The Revolution in Infant and Child Development

The Embryology of Human Motivation

Posted Mar 19, 2013

There is a revolution occurring in infant and child development. This is having a profound impact on our understanding of the motives and behavior of human beings.

The term “revolution” is a strong one. It is defined as: “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about something” and “a change of paradigm.”

There are three areas which are fueling this revolution: feelings, intelligence, and language.

Over the next several months, our Newsletter will explore each of these areas in depth. We will discuss the remarkable potential created when one looks at these three elements together – a stunning synergy!

Happy Parenting!

Dr. Paul

The Revolution in Infant and Child Development: The Embryology of Human Motivation


Feelings are crucial. Why? Because feelings lead to behaviors. Feelings motivate us. Feelings result in actions.

Our society frequently overlooks the importance of feelings. We focus on behavior rather than on the feelings which cause the behaviors. We are often still blind to feelings.

We will explore the embryology of feelings, our earliest feelings – and how these early feelings combine with each other and with experience to form our adult emotional life.


Over the past decade, studies have shown how bright infants and young children really are. It turns out they are much smarter than we used to think.

This creates a tremendous opportunity to get their cognitive development off to a good start. But just as important, as we will see, intelligence also allows us to give the emotional development of children a huge head start.


Young children usually begin to talk somewhere between the ages of one and three. But long before this, they can understand words. And as they begin to talk, their psychological world changes dramatically.

We use the term translation for the process of linking children’s words to their feelings.

Translation exponentially enhances the child’s capacity for self-soothing, tension-regulation, and character-building.


These three elements – feelings, intelligence, and language – comprise the foundation of human development. They interact in important ways, giving us a remarkable opportunity to enhance development.

However, too often these elements are presented individually, as if each one is an answer unto itself. This is unfortunate – for the whole truly is greater than the sum of the parts.

The interaction of feelings, intelligence, and language presents us with a remarkable opportunity. It is the interaction of these processes which is creating the Revolution in Infant and Child Development and helping us understand the embryology of human motivation.

Quote of the Month

…we are always slow in admitting great changes of which we do not see the steps… The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of even a million years...”

Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species, 1859