You are your baby’s first teacher about feelings.
Even before your baby fully understands your words, he is learning about the world from you. Your expressive or cautious looks and your enthusiastic tone will guide, warn and comfort him.
Your baby can read the look on your face.
Your baby learns about emotions based on the expressions on your face.
As your baby grows, he develops the ability to read your emotions. He is guided by your emotional expressions.
Your baby learns by listening to the tone of your voice.
Even if your baby doesn’t understand your words, he does understand the feeling communicated through your tone. He understands what certain phrases and tones imply, like “IT’S OK to play with that” and “DON’T do that!”
Your baby makes decisions based on your expressions, tone and words.
With your encouragement or caution, your baby is learning how to navigate this world. Researchers call this learning process “social referencing.” Even if your baby doesn’t understand all of your words, he might look at the expression on your face to decide what to do — or not do — next.
You can help your baby learn by being expressive!
Be enthusiastic! Babies love it — and you will love it too. Speak to your child in a positive way. Don’t be embarrassed to expressively say, “ROLL THE BALL TO ME!” or when offering a warning, “CAREFUL, that coffee is very HOT!”
Match your face to your feelings.
Express your feelings clearly, so your face, words, and tone communicate what you mean. Your baby will understand you best when your facial expression, tone of voice and actions all match.