Raising Inspired Children is all about teaching them life skills from the time they are born! Communication and bonding are key elements to establishing a strong relationship with your child for life. Opening the lines of meaningful communication between yourself and your baby isn't something reserved for the realm of science fiction. There is now a way to understand and communicate with your baby- yes, that's right, your baby! Vivien Sabel, has discovered that babies communicate meaningfully with their parents from day one but unfortunately, most parents haven’t been able to understand the subtle signs, signals, and non-verbal cues of their infant's language. Vivien had so much to share that I have summarised it in a two part series, offering helpful advice on how Mums and Dads can learn what to look for and be empowered to actually communicate with their babies. Imagine what it would be like no to have to wonder what your baby needs … but to KNOW. Read on to find out how.
Vivien’s background provides her with the skills for her groundbreaking discovery
Vivien was born in a small town in Lancashire in the U.K. to a hearing father and a deaf mother. Her mother never really announced to the world that she was deaf, but growing up, Vivien learned to tune into the subtle cues from her mother's facial expressions and body language in order to figure out how her mother felt about the world around her. On the other side of the coin, Vivien's father quite a loud man and the stark contrast between her parents helped her to fully understand how multi-faceted communication between individuals could be. Although it was challenging at times, Vivien was able to take the communication life skills that she had learned from her mother and apply them to her therapy sessions today. These life skills eventually enabled Vivien to open up the lines of communication between parents and their babies.
Given her extensive background in Sign Language Interpretation, Deaf Studies, and her work as a psychotherapist, when her daughter, Blossom, was born, she began to take keen interest in her facial expressions and body language and noticed that each gesture carried with it a particular meaning.
Tuning in to the non-verbal cues
Most new parents find themselves in the frightening and confusing situation of playing a guessing game with their babies. At the sound of their crying infant, they begin guessing in an attempt to try and figure out what the baby needs.
"Are you hungry? Tired? Need a diaper/nappy change? Sleepy? In pain? Just need a cuddle?"
No parent likes to hear their baby cry and every parent feels helpless and frustrated when they are unable to figure out why their child is crying and how to soothe his/her distress. Programs like the Dunstan Baby Method teach parents to listen for audio cues and to interpret and understand a baby’s cries. Colin and I found this DVD so helpful when Cameron was born as it trained our ears to hear the different cries – one for hunger, discomfort, tiredness and so on. It was amazing how our baby’s cries all sounded the same until we trained our ears to hear the difference.
The Blossom Method doesn’t rely on cries, it instead helps parents look for visual cues to help them determine their baby's needs even before they cry. I wish Vivien’s work was around 5 years ago when Cameron was a baby. Vivien explains that when trying to work out your baby's non-verbal signs of communication (this is a baby’s body language – and includes tongue movements, skin colour, facial expressions and other body movements) one of the first things that you need to do is pay close attention to subtle changes in your baby’s facial expressions. Different movements and expressions represent different needs like hunger, discomfort, tiredness or a dirty nappy.
Actually, Vivien told me a funny story, she knew when her infant daughter made a particular series of small gestures with her upper body, her face, her mouth, and her tongue, she was able to recognise that these movements indicated her daughter's desire to go potty. Her daughter, Blossom, would make these movements a few minutes before she actually went, giving Vivien enough time to make and understand the connection between the gesture and the activity, and either give the baby to her father or someone else to change the nappy/diaper or prepare herself for what was about to happen.
The same is true for your baby – you can learn the signs. Take special note of unusual patterns and gestures before the onset of an event, as well as the time between the expression and the action. By recording your observations, you'll be better able to memorise and recognise what your child desires. In her book, The Blossom Method: The Revolutionary Way to Communicate With Your Baby From Birth Vivien teaches parents what to look for – making it quicker for parents to learn the signs.
Mirroring is key
In addition to making note of the repeating patterns and gestures, you need to instinctively mirror them back to your baby. Doing so helps you to connect with your child and allows you to respond to his/her needs before the onset of the crying stage.
Make an offer your baby won't refuse
Most Mums and Dads are surprised to learn that their babies have the ability to choose what they want via open communication. Whenever Blossom was hungry, she would make a particular facial gesture that Vivien would mirror back to her. Blossom would then reproduce the sign and Vivien's response was to offer her breast for breastfeeding to see if that's what Blossom wanted. Nine times out of ten, Vivien's observation of the sign and her gut instincts were right. However, if Blossom didn't want that particular breast, she'd continue making the 'Hungry' gesture until Vivien offered her the other breast. Hard to believe, I know - but TRUE. In this case, mother and daughter were able to communicate seamlessly and simply.
It all takes time
As with most things in life, you won’t get everything perfect on the first attempt. Learning to zoom in on your baby's subtle gestures isn't a skill that is learned in the blink of an eye, but many parents become easily frustrated if everything doesn't flow smoothly from the start. Although there are gestures and signs that have a common thread or some level of similarity, most will vary depending on your baby. Remember that each infant is different and part of the process of communicating with your little one is spending the time to bond with your new bundle of joy and moulding them to become an Inspired Child.
Contrary to popular belief, babies have the ability to communicate with their parents. While the language of most adults falls in the realm of verbal communication, babies express their feelings, desires, wants, and needs through non-verbal sources. All it takes for parents to master the life skills needed to effectively communicate with their child is an open mind and keen eyes. For more tips on how to communicate with your baby, have a look at The Blossom Method: The Revolutionary Way to Communicate With Your Baby From Birth and you’ll feel more confident as a parent and more connected to your baby.
In part two of this interview with Vivien you’ll learn more about the Blossom Method and its man benefits including that babies whose parents consistently responded to their needs during their formative years were more likely to form healthier, more stable social bonds and relationships as they became older.
A bit about Vivien Sabel
Vivien is a mum, a stepmother, a grandmother, a researcher, a psychotherapist, and a clinical supervisor. As a woman of many hats, she has had the chance to view the wonderful world of Parenting through many different eyes and frequently writes about her experiences, observations, and recommendations in a variety of journal articles, blogs, and books. Her most recent paper focuses on 'Life after Delivery' and she has a number of guest blogs on websites like Planet Talks. Her book, 'The Blossom Method',and website, www.viviensabel.com, delve into the world of baby communication and teach parents how to effectively and efficiently open get in touch with their babies' needs and emotions via body language.