Secure Attachment & Strategies for Fostering Healthy Attachment with Children
by Megan Coggins
Signs of secure attachment are able to emotionally connect in relationships and deal with adversity and difficult times without retreating or becoming emotionally overbearing. Even if you do not have a secure attachment style right now, you can still develop one! It takes being able to look at your life, process, and make sense of the events in your life to heal and learn new ways to interact with those around you. With hard work, commitment and support, you can heal from your attachment wounds and develop healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy attachment styles with your own children.
How do you create healthy attachment with your children? First look at the picture of the “Circle of Security” found in the first blog in this series. Attachment with your child begins before they are even born. Studies have shown that touching your stomach and just the sound of your voice while pregnant begins to develop healthy attachment between mom and baby. Between 7 to 8 months in utero, a baby’s heart rate will actually slow when it hears its mother’s voice! Once children are born, you become their safe base, where they can return on a reliable basis when needing comfort, support, or someone to help make sense of their experiences in life. You not only keep your children safe, you also help them organize their feelings and make sense of the world around them. Parents who are not consistently available or who do not share in that emotional connection with their children, leave the child confused and in a sense of chaos as they cannot understand the world around them without their parent’s support.
What does this practically look like? Imagine your child is on the playground. You sit on a bench on the edge of the playground watching them play. They are happy and smiling while running around until another child throws bark chips in the air and some of them hit your child. Your child becomes upset and looks around to see where you are. They run over to you and start crying, confused as to why they were just hit with bark chips. How would this scenario differ if your child could not find you, or if you were busy looking at your phone rather than looking at them while they were crying? What if you got up and started yelling at the parent of the child who threw bark chips at your child? All of these scenarios lead to disconnect with your child, because you are not attuning to their needs, rather you are reacting to the situation. What your child needs is to be able to find you, feel safe, and ask the question in their own way of “why is this happening?”, “what did I do wrong?”. You get to make sense of the situation for them. By listening, comforting, acknowledging their feelings, and helping them problem solve, you are making sense of their experience. This needs to be done in an age appropriate way, so your responses will vary depending on if your child is 2 years old or 8 years old.
Healthy attachment is important in relationships, friendships, and in parenting. To further explore how to develop a healthy attachment with your children and for yourself, call 971-808-2686 ext. 700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.