Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Part 1 highlighted that child neglect, rather than abuse, has a far higher prevalence and more widespread consequences.
Here's Why & How:
The need for a RESPONSIVE caregiver is a primary motivational drive to feel secure. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, our ability to manage our feelings or to self-regulate, directly correlates with the degree to which we experienced having "The 4 Ss of Healthy Attachment" while growing up...when our nervous systems were being wired.
The 4 Ss are whether we felt:
SEEN - SAFE - SOOTHED- SECURE = Self-regulation.
Self-regulation is our ability to manage feelings and emotions. It makes sense because our nervous systems are literally being wired as we develop. And they are being wired for feelings of safety or anxiety. As babies, we don't have words, but our bodies cry out when receiving signals of hunger, thirst, fatigue, fear, need for touch, comfort, connection. When we don't get our attachment needs met from a sensitive and responsive caregiver, our body and brain become flooded with fear and distress."
As babies, we naturally cry out to feel:
SEEN - you see that I need help
SAFE - you are able to protect me
SOOTHED - you care about meeting my needs, and
SECURE - I can depend on you.
When the cry isn't heard/seen or intentionally ignored, the nervous systems of babies don't learn how to manage anxiety. Unfortunately, the days of Dr. Spock parenting believed that children needed to learn to self-soothe on their own; advocating that babies should "cry themselves out" as a way of learning to self-soothe. Take this quote from, “Your Baby Week by Week: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Your New Baby”
“If your baby is sick, then this is about as tough as controlled crying gets and you will have to be strong-minded not to scoop him into your arms to comfort him. But do try to resist as you’ll only prolong the process and his misery. Try to be efficient and calm as you change the sheet… Don’t speak to your baby, and be as quick as you can so that you don’t get his hopes up allowing him to think that he’s going to be cuddled and fed.”
-- Dr. Caroline Fertleman and Simone Cave,
Now we know that this was not only bad advice but detrimental because being distressed causes a flood of stress hormones. When a developing brain is chronically distressed or for long periods of time it becomes bathed in stress hormones it literally wires a STRESS REACTIVE brain.
So, our ability to regulate feelings (self-regulation ) is a result of our neuro-biology - how our bodies respond. Not our character or strength! It is directly connected to our level of secure childhood attachment resulting from the degree to which we experienced the 4Ss. The good news is that WE CAN RE-WIRE the nervous system to better self-regulate. And when we are better able to self-regulate, we begin to feel comfortable in our own skin.
More about the 4Ss and self-regulation in part 3.
Source: Courier Post Online - 2015/06/22
Photos: Deposit Photos