What is basic trust?

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Posted by Copilaria Sofiei | Posted in Activitati Montessori pentru Sugari, Mediul de acasa, Psihopedagogie timpurie | Posted on 06-09-2015

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In Montessori, we often speak about basic trust when we refer to a small child. Parents often ask me „What is basic trust? Why is it so important?” It takes me usually no more then 15 minutes to explain and to see their „Aha!” feeling and I know they know.

So, what is basic trust?

During the first year of life, the child acquires from the environment the two basic trusts: Basic Trust in the environment which can be acquired by the end of the second month of life, at the end of the symbiotic period and Basic Trust in Self, at the end of the ninth month, the end of the external pregnancy.

You will ask me „What is the symbiotic period?” or „What o you mean by the external pregnancy?”.

In short, the symbiotic period is given by those first 2-3 months, where mother and child have created a special bond between them, when one cannot live without the other.  When we speak about the external pregnancy, we understand the first 9 month that are required for a baby to gain the gross motor movement, the capacity to process the food from the environment, to understand human language, to recognize his family, routines and small parts of his culture etc. so, to be able to live in his time and place.

Parents (or the significant person), but especially the child’s mother plays a fundamental role. The child starts his adaptation to the new world. When he enters the world, he depends entirely on his mother. But we must remember that he already has acquired some knowledge of this world: he heard his parent’s voice, or maybe sounds from the environment; he received chemical information through hormones from his mother, knowledge about smell and taste. If his mother enjoyed her pregnancy and received and embraced the new life with love and joy, sending messages that the child is loved and welcomed to this world, then he already has the „I am welcomed and loved and somebody is waiting for me” feeling. This is the first step in building the basic trust in the environment.

Then, another important role is played at the moment of birth. This is a crucial moment in one’s life. The way he comes to this world will be forever incarnated in his memory. A natural, beautiful birth that fallows both mother and child’s rhythm will create a unique bond and desire to live and love from both parts. The child is received by the environment that holds him through his mother’s arms, that lets him freedom to move, sleep, and eat whenever he wants.

After birth, between mother and child, a new physical and emotional bond starts to be created. They need each other to adapt to this situation, both child and mother. While for the child, everything is new, except his mother, the single point of reference that he has, recognizing her from her smell, voice and touch, for the mother a new role has been created by her child, that of a mother. She’s not only a woman or a wife, or a daughter, now she is a mother. Holding her child in her arms immediately after birth, helps her to fill the emptiness that she might have felt after birth. Her child suckling at her breast helps her uterus shrinking to the normal size and stimulates her recovery. While suckling milk from his mother, he receives food for life, protection and love in the same time.

Soon, with care and attention, they will build their own rhythm, and the mother will start to understand her child’s needs and fulfill them. He will learn how to bring attention to his needs and enjoy this new environment, through crying, sleeping, watching, smelling, tasting.

Father will enjoy his fatherhood creating the basis of bounding with his son through handling, touching, bathing, changing the diapers, rocking him in his arms, singing and talking to him.

If for the first 2 month, this new environment will react positive and with love in order to fulfill as much as possible all the needs of the baby, this one will learn that the environment is a safe place to be in, where he receives food and love and protection. The environment will become a source of confidence, a safe place where all of your needs meet up and „I know how to get it”: crying, laughing at the end of the 2 weeks, using all my sensory system. But the brain needs little challenges, just the right amount. So, at the end of this period, the parents turn the child step by step to the world, because now he has what we call basic trust in the environment.

Now, a new age starts for the little men. This is the base for a strong self-esteem, confidence and curiosity to discover new things in the environment. Now, the most important for the parents is the knowledge. They need to know what to expect, their child’s development stages. A help from a specialist is welcomed now. Love is not enough to raise a child.

The first thing the parents should do is observe their own child in order to see the changes in their son and then be able to make changes in the environment. They will observe their child’s need to move freely in the environment, the way he did it in the womb of his mother.

The force that pushes him to move and create himself is beyond our understanding. So, we must allow this force to create what needs to be created: a human of his time and place.

Allow freedom to discover his body and the environment by placing him on a movement mat, allow him to sleep in a low bed, without bars that constricts his view and freedom of movement. Place a mirror on the wall by the movement mat that will allow a better view of the room, and will give feedback on the child’s movement. Very soon he will understand that it’s him in the mirror.

Hang beautiful mobiles made from light materials that „flow” slowly because of air currents, and place them over this movement mat and allow the child to focus and develop the eye muscle movement in a natural way.

Soon, his involuntary movements will allow the hand to come in front of his eyes, he will start to move it again and again, he will touch himself with it or put it into his mouth. The beginning of self discovery is starting. The delight in finding own treasures is incommensurable. And soon, his involuntary movement will touch a mobile that has a bell attached. The silenced mobile now makes noise and it’s him, the baby that did it. He changed the environment, with his own little powers that he has.

Language is one of the most important aspects of our human nature. We give language and rhythm in all its form: singing, talking, laughing, through poetry and lyrics and we do this from uterus. We keep on giving language all the time, we talk to the baby, we respond to his goggling and babbling and we encourage him to talk more. Now, the relationship develops more and more.

A key word unites movement, language and self awareness: collaboration. Collaboration between the child and his mother. And this collaboration starts from the hour of birth. Mother speaks slowly and clear to the baby while handling him, bathing him, changing his diaper or his clothing. She gently says „Now, I am going to wash your left arm…”

By touching him, she helps him creates his body scheme, and by giving language she puts the basis of language.

And so, while observing the child and changing his environment according to his new needs, parents offer to their child, at the end of his 9 months one of the most important aspects of his life: basic trust in himself. Now, he can understand language, he can show, point, he can do babbling, he can fulfill tasks like eating, crawling, pulling up and playing by himself, discovering the world that he slowly but constantly conquers.

It’s the critical moment, where you can start to see the differences between the human baby and babies from other species. It is the end of the second birth, that of a human baby with all the capacity to create himself.

 With all my love,

Luci G

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