But, as we are coming to see, it's not just the physical environment we need to concern ourselves with. It is the way in which we receive our experiences, the beliefs we hold about ourselves, and the words we repeat in our minds (as well as the images they create) that determine whether a cell becomes ├ éČ┼"self-protective├ éČ Ł and closed or ├ éČ┼"adaptable├ éČ Ł and open. The ├ éČ┼"environment├ éČ Ł includes not just what we see or eat, but what we hear and feel.
What makes this important in terms of communication with children is that not only are they hearing what we say (whether or not they have the cognitive and linguistic abilities to fully understand us), but they are receiving our communication at the cellular and genetic level.
Beyond Biofeedback: Verbal First Aid
The American Medical Association advises parents to talk to their children as often as possible. And when words fail to come readily, they explain that just a parent's voice and presence is what a baby needs to feel reassured. They state: ├ éČ┼"Always respond to your newborn's cries├ éČ"he cannot be spoiled with too much attention.├ éČ Ł
Other professionals, particularly those in the field of Speech and Language Development and Education, call upon parents to interact with their children on as many levels as possible. Do things together. Talk while you do them together. Make eye contact, body contact.
In Verbal First Aid, we take it a step further. We call upon parents, educators, caretakers, and medical professionals to recognize the extraordinary power words have and the way in which they, too, are part and parcel of the cellular environment. Not unlike the blankets, nutrition, and open air that support and surround babies as they grow, our words help them to develop emotionally and physiologically by fostering a belief in their own ability to heal.
How does this work? How can we use words to facilitate healing in our children?
Rapport: The Foundation of Healing Feedback