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Empathy and Comfort in Nurturing Play

In the beginning of life, a baby's developmental needs are to be loved and kept safe.  If a baby does not receive love or have someone consistently respond to their needs, they will experience developmental trauma and learn that the world is an unsafe place where they don't matter. We learn about this in psychology class in Erik Erikson's psycho-social development.  Without consistent love and safe caregiving, an infant will shut down, be anxious, and not develop properly.  

These nurturing themes emerge in young children's play.  A child who has experienced the safe love and caregiving they need may begin to act those experiences out on a stuffed animal or doll.  Rocking it, feeding it a bottle or play food, speaking gently to it.  Similarly, a child who did not receive the tender care they needed may also play out nurturing themes with toys.  This can signal a way that they try to nurture themselves by providing the affection and safe care giving...

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