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.
Very heartfelt stories. I think the story about the girl who suddenly stopped developing when the mother stopped visiting and somehow recovered again when the truth is being laid out is something that would stick in my head for a long time. I suppose that’s closure…such sensitive little souls.
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Thank you for reading and commenting Ann. It’s lso a story I I’ll never forget. I have heard Inger tell us more than once as the little one was her first in therapi. I know sometimes I have compensated for losses if I met children in my job with heavy emotional luggage. I have told them small things about their past that I myself had witnessed to make them feel that they were preciuos.
My site has been out of whacked and didn’t realise you posted a reply. You have a very big heart, Maria…It takes a lot of compassion to do what you so and I can imagine that it sometimes hard to break away from that. How would you know that your job is done? I think I’ll come home crying everyday. 😦
Interesting concept. I worked in adoption and foster care here in Canada and also fostered. I did learn that understanding love and honesty oh and patience is so important to children. I have contact with many of my foster children still (I know longer foster). People need to know something about themselves and where they came from even if it isn’t a happy story. We quite fostering after our special needs medical fragile boy passed away at the age of 11. Just didn’t have the heart to go on with it. You have done much to help children.
My husband knows that if there is some small thing I can do to help a child even know I have to try.
Thank you for commenting on my post. Now that I have retired all these memories and life lessons come up and want to be written and shared with all you fellow bloggers.
I have been in and out of many many families, but I didn’t have other children than my own at home. So adopting and fostering insecure children must be so much more than I did
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I think anyone who does anything for a child or a family is always Awesomely awesome.
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Most of the many families I visited through the years were normal families with normal problems. But as I came to all I have seen a lot.
This post is so understandable because it makes total sense that a baby would react positively from their mother’s stimulation. It is very great to see that such an institution existed; it is so sad that things changed, but it is good that so many have had this opportunity. Thank you for sending me this link, it was very positive.
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Emotional healing can be obtained, but it takes time to understand what is missing. The long exercise is to understand how things are both for the growing child and for the mother at the same time