Feeling versus showing – what happens when co-regulation goes wrong:
Quantifying dimensions of caregiver responsivity and appropriate/inappropriate parent-child responding, and linking to short- and long-term child outcomes
ESRC UBEL DTP funded
The patterns of interaction and that happen between us, our environments, and our primary caregivers in early life set the blueprint for all of our relationships throughout life: our relationship with close friends, romantic partners, with the world around us, and most importantly, with ourselves.
We know that there are optimal patterns of early interactions which help lead to optimal life outcomes – healthy and well-adjusted adults – but this is true for just over half of the population.
For the other half, outcomes are less clear.
My research interests are in bidirectionality between infants and their primary caregivers – how does one influence the other and vice versa. How does infant temperament impact on interaction patterns? What do we mean by temperament and how does this differ from an infant’s ability to self-soothe, or regulate themselves? How does infant behaviour impact on how caregivers respond to their infants? And how do these responses in turn affect the infant? What is the outcome of this feedback ‘loop’? And what happens when caregiver and infant are asleep, do they still influence each other even when unconscious?
We are used to thinking about infant needs in terms of physical ‘cues’ – such as a crying infant who needs feeding, a tired infant who rubs their eyes when they needs sleep, or a dirty nappy which needs to be changed. But what about the micro cues infants give, and how caregivers sub-consciously respond to these. We know that caregivers have an important role in helping to regulate their infants; but we know less about what happens when this important process doesn’t work well; or the long term effects of infants who feel dysregulated and need to return to regulation (allostasis) but can’t easily do this.
Data from our miniaturised wearable devices at home, and from our lab based sessions, will contribute towards answering some of these questions (and many more!).
Contact Emily at: firstname.lastname@example.org