Step 2: Respond to bids mindfully

The next step in this challenge is to slow down, breathe, recognize bids, and RESPOND MINDFULLY.

In the Bringing Baby Home class, Dr. Gottman talks about the importance of recognizing bids and responding to them intentionally.  The motto of the workshop is "small things often."  

When we notice that our partner or our child is making a bid for connection, we have several ways that we can respond.

1.  We can turn towards. This means that we respond to their request for connection by connecting with them.  If our partner asks "Do we have any more laundry detergent?" we respond by putting some laundry detergent in the cart or add it to the shopping list.  If our baby is crying for attention, we respond by looking at them, talking or singing to them, and maybe by picking them up.  If the bid was that the person looked at us, we might simply smile at them.  Turning towards adds deposits to our emotional bank account.  

2.  We can turn away. This means that the bid is ignored.  Maybe we are too busy with our work at the moment.  Maybe we are focused on something else or on "automatic pilot."  Maybe we are busy on our phone. Usually we aren't intentionally being mean, but we are deep in thought or preoccupied with something else.  Turning away has a negative effect on our relationship's emotional bank account. It is a withdrawal from our emotional bank account. 

3.  We can turn against. This means that the other person responds to the bid in a negative way.  The response might be critical or contemptuous.  It is being intentionally negative to the other person.  Turning against is a withdrawal from our emotional bank account. It leads to increased conflict and puts emotional distance between you. 

In order to put deposits into our emotional bank account, we need to be mindful.  We need to slow down and breathe.  We need to recognize the other person's bid, and we need to be intentional to make the other person to feel heard and respected and important.  "Mindful responses increase the positive perspective in the relationship, and over time, increase relationship satisfaction... These small acts will add points to your emotional bank account (deposits) and over time will have a significant impact on your relationship" (Bringing Baby Home workbook, p. 77).

For more information:

 

Slowing down

As I mentioned in my newsletter this week, the challenge this month is to slow down and breathe. 

If you watch the Gottman Institute's "What's Baby Saying?" video, Dr. Gottman explains that "it is important to realize that babies operate on a much, much slower time scale than adults.  You may remember when you were a child, a summer seemed to last forever. Now as you get older, summers go by very, very quickly.  Because the world is so much slower for children, it takes time for a baby to react to things. Newborns, for example, will imitate you, but it's a great deal of effort for them to do this. It will take them 10-40 seconds before that imitation really happens. But as busy adults, we are often out of the room doing ten other things by the time the baby has gotten around to imitating us. So one of the first things you have to do is slow way, way down. It will add a lot to your life if you can turn off the television, not answer the phone, and really spend a lot of time in sustained play with your baby, learning how to read your baby's signals. Every baby is different, so you need to get to know your baby as an individual. You don't have to devote 95% of your time to playing with your baby. Just be fully present and engaged when you are playing with your baby. That's another thing that's special about babies. They are fully engaged in the moment!"

Speaking of newborns imitating, I love this video of a newborn imitating his dad!