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Home As a parent, I want my children to develop a healthy attachment and feel secure. What is the secret to unlocking our ideal parent-child connection?

As a parent, I want my children to develop a healthy attachment and feel secure. What is the secret to unlocking our ideal parent-child connection?

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Parenting is a role that offers parents the opportunity to love with their heart, personality, strength, and mind. From the moment parents wake up, when they sit together at home, when they walk side by side, and up to the time they lay their heads on their pillow at night, parenting happens. 

The bond or attachment that forms between parents and children will be a significant influence in how they live their lives as adults. 

The Attachment Theory and child development

All throughout a child’s growing years, they develop attachments to whom they spend time with, especially their parents and  caregivers. 

British psychologist John Bowlby theorized that humans have an innate need to form a close bond with a caregiver. The theory focused on how emotions are experienced, expressed and regulated. This emotional attachment serves two purposes. First, it protects a vulnerable person (the child) from possible threats. Second, it helps regulate negative emotions after a threatening or harmful event. 

When parents are able to respond well to the child’s needs, a healthy attachment is formed. Then the child forms a foundation for making and maintaining future relationships with others. However, unmet physical and emotional needs, whether it was intentional or unintentional on the part of the parent, lead to insecure attachment.

The four attachment styles are:

  1. Anxious
  2. Avoidant
  3. Disorganized
  4. Secure

Developing a healthy attachment and making your child feel secure

Understanding how to achieve a healthy attachment provides parents with opportunities to help the child develop and thrive to reach their potential. 

  • Build a safe environment with consistent routines and boundaries

Children growing in a safe environment know that they will not be abused. At the same time, they also understand that there are healthy boundaries in the home. They understand limitations which make them safe, and parents are consistent in applying these boundaries. When parents are disorganized and unstable about these limitations, children learn instability and fear of making mistakes because they do not know what should be and should not be done. 

  • Invest in positive interactions and activities you can do together. 

For parents with more than one child, it might be challenging to spend quality time with each of them, but doing so makes a parent more attuned to the child’s unique emotional needs. Spend an hour or two a few times a week to focus on each child, get to know them, and build trust by doing activities that the child enjoys or something both of you enjoy together. 

While on your quality time, you also have a chance to affirm the child and boost their confidence by providing praise and positive reinforcement of their strengths. 

  • Model and teach emotional regulation. 

We know that children love to imitate. Parents who display healthy emotional skills also see these positive behaviors in their children. Some behaviors you can demonstrate are respect, empathy, and responding when angry or disappointed. Through observation, they will be familiar with how to recognize their own feelings, and be secure in expressing them without fear. 

  • Be consistent in communication. 

It involves being good at both listening and speaking. By opening your communication channels, you can allow your child to make choices so that they develop independence. You can also openly talk about mistakes and engage in a teaching moment about the consequences of choices. 

As you spend time with your children, you will be able to recognize the signs of difficulties in your parent-child attachment. You can find professional therapists or counselors to help you out. 

Invest on your children’s early experiences in relationship-building and you can influence their outcomes as adults. Author John Steinbeck said that “Perhaps it takes courage to raise children..” And it must be worth it! 

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As a parent, I want my children to develop a healthy attachment and feel secure. What is the secret to unlocking our ideal parent-child connection?
Brandon Resasco