Babies and emotions

Babies and emotions

A friend of mine sent me this gorgeous clip of his baby daughter laughing.  As well as making me smile, it made me think about babies and emotions.  The relationship that babies have with their emotions is so different to that which we have as adults.

The first thing that struck me is how wonderfully spontaneous the baby’s laugh is.  There is no part of her that is questioning whether she should laugh or not, looking at how others might respond to her laughing or wondering whether she should not be doing it.  She is laughing because she finds something funny, and she stops when it no longer is.  It is her amazing lack of self-consciousness that enables her to do this.  When self-consciousness begins to emerge in children, they often start to inhibit their natural, emotional response to things.  In Chinese medicine, emotions are seen as a potential cause of disease.  One way that an emotion becomes a cause of disease is when it is repressed or held on to for too long.  If we could all continue to be as emotionally spontaneous as babies, we would all be much healthier (as well as happier).

The other thing that struck me watching the video is how the baby almost becomes the emotion.  When she is laughing, it is as if the whole of her is laughing.  This made me think about the strong connection in babies and toddlers between their body and their emotions.  If a baby’s body is uncomfortable because, for example, her tummy is too full of food or milk, she is likely to be grouchy and unhappy.  Conversely, if she is feeling lonely because she wakes up to find she is alone in her cot,  then she will often feel and manifest the distress in her body.  Chinese medicine does not really distinguish between the mind and the body, but babies are a fantastic example of how truly inter-connected these two parts of us really are.

Rebecca Avern

I have been practising acupuncture for 15 years. As well as practising in Oxford, I am both a senior lecturer and clinical supervisor at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine (www.cicm.org.uk) which is the biggest acupuncture training centre in Europe. I have treated both adults and children and whilst the benefits of acupuncture for adults are well-known and well-documented, fewer people are aware of how it can benefit children. I decided that I wanted more children to experience the benefits of acupuncture, and so decided to set up The Panda Clinic. I have to admit to having another motivation - I love being around children and derive great satisfaction when I see children recover from ill health. I am mother to 2 primary school age children. As well as being an experienced acupuncturist, as a parent I have a good understanding of the stress and anxiety that an ill child can induce. I will always do my best to communicate with the parent(s) of a child I am treating as thoroughly and clearly as I can.