A child’s primary caregiver is their first relationship and first love. This connection profoundly influences the child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. For example, children who are securely attached have healthier relationships (both romantic and platonic), higher self-esteem, and are better able to cope with stress.
How do I know if my child is securely attached?
Children with a secure attachment have a strong bond with their primary caregiver. This bond gives them a sense of trust and confidence as they explore their environment. Children with a secure attachment are:
How can I foster a secure attachment?
What you do as a primary caregiver plays a big role in your children’s attachment. Here are some tips that you can use to foster and strengthen your bond.
Learn to identify your children’s needs. Pay attention to how they communicate when they are hungry, needing to be changed, or wanting a cuddle. This is the foundation of a secure attachmentbecause it signals to your children that you understand them.
Identifying their needs is not enough; you need to meet them. Feed them when they are hungry, change them when they are dirty, and give them a big cuddle when they need one. This is critical to secure attachment because it signals to your children that you are there for them.
Your touch can make your children feel calm, protected, and loved. Holding them when they need it is important for your bond. Cuddling and even tickling your children releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone).
Connect with your children by talking to them and showing interest in their activities. Get down on the mat and play their games, no matter how silly they might seem. Put away all distractions to make the most of this time. Playing and talking to your children shows them that you care about them and support their interests.
It is not possible to notice and respond to everything. It’s also impossible to be interested and engaged every single minute of every single day. That doesn’t make you a bad caregiver – it just makes you human! Remember to ask for help when you need it. Taking time to look after yourself makes you a better caregiver. Doing this also sets a great example for your children about the importance of self-care. More on that in my next post!