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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET HOW WHAT WE FEEL CREATES WHAT WE KNOW social situations throughout life (National Scientific Council on the Devel- oping Child 2004b). Emotional Development Caregivers’ emotions play an important role not only in signaling safety or threat to young children but also in teaching them how to understand, com- municate, and regulate their own emotions. Responsive caregivers may treat children’s emotional outbursts as a chance to talk through their feelings in a way that helps them feel understood. Even when children don’t understand language, speaking in soothing tones can be helpful. When the caregiver maintains a sense of calm when a child feels emotionally out of control, the caregiver is communicating responsiveness and comfort (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine 2000). For example, a mother might hold her screaming infant and calmly speak in soothing tones, or might tell her angry two-year-old, “Natalie, I know you are angry with me, but I’m going to stay right here with you.” These words and actions convey that even when the child is upset, the caregiver will be a source of support throughout the emotional roller coaster. Caregivers who are stressed and struggle to regulate their own emo- tions may have difficultly responding constructively to a child’s emotional outbursts. Sometimes caregivers respond by yelling, scolding, or physi- cally shaking the child when a child is emotional. Think about the mother described previously. Imagine she speaks angrily to her crying infant or yells at her two-year-old, “Natalie! Stop yelling or you’ll be in big trouble.” This type of response may serve only to increase the child’s emotionality, because she may interpret her mother’s emotion as cause for further alarm. Caregiv- ers’ highly emotional responses may exacerbate rather than curb the child’s disruptive behaviors. Before long, the interaction can turn into a spiraling cycle of uncontrollable emotion for both caregiver and child. However, working with caregivers on finding healthy ways to manage their own emo- tions and be more responsive and soothing in their interactions with their children can be extremely beneficial in helping them build more stable rela- tionships. When caregivers become more responsive and emotionally calm, it teaches children that even when they feel out of control, they are safe with COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 19