Sunday, June 29, 2014

Building Responsive Audience

An article in the NYTimes on Tuesday, June 24 cited new guidelines of the Pediatrics Association recommending that people read to their children from birth.  Accompanying the article is a photo which tells it all.  The pediatrician holding the book with a joyful expression on her face, is looking at the nine-month-old.  Holding the infant is her 33-year-old mother looking, as is the infant, at the book, but with a relatively subdued smile on her face.

If would be better for those three individuals and for society in general if the child were looking at her mother's face rather than at the book.  The one sporting the most exuberant expression, the pediatrician, is a non-essential element in the facial exchange.  It is a matter of mother-child connection, of a powerful model for daily interaction.

This can be achieved by singing to infants from day one, as I have advocated many times on this blog.  Not just singing a song, but singing so as to activate every muscle in the face, to arouse every possible feeling that might accompany a raised eyebrow, a mouth opened to a round "O," a sly smile to evoke mischief.  

This has all been studied and documented by Daniel Stern (The Interpersonal World of the Infant) in his studies of the attunement of infants to their parents.  Great word: Attunement.

  • Two things to note: The Broadway-musical-show-biz expression on the doctor's face would probably be what caught the editor's eye as a strong selling point to draw attention to the article.
  • My letter to the Times making the point of this blogpost did not get printed.