Activity: Positive Relationships Inventory

Activity: Positive Relationships Inventory

Infants ages three to six months begin to stay awake for longer periods of time, they actively explore their environments. They gaze at familiar persons, track objects, and discover new things. They also enjoy building positive relationships with their parents and other familiar caregivers. Look at the pictures and see how the three people interact with the infants. Answer the next three questions related to how those adults in the pictures build up positive relationships with their children.

mother feeding baby
mother washing infant
Mother washes three month old boy
father and baby

Think about a satisfying relationship in your life. Name three characteristics that make it satisfying

What are a few indicators that show you that the baby and the mother from the first picture enjoy their relationship?

What other activities can you recommend parents and caregivers use to support infants’ social and emotional development?

Expert Response:

Building positive relationships between the infant and the parent is ongoing and is developed throughout each and every day. A quality relationship has: emotional connections, endures over time, has special meaning between the two people, and creates positive memories between the infant and the parent.

Bronfenbrenner, a Russian American psychologist, (1976) mentioned that “children thrive when they are cared for by adults that are “crazy about them!” Responsive relationships with consistent primary caregivers help build positive attachments that support healthy social and emotional development. These relationships form the foundation of mental health for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. What makes a relationship satisfying? Adults often report the following five indicators:

  • Ability to share different emotions with someone trustworthy
  • Feeling of being supported
  • Ability to share memories about past events
  • Experiencing events together
  • Sharing thoughts about new ideas

What are a few indicators that show you that the baby and the mother from the first picture enjoy their relationship?

  • Eye gaze
  • Sharing emotions
  • Supporting while feeding
  • Enjoying an activity together
  • Enjoying a relaxing atmosphere

What other activities can you recommend parents and caregivers implement in order to support their infants’ social and emotional development?

  • Many daily routine experiences support infants’ social and emotional development as long as the parents are interacting with the infant at eye level in a nurturing way and the activity is age appropriate such as singing songs, rocking the infant, talking to the infant, changing diapers, etc. “Devan, time for a diaper change, look at those bright eyes, are you having a fun day?”
  • Adults can narrate a child’s feelings, “Tomika, your fists are tight and you are frowning. You aren’t feeling comfortable. I am going to hold you for awhile to see if it helps you feel more comfortable.”
  • Adults can take the opportunity to share simple picture books with their infant and use the opportunity to cuddle and explore together. Infants love to look at faces and to hear a familiar adult’s voice. For an example, take time to watch video 1.3 (Jaime and mother looking at a book)
  • Adults can respond consistently to an infant’s efforts to communicate, when an infant coos the adult can coo back! When an infant engages in eye contact the adult can look back and smile or start a conversation. These immediate responses send a message to the infant that his communications are important.
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This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.