Starting from birth, babies are learning who they are by how they are treated. Loving relationships give young children a sense of comfort, safety, confidence, and encouragement. They teach young children how to form friendships, communicate emotions, and to deal with challenges. Strong, positive relationships also help children develop trust, empathy, compassion, and a sense of right and wrong.
Through everyday interactions, parents, relatives, and caregivers send babies messages like: You’re clever. You’re good at figuring things out. You’re loved. You make me laugh. I enjoy being with you. These messages shape a baby’s self-esteem.
A 6-month-old laughs and laughs as his mother holds a napkin over his face, and then drops it to say, “Peek-a-boo!” Whenever his mother tries to put the napkin back on the table, the baby says, “eh, eh, eh” and kicks his arms and legs to let her know that he wants her to play the game again. She follows his lead and keeps playing until he gets bored. This baby is discovering that relationships with others are satisfying and pleasurable, that he is a good communicator, and that his needs and desires are important.