Attachment is the term given to the relationship between a child and their main care-giver, usually their parent. A child’s earlier experiences in their main attachment relationship will determine their inner working model for understanding themselves, their relationships, and the world around them. Research has shown that a healthy and balanced attachment relationship is of crucial importance for the child’s development, and can have an impact on their social, and emotional, behaviour, cognitive and even physical development.
Below are 10 suggestions to promote a secure attachment relationship with your child.
- Learn about your infant’s signals: What signal does your baby use to communicate fatigue, hunger, that they need a nappy change or want attention?
- Be responsive to your baby: When your child signals that they need something, respond in a timely and consistent manner so your infant learns that you are there for them, and that the world around them is predictable.
- Try to understand what your baby might be thinking and feeling, and understand that this might be different from how you might be thinking and feeling. Your infant will learn about their inner emotional world by having a parent who helps them uncover it. Let your infant know that you understand their inner word by responding accordingly.
- Maintain eye contact with your infant as much as you both can manage. This is the way infants interact and develop socially in the early weeks and months following birth.
- Be expressive with you infant: dull and expressionless faces do not provide the child with enough information to learn about the emotions of their parent.
- Be consistent, and be there for your child. Teach your child that you are their safe base, and you are reliable.
- Try to match your infant’s emotional state: if they are feeling awake and excitable, engage them in fun play activities, if they appear tired and lethargic, ensure a quiet and relaxed interaction.
- Find a happy balance: A securely attached child will have a parent who is able to protect them when the need it, but are also able to allow them to explore when it is safe.
- Spend time with your child; try to learn what they like, and engage them in such activities regularly.
- Comfort and soothe your child when they are distressed, and as they get older, help them learn ways to manage their own emotions.