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How to understand your child ?? - Birth to Eighteen Months

Updated on March 19, 2014


Your child communicates by crying when he needs something. At first you don’t know what that something is – neither does he. But together you will establish a communication system that, in more cases, guides you. You will be able to figure out how to help him. The basic needs of infancy are fairly simple. Your baby requires food when he is hungry. He needs physical comfort when he is uncomfortable, which means being dry, neither too hot nor too cold, and pain-free. And he needs to be touched and loved.

If you think about what infancy feels like, one word comes to mind: helplessness. Interestingly, that helplessness serves a special purpose in the development of your child. It teaches your child to trust others to meet the needs he himself cannot meet.


By the time your child is six to seven months old, he can tell the difference between you and a stranger, by the time he reaches eleven months, he probably doesn’t want anything to do with strangers. He wants you-all the time. You are likely to feel as if he’d like you to hold him twenty-four hours a day.

Realize your child is still a baby

Even though your child is no longer an infant, you must realize that he is still a baby. He is trying new things and reacting differently than before, but he is still very, very dependent upon you. Use sensitively to help your child change and explore.

Distract your child when he does something you don’t like.

Direct your child’s attention to something else, and remove the object from his reach so he is not tempted to play with it further.

A child may need a lot of help for several reasons.

  • Some children are more sensitive than others-feeling, hearing, sensing, testing, smelling, and seeing more keenly than average. All new experiences cause stress to the child. So the child’s physical and emotional systems can feel attacked almost constantly. Your baby reacts to let the world know in no uncertain terms that he is feeling too much.
  • Other times, children react to both food and airborne allergens that cause pain, congestion, and irritations of all kinds. Because of a young child’s limited communication skills, you may have trouble figuring out what is causing your child’s crying or screaming. As time elapses, both your nerves and your child’s nerves suffer.
  • Colic, a common condition many children experience during their first six months, creates high levels of stress for both you and your child. And illnesses of all kinds also inhibit your child from attaining the peace and comfort upon which trust is built. Even after a condition is diagnosed, your baby may be forced to endure intrusive and pain-producing procedures that leave their mark emotionally.
  • Even the shots your child receives to immunize him against some illnesses cause pain. Some children tolerate these well, while others suffer more acutely, no doubt due to their physical sensitivity.

Although you may not be able to change your baby’s discomfort immediately, your reaction to his discomfort is within your control. Know that the way in which you respond is crucial to your child’s trust building.

Stay with your child.

Tell your child that you will stay with him. Say, “I’ll stay here with you until you feel better. I’m sorry you’re having trouble.”

Tell yourself that you can help your child even if you can’t cure his pain.


Most children are frightened by one or more situations. Some children fear the dark, while others become overwhelmed and fearful aroundtoo much activity. Fear of water or heights is also common. For children to have fears is normal, and it doesn’t mean there is anything terribly wrong with your child.

The most important aspect of working with your child’s fears is to take situations slow and easy. Most children can overcome their fears by learning about fearful situations a little at a time. Remember, there’s no hurry.

You must also protect your child from situations and people that are frightening or cause fear. A well-meaning relative may not understand your child’s limitations and may inadvertently frighten him. Your job is to educate the person. If the relative doesn’t listen, then your job is to take over and rescue your child.

Calmly warn your child of potentially fearful situations.

You know your child fairly well. That can be both a help and a hindrance.

Rescue your child from frightening situations.

If an adult is doing something that scares your child, such as tossing him in the air, tell the adult to be more gentle or to stop.

Do not let anyone scold and make fun of your frightened child.

Scolding creates a more-frightened child, who grows into an adult who also feels guilty for being frightened.

That is very harmful. They’re trying to feel powerful themselves by putting the vulnerable child down. This is victimization and must be stopped immediately.

Do not tell your child to be unafraid.

This is misperception. Fear is overcome with education, experience, and reasonable protection by trusted people, until the child becomes accustomed to the fearful event and feels capable of dealing with it.


Signs that child is not thriving, and, thus not building trust, include fussiness and lethargy. In contrast to the bright-eyed, inquisitive baby who really lets you know what he wants, the child in grief whimpers weakly; he’s lost his zest for living.

Check for losses if your child becomes lethargic.

Consider what recent changes or losses have occurred in your child’s life. Be sure to have your child examined by a physician for physical causes.

Keep your child’s environment stimulating.

Second, color, motion, and touch will all safely contribute to your child’s growing curiosity. And as your child expands his parameters, he extends his trust base.

Do not ignore the effects of loss on your baby.

If you or your family is under a lot of stress or has suffered a loss, spend extra time getting support for yourself so you can better meet the sometimes taxing needs of your child.


The very good baby usually develops a large amount of trust that he’ll get what he needs-and he develops it quickly. Because his level of need is slow to develop, he often gets what he needs without making a fuss. If your child behaves this way, you probably quite satisfying, for now, at least.

The problem with such a child is that he doesn’t learn to communicate his needs clearly and assertively.

The good baby may also have a problem with gullibility later in life. Because your child has too much trust in people, he may be easily conned. And once taken advantage of, he may become pessimistic-the result of feeling that life tricked him.

Validate your child’s communication and prepare your child for other people.

Be sure that the new caregiver talks with your child and encourages him to express himself in any way he can.

Teach curious babies about their world.

Some babies have a large mental curiosity, and they are very interested in the things around them. They want to investigate how things work. Make the learning experience a special time between the two of you.

Do not get caught up in the “Good Child” syndrome.

Don’t reinforce the good child concept for two reasons. First, goodness is really now within your child’s control. His behavior is simply a result of his capabilities. Second, sooner or later, your child will move into a stage when you may be less-than-pleased with his behavior. You don’t want to judge that behavior as bad. It too, is simply an expression of your child’s needs, and your child requires your help to choose other ways to express himself.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I know the headache of having a baby. It's difficult but it is worth every second.


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