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Glossary of Terms

CFI's Parenthood Center

Ages of a baby

Newborn: Until 2 months

Infant: Until 1 year

Toddler: Until 3 years

Preschooler: After 3 years

*Attachment-based therapy should not be confused with unproven and potentially harmful treatments known as attachment therapy, which involves physical manipulation, restraint, deprivation, boot camp–like activities and/or physical discomfort. Developed in the 1970s as interventions for children with behavioral challenges, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they have been investigated and rejected by mainstream psychology and medicine.

Endometriosis is a progressive condition that occurs when tissue similar to the uterine lining—called endometrium—grows outside the uterus, possibly damaging the surrounding reproductive organs and affecting fertility. Affecting around 1 in 10 women and girls in the United States, endometriosis can cause symptoms during the reproductive years, ages 12-60, with many remaining undiagnosed.

Fetal alcohol syndrome results in a child from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy and can cause irreversible brain damage and growth problems. Varying from child to child, fetal alcohol syndrome may involve a mix of physical defects, intellectual or cognitive disabilities and problems functioning and coping with daily life. There is no amount of alcohol that’s known to be safe to consume during pregnancy. Early diagnosis may help to reduce learning difficulties and behavioral issues.

*Parents: The term PARENTS is used throughout for the sake of brevity. It is meant to include biological or adoptee parents or primary caregivers, including grandparents.

Prenatal, perinatal and postpartum mental healthcare treats the individual’s psychological and psychophysiological effects and implications of birth:

“Baby blues” describes mild mood changes and feelings of worry, unhappiness and exhaustion that can affect many women in the first 2 weeks after giving birth. Generally, these feelings begin to resolve. 

Perinatal: Broadly defined as the period from 1 year before to 18-24 months after a child’s birth, this is a time in women’s lives that involves significant physiological and psychosocial change and adjustment, including changes in social status and decision-making power. According to new research, the perinatal period constitutes a “window of opportunity” to create benefits for maternal and infant health outcomes, such as reducing depressive symptoms, preterm birth or low birthweight. It is also a time to reinforce parent-infant interaction and possibly decrease the risk of family dysfunction. 

Perinatal mental illness affects up to 27% of new and expectant mothers and covers a wide range of conditions, the most common of which is perinatal depression. Expecting or new mothers who experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety and fatigue can make it difficult for them to carry out daily tasks, including caring for themselves, their new baby, their other children or others. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In rare cases, severe symptoms can put at risk the health of mother and/or baby. 

Postpartum (or postnatal/the “fourth trimester”): The period after birth, typically lasting for months but possibly extending to 2 years, refers to the time when mothers return physiologically, mentally and emotionally to the nonpregnant state.

Postpartum depression begins after the baby is born, with severe mood changes and feelings of anxiety or unhappiness lasting longer than 2 weeks. Women with postpartum depression generally do not feel better unless they receive treatment.

Puerperal (or the puerperium): The postpartum period immediate after childbirth, usually lasting about 6 weeks, during which the mother’s reproductive organs return to the nonpregnant state.

Prenatal: The period before birth

Prenatal depression or anxiety: A mental health problem that begins during pregnancy


PRIDE Skills: A primary goal of behavioral parent training is to strengthen parent-child warmth, security and attachment. To enhance the parent-child relationship, parents learn a specific set of skills to give positive attention to appropriate child behaviors and to increase the likelihood of seeing those behaviors in the future. PRIDE skills are:

    • Praise: Labeled or behavior-specific praise of a child’s behaviors, product or attributes
    • Reflect: Actively listening and repeating or paraphrasing a child’s comments
    • Imitate: Engaging in similar play and mirroring the child’s activity and level of enthusiasm
    • Describe: Describing behavior by narrating a child’s ongoing play
    • Enjoy: Showing enjoyment or enthusiasm in the parent-child interaction

Sensitive responsiveness is the extent to which a parent is in-tune with a child’s emotional state, able to decode signals accurately and able to respond appropriately and in a timely fashion. 

Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for infants and toddlers. Young children often experience a period of separation anxiety, but most children outgrow it by age 3.  Learn more about Separation Anxiety & treatments offered at CFI.

Stranger anxiety, normal from ages 8 months-2 years, is manifested by crying when an unfamiliar person approaches. Stranger anxiety emerges from the infant’s developmental phase of distinguishing familiar and unfamiliar people, with duration and intensity varying among children.

    • At any given age, infants and young children may prefer one parent over another. Comforting the child and avoiding overreaction to the behavior are usually the only therapy needed.
    • Stranger anxiety of pronounced intensity or extended duration may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)and might require an evaluation of the family situation, parenting techniques and the child’s overall emotional state.

Learn more about the Parenthood Center at CFI…


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