chapter  9
12 Pages

On the changing table: the use of rhetoric with an infant

Father: One second, here's your song Toto. `I just want to warn you if our paths should cross, my name is Toto and I'm the boss.'

Long before children can speak, adults perceive infant vocalizations to have different meanings. They interpret cooing sounds as more communicative than other, less speech-like, infant sounds (Beaumont and Bloom 1993). Hence, an infant's increasing cooing or vocalizing results in more active engagement with adults (Lavelli and Fogel 2005). Particularly in the early years, affective interactions in everyday experiences with others in¯uence understanding of information about ourselves and others (e.g. Malatesta 1990) and lead to the ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions (Salovey and Mayer 1990) and behaviour (Bruner 1982). According to Brackett et al. (2004), higher emotional intelligence is related to positive outcomes such as pro-social behaviour, parental warmth, and positive peer and family relations. The question of the differentiation of ego from alter in the context of emotional development is unclear. The change of focus from the baby's own emotions to the baby's ability to incorporate other's emotions is the topic of the present study. In what follows I report and analyse an everyday encounter which caused some friction, namely getting dressed, in order to follow Toto's emotional development in terms of how she made sense of her own emotions vis-aÁ-vis her father's expression of emotions. According to Fogel et al. (2002), the infant's intrapersonal self-dialogues are intertwined with interpersonal dialogues from the ®rst days of life. Consequently, modern

an `autistic' or in some early versions of psychoanalytic theory (e.g. Stern 1985).