What is it that children are trying to tell you when they revert back to baby language or baby ways? What do we see as the adult? What is our first reaction? “Don’t act like a baby?” Maybe these would be your words, or “Grow up.” If we actually hear our words they may seem justifiable to us, but alien to a child, for that child may be communicating their needs or trying to return to a stage of their development that wasn’t met. Or a child maybe experiencing anxiety in the moment and so reverting back to a stage where they feel safe.
Unfortunately becoming the baby does not always elicit the reaction that children want or need from us as adults. They want understanding and love in this very moment, but instead we often meet them with anger or annoyance. We are unable to truly see them in the present moment. Children know what it is they need for their own development and survival. A child that wants to be the baby is a child that needs something, and needs understanding.
A child that receives anger for this behaviour, learns that to communicate their needs, equals that they are bad. In turn this child will learn that they are wrong to express their needs and will internalise this and will no longer be able to trust how to communicate and will remain in this state of neediness and confusion. If this behaviour is recognised, understood and met, the child is then able to emotionally regulate themselves and move on. If not the child will remain stuck in this moment, and it will present itself again in adulthood.
As adults if we are unable to understand this communication, and meet it with kindness and understanding, then it is likely that we have not been understood as a child ourselves, when we needed understanding and love. We then learn that to be needy is to be weak, when actually to be able to communicate our needs is a real strength and one to be celebrated. We become angry at our children’s need for affection and love because we are angry at ourselves for maybe feeling this need at sometime in our childhood. We become angry for not being understood by our parents. If we are told to grow up or stop talking in this way, we no longer trust ourselves as children, and soon come to think that our communication is bad, so we lock ourselves away in the belief that we have to manage our emotions on our own, for fear of rejection.
This baby talk does not mean we have to give children everything they want, or need, but it does mean we have to understand them, rather than shame or punish the behaviour. Allowing them to be heard and understood will change the behaviour. To punish or shame the behaviour will mean it will continue and will possibly just get worse. Children will continue to communicate in the same way if they are not heard, and they will just get louder until somebody finally hears them. Hearing the baby language or actions will tell you that your child needs something and it is for you to understand what it is they are communicating. Look around you, see what is happening. Has something changed in their lives, or are they starting a new school, or do they have a new brother or sister.
I can hear that you want to be the baby again. I understand that your brother is getting all the attention and you wish you were the baby again. You want to feel safe and special, but you are feeling angry and hurt, and you want someone to notice you.”
Ever been an adult where your partner may have a friend, and you become jealous? Want to throw your toys out of the pram, because you want to be heard and feel special, but instead of communicating it in words, we get angry at something else, or refuse to talk, or feel childish. Ever felt ashamed of this behaviour? Feel confused? Unable to communicate properly? Well maybe you have never been understood as a child, and your emotions have never been heard and recognised. Maybe you are met with anger and rejection for having these feelings in your relationship.
ALL BEHAVIOURS ARE A NEED FOR LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE. WE JUST HAVE TO CHANGE OUR PERCEPTION OF THE SITUATION. ANGER IS FEAR OF NOT BEING LOVED, BABY TALK IS A FEAR OF NOT BEING LOVED. JEALOUSY IS A FEAR OF NOT BEING LOVED.