Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Significance of Attachment Between Parent and Child

Why is the parent-child attachment so important?

Research has found that parents are a source of security and confidence for children to explore the world and develop a sense of self. Research has also found that all children form attachment but the type of attachment varies.

The primary forms of attachment are as follows:

Secure Attachment: This is the best kind of attachment to have. These children are confident and feel comfortable exploring and discovering the world around them.

Insecure Attachment: There are three kinds of insecure attachment.

  • Resistant
  • Avoidant
  • Disorganized/Disoriented
Children that have an insecure attachment are less trusting and less likely to branch out and explore.

So how do we develop a secure attachment with our children?

Ainsworth's Caregiving Hypothesis states that the quality of a child's attachment is largely dependent on the kind of attention they receive from the attachment figure. Research has supported this hypothesis finding that the type of attachment a child has is really up to the caregiver. Research has found that the caregiver of securely attached children are:

  • Sensitive: prompt, appropriate, and consistent responding
  • Positive: show warmth and postive affect
  • Synchronous: smooth and engage in reciprocal interactions
  • Mutual: focus attenting on the same thing as the child
  • Supportive: close attenting and emotional support
  • Stimulating: engage in frequent one-on-one interaction
It is up to us to engage in our children and show them that we care about them. Consider the following quote:

"To develop-intellecutally, emotional, socially and morally-a child requires participation in progressively more complex reciprocal interaction on a regular basis over an extended period of time with person with whom the child develops a strong, mutally irrational emotional attachment, and who is committed to the child's well-being, and development, preferably for life."
In other words, "Somebody's got to be crazy about that kind, and vice-versa!" But what does "crazy" mean? It means that the adult in question regards this particular child as somehow special--especially wonderful, especially precious, --even though objectively the adult may well know that this is not the case."**

What do you think about this quote? What are some ways that you have tried to develop a secure attachment with your child?

Let us know what you think.

**Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). "Who cares for the children?" in Nuba, H., Searson, M., and Sheiman, D.L. (Eds.), Resources for early childhood: A handbook. New York: Garland, 113-129 (edited paper from an individual address to UNESCO, Paris, 7 September 1989).



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