Building Bounce can sound a little like inflating a basketball and dribbling it. Don’t worry, I am not encouraging you to dribble your baby! 😉 Building bounce refers to building resilience, which means as our babies grow up, they can handle the good and bad that the world throws at them, so that they can “bounce back” from the hard stuff.
Chris and Marcus say in their new book, “In some ways, building bounce is taking attunement to the next level. You will notice some overlap between these habits, because building bounce always starts with attunement then adds the step of helping our children regulate their emotions.” ( pg. 39)
Building bounce is about emotional regulation and looks differently at each stage of life with our kiddos. We build resilience in our infants by growing their capacity through joy and play. And then, by joining them in their negative emotions (attuning) we show them how to recover from these big feelings. Infants are not able to regulate their emotions themselves, so we do the work for them by attuning and comforting them. After lots of practice regulating with us, they will eventually learn how to quiet their big feelings and regulate their own emotions.
When my kids were babies I remember many times they had some big upset feelings. Sometimes it was just a matter of finding what they needed to help them calm down (like a new diaper, some food or a snuggle.) But as they got a little older, there were times when they would get frustrated or scared by something and I would need to attune to their big feelings and comfort them. Attuning with our infants starts non verbally using our face, voice tone, and touch and eventually we can add words. To see some examples of Chris and I helping our boys regulate their big feelings, check out our YouTube playlist.
The ability to recover and return to peace and relational joy from the spectrum of negative emotions is crucial to building resilience. The actual process of attuning to our infants in the spectrum of emotions is quite a feat. If we do not have a pathway ourselves back to joy and peace from a given negative emotion, we will not be able to hang with our infant through the attunement process in that emotion. It will feel overwhelming to us to enter into an emotion that we ourselves cannot navigate. How well our family attuned to us and joined us in our big feelings when we were little will impact how well we can help our kiddos. So in many cases, in order to help our infants build bounce, we need to work on our own skill growth journey.
When I was introduced to this idea that there are negative emotions that we have to learn to navigate and recover from, it made a lot of sense why I was getting stuck or avoiding negative feelings. I did not have the ability to navigate negative emotions and as an adult, I’ve had to learn how to navigate this terrain. Examples and modeling are crucial to show our brain how to handle big feelings, so I watched for friends who seemed to handle fear, anger, hopelessness, shame, disgust and sadness well. When I found someone who knew how to handle these things, I would ask them to tell me stories of how they recovered when they were upset. Sometimes these friends could join me in processing my upset and be with me in the feelings, which gave me a better picture of how to navigate them.
If you struggle with navigating one or more of these big emotions, look for people in your life who handle emotions well and watch how they do it – the example will be a great step towards you learning these skills yourself so you can help your kids navigate through their difficulties.
For more information on how to Build Bounce with your children at every stage of parenting, check out The 4 Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids.0