Video interaction guidance
Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is a powerful tool in helping to build a happy, healthy and trusting relationship between parent and child.
VIG consists of filming parent-infant interactions during everyday activities. The parent is then shown clips of their natural, positive interactions. It is a key component of our Babies in Mind project.
They are asked to reflect on what they were thinking during that moment and what they think their baby was thinking too. In this non-judgemental and empowering way the parent develops a deeper understanding of their child. With their child's thoughts in mind they build a happy, healthy and trusting relationship.
"...I wasn't too sure about it at the beginning. After the filming session, I thought she was going to come back and say 'maybe next time you could do this' to pinpoint what we were doing wrong... But this is not what happened! She showed what I was doing RIGHT... She came back, and in fact she highlighted the things I was doing right that I didn't even notice!"
- Project participant
VIG focuses on the following concepts:
Attunement means being sensitive and empathetic to your baby; noticing emotions and cues, and being able to interact and react promptly and appropriately. All parents can build their attunement with their babies. VIG is a very powerful tool in helping parents recognise the evidence of their attunement.
By actually seeing examples of their own positive interactions certain negative beliefs they may hold are disproved.
For example, some parents think 'I'm not a good enough parent' or their child is a 'naughty' baby. Watching themselves in their video clips sharing tender, loving moments with their baby can really shift their perspective. This new perspective helps them to engage in happier more attuned interactions with their baby.
VIG uses reflection and self-awareness as empowering tools for parents to build on their relationship with their babies.
Parents are encouraged to look at the positive interactions in the video clips, seeing what is working for them and their baby. Helping families to recognise and grow these positive interactions early on gives the baby the best start to their development.
At a very early age, babies can understand the difference between positive and negative emotions. They recognise their parents' expressions and other non-verbal signals such as body posture, movements and breathing. Infants respond to these emotions and express their own emotions in a variety of ways. We encourage parents to recognise their own and their babies' ability to express emotions, such as smiling, laughing and loving gazes, and to think about their meaning in the relationship.
Smiles and other positive looks and gazes help a baby's brain to grow. Even very young babies' nervous systems respond to happy expressions by releasing pleasure hormones that help neurons, and therefore the brain, grow. Smiling is an important emotional reaction from the baby and helps parents to bond with their baby in the early stages.
In order to achieve healthy social, language and cognitive development it is essential that, even at a very early age infants are provided with sufficient stimulation. As well as sharing emotions, face-to-face interactions also provide infants with high levels of stimulation including tone of voice, body language and posture.
When parents are responsive, babies will also become more interested and eager to respond to their parents' communication, building a highly gratifying and meaningful experience for both. For example, a parent can learn to recognise different types of crying, and respond to their baby's cry, fulfilling their need whether it be a physical or an emotional one. For a baby, 'being in the mind' of their parent means that they know that their crying will lead to a caring adult attending to their needs, resulting in the baby feeling safe and cared for.
Being cared for is how babies first learn to care for others. As they grow up, children use their first relationship as a basis for future relationships, this includes peers at school, future partners and as parents themselves. A child that is nurtured in a happy, healthy and trusting relationship in infancy has the best social and emotional foundation to grow up to be mentally healthy, have positive relationships and thrive as a happy and confident adult.