Children are sponges. As cliché as it may sound, there isn’t a better visual metaphor. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and as a parent of two children, it is my opinion that today’s society is still in need of educating parents about the profound necessity for secure attachments between a parent and a child.
What many parents don't realize, based on countless research and books, is that the kind of attachment between a parent and child will pave the way for how well that child will function as an adult in a relationship. Dr. Daniel Siegel, author and founder of the Mindsight Institute, breaks down the four types of attachments:
More from YourTango: ADD & Holiday Stress: Why You Are A Ferrari With Bicycle Brakes
- Securely attached – Emotionally available, perceptive, responsive
- Insecure/Avoidantly attached – Emotionally unavailable, imperceptive, unresponsive and rejecting
- Insecure/Anxious/Ambivalently attached – inconsistently available, perceptive and responsive, and intrusive
- Insecure/Disorganizingly attached – Frightening, frightened, disorienting, alarming
Now take a look at how these child attachment categories translate into adulthood, from Daniel Siegel's book, Parenting from the Inside Out:
CHILDHOOD -------> ADULTHOOD
Securely attached -------> Secure (free or autonomous)
Avoidantly attached -------> Dismissing
Ambivalently attached -------> Preoccupied or entangled
Disorganizingly attached -------> Unresolved trauma or loss/disorganized
So now that you’ve seen how your child's attachment (with you) creates a lasting imprint for him or her, allow me to empower your parental role and share with you ten very important ways of developing a healthy attachment with your child:
More from YourTango: Sorry, Your Nagging Is Really About You
1) You and your partner are the ultimate example to your child of how two adults connect/communicate/bond – From the moment your child enters the world at birth, he or she is always watching and absorbing how you and your partner interact. How you argue, how and if you repair an argument, touching, not touching, tone of voice, sleeping arrangements....everything is absorbed by a child, whether the parent thinks it’s obvious or not.
2) Give your child respect - From the moment a baby enters the world, he or she feels the world and people around them. They know what they need and it’s the parent’s job to at least try to interpret that (i.e.: food, a hug, sleep, a dry diaper, etc.). Undermining a child’s crying state and dismissing the only way that they can communicate their feelings (which for most young children is non-verbal) is basically telling your child, “You’re not important enough to me” which only exacerbates an insecure attachment with his or her caregiver, as well as to others later in life.