The Early Experiences that Lead to the Acceptance of Self and Understanding of Others
As we come to the end of 2015, it seems from the news we receive through our many media sources, that we live in a world consumed by fear and filled with violence and hatred. We at “For Our Babies” feel saddened by what we hear and see, yet know that if we play our part in getting society to see the importance of providing caring and rich early experiences to young children, some of this violence and hatred will be reduced.
Research has clearly shown that when interactions with young children are infused with the early provision of secure and caring nurturance, coupled with a deep understanding and support of their unique developmental agenda, children grow to be less fearful and more accepting of others. When children are treated with both caring nurturance and respect for their unique interests, they are inclined to develop a less fearful and more socially just worldview. They gradually come to expect that they, and others, will be treated caringly and viewed as the owners of basic human rights, including the right to explore their individuality, curiosity and creativity. The children learn to relate to others as they have been treated, and afford others the caring and considerations they have received. Let us all work to get the general public to understand the important link between early experience and how we come to think about and treat others.
The “For Our Babies” movement is based on the premise that, for a healthy self/other orientation to develop, children need early experiences with family and other caregivers who treat them with dignity and respect and lovingly expect the same type of fair treatment in return. We know that early experiences are incorporated into children’s first sense of self and also in their early expectation of others. These early experiences trigger one’s first sense of how he or she and others should expect to be treated and provide the base for later beliefs, behavior and interactions with others throughout life.
Enabling practitioners, parents, family members, and policy makers to provide the experiences and environments that enhance the development in children of this sense of social justice is critical component of the work of “For Our Babies”. It is those with whom children interact that shape their earliest orientation to social justice. Therefore, part of our effort is to advocate for policies and services that address and remedy socially unjust conditions impacting parents, providers and children that undercut the provision of experiences that support a child’s development and the development of a socially just worldview. Issues such as availability of parents to a new born, family poverty, infant/toddler teacher salary, and infant care quality are just a few of the inequities that need to be addressed.
As this new year commences, let us look not to the news that is filled with scenes of violence and hatred, but rather to actions we can take to promote the peaceful development of our children. Let’s start with our own babies. Let’s make the connection between the types of early experiences young children participate in and the development of a sense of fairness and social justice more obvious to the general public. Let’s advocate for policies, interventions, and services that clear away the socially unjust barriers currently impeding practitioners, parents, and family members from providing the young child with early experiences necessary to promote the development of both the acceptance of self and understanding of others.
We want thank everyone for being a voice in the For Our Babies movement and continuing to share resources and information about the needs of babies and those who care for them. We want to recognize For Our Babies New York for starting what we hope is the first of many state initiatives in the For Our Babies campaign. If you are interested in learning more about ways to get involved in the campaign, please email us at [email protected].