The baby’s psychological birth
The baby is born biologically, when he or she is ready to exit the womb, when they become able to satisfy their basic needs like feeding, outside the mother’s body. However, the baby’s psychological birth doesn’t happen until the child is three years old. Before that age, the child is unable to satisfy all his psychological and emotional needs alone. Until the child is three years old, he believes that he is in oneness with his mother, he doesn’t see his mother as a separate person, so he gets all his needs from her. The child’s psychological and emotional needs differ in every stage during the first three years.
The Psychological and emotional needs of a child until age 3
– Unconditional love.
In the first five months the baby needs:
– Safety and unconditional love
During the first five months while the baby believes he is in oneness with his mother these two needs are essential. The need for safety is satisfied by the continuous physical closeness to the child. The baby needs to hear the mother’s heartbeat and feel her scent, which requires her close presence all the time.
Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to provide the baby with the safety he needs during those few first months. During feedings, the baby is close to the mother’s body, so he feels her warmth. He is also close to her belly which was his home for nine months.
When a baby cries although he is fed and changed, the new mom is often told to let him cry it out! This is an extremely dangerous practice, as it causes abandonment trauma to the child. When a baby cries it is to express an emotional and psychological need, not satisfying this need traumatizes the baby. Respond to your baby when she cries, you don’t have to pick him up and hold him each time, just be close, touch him and talk to him to calm him down.
Respect is shown to the newborn baby through constant communication. Tell your baby what is going on: “Now I will pick you up, now I will put you in your chair, and now I will change your diaper. This last phrase is the first step in your child’s sexual education, children will learn that their private areas are exposed for the diaper change and only to their moms.
Between ages 5 to 18 months the baby needs:
At this age, the baby starts feeling that he and the mom are not in oneness. This is also the age where separation anxiety starts. Therefore, it is important to give the baby the trusts she needs, and not to leave him suddenly. At this age babies enjoy playing Peek a Boo, it is their way of testing their parent’s trust, they are happy to see the parents’ faces each time they come back. If you want to go to the next room, don’t just leave the baby and go, do it gradually and keep talking to the baby while you are out of sight, to make her trust that you are still close and that you are coming back. The same thing when you go back to work, tell your baby gently that you are leaving and promise to come back, and when you do return announce your return and talk to your baby. He will associate the tone of your voice and your words with your arrival. This will build trust between you and decrease separation anxiety.
From 18 months to 3 years the emotional needs of your child are:
– Safety and unconditional love
At 18 months the baby will realize that he is an independent person from his mother and starts to throw tantrums! This makes the baby feel alienated, and with this comes an array of negative feelings, to which the baby will respond through tantrums and crying. Hence the importance of safety and unconditional love, which are expressed through hugs and verbalizing your love to your child.
Your baby will start to express independence at this age, and you need to respect that. This independence is often interpreted by moms as stubbornness, which leads to frustration. Understanding that this is just a way your child is manifesting his newfound independence and respecting this, will satisfy an important need for the child.
Your baby still needs your trust, and he needs to trust you as well. He needs to know that no matter the tantrum he throws you will still be there and that you will love them.
The father’s role in securing the child’s emotional needs
Usually, the main caregiver for the child is the mother. But it is essential to have a second caregiver, which is often the father. The father’s contribution will lighten the mom’s burden and will ensure the baby is having all his needs satisfied. Since this is an overwhelming task, the mom might not be able to carry it alone.
An 18-month-old baby whose independence is growing needs a source of empowerment, the father can be the role model and the leader to guide the baby on his path through independence and individuality. The father’s rationale complements the mother’s affection by providing the child with all he needs for healthy mental and emotional growth.