You and your baby each have a powerful and magical skill (tool) within each of you.
And if used frequently, this skill can enhance positive parent-child interactions and improve bonding.
The magic power we’re talking about is the smile!
What happens when you smile?
Smiling is not necessarily a magic pill to make amazing things happen, but nonetheless provides fantastic opportunities to accomplish many good things and positive benefits.
Smiling can trick your brain into happiness and can even boost your health.
Science has shown that the minor act of smiling can lift mood, lower stress, boost the immune system, and possibly prolong life.
A smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness while serotonin is associated with reducing stress.
In other words, smiling can trick your brain into believing you are happy, which can then spur actual feelings of happiness.
In a sense, your brain is a sucker for a grin. Most of the time the brain doesn’t even bother to sort out whether you are smiling because you’re generally joyous or just pretending.
Reasons to smile more
The benefits of a smile can be very positive to you, your baby, and others.
Here are a few general reasons why you should smile:
- Smiling will make you more attractive
- Smiling will make you look younger
- Smiling will help release some stress
- Smiling can help elevate your mood
- Smiling is contagious just like yawning
- Smiling can help boost your immune system
- Smiling helps lower blood pressure
- Smiling will make you feel good
- Smiling will help you stay positive
In addition to the above, for you as a parent, here are some additional benefits that a smile can give your baby and others around you:
- A smile will not only benefit you and your baby at home, but will also help set an amicable tone with strangers from most cultures
- A smile is easy to pass on. Much like yawning, smiling is contagious. This contagion is exceptionally potent for your baby. Your baby’s focus is primarily on your face and will tend to mimic your facial expressions
- Smile at yourself in the mirror and get the same benefits your baby is experiencing when looking at your face
- You and your baby can enjoy enhanced two-way communication and “conversations” exchanging your smiles together with coo’s, ahau’s and woo’s, etc.
- Your smile may calm your baby
- Use your smiles to encourage and reinforce your child’s vocalizations when making cooing, gurgling, and vowel sounds
- Usually smiling will trigger us to think back to joyful memories
- How can you tell a genuine (true) smile from a fake? A genuine smile engages muscles around the eyes and increases wrinkle (joyful) lines by the eyes
- Smiles signal friendliness and increase social interactions. Smile if that is what you wish
- To help supercharge your mood, purposely smile 30-60 seconds while looking at yourself in a mirror
- If something goes wrong anytime during the day, smile 10-15 seconds and you’ll see a difference in your mood or outlook
- You can “hear” a smile over the phone. Your tone of voice will lighten as you smile. Look at yourself in a mirror while you’re smiling and talking on the phone
- Think of something you really like when you smile. This will help make your smile sincere or genuine
- Take a deep breath when you smile. This will increase relaxation and provide mood enhancement