Fremdelphase – On the safe side

Fremdelphase - On the safe side

Acquaintances are suddenly eyed suspiciously or rejected, and only mum and dad can comfort them. What role does alienation play, and how best can we deal with it? Sabine’s grandmother bends over her grandchild, playing peacefully on the carpet. But as soon as she gets closer, the calm is over. Sabine’s eyes look anxious; her face twists, and a pitiful scream comes from her mouth. Only the rushing mother can calm the child down again when Sabine is in her arms.

Conscious Perception

Sabine is now eight months old and has started her stranger phase, also known as eight-month anxiety, expressively. From now on, she will react to things not called mum or dad with reserve and distrust. The parents make life easier for themselves when they understand that Sabine is going through a necessary development because crawling children first consciously perceive differences between people between the seventh and eighth months.

So far, Sabine has familiarized herself extensively with her parents’ gestures, sounds, smells and facial expressions. When Grandma shows up now, the little one notices: Oh, she’s very different from my parents, so I prefer to keep my distance. Since Sabine cannot yet put her feelings into words, she does not have many means of communication. But those she chooses speak a clear and unmistakable language: cry and scream, hide behind Mama’s legs or turn their heads away from the “stranger”.

What relatives and friends quickly take personally and often even interpret as childish, spoiled behaviour is a security measure against the new and strange. Experts believe caution and distrust are worthwhile to protect oneself from negative experiences.


Individual Differences

Unfortunately, you can’t tell Sabine’s parents or grandma when this phase will end because every child has a different temperament. The fear that suddenly arises can last weeks or even months – it is more pronounced in one baby and less pronounced in another. Encountering unfamiliar situations and people is one trigger; another is separating from familiar people. Sabine’s relationship with her parents is now so intense that she reacts with fear when they separate. When mom or dad leaves the room, she feels unsafe. When her parents come back, she beams all over her face. Sabine needs protection and understanding in these moments – even more than usual.

By the way, their cautious behaviour towards strangers is, at the same time, a sign of devotion and trust in their parents. Therefore, mom and dad can proudly enjoy those moments when the little one seeks protection from them. The comfort and security that Sabine experiences form the basis for the child’s ability to approach the world around her with curiosity and self-confidence. After a few minutes in Mum’s arms, Sabine dares to look at the “strange” grandma and smile.

Tips for Parents

There is concrete help that makes the stranger phase more accessible for the child and those around him.

  • We are achieving understanding by telling friends and relatives about the child’s stranger phase.
  • Take the child and their fears seriously instead of fighting them.
  • Do not force contact in strange moments. It’s better to keep your distance and have a calming effect on the child.
  • In the event of a separation, for example, when the mother is working, or the parents are going out, take the child particularly slowly to get used to the caregiver.
  • Reduce the fear of separation or a stranger with little games. Peek-a-boo game: Hide your face behind a cloth and pull it away again, carefully increasing the hiding time. Necessary: Never close the door between you and the child when hiding in another room. A ball you can roll towards without getting too close is suitable for making contact and or giving the “stranger” one of the baby’s cuddly toys that arouses the child’s interest.

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