excitement. I am so glad he is here!

He picks me up and holds me. It feels so warm and secure in his arms. I feel so special when he looks at me and talks to me. He asks me if I slept good and if I want my diaper changed. I just continue to smile back at him.
Daddy lays me on the changing table and takes off the wet diaper. He continues to talk and then stops to make silly faces at me. It makes me laugh. We are having so much fun together. Because my daddy and I have times like this so frequently, it makes me know I am someone special.

The hungry feelings are getting stronger now. I start to cry a little again. Daddy says, “I know… You are hungry!” It is wonderful to have him so tuned into my needs. It sure makes me not cry and scream much.

Daddy carries me in to the other room. Oh…. I see Mommy! She is smiling and holding her arms out for me. I give her my biggest smile! I can hardly wait for her to hold me and give me a morning kiss. Because my brain is still very immature I do not have the ability to wait very long to get my needs met. But, due to Mommy and Daddy being so consistent in paying attention to what I need and then meeting them, I have already learned to calm myself a bit.

Mommy takes me, sits down, and positions herself. Because of the repetition of this process, I already know this is in preparation to feed me. I get so excited with the anticipation. It feels so warm and soothing to be fed and held at the same time. Mommy usually loves looking at me and caresses my hand while I eat. I feel so incredibly secure!
Not only does this feel wonderful, but I am excited to know that scientists have shown that what I am experiencing is having a positive impact on my developing brain. Research demonstrates that secure attachment can have an impact on my ability:
• to form healthy relationships with others
• to delay gratification
• to problem solve
• to have empathy for others
• to put up with the frustration of failure and have more patience
• to calm down from excitement
I may also:
• have a longer attention span
• be able to better manage physical reactions to emotions
• have an increased capacity for empathy
• feel less anxiety
• have greater skills in communicating emotions in healthy ways
• exhibit fewer behavioral problems
• have more confidence and a positive self-perception
• be less fearful
• have more willingness to explore and learn through challenges

I am such a fortunate baby to have all of this happening in my life. The thing that makes me very sad, is to know is this doesn’t happen for all babies. There are many babies that do not have their cries answered or have their needs met consistently. These babies become very fearful, distressed, frustrated, and hopeless. When this occurs repeatedly their emotional development remains “stuck” at this stage. When these babies grow up they will still have a focus on needing someone to care about them. Their stunted development will affect relationships and learning throughout their lives.

I really do not understand why all parents are not given this information at child birth classes. Do you? It could make such a difference if this were known by every parent. Is there anything you can do to help?
There is not much I can do from my crib, except to share my insights with you. But, I would love it if every baby could have the wonderful experiences I am having.... because every baby deserves it. I would really appreciate it if you would do what you can to take steps to ensure EVERY baby develops through having their needs met in a loving and consistent way.

Deborah McNelis, Owner, Brain Insights.
Deborah is an author, speaker, educator and parent. Her passion is to achieve the best possible outcome for all children and make brain development common knowledge.

As an Early Brain Development Specialist, Deborah is the award winning author of, The Brain Development Series. She has been seen in several publications, heard on numerous radio shows, and receives rave reviews for her enlightening and engaging presentations. Deborah is overjoyed with the response to all that her company provides due to her passion to create awareness of the critical importance of the early years.

In addition to the brain series she has also created a brain packet called Naturally Developing Young Brains. Deborah has additionally created the Love Your Baby App, a valuable newsletter, the Early Childhood Brain Insights blog, and the BRAIN Initiative. Her newest initiative helps entire communities, “Create Great Connections”. Her goal through this work is for everyone to gain an understanding of early brain development, it’s impact, and the ways we can all easily make a REAL difference.


  1. Deborah this really is a great post. It's amazing how many people live under the false belief that responding to their baby's needs means they are somehow spoiling them. I loved listening to the voice of baby Anna too! Thank you so very much Deborah for writing such a fantastic guest blog post.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful blog! This is so moving to read. Love how you wrote it from Anna's perspective. It made it even more powerful! Love it!

  3. Deborah, BRAVO! Couldn't have put it better myself. ;-)

  4. This should be a part of childbirth class newsletters and information packets in maternity units. Kudos on sharing this important information, Deborah! Thank you for all you do to help educate parents and caregivers.

  5. Deborah, I loved this post. It shows how love and care goes such a long way in our baby's/children's lives and their development into adults.

  6. I LOVED this post! What makes it so unique and meaningful is that it's said from a baby's perspective. I've always believed in giving children attention (esp when they cry), now I have an "Early Brain Development Specialist" to back me up.

    Will be bookmarking this and sharing it with others. Also thinking of featuring the post on my blog so more parents can learn from it.