One of the key components in quality relationships is trust. In this post we’ll have a look at the effects of trust and how it’s formed during the early years within the close relationship between the baby and its parents or other caregiver.

Relationships is one thing, that we can have with anyone but quality relationships is what makes the difference. Quality relationships is what buffer us in times of adversity and is key to a healthy and happy life. In relationship with a child, the quality of the relationship is always the adults responsibility.

What science* tells us today is that in order to lead a healthy and happy life it is as important that we take care of our relationships as much as our bodies. So it’s both good and important to grow strong healthy relationships.

A key component in quality relationships is trust. The feeling of, that no matter what and especially when the going gets tough, that there is that someone you can trust will be there.

The ability to trust and show trust, both in yourself and others, starts to form early in life. In the close relationship between a baby and it’s parents or other caretaker. When the adult takes a responsible leadership and is dependable, predictable and caring it becomes easier for the little baby to relax, to be soothed and to grow. He learns to trust that his world is a good place and the adults can be trusted.

The experience he has with his parents or other caregiver also becomes a blueprint for him into future relationships with family, teachers, piers and later on in life, in love relationships and as a parent himself.

A case study with infants and their parents the first time in the pool, shows us a lot about the power of trust. When parents could trust the teacher and/or was well prepared and trusted themselves they were better capable of being in control of their own emotions and both parent and child could enjoy easier and sooner.

When groups of families (10 groups with 10 families in each group), with babies ranging from two to six months, entered the water for the first time the reactions and experience varied as much as the amount of individuals.

What was general for parents who felt nervous and insecure was that they found it harder to enjoy and in many of the cases it rubbed-off on the baby, who became uneasy, clingy and some even cried. Parents expressed that it felt difficult and that they wished for more time with the teacher and some worried that their child would not like the swimming activity.

In general for parents who felt more secure it was easier for them to tune-in on their child’s needs. They expressed that they felt confident that they could give the support and the time their child needed to feel comfortable in the new environment and activity.

They enjoyed the time together and the class, even those who went out of the water early due to that their baby had had enough. They all looked forward to the next class.

What contributed to a parents ability to manage own emotions and feel more relaxed and confident, was the trust they felt for the teacher and how well prepared the parent was before hand. The teachers confidence and knowledge had a direct impact on the feeling of either being in good hands or not.

What buffered for a less confident and/or experienced teacher was the knowledge a parent had beforehand. When they knew what to expect and what to do the first time with their baby in the water it was easier to trust themselves and in the process of learning. They could better enjoy together and found it positive right from start.

Get off to a great start

To build trust early in life is by being present, predictable and caring. Make it comfortable for your little baby in your hands and arms. When he experiences discomfort help him into comfort again as soon as possible.

In the video you see a baby in the water with her dad. It’s her first time in the pool.

Because she is so little, and not only the activity but the world is new to her, she needs us to go slow. She needs us to show her respect and give her time to see and feel the sensations of the water and her own moves.

She also needs us to pay attention to what captures her interest and also to share and invite her to new experiences such as, easy swings and twists and turns, bubbles, smiles and other activities that she might be ready for. Always tuning in on her.

Rather early in the lesson she let’s us know that it’s enough. She shows signs of discomfort. She is may be tired, hungry or maybe she just needs a short break because she has had enough stimulation, for now. Her father, sees her, reacts and responds to her by holding her close. Is it maybe a just a short rest she needs?

Her mother stands close, the parents support each other in trying to see what their little baby needs. When they realize that she needs more than just a short rest, they leave the pool. Soon, after feeding, the little girl fell comfortably asleep in her mothers arms.

These are the moments that matter and they happen every minute of swim. That is why the gift of swim provides a brilliant joint activity, with parents as leaders and role models to build mutual trust. Not only between the baby and its parents but also between the parents, right from start.

*The Harvard Gazette and news from the 80 year Harvard study that shows how to live a healthy and happy life