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You hate milk, but your child keeps insisting that you should drink it with her, because she adores it. Until your slight irritation. Then she cries, but she can't explain why... And you lose your patience. When do children begin to know how to talk about themselves, and understand that others can have different ideas and perceptions? Knowing the stages of your child's social development, and in particular the theory of mind, can help you to improve your relationship with your children. Let's see how!

Theory of mind Index
The unfathomable mysteries of our minds ..

Photo by: Billy Huynh

Social development : from me to you

I was waiting anxiously for the moment when my daughter would have been able to express her imagination, her certainties; and explain me the reason of her despair without having to enumerate infinite inconclusive hypotheses. (Because usually the answer was the only obvious thing I hadn't thought of).

You know, those times you're serenely playing together, with so many smiles. You get distracted 30 seconds for any reason, until desperate screams don't make you turn abruptly: what could possibly have happened? Honey, what is it? But in response, you only get louder cries.

You try to hug your creature, but she rejects you.. Nothing, you have to try to understand. Did you get hurt? You lost the game? Is it because I went to the kitchen for a moment to get a drink leaving you alone? Men probably feel that way when women respond "Nothing" to the question "What is it?".

Theory of mind Development children
What is it?

But is it so obvious that the use of words coincides with the ability to talk about oneself? To understand and verbalize needs and desires, and inferences on the emotions of others? Are the two learnings figuratively like the bearing poles of a ladder, independent but interconnected, or do they need further support?

In other words: how do I explain to my son that if he doesn't tell me what's wrong, I can't help him and he will continue to cry unnecessarily?

And when will he understand that in the morning I need to leave the house on time and for me it is not important if he sits on the right or on left in the trailer of our bike, as long as we hurry?

...continue reading "8 truly interesting things you should know about your child’s social development"

Have you ever noticed that when you have a baby in your arms, she starts to flicker as soon as you are a little tense? And that generally, smiling at him tenderly has a soothing effect? Have you ever been so tired, and ended with thinking unconsciously that your baby was crying on purpose to annoy you? Would that be possible? Let's see what's going on in the baby's brain, and how we can help it grow!

baby's brain and emotional transfer
baby's brain and emotional transfer

Baby's brain is a sponge

When I became a mother, I was at first puzzled to realize that my tiny baby was so permeable to my emotional states. When I was cool and relaxed and happy, she was the easiest company; whenever I felt tired, distressed, tensed or nervous, well, things weren't that simple then.

She would cry or want me more, making sometimes my tension longer to dissolve. At that time, I was still miles away from all the readings and discoveries I've done ever since. I was just exploring a new dimension of the world, and of myself.

Because of my doing 3 things at once, I used to move fast, to run; therefore clumsily dropping things, hurting things on my way, making noises...

Well, rough and noisy wasn't that good for a new born, I'd found out. She would freak out at sudden loud noises; her body would "jump up", from a state of calmness to one of alert.

I started to pay attention to subtleties, to the tone of my voice, to how I moved. Songs were great, as they kept me quiet, and cuddled her at the same time.

I had her on me most of the times, in my arms or in a baby carrier, so we were in constant physical contact. She could so easily sense the variations of my breathing speed, and I had to better manage myself.

It was a very happy period for me, so it wasn't that difficult per se; but I was amazed at how I could keep her calm just by being calm and happy myself.

...continue reading "Baby’s brain, and us. How our emotions have a role on baby’s brain development"

When we lose our temper with our children, our first automatic reaction is raising our voice, maybe a light spank... What if the solution was give them cuddles and snuggling them?! If it seems counter-intuitive to use cuddles in order to stop undesirable behavior, read along! You could change your mind.. and cuddles science could really help you. 

cuddles
Cuddles help

Small frustrations get bigger

Let's picture a typical evening at home.
I just went grocery shopping with the children, before heading home, exhausted after a long day. I had agree I would call my sister and my parents, who live far away, on a Whatsapp video to tell them about our latest week.

The children were happy at first, then got easily annoyed for my lack of availability for them. As soon as I started to talk about "more serious" topics, they followed me everywhere interrupting me every two and a half words.

First time, I stayed calm and gently asked to wait and don't intervene. I got mad at about the tenth time, but as I now know this behavior very well, I got the clue and quickly ended the call.

My quizzical look said "How do I get to prepare dinner now that the children just emptied their "reservoir" and need me again?"

So, I tried with the "aperitif technique". I called the children by the kitchen table, and offered them to have a pre-dinner snack while I was getting the dinner ready, so that we could be in proximity; yes, I was really hoping that some food could replace my mental presence.

Cuddles' need - underestimated symptoms

...continue reading "Cuddles, that’s it! Snuggling as a crisis solution"

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You've probably wondered at least once in your life as a parent.. why my kids cry whenever I leave ! Even when it's just for a short time? Even when they're having fun? Attachment theory can help us understand this. Can it maybe help us feeling less guilty? 

Why my kids cry whenever I leave and feeling guilty
Don't cry, I'll be right there!

DISCLAIMER: I've learnt from different sources, but one of the most significant and richest was the online course that Edx provides on Developmental Psychology that I followed. I did not directly take material from this course, I only took notes and memorized the contents. If you're interested, I highly recommend this course, it's very interesting. 

The perfect mother doesn't exist, however...

I don't know if it's because I'm woman, or because I had a Catholic education, or if it's just my temperament, but guilt is a recurring sensation in my life. It is even more so since I've become a mother. Perhaps I see myself in my children, I relive my childhood in them.. And my expectations on which mother I'd like to be are (maybe) too high. The feeling of being inadequate, is just around the corner.

One of the most difficult moments for me is bringing my children to school. I turn around quick and leave while they cry out desperately because they want to be with me.

I know that they will stop thirty seconds later, but.. And I know that they have fun, and learn a lot at school. And I also believe that having an activity of my own is essential for my mental balance (and therefore also for theirs) !

Bad mother. Why don't you keep them at home with you? Or don't you do more things together? And why did you scold them this morning when you came to school?

The nursery school they attend at the moment is great, they ask me to go there on weekends, sometimes they don't even want to come back home when I pick them up.. and yet in the morning they cling to me and cry.

And so I ask.. why my kids cry whenever I leave, but not when it's daddy who takes them?! And why sometimes I can't even go to the toilets for 5 minutes? or leave on errands for an hour?  ...continue reading "Why my kids cry whenever I leave.. Attachment theory"