At the heart of all secure relationships is intersubjectivity. This concept is all about being open to each other – being open to influence. I’m looking at you & I’m influencing you, & when you look back at me, you’re influencing me. Intersubjectivity has three main elements – matched affect (having the same energy & rhythm); shared attention & complementary intention.
Intersubjectivity is important in all relationships. For children, it’s critical in helping them become safely engaged & socially connected with their parents & care givers. The child is learning about themselves and their surroundings through the relationship.The way that they experience things when guided by their loving adult, determines how they learn to see themselves and the world.
Children with developmental trauma come to fear intersubjective experience. Being open to the influence of others is terrifying if you have been hurt by those who should love you the most. This leads to controlling behaviours – if I’m frightened of a connection with you, I don’t want to be open to your influence. The only way I can avoid your influence, is by staying in control – through aggression, or non-compliance or by being really good and doing everything to please.
For children who are hurting, we want to get loving connection back. Help them dare to trust again & re-experience themselves & everything around them in the safety of their intersubjective relationship with us.