This year, I've had a serious case of Baby Fever (click that link- Time Magazine says it's a real emotion!). I have been seriously obsessed with babies and toddlers. Maybe it's because I just turned 23 and have hit my "fertile years," or maybe it's because I spend all my time procrastinating my schoolwork by watching videos of babies and kittens. OR, I can pretend to blame school, and say that my classes are talking about infants and adolescents right now. There are quite a few students in my classes that have children, and often use them as examples for discussion.
In my Psychological Assessment II class, we are talking about ways to assess problems that occur in childhood and adolescence, and how young we can/should assess those problems. In my Introduction to Latino Culture class (for the Latino Mental Health Program), we have been discussing how 2nd and 3rd generation American children will internalize their race/ethnicity differently from their parents. In Psychopathology of Childhood and Adolescence class, we are currently talking about developmental risk factors and the different ways in which clinicians can intervene to ensure normal development. And then we have Lifespan Development, which of course is filled with discussion of infants and toddlers and the different developmental trajectories than can take. Next week, our professor is even bringing in a former student with her 3-month-old infant for us to
play with observe clinically. :)
Last week, I gave a presentation for that Lifespan Development class on "How Babies Come to Know Others." I don't think I have ever been more enthralled by an academic presentation in my life. Normally, I am like your typical busy student, and only read the required number of articles and then start writing. With this one, I just couldn't get enough. Yes, it could have been the baby fever, but it was also just such an interesting topic to think about. We take so much of attachment and infant development for granted, but there really wasn't much research in the psych realm of just how infants come to identify different figures of attachment, such as by smell, sound, visual cues, etc.
That brought us into a really interesting discussion of possible experiments to discern this. One of the ideas, which my classmate William brought up, was fascinating to me. His idea was to take an infant whose mother had an identical twin, and then switch out the twin for the mother, and see how the child reacts. The discussion then went into a number of different ways to address this, such as making the mother's twin take the role of the stranger when the mother leaves the room in Ainsworth's "Strange Situation" task.
All of these exciting ideas for research made me very excited to come home on Winter Break and play with all my nieces, nephews, and young cousins. Now I just have to remember to keep on my "auntie" hat instead of my "psychologist" hat, so I don't turn them into my own personal test subjects.
Although, is it really all that easy to just take off the psychologist hat? So far, I'm not sure that it is. Everything we learn is so directly applicable to everyday life, and even if we aren't in a clinical setting, I think it would be impossible to ignore what we've learned. For example, I think all of this information we are learning on babies and children is going to make us super-awesome parents. Maybe this baby-fever fueled by the classroom isn't so bad after all...