Attachment is an active process between a child and parent/caregiver that is essential for a child to develop the internal sense of safety and security necessary to create the foundation to become a healthy, happy adult. Poor childhood attachment is linked to lifelong deficits and mental health problems.
What We Know
- Attachment in children develops through numerous, consistent experiences with a parent/caregiver. A positive attachment is created when a child feels safe, secure and loved in the presence of their parent/caregiver.
- Attachment is a reinforcing process which means the response of the parent will inform the brain and shape future responses when in a similar situation. This process is what ultimately develops the brain.
- When a child’s need is consistently responded to, they develop a sense of security which creates a base for a child to start to explore their broader world. This provides them the security to seek out and learn new things.
- Attachment is how children learn they can depend on people because they learn through the early experiences of being cared for by the people responsible for them.
- Children who are punished for relying on a caregiver will learn to avoid seeking help in the future.
- Research suggests that failure to form secure attachments early in life can have a negative impact on behavior in later childhood and throughout life.
- Disturbed childhood attachment relates to adult physical and psychological ill-health, including major causes of mortality.
What Can You Do
Be available and emotionally present for your children at every opportunity. A child must feel connected to their parent.
Below will list the basics to generate loving energy between you and your child:
- Greet your child with genuine happy emotions. Share your sincerity through affection.
- Family style dinner. Dinnertime is for connecting. Dialogue at the dinner table is fun and light.
- Allow for an hour to two hours of no individual screen time to promote family interactions and mental creativity.
- Spend at least 30 minutes of a shared activity with your child daily.
- Be someone your child wants to be around. Be authentic. Be you.
- Eliminate yelling and harsh tones. Intense forms of communicating produce stress. Stress decreases the child’s ability to learn and disrupts establishing and/or maintaining the positive attachment.