In Dr. Stuart Shanker’s book Self-Reg we are introduced to helpful ways to break a child’s and a child care provider’s stress cycle and successfully engage with life. One tool that Dr. Shanker has introduced us to in this book is the Interbrain, or a shared intuitive channel of communication. Think of it this way. Have you ever been with your best friend and something strange happens where you look into each other’s eyes and know exactly what they are thinking? This is the Interbrain.
In this book, it is argued that infants are embryos outside of the womb. Think of other animals who are born with the ability to start walking right away or instinctively know what to eat. In comparison, human brains are immature for a long time. As Shanker writes, “We’re born helpless.” We cannot feed ourselves, we cannot clean ourselves, and for the around the first year of life, we are unable to walk around independently. We rely heavily on our caregivers.
We even rely on caregivers to help us with self-regulation from an early age. Infants are connected to their mother physically in the womb through the umbilical cord. Once the infant enters the world, the connection is transferred from the physical to the psychological: The Interbrain. An infant and caregiver have the ability to share thoughts, emotions and responses through their Interbrain. Babies are drawn to a parents voice, touch and reaction. For example, if a child falls and their parent yelps, the child will begin to cry.
The interbrain is a two way street. Whatever the baby feels, the parent feels. Whatever the parent feels, the baby feels. It’s a high speed internet connection.
With your Au Pair, it’s important to give your her time and space to create this special relationship with your child(ren). Obviously, they did not grow your child or even have the time to make a connection. Help your Au Pair by letting her know your child’s habits and what makes them happy, sad, excited, nervous, etc. The better your Au Pair can get to know your child, the better they can create their own Interbrain and help your child self-regulate.