Image: Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji
Here we share an excerpt below from The Moving Child Films upcoming EBook, written by creator/director Hana Kamea Kemble.
One of our earliest and life-long psychological needs is to “be seen”. What does this mean? In Attachment Psychology, it means being accurately reflected. But what does that mean?
The developmental need of being seen through accurate reflection can be hard to describe in words, but we all know how satisfying it feels when we sense, feel and experience that we are “being seen”.
Accurate reflection is the process of reflecting what it is we see in a child, including the sounds a parent makes, the words they use, the way they become a mirror for their child’s nonverbal expression. It also includes the way in which parents “attune” with their children; meeting their energetic, physical (sharing the child’s actual bodily muscle tension), and emotional self-expression. Using the different channels available for accurately reflecting is the glue, it is the bridge between child and parent, supporting bonding at a very deep, non-verbal level.
How does a child experience being seen? How does a child know that their communications are being received by the parent?
If we feel into this, we realize this need to be seen can be met in so many subtle ways: having a parent’s full attentive eye contact, being smiled at or winked at, hearing one word or sound, being offered the parent’s body as a physical mirror of the child’s body shape, and in our movement response to children. From two months of age research shows that infants are gesturing with their fingers to communicate their earliest needs. This gesturing could be reflected by the parent’s hands. A close dance of connection can begin.
Once a child knows their nonverbal expressions are being acknowledged, then they can trust that the needs they have been communicating will be met.
Practical Tools for Supporting a Child to be Seen:
- Put down your gadgets and phones and come down to their physical level, and give them your sustained gentle loving eye contact, as much as they want. Also allow the child to flow in and out of eye contact with you, which is a healthy rhythm for self-regulation.
- Allow a child to lead a dance with you and mirror back their movements to them.
- Express the words “I see you” playfully.
- Name the emotions you see a child feeling, in a curious way.
- Name the qualities of their movement expression.