Want to know how to raise a happy child? – Edward Tronick, an associate professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston, says that, very early, babies develop a predominant mood. That is, one baby becomes more likely to be content while another one develops the habit of being anxious. While every baby is capable of a wide range of emotions and moods, the tendency to develop a habitual mood is shaped both by her internal state and her parents’ emotional input.
According to Tronick’s theory, your baby normally cycles through different states in which she’s more or less receptive to being in a certain mood. You can encourage that mood or not. For example, in some parts of the cycle, she’s more receptive to positive emotions. If you play with her while she’s in this part of the cycle, she’ll react with joy and fall into a positive mood. After that first bit of play, it will take even less to make her smile and laugh.
On the other hand, if she’s not in the part of the cycle when she’s receptive to joy, she may not respond to your tickles and giggles. She will also naturally be more susceptible to negative emotions at different times. When she’s in a cranky mood, it doesn’t take much to get her crying, while it’s harder to please her. Tronick thinks that the intensity of the emotion you show to your baby combined with how long you interact that way influences how deep into that mood the baby will sink and how long it will last. Quite simply, a happy mother will be more likely to raise a happy baby, while a grouchy mom can increase the susceptibility to bad moods. This is not to say that your baby should never be fussy and always happy. Remember that it’s natural for her to cycle through these moods. Excerpt from Oxytocin Parenting by Bryan Post & Chemistry of Connection author Susan Kutchinskas