Child psychologists are convinced that baby stars forming attitudes about herself while still in the cradle, in the process of forging bonds of love and trust with the person who cares for her. One mother, for example, may consistently convey positive estimates of her daughter’s value- even in so mundane a situation as changing a diaper. As she makes the diaper switch, the mother gazes into her baby’s eyes, smiling and chatting steadily, though she knows the child is still months away from understanding what the words mean. At the end of baby’s legs in the air and touching her toes together until she giggles. During this brief but potent exchange, the mother is saying to her child,” I love you unconditionally, you make me feel happy. Everything about you is fine with me.”
Another mother, who cares no less about her child, goes about the same task in a more hurried, detached manner, viewing it as just an onerous job. There is tightness in her muscles that the baby can feel as she washes and changes him, keeping her eye on a television show all the while. No sooner has she made the bay dry again than she sets him in an infant seat and turns away to clean up – with wrinkled nose and pursed lips that he will someday recognize as an expression of disapproval. Though this mother would not consciously send negative messages to her son, her actions translate something like this;”Changing you is a demeaning, smelly job. I love you, but only conditionally. There are things about you and your body that I resent. “Her attitude inevitably colors the bay’s developing feelings about himself.