Emotional Healing For Babies
Inspired by a post I read last night by karencarney I was brought back to my years as a health visitor. The main issue was to
help new parents in understanding their babies and to support a healthy lifestyle, meeting the child’s needs in the different periods of development and help to support breastfeeding.
That is the basis, but what about the families with adopted children or even children who had entered this world nearly by accident or had mothers with challenging backgrounds or problems?
After many years in my job, I heard talks by a very different kind of children’s psychologist Inger Thormann. She and another psychologist had an orphanage for children whose mothers were either dead, in prison or were drug addicts. It was called the Skodsborg Orphanage. Unfortunately, it does not exist any more. The children were observed and helped there while waiting for their future families. The concept was to give the children a home as beautiful as possible. The building was a former manor house close to the sea.
They had many principles: the children should have so few contact persons as possible to help them to feel secure as many suffered from the consequences of their mothers’ addictions to drugs or alcohol. Somehow alcohol was the worst to deal with. But that belongs to another story.
Sometimes there wasn’t much good to be said about the parents. But every little-known thing was to be put down in the child’s own book so that each child had his own precious story to take with him on his next step to a foster family. Doing all they could to decrease the suffering of the babies Inger and her colleges wanted to help on a deeper level.
After having studied in France with the paediatrician and psychoanalyst F.Dolto and Eliacheff and seen those very young babies would thrive and develop after having had therapy, which had to do with the right words put in the situation. It sounded strange, but it showed up to help. We were given an example of a ten-month-old girl, who stopped developing when her mother stopped visiting her in Skodsborg.
Maybe the mother was in prison, maybe she just stopped coming. When Inger, who gave the therapy, said something like “your mother is not coming”! Simultaneously opening her hands out, the girl seemed to understand and turned her picture of her mother upside down. She also made a gesture like she is gone and the therapist repeated the statement. After that, she started to sleep, play and eat again.
Small essential sentences about the actual situation were said and children who didn’t eat or sleep well could start to recover. Likewise, symptoms like skin rashes and breathing problems would leave, when the right words were put in the situation.
I have been inspired by these stories to support families in my district when they had difficulties with children who had been adopted or had been hospitalised for long.
I remember a new-born girl, who was placed in a foster family. Her biological mother had been a drug addict all the way through pregnancy but been under care and control. This little girl always seemed older than she was. She looked intensively and seriously at me and was very alert. It was like she knew that her background had been very stressing. I only hope that she today has a normal secure life with her foster family. I am sure she could have benefitted from this kind of therapy from a professional.
Any parent or care-taking person can give a true and loving story to a child so that the background is known for the child instead of a hidden mystery. That is not to be called therapy but works very good.
I am very thankful myself that my mother told me details about our first months where we were separated due to premature birth. Without the story, I would have struggled even more to understand myself.