Lynne Murray, Professor of developmental psychology,University of Reading

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Lynne Murray is author of a new book, The Psychology of Babies: how relationships support development from birth to two years, out on 19 June.

lynne-murray-interview

What was the thinking behind your new book?

It focuses on mothers' and babies' relationships and looks at children's psychological development over time. It shows how the development of young children's social understanding, attachments, self control and intelligence can be supported through their social relationships.

Development is divided into four areas in the book. What does the first area - social understanding and co-operation - cover?

This chapter looks at children's advances in social development, from a newborn baby's basic attraction to other people at birth to being able to understand other people's experiences and co-operate with them as a toddler.

Your chapter on attachment covers the effects of daycare on babies' development. What did you conclude?

Parents often worry about whether daycare will change their relationships with their baby, but babies form their most important attachments to their parents. It is still helpful for babies to feel securely attached to the people who care for them in daycare too.

Giving a baby or toddler comfort when they feel needy or upset is the kind of care that makes a child feel secure.

The book promotes rough-and-tumble play as a key way for babies to practice tolerating and managing extremes of emotion. What other activities are recommended?

At moments of peak excitement, a baby will regulate their own state by breaking gaze and turning away from the game until their feelings are under control. Children get enormous pleasure from engaging in a joint activity with their parents. Giving a child small jobs to do that they can manage and are fun will mean that child is far more likely to become co-operative and less likely to be oppositional later on.

The last chapter covers children's cognitive development. How can parents and carers support this?

Sharing picture books with a child is particularly good, as it helps develop their awareness of the world, their attention span, and their language development. Parents should also identify what grabs a child's attention and be supportive of their interest.

Lynne Murray spoke to Katy Morton.

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