How to Help Kids Deal with Their Emotions

How Do My Emotions Affect My Baby's?

angry baby

Denis Horan

The doorbell rings, and in walks a person whose face your 9-month-old baby does not recognize. She looks at the stranger and then at you. Are you afraid of this person or happy to see him? Should she give in to her urge to cry, or is everything going to be okay?

Your baby is noticing that there are people and situations that he never noticed before that warrant an emotional reaction. But exactly what reaction still leaves your baby stumped. So her first instinct is to gauge the response of the person she trusts most.

And it's not just the expression on your face that babies can interpret. They can sense your emotional state through the temperature of your skin, the pattern of your breath, and your pulse. "If you had a stressful day, your baby might pick up on the tension in your muscles or the way you are holding her versus being relaxed and easy going with her," Matt Hertenstein, PhD, a researcher at DePauw University, in Greencastle, Indiana.

So when you see your baby shoot you a "what's happening here?" look, give her the answer she's looking for, be it an energetic "no!" or a big hug after a bump on the head.

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