5 Proven Ways To Build Resilience In Your Child
Attachment & Childhood Development
The close emotional bond between a baby, and its mother or father, is one of the most beautiful relationships. Before we become parents we often daydream about these special moments of connection that we will experience with our new baby. Yet it seems so natural and instinctual, that many times we don’t realize what a critical influence it is having on our child’s development.Childhood attachment is one of the greatest predictors for future resilience & emotional health. The relationship that you have with your child in their early years of life, is laying the foundation for their social and emotional development.
WHAT IS ATTACHMENT?Attachment is the close, relationship bond between an infant & their primary caregiver (sometimes called the “attachment figure”).This attachment relationship serves as an infant’s emotional regulation (because they cannot regulate their emotions themselves), & is necessary for a child’s normal social and emotional development.Research has found that attachment is important for an infant’s stress regulation, as well as the development of their resilience as they grow.This attachment bond is most important during an infant’s first and second year of life.
HEALTHY ATTACHMENTThere are 3 key elements for a parent to be aware of in order to create a healthy attachment bond with their infant.For a child to experience secure attachment, parents need to be:
- Sensitive to their infant’s needs
- Responsive to their infant
- Stable and consistent presence in their infant’s life.
SIGNS OF HEALTHY ATTACHMENTThe signs of healthy and secure attachment in an infant or toddler (0-2 years) are:
- They desire your company more than that of strangers
- They are upset when you leave the room
- They look to you to be comforted
- They welcome you & engage you after your absence
- They explore their environment if you are safely nearby
- They engage in reciprocal interactions (eg. smiling when you smile, or playing peekaboo)
ATTACHMENT PARENTING PHILOSOPHYThe research about the importance of healthy attachment between an infant and caregiver, has led to the development of the attachment parenting philosophy.This parenting philosophy suggests that in order to promote a parent’s sensitivity and responsiveness to their infant, it’s important to have continuous body closeness & touch.Parents who practice attachment parenting place great importance on bonding during the birth experience, breast-feeding, wearing your baby during the day, & co-sleeping with your baby at night.While many of these practices do promote a close attachment between a parent and a child, it is important to note that there is no current research to show that those who practice attachment parenting have children who are more securely attached, than parents who have other parenting philosophies.So although the approach is called “attachment parenting” (& can be wonderful if it works for your family), you do not have to practice all the elements of it, in order to create a healthy attachment with your child.What is most important is that you remain sensitive & responsive to your infant’s needs.
THE ABSENCE OF HEALTHY ATTACHMENTThe absence of a healthy attachment relationship often leads to a behavioral profile called “Reactive Attachment Disorder” (RAD).The signs of RAD in children are:
- unexplained withdrawal, fear or sadness
- listless appearance
- not seeking comfort, or showing no response when comfort is given
- failure to smile
- watching others engage socially, but showing no attempts to engage
- no interest in playing interactive games
- lack of eye contact
- indiscriminate affection with strangers
- destructive to self and others
- living in a children’s home or institution
- frequently changing foster homes
- parents with severe mental health problems, criminal behavior, or substance abuse
- prolonged separation from caregivers due to hospitalization or other extreme situation