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The Whole Child
Dealing with Feelings:
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abc's of child development
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for early care providers
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We don't have to be psychologists to foster mental health in children or in anyone else for that matter. What it's really about is relationships.

[Child care provider holds a girl as they watch the mother leave for work.]

Genes and their contribution to temperament is important, but we cant do anything about them. So we might as well concentrate on what we can do something about and that's the relationship between us and the children we care for. Why do you think that is so important?

[Childcare provider sits at table with children as they draw. A man sits on the floor with a young boy.]

Without trust, it's impossible to feel safe or close or comfortable with someone.

[Baby walks to woman and she hugs him.]

Our need to experience trust and have it reaffirmed remains with us throughout our lives, but the basic balance between trust and mistrust is tipped very early in favor on one attitude or the other.

[Childcare provider]

Trust has its roots in infancy when the baby gains confidence that they can depend on the gown ups round to meet their basic needs. That's why demand feeding is so important - the baby finds out that when he's feeling miserable he can count on someone to help him feel better without having to wait and eternity for warmth and comfort.

From a baby's perspective, reasonably prompt and consistent care is one essential ingredient to developing trust. Babies wonder, "When we are hungry can we count on someone to feed us? When we are upset and start to cry, will someone be there to comfort us? When we are wet, is someone there to change us?"

When the answers to these questions are "yes," babies develop trust, confidence. Confidence that others will help them when they need help; and trust in themselves as well; confidence they can get what they want when they need it. This helps them feel valued and important.

Although the need for trust begins in infancy, it remains in us all our lives so the next thing to think about is how to maintain that wonderful trustful feeling as children continue to grow."

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