The ability to form bonds with other human beings is a critical step in human development. Humans are social creatures by habit and the infant must learn to interact with other members of the group in a special way. The YouTube video for this exercise shows a mother and infants laying on a bed and interacting. The mother is talking to the baby in a highly expressive manner. The baby is making intense eye contact and attempting to imitate the caregiver’s expressions and inflection. The baby is having a positive interaction with the caregiver and is expressing his joy through his excitement. The baby smiles and squeals in delight. When he does, the mother responds by imitating the baby. The baby is excited when the mother imitates him. The baby and mother are forming a strong attachment in this video and a positive experience that the infant can reference in future interactions.
The degree of security that a child feels depends on their attachment to their caregiver and the quality of care that they receive from them (Oppenheim, Korn-Karie, & Dolev, et al., 2008, p. 28). The influence of interpersonal relationships with parents and other caregivers have an impact on how the structure of the brain develops (Siegel, 1998). The positive stimulus in his video is an example of positive attachment bonding and will be likely to lead to the development of a strong attachment to the mother and father. The baby and mother are demonstrating “matching” and attunement. The direct eye contact and touching are evidene that matching is taking place.
Affect attunement is not the same as imitation. It is a form of matching. The mode of emotional expression is different between the mother and infant (Stern, n.d.,p. 5). The quality of the match does not depend on behaviors, but rather on the internal emotional state of the two persons (Stern, n.d., p. 5). The imitation and interaction in the video are not all one way. The mother imitates the infant’s sounds and gestures, even though to an adult the gesture and giggles are not a part of the adult behavior pattern. The mother responds excitedly to the infant’s giggles and delight. There is considerable back and for the reciprocity between the two. The baby is delighted when the mother responds by imitation and is then encouraged to giggle and express delight so that she will do it again. The delight demonstrated by the mother and child is “matching” of the emotional state.
The infant’s brain is consider to be molded by an enriched environment and stimuli that facilitate or inhibit this growth (Schore, 2001, p. 25). When an infant has an abnormal interactive experience, they learn to cope with them in a certain manner. When they experience a normal interaction, they will tend to distort them, leading to the reinforcement of an otherwise normal interaction (Tronick, 2007, p. 177). This means that abnormal social interaction leads to a learned abnormal pattern. This video is an example of normal interactive development patterns. The mother is modeling a positive emotional state and the baby is attuning to it. They are sharing a joyous and happy mental state.
Based on the research, one could surmise that the infant in the video is developing a strong attachment to its parents that will carry over into other relationships as they grow. The infant is learning appropriate coping mechanisms to human interaction. The baby is also learning a positive mental state through attunement to the mother. This will help to establish a healthy interactive pattern in the future. The infant is being rewarded in this video by the closeness of his mother.
This is an example of healthy social interaction between a caregiver and infant. The baby is attuning to the emotions of the mother and the mother is attuning to the joy as expressed by the infant. The infant is encouraged to continue to interact in this manner due to the positive feedback from the other in the way of imitation and touch. The mother is teaching the infant how to express joy and happiness. Research demonstrates that early childhood interactions and affective attunement builds self-esteem and a mentally healthy child and adult. The child is receiving interaction that will set the tone for the development of empathy towards others and trust. This is a good example of positive adult and infant interaction.
- Oppenheim, D., Korrn-Karie, N., & Dolev, S. et al. (2008). Secure Attachment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Zero to Three. 25-30.
- Schore, A. (2001). Effect s of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal. 22 (1-2): 7-66.
- Siegel, D. (1998). The developing mind towards a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. The Signal. 6 (3/4): 1-11.
- Stern, D. (n.d.). Frontiers of Infant Psychiatry.
- Tronick, E. (2007). The Neurobiological and Social-Emotional Development.