Advocates of conscious parenting tell us that the first two years of a baby's life (beginning at conception) are the most crucial in terms of development and growth. These are the stages in which children are literally absorbing their environment, receiving both initial impressions and reinforcements that will determine their view of the world.* Children are programmed by the adults in their world, at all levels - physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. They learn, based on the way they are treated, that the world around them is safe or threatening. They learn to speak and assign meanings to things as their parents do. They learn what will gain approval and what will elicit distress. In the domain of health, parents constantly orient their children for illness or accident by telling them: Don't do that - you'll fall, you'll cut yourself, you'll get sick, you'll get hurt . . ."
* This is the subject of many diverse books and websites (see the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children, www.aTLC.org). Two basic sources are Pearce, J. C., Magical Child
(Plume, 1992); and Liedloff, J., Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost
(Perseus Publishing, 1986)