You insist that parents and professionals must mother babies. And this of course echoes our efforts to explain the importance of touch, but also of voice and gaze in our relationships with children. Can you tell us more? And what does this have to do with soothing?

Empathy is work on emotions

It is the entire attitude of the adult that is fundamental. That is to say, it is first up to adults to understand what empathy is. And I say again that empathy is work on emotions. If we are not empathetic towards ourselves, we will not be able to be empathetic with children. The more empathetic we are with ourselves, the more compassion we have towards ourselves, the more it also protects us from burnout. You should know that at the moment there is a lot of burnout among parents and among childcare professionals and very often it is because they are hard on themselves and think that it is possible to be perfect all the time, but it is impossible: we all make mistakes. They generally have little empathy and compassion for them. Compassion and empathy for oneself is the first protective factor of burnout. It’s work on our emotional skills, that is to say it’s about understanding our emotions, our needs and knowing what our emotions are for. They are fundamental.

Then you have to have compassion when you make mistakes. You saw that I started by saying it. I started by saying that, when adults have a word that they should not have, a gesture that they should not have, we must have compassion, saying to ourselves: “For millennia, we have always acted like that, so I’m going to have to get rid of all that.”

It goes a long way to developing social and emotional skills. At the moment, I don’t know if you aware, but there is a whole program in France to develop these psychosocial and socio-emotional skills. And all adults who interact with children must have training to develop this empathy. Otherwise they cannot be empathetic with children, and understand children. It is primarily up to adults to have this training. And this caring attitude is going to be very important, if it is true. If an adult pretends to be caring, children sense it right away. So for children to develop harmoniously, there will be the tone of voice, there will be the look, there will be the touch – a respectful and warm touch towards children.

Attachment theory

The little ones are born with the innate, vital, fundamental need for attachment which is to create a bond with the person who takes care of them and who can comfort them, protect them and give them emotional closeness in case of distress. The role of the adult is to respond to this need for protection.

You talked about adults needing to have empathy. If this issue is clear, can it nevertheless be difficult for adults to free themselves from the conscious and unconscious education that they have received?

Training to develop empathy in adults and work on emotions in children

Today we hear challenges to positive education. Is there a real disagreement on the merits, or is it because this notion has sometimes been misunderstood?

For many adults, talking about their emotions is an admission of weakness