Observe the child when something scary or unusual is introduced.
During play produce a mask and put it on. Watch whether the child looks to the adult for her response. Alternatively, place the infant on hands and knees on a table. Stay close for safety purposes, but watch whether the child checks in with the adult to see if she is afraid. Ask the adult to look afraid for the child.
The child uses the adult as a reference to see how she should feel in various situations. She reads the adult’s cues to see how she should respond.
Help parents understand that the infant is very sensitive to their emotions. Fear, sadness, happiness, depression, anger are all read by the child. The child often responds with similar emotions or reactions to the emotions. Negative reactions may induce withdrawal or inhibition on the part of the child. Positive emotions encourage comfort on the part of the child, enabling her to explore and interact freely.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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