Attachment is the safe bond that is formed amongst young children and their caregivers. Attachment is the foundation for normal social and emotional development and even though the first two years of the child’s life is a vital time for attachment development, the progression of attachment carries on well after the child turns two. When an infant is born, the parents care for the infant and try to meet their needs as best as they can. Infants regularly provide clues such as crying when they are seeking attention, hungry, tired, their diaper needs to be changed and so on. When an infant’s needs are met in a dependable and trustworthy way, the infant will then develop a sense of trust in others. The sense of trust finally results in the infant developing an attachment to the adult caring for them. Attachment theory describes how infants utilize adults to teach them how to survive until they are able to do things for themselves. When children experience their caregivers as reliable and dependable, they are able to feel safe enough to have the comfort to explore their world.
For a growing child to be able to succeed in life and learn how to build healthy relationships, it is important that they develop a strong bond with a caring adult very early on in their life. Deprived of a healthy and protected sense of attachment, children have a very difficult time developing a loving and intimate relationship later on in their life. They typically grow up with a inaccurate understanding that the world is risky and disloyal. Deprived of this basic sense of trust, children can develop anxiety about the world they live in. They can also be excessively sensitive and volatile. Some children start to show behavioral and emotional problems. Research has revealed that an insecure attachment during the child’s first few years of life can frequently be a predictor of upcoming problems in school, work, and marriage and can often be connected with criminal and poor social conduct.
You do not have to be a perfect parent to help your child develop a secure attachment bond. There will be times when you will not be able to meet your child’s needs in the ways they want them. As a matter of fact there will be times in your child’s life that you will NOT want to meet their needs, such as allowing them to eat candy for breakfast, allowing them to play in an unsafe area, or giving into a temper tantrum. Developing a protected sense of trust does not mean you should fail to set limits for your child. Your quality of responsiveness with your child and willingness to notice a missed signal is what makes the attachment secure. You are still responding to your child’s needs when you say no in an appropriate way. The steps a parent should take to nurture healthy attachment relationships with their children are:
• Be there for them not only physically available to your child you need to be mentally engaged fully with your child as well. (Put away your cell phone and give them your undivided attention)
• Be quick and consistent a child learns to trust when their needs are met quickly and consistently. An infant has no idea how to wait and as your child grows it might not always be possible to be as quick as they would like however, by responding to their cues you are still providing the attentiveness to their needs.
• Show affection a child responds positively to touch. A hug will go a long way for a child and a kiss on the cheek can be calming for your child. The affection also gives them reassurance and they know you are there and aware of them.
• Be sensitive and nurturing to your child’s emotional needs. This helps them to feel comfortable and respected. If they feel sad show them understanding, if they are scared give them comfort as you are calming them down, keep your voice at a calm and gentle tone. If you show anger and roughly handle them they will feel rejected and unworthy.
Attachment is the foundation of your child’s healthy development. Infants and children need their caregivers to be dependable, caring and consistent. Children learn that they are valued, loved and respected from their caregivers. The child’s first relationships are used as a model for their future relationships. Children that develop a secure attachment at a very early age are more likely have stronger and healthier relationships, a strong sense of self and self-worth later on in life. They also will be able to better express their emotions and will be able to be more resistant and flexible. It is very important to take the time and build a healthy bond with your child. This will serve as the foundation for a stronger and self-confident adult later on in your child’s life.