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Meaningful Interaction

By now you probably have heard that Facebook has just changed some things around, so that we can now have “more meaningful interaction”! They say this is so we can get closer to our friends by sharing with them.

What kind of meaningful interaction is most important?

It’s playful.

Dogs and babies. This past Thanksgiving I was in a roomful of adults, and there was a dog and a baby. You know it: we were all cooing, cuddling, throwing a ball, or playing peek-a-boo! Adults truly connecting, at last.

It’s contingent.

When we throw the ball, the dog fetches it, and waits. We make funny faces with the baby, she makes faces back. And when “boo” scares her, we quickly act to make her feel better with a coo and a cuddle.

It’s resonant.

Even more than voice, facial expression and gesture, our bodies communicate by synching up nervous systems. We actually resonate — like a violin or cello — with other people on that nervous system level — well below the conscious awareness for most of us. Good vibes? Bad vibes? Pay attention to what your gut is telling you. And yes, it’s mostly the gut that’s sending sensory info to the brain.

It changes us.

Dan Siegel, psychiatrist, speaker, and author (most recently, The Yes Brain), teaches about the different jobs of different parts of the brain, making a whole. But the mind? It’s a process created by the interaction of me and you, and the environment. It’s a process, continually changing. And our interaction changes both of us.

Playful. Contingent. Resonant. All these kinds of interaction are essential to infant development. Growth and repair of the infant brain -- and in fact, any age of brain! -- requires support that nurtures a sense of safety, or neuroception of safety (Stephen Porges' term). 

Recent research indicates that, for people whose care as children (age 0 - 5) was inadequately supported, repair is possible

With reliable, meaningful interaction over time, the brain can restore lost function.

That always inspires me!

P.S. I didn't change my Facebook status, but I'm "in a new relationship"!! 

Yes, we became grandparents in November!  When we saw our granddaughter at Thanksgiving, she was mostly sleeping -- but with the rapid development of her brain, we look forward to playing a lot when we next see her!

Gotta go practice playing so we're in good shape when she comes to visit!