When this tiny little creature is handed to us there is an immediate sense of love, fierce love. This love is powerful and fills you with the need to protect this innocent being with every fiber in your body. You are attached to this child and they are attached to you — your heart forever now walking outside of you.
When I had Seeley I couldn’t stop staring at him, holding him, nuzzling, and snuggling him. He was and is my everything. It was very important for me to establish a loving and close bond with him — this is known as a secure attachment in the child development field. So what is a secure attachment, how do I get it, and why do I want it?! Let’s dig into this a bit.
Let’s first start with the why, so hopefully you will be encouraged to read the rest of my post, haha. According to John Bowlby, the man who created the idea of attachment, he believes that having a strong, loving, secure bond will enable your child to do many things;
- Having a secure base allows the child to explore freely, they are not worried that their caregiver is going to leave them. It is through this exploration that children learn!
- Children in a secure relationship tend to be more independent and resilient when things go wrong. They know they have the support of their caregivers.
- Children have higher self-esteem because they feel loved, wanted, and again that feeling of support regardless of the situation.
- Children do better academically. They feel a sense of security and trust — it is easier for them to learn because all of their most basic needs are met (See Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs!).
- As adults these children typically have healthier relationships (they have a lot less anxiety, worry, and stress about their partner and what they may or may not be doing).
Ok, I could probably continue with this list, but I don’t think you want to read a 50 page thesis, so let’s stop there! So what does a secure attachment look like you ask, according to Bowlby and Ainsworth:
- Secure Attachment: When you leave your child they feel sad, but when you come back you are able to easily calm them down and they are very happy to see you.
- Insecure Ambivalent Attachment: When you leave your child they feel sad, when you come back, you are unable to calm them down easily.
- Insecure Avoidant Attachment: When you leave your child they feel sad, when you come back, they don’t want to see you.
Take a look at this if your interested in what this interaction looks like between a parent and child:
So how do you get a secure attachment with your child? Well the first step is to meet their most basic needs. In the beginning years of life this means feeding them, loving them, and ALWAYS helping them when they cry. A young infants only way of conveying to you a need is through tears, so please, please, please, don’t ever let them “cry it out”. What you are telling them is that you will not be there for them when they are in distress. Infants can NOT manipulate you, they can NOT be spoiled, nor can they self soothe until around 10 months. If you want to create a secure bond, it is imperative that they know you, the main caregiver, will be there for them all the time. This sets the foundation for a secure attachment for the rest of their lives! Bottom line, be there for your child, make them feel safe and loved.
Caring for children is one of the most precious gifts we can be given — let’s work hard to create the best atmosphere for our sweet (most of the time!) little ones.
Breathing in the security,