As many of you are aware, we have a fabulous new publication that targets judges and court personnel, child welfare and mental health professionals and parents. This second edition booklet summarizes what infants/toddlers who live between caregiving families, due to divorce or placement in foster care, need for sound social and emotional development. To order, click here. For a sample of this important work, please see the excerpt below:
Two life courses disrupt whatever relationship has developed between parents and infants/toddlers and move responsibly for the well-being of the infant toddler to the judicial system:
- When parents divorce, and/or
- When substantiated abuse/neglect has occurred and the infant/toddler is placed in foster care
In each of these life courses, the amount of contact between a non-custodial parent and infant/toddler becomes a matter for court determination.
This pamphlet will summarize what infants/toddlers need for social and emotional development and then will apply this information to visitation guidelines.
What Infants/Toddlers Require for Sound Social and Emotional Development
Infants come into the world depending on adults for their physical existence. Equally important, the infant’s social and emotional well-being and development require caregivers who are responsive, consistent and caring. The bonding or attachment of the infant to his or her mother begins early, before and at birth. The developing infant and toddler will also attach to one or more other loving and ongoing caregivers.
The relationship between the infant/toddler and parent (or other ongoing caregiver) is developed through the give and take of caregiving and interaction over time. A secure attachment to a caregiver enables the infant/toddler to
- Perceive the world as predictable
- Develop connections with others
- Moderate behavior
- Experience age-appropriate activities that energize the growth of the brain structures essential for learning
Infants/toddlers who do not have a consistent, ongoing relationship with an adult will present as blank-faced, somber, disconnected, self-involved; or as disorganized, fearful, aggressive, sad; they will be willing to go with any person who shows them attention.
- Ongoing nurturing relationships
- Physical protection and safety
- Experiences appropriate to their stage of development
- Experiences appropriate to their individual temperament and capacity
- Limit-setting and reasonable expectation for behavior
- Consistent daily routine