Helping Your Child Feel Safe – Healthy Child Attachment Stategies

Parenting

Child Attachment Strategies

Helping Your Child Feel Safe Enough To Be Their Own Dora The “Explorer”

We have all seen the toddler holding onto mom or dad’s calf for dear life immobilizing them from moving further. We have heard the exhausted new parent proclaiming- “I can’t put him (her) down for a second; what do I do?”.

How do we cope with the child’s need to be so close?

There’s something about the term clinging that in our society has a negative connotation and parents frequently wonder about clinging behaviors and ask ‘is it healthy’? How do we cope with the child’s need to be so close?

In truth, when talking about children and their early needs, it is about creating a healthy balance between closeness and separation.

 A child establishes a sense of safety through proximity/closeness to their caregiver.

Establish a sense of safety through staying close

In order to foster confidence to explore the environment, a child needs to feel safe. A child establishes a sense of safety through proximity/closeness to their caregiver. In developing his widely recognized theory of attachment, John Bowlby explained that a child is born with an innate behavioral system hardwired to seek out proximity in the early years. Bowbly explains that a baby shows specific attachment behaviors (smiling, clinging), which are then reciprocated by adult behaviors (touching, holding, soothing) only to then strengthen the infants attachments behaviors.

Most of us thrive better on routine. It is important to help do this for your children.

Provide a sense of safety through predictability

The second piece to building a sense of security to explore is to establish a routine or schedule. Your child needs the organization because it helps make things accessible to them. When things are predictable, we generally feel safe. Take the arrival of a new baby: it is common to hear “s/he looks just like X; or I think s/he has X’s tendency towards…; or that laugh is just like X.” A newborn is unknown and the typical human mind looks to immediately make them recognizable so it feels more known and comfortable for everyone. Think about it another way: in the morning your best days are likely when no one disrupts your routine. Most of us thrive better on routine. It is important to help do this for your children. With a routine established, a child can predict what comes next and can feel a sense of control. With routine it is essential to balance some flexibility. Life happens. When routine is too rigid it can cause increased stress.

Help your child feel heard

In addition to closeness so that the child is safe to explore, children including young babies, want to feel recognized and responded to. Babies coo and babble; toddlers ask repetitive WHY questions, and school-aged children through to adolescents look for ways to be noticed. What they are all looking for is to feel heard which develops from consistent responding by their environment. Simply put, through repeated interactions with parents/loved ones, children form what’s called “internal working models” incorporating information regarding others’ responsiveness and accessibility with what they then determine about themselves- I.e. I’m worthy of being heard, worthy of being loved.

A brief disclaimer: this does not mean there cannot be disruptions or moments when there’s delayed responding – no parent can be perfect all the time. Children respond well to a typical and predictable pattern of parental interaction so the child builds confidence to know that when they make a gesture to communicate they are heard and responded to regularly.

 Some children thrive with more rough and tumble play; they love excitement, and noise. Others need a much softer approach. 

 

Attuning to the nonverbal

It is important to listen/pay attention to not only spoken words but also unspoken words and expressed needs. For example, knowing what type of interaction style your child prefers is helpful. Some children thrive with more rough and tumble play; they love excitement, and noise. Others need a much softer approach. Whatever their particular needs, your specific response style communicates your sensitivity and care.

In summary, for a secure child attachment bond, and a sense of confidence to explore, it is paramount to establish a sense of safety in the relationship. By balancing closeness and separation, helping create structure, and attuning to/listening to verbal and nonverbal communication children can truly thrive.

You might also enjoy

Screen Time and your Kids – How Much Is Too Much?

Screen Time and your Kids – How Much Is Too Much?

Kids and screen time – how much is too much? Many parents are concerned about their kids’ screen time, and it seems that the average screen time is increasing. As a parent myself, I researched the effect of too much screen time on the kids, and several facts surprised me.

How to prevent kids allergies to foods

How to prevent kids allergies to foods

Kids allergies can be terrifying and overwhelming – watching a baby’s allergic reaction, particularly to foods that you are feeding. Study shows that as many as 5.6 million children under 18 years of age in the United States alone have a food allergy.

How to help your child cope during the COVID-19 pandemic

How to help your child cope during the COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic has proven to be stressful and anxiety-provoking for adults as well as children. The new norm of masking and keeping a distance from friends and other loved ones can be challenging for young people to understand, but it is essential to keep them healthy.

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

Do NOT use this Website for medical emergencies.

If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Success! Check Your Inbox

Success! Check Your Inbox

Success! Check Your Inbox

COVID Toolbox

Success! Check Your Inbox