The Mom sings, The Son Cries

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I think already commented and described about how my son of 2 and a half years old gets so emotional since he was a baby when I sing to him. I cannot understand and explain that feeling, how he feels so emotional when I sing a lullaby to him, is not that I am singing a known song, I make up melodies to him and singing at the time he goes to bed to make him feel more relaxed but there are days when he just tells me NO, and other ones when he probably needs to feel my comfort and closeness and that he listen to me and start feeling so emotional and cries…

Probably is a remarkable demonstration of emotional contagion, the tendency for humans to absorb and reflect the intense emotions of those around them. Emotional contagion is the foundation of human responses that are essential to social functioning such and empathy and is facilitated by the mirror neuron system in the brain.

It is shown in young infants’ tendency to cry when in the vicinity of another crying baby (known as contagious crying), and just as easily to mimic the joy or glee expressed by another person.  Emotional contagion may also be seen in the blank stares of infants of depressed mothers or fathers, reflecting their caregivers’ flat affect.

Parents also imitate their infants’ expressions. Infants begin to show a ‘social smile’ by about six to eight weeks of age, and this in turn also triggers more smiling in parents. This moment-to-moment mimicry and matching of emotional expressions in time is  emotional synchrony like ‘getting in step’ with each other, to dance together in a smooth interaction.

The orientation to each other is important in establishing the optimal conditions for emotional contagion and synchrony. In this case when the singing begins, the emotional expression of the face immediately mimics this concentrated on the facial expression.

I believe the singing plays a very important role in this scenario. In daily interactions, emotional expressions are fleeting. Smiles or frowns might flash across the face, constantly changing with speech and environmental cues. But when singing a slow-paced song, facial expressions are shown as if in slow motion or even as if suspended in time probably intensifying the effects of emotional contagion.

Emotional contagion induced by film characters on-screen and sensitivity to rising and falling melodies in film scores, as well as speech contours are also mechanisms by which films take us on an emotional journey.  If filmed while watching a movie, you might catch yourself mimicking facial expressions of the characters, even though nobody is responding to your smiles in the dark.

I wish I can record this magical moment, but always occurs natural and unexpected. I truly believe and know that happened,  is very common to see babies cry when the mother sings to them.

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