Ed Tronick, in analysing mother-infant dyads, noticed that both engage in a dance of mutual regulation. Many times during this dance, the mother and infant are not in tune. The baby might smile and the mothers looks away. This is called a ‘mismatch’. In healthy dyads this can happen as much as 70% of the time. The key is that these mismatches or disruptions need to be repaired. In these interactions, the infant develops the ability to manage disruptions while maintaining a positive sense of self. In this healthy development there is a ‘dyadic expansion of consciousness’.
The baby’s mind does not develop in isolation but in the context of relationship with another mind. Disruptions create disorganisation in the infant but these are opportunities for creating new levels of complexity and coherence, when they are repaired through interactive regulation. Self-regulation of emotion, behaviour and attention grows out of this mutual regulation between infant and caregiver. As stress is interactively regulated over small moments day-on-day the capacity for resilience is developed. The ability to regulate stress in the face of challenge is a key skill that is developed in the very first years of life.