The faculty of the 1998 Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Round Table: New Perspectives in Early Emotional Development are among the world's leaders in the field of infant development. Each brought to the table years of experience from a variety of disciplines. The salient points of their discussions are summarized in the following article.
COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT
Emotional development in infants and children has lifelong effects, and everyone caring for them—pediatricians, child health professionals, families, and caregivers—has an important role in the growth and development of unique and healthy human individuals. A common theme to facilitate optimal infant development, advanced by all participants in this Pediatric Round Table, is the need for excellent communication and cooperation among all individuals who influence young lives.
On one level, improved communication between researchers and clinicians will get meaningful new information into practice where it can be used effectively. This process will be even more effective if professionals from both disciplines, in the interests of cross-fertilization, exchange ideas and observations early and frequently. In many ways, round table meetings such as this break new ground and establish the foundation of productive alliances.
On another level, communication between professionals and parents, grandparents, and day-to-day caregivers must have an appropriate tone and content to actually deliver meaningful effective messages. It often is important to step back from years of professional training to think in parent terms. What do parents have to know to have the greatest positive effect on their infant? What do I have to avoid saying so that I don't add to their uncertainty, anxiety, or frustration? One often-repeated example of the latter dealt with explaining why the first years of life were important in the child's later health and well-being. All too often this knowledge made parents worry that even the tiniest mistake would destroy their infant's …