Have you heard of the Still Face Experiment? It’s a must watch if you haven’t seen it.
I have viewed this powerful video dozens of times in my career and it still impacts me every single time I see it. The message of the experiment is overwhelming. To me, when I watch this video, the critical importance of my role as a parent crashes over me like a pounding wave. The wave hits me hard and I am reminded that even the smallest interactions with my children impact them immensely.
My emotional response to the video continually inspires me to step up my game and be a more sensitive and responsive parent, but then I feel a second wave. This time, a wave of guilt. I am not a perfect parent. I am not always tuned in to my kids. I am not always pleasant, smiling and supportive like the mom in the video. Responsibilities, obligations, distractions and stress get in the way of my ability to be that perfect, smiling, cheerful parent.
The messages in the Still Face Experiment are that a parent’s or caring adult’s warm interaction with a child is vital and that we construct our child’s brain when we lovingly respond to our children. Children don’t need fancy toys; they just need you, your smile, your eyes, your words, and your touch. This loving “serve and return” interaction helps children understand and regulate their emotions and is very important for their development. Even the newest of babies will mimic and respond to adult communication. Watch this video to see the wonder of it all!
So after the pressure and guilt wash away, what does this experiment really mean? It means I matter. It means that I need to give myself permission to look after me, so I can look after my children. And while it can feel impossible, finding “Me Time” as a parent is important. Put it on the priority list. When your own needs as an individual are met, you simply are a better parent. That is what I take away each and every time I see this video: the feeling of responsibility, the feeling of guilt, the inspiration to do better, and the realization I need to take care of myself to be the best parent I can.
What do you feel when you watch this experiment? What do you think? Tell me about it!
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