During bath time, my 9-month-old was playing with her toys, and trying to hold things, and trying to move and stand to pick things up. Suddenly she fell into the sink for two or three seconds. It was a terrifying experience for her and she was really shocked.
I pulled her up immediately, without panicking as I knew she was safe. What she needed now was to release this feeling of stress and fear from the bad experience and from the shock of what she had just been through.
She cried and screamed while I held her close and hugged her warmly. I kept telling her in a gentle tone of voice, “I know it’s hard. It’s my fault. I am so sorry.” While she was crying she put her head on my chest as if she was telling me, “I want to be close to you.”
The episode was only 5 minutes or maybe less. After she released all her tensions and stress, she was ready to play and hold things again. She smiled at me and was cheerful again.
Staylistening, staying calm, close, and offering her a hug, warmth and love, helped her to release her bad feelings and her shock from this terrifying experience. It helped her to feel a sense of connection and safety again. When she felt connected and secure she was able to release all her stress. This allowed her prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) to get back online so she could return to smiling and playing.
Also, the next day she was able to take her bath happily and joyfully and wasn’t afraid to play in the bath.
As for me, I was happy to know this Staylistening tool, happy to know that what she needs is attention and support. Understanding a child's brain function really helped me to stay calm as I was sure it would just take a few minutes and she would be OK and back on track again.
~ Dalia Abu Alam, a Parenting by Connection Instructor in Cairo, Egypt