Do my child and I have a healthy attachment?

Young girl holding father’s handAttachment is a psychological connectedness that occurs between people and other mammals. This bond starts between caregiver and child, and forms the basis for future relationships. Attachment behaviours can often be observed when the child experiences new situations, uncertainty, sickness, pain or fear. The child uses their attachment figure as a safe base from which to explore and learn.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of attachment-

  1. Secure attachment is formed by the caregiver providing a stable relationship in which the child is confident that they will have have their needs met and be responded to appropriately.
  2. Insecure attachment occurs when the child’s needs are inconsistently met the majority of the time. The child feels uncertain about whether or not they will be cared for or whether the care is likely to continue.

It has been found that those children who develop secure attachment are more likely to grow into caring, thoughtful, reflective, emotionally and socially intelligent, resilient individuals. Sound appealing?

Something important to note

“Modeling perfection and the pursuit of if it does not promote healthy development. Pressuring ourselves to always ‘get it right’ or to guarantee that our children never experiences the pain we may have experienced growing up creates an anxiety that our little ones can’t help recognising. Working too hard actually compromises our children’s need to trust in our faith in relationship, an essential foundation of security throughout their lives.” Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell

Why behaviour management isn’t always enough

These days we often lead such busy lives and have so much on our plate, and trying to ensure the healthy development of our children is overwhelming enough. Hence, many caregivers rely on behaviour management to corral children into feeling/doing/being their best. However, attachment researchers believe that targeting behaviour is like treating the symptoms yet ignoring the cause of an illness.

When faced with a child who is acting out or acting distressed, it helps to think about what’s hidden in plain sight. For example, is the 3-year-old boy frustrated by feeling like he can’t make us understand his need for comfort? Is the 4-year-old girl “so emotional” because she hasn’t learned to regulate her emotions with an adult’s kind understanding and confident boundary setting? Attachment researchers have discovered that attachment can tip the balance in a child’s stress level, ability to manage emotional experience, capacity for learning, physical vitality and social ease.

Here at Life & Mind Psychology, we believe that every parent has an inherent love for their children. Recognising and trusting your genuine desire to offer what’s best for your child and their huge capacity to bring this forth from us, parenting can become easier. If this resonates with you and you’d like to learn more, give us a call on 9525 8443, we’d love to share more of this life-changing knowledge with you!