Powerpoint - The Program for Infant/Toddler Care


Building Infant & Toddler Intellect and

Language on A Social-Emotional Base:

The Developmentally Appropriate

Roots of School Readiness

J. Ronald Lally, Ed.D. & Peter L. Mangione, Ph.D.

WestEd – Center for Child & Family Studies

NAEYC National Institute for Early Childhood

Professional Development

June 11, 2013


The Science

We have found that babies desperately need both nurturance and timely and appropriate experience for their brains to develop strong initial structures. Genomics, molecular biology, and neuroscience show that, as the brain grows bigger and wires itself, it uses early experiences to build future expectations, and we understand that high-quality (i.e., emotionally and intellectually appropriate) experience positively shapes the brain’s architecture (Lally, 2009; Schore, 2003; Spence et al., 1996).


Emotional Development Leads the Way

During the first two years of life the right hemisphere of the brain dominates early brain development, building crucial structures and pathways for emotional functioning that serve as the base for all other development.

Early emotional exchanges provide the motivation for language and intellectual development.


Emotional Motive Drive Skill Development

It is the pleasure and delight that babies get from interaction with people that drives them to relate to people more frequently and more skillfully.


The Importance of Daily Interaction

Early development is directly influenced by the social emotional tenor of babies interactions with their caregivers. The emotional quality of what happens to babies during day-to-day care is of prime importance to future functioning.


Early Brain Shaping

Babies are born wired with the expectation that familiar adults will be available to them and care for them.

They pay great attention to differences in treatment from the nurturance they expect.

When early expectations are violated the brain reacts to these violations by structuring itself to react to this unexpected treatment.


Building a Self Through Interaction

The quality of the care babies receive from their primary caregivers influences the babies ability to successfully or unsuccessfully:

• attach to other human beings,

• regulate their impulses,

• learn how to communicate with others, and

• search for an intellectual understanding of the world into which they are born .


Growth of Intellect and Language

Intellectual and language development are stimulated by and cannot be segregated from early emotional development and in fact build on and are informed by the first interactions babies have with their primary caregivers.

Early childhood mental health is not the absence of mental illness, but rather the presence of a feeling of safety and emotional security, comfort in connecting with trusted others, confidence in one’s developmental trajectory, an expectation that dependency needs will be met, and an assumption of one’s right to move, explore and communicate.


Social Emotional Interaction Is

Essential to Brain Growth

The emotional quality of early relationships is so crucial to the map of the brain that, after a caregiver’s provision of basic needs for food, health and safety, they are the primary environmental ingredient for healthy brain development.


It is Early Emotional Interactions that

Regulate One’s Nervous System

“The mammalian nervous system depends, for its neurophysiologic stability, on a system of interactive coordination wherein steadiness comes from synchronization with nearby attachment figures.”

Source: “A General Theory of Love” by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, & Richard Lannon.


Sroufe (1980) has shown that infants who are

"securely attached" to their mothers are later more sympathetic and competent and less aggressive than those who are

"ambivalent" or "avoiding".


Caregiver Behavior at All Stages

Give simultaneous attention to the vulnerable and competent sides of the young child.

It encompasses the new “ three Rs ” of childrearing:

• Responsiveness

• Relationship

• Respect


The Image of the Child - Vulnerability

The young child is dependent on adults for:

• physical survival,

• emotional security,

• safe base for learning,

• regulating, modeling and mentoring social behavior, and

• information and exchanges about the workings of the world and rules for living.


The Image of the Child - Competent

• Curious, motivated, self starting

• An imitator, interpreter, integrator

• An explorer, inventor

• A communication initiator

• A meaning seeker

• A relationship builder


Responsive, Reciprocal Relationships with Young Children

The adult focuses on:

• Dialogue that fosters sharing attention with the child

• Dialogue that is not intrusive or demanding, but gives the child time and space to solve problems

• Dialogue that engages the child in learning and meaning making

• Dialogue that communicates respect


The Caregiver’s Role:

Creating Responsive Relationships

• Sensitivity to the needs and messages of the baby,

• Timeliness in responding to those messages

(particularly messages of distress),

• Accurate reading of a child’s cues, and

• The provision of appropriate levels of stimulation.

Belsky & Fearon, 2008


Babies Need Both

Predictability and Novelty

• The young child is wired emotionally to expect that they will have their needs met by those who care for them and that their signals will be understood and addressed.

• At the same time the child is wired intellectually to respond to experiences that violate their expectations. The new, the novel, and the surprising grabs their attention.

• Both parts of the child need to be addressed.

What Does Good Emotional

Communication With Babies Look Like?

“Spontaneous, significant communication that flows freely.

It is balanced between continuity, familiarity, and predictability on one side and flexibility, novelty, and uncertainty on the other.

Neither partner of a dyad is fully predictable, yet each is quite familiar.” Sroufe et al. (2005)


The Very Young Baby

Starting at this stage, babies start to use messages from caregivers to develop perceptions of whether they are lovable or unlovable based on how caregivers have responded to them and develop internal working models for how to engage others based on these perceptions.


The Essence of Emotional

Communication with Very Young Babies

“’Feeling felt’ may be an essential ingredient in attachment relationships. Having the sense that someone else feels one’s feelings and is able to respond contingently to one’s communication may be vital to close relationships . . . .”

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York: The Guilford Press.


Emotion Regulation of Infants

“. . . Effective regulation of the infant is only possible within a supportive caregiving system. . . . By providing appropriate and changing stimulation in response to perceptions of infant state, moods, and interests, caregivers not only help keep arousal within manageable bounds, but they also entrain the infant’s own capacities for regulation.”

Sroufe, L. A., Egeland, B., Carlson, E. A., & Collins, W. A. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaptation from birth to adulthood. New York:

The Guilford Press.


What the Baby Learns about Self from Interaction

• I am listened to or not.

• What I choose to do is valued or it isn’t.

• How I express my emotions is accepted or it isn’t.

• I am allowed to explore or I am not.

• Mostly my needs are met or they are not.


What the Mobile Infant Is Learning

In Relationships

It’s common to see 9- to 15-month-old babies in motion throughout the day, repeatedly setting out on

“adventures” in their environment, returning to the

“safe home base” that their caregivers provide, and then leaving again. They move away for self-interest and return for support and connection, learning a great deal about how to separate and stay connected.


What the Mobile Infant Is Learning

In Relationships

The brain is preparing for life that doesn’t revolve entirely around caregiver support, a time when, for example, children will have to use the lessons they’ve learned from caregivers to independently identify risks like a poisonous berry on a bush, an ungated stairway or a hostile stranger.


Social-Emotional Support for the

Mobile Exploring Infant

Based on adults’ reactions to children’s actions, children are gaining an understanding of which independent explorations are socially appropriate and which dangers they should avoid in the environment, from the point of view of their caregivers.


Emotion Regulation of Toddlers

“. . .the adaptation of the toddler period remains fundamentally a dyadic adaptation. . . as [is] true for infants, toddlers require responsive and consistent involvement by caregivers to remain regulated. . .

[toddlers] are not capable of self regulation, but within a supportive relationship, they are capable of

‘guided self-regulation’.”

Sroufe, L. A., Egeland, B., Carlson, E. A., & Collins, W. A. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaptation from birth to adulthood. New York:

The Guilford Press.


Social-Emotional Support of the

Older Toddler

With the help of their caregivers, and based on their relationships with others, including peers, they are learning to process information that will prepare them to develop moral and ethical codes, to better control their impulses and emotions, and to learn the rules of the culture, society, and family into which they were born.


Choice & Responsibility & Older


At around 20 months of age, the same time as the emergence of one’s understanding of a separate self, comes the understanding of choice. Becoming aware that one has choices is quite liberating. However, following closely on the heels of the awareness of choice is a dawning awareness of one’s responsibility for choices made. This tension is a central part of the drama of the older toddler.


The Crucial Adult Role

How adults act toward a child during this period of tension greatly affects how the child will come to see his or her rights and the rights of others. Adults need to behave and communicate in ways that assure the child that his or her rights to desire, hope, explore, show preference, and initiate are honored and at the same time help the child learn to honor similar right in others.


Relationships with the Older Toddler

This age child is very sensitive to the judgments of others. Based on their interactions with others they will form opinions of themselves and their worth, begin to judge the behaviors of others, and feel shame and embarrassment with regard to their behaviors and appearance.


Helping Older Toddlers Learn

Boundaries and Build School Readiness


Have Long Range Goal In Mind

Optimize the development of feelings of personal security, confidence, initiative and usefulness in children while simultaneously instilling a sense of deep connection with fellow humans and other living things and a reverence for the planet.


Understand that Children Look to

You As the Arbiter of Culturally

Appropriate Behavior

Accept this role. It is part of the human experience.

Don’t abuse this role. You are setting the child on a path of interaction.


Create A Lawful Climate

Make sure that the individuation experiences and socialization lessons take place in a lawful and orderly environment where there are clear and fair rules for behavior and consistent enforcement in specific and reasoned ways.


Make Evident the Contributions of

Each Child to the Group

Part of learning appropriate boundaries to self initiations is coming to the awareness of ones value to the larger group.

An adults pointing out and appreciating a child’s inclination to contribute to the group, and usefulness to the group is essential.


Be Specific

Point out specifically those parts of a child’s behavior which are the ones that need to be regulated. Be clear enough in your message that the child can’t generalize to other components of the behavior that you don’t think need to be regulated.


Don’t Give Up

Remember that it may take months of your help for a child to shape a socially inappropriate behavior into a more socially appropriate one.

Look for little steps along the way and point them out to the child when you see them.




Social-Emotional Development

1. Interaction with adults

2. Relationships with adults

3. Interactions with peers

4. Relationships with peers

5. Identity of self in relation to others

6. Recognition of ability

7. Expression of emotion

8. Empathy

9. Emotion regulation

10. Impulse control

11. Social understanding



Cognitive Development

1. Cause and effect

2. Spatial relationships

3. Problem solving

4. Imitation

5. Memory

6. Number sense

7. Classification

8. Symbolic play

9. Attention


10. Understanding of personal care routines



Language Development

1. Receptive language

2. Expressive language

3. Communication skills and knowledge

4. Interest in print


Learning Styles Developed

What is created during the first three years of life is a brain structure which influences:

• the courage to engage in the challenge of learning,

• the ability to persist while learning,

• the willingness to imitate adult models of learning, and

• the confidence to come to adults for help.


We Must Remember….

“ How you are is as important as what you do….

Jeree Pawl, 1998



begins in relationships, is informed by relationships, and is stimulated by relationships


Policy Implications

Any serious educational policy initiative that hopes to impact positively on what is now being called “the achievement gap” for specially defined populations or “school readiness initiatives” for all populations, must begin with an early and emotional focus. Any intervention that starts later than infancy and does not pay serious attention to early emotional development will be bad policy – misdirected in thrust and compensatory in nature.