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Babies are People

Mind-mindedness is a term used to measure responsiveness within the parent-child relationship. A parent who is “mind-minded” recognises their baby or child as an individual with thoughts, desires and preferences and not just a creature with needs to be met.

Mind-mindedness is related to several positive outcomes. For example, parents who are more “mind-minded” are more likely to have children who are securely attached, have better emotion regulation and are more socially skilled.

Most parents figure that their children’s behaviour (at least some of the time) is governed by things going on inside their heads: desires, emotions, likes, dislikes, thoughts, beliefs. However, the key difference is how accurate some parents are when they “read their children’s mind”.

For example, if an infant becomes overstimulated during a game – shown by turning away, zoning out or making jerky movements – a “mind-minded” parent accurately interprets these signals and responds appropriately by pausing the game, allowing the child to recover. A less attuned parent, might misread these signals, think the child is getting bored and take the interaction up a notch.

Knowing what is going on in our kid’s heads is hard work, especially as their still figuring it out themselves a lot of the time! We aren’t going to get it right every time, but the key is to think of our babies and children as people. Complex and fully realised people who are learning to make sense of their world. After all, that’s what we’re doing too, right?

Taking time to really tune-in, learn our children’s cues and be conscious and intentional in our responses… this is what helps our children learn to better recognise and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

References: Meins et al. (2002)

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