Children attach to a caregiver as a natural part of their development. A child will attach first with his or her mother, then the father, and then consistent caregivers such as a grandmother, big sister, or aunt. The child will build this ability to trust and practice it in daycare, preschool, or kindergarten. As the child grows, they will form different levels of attachment to friends, coaches, teachers, and eventually a spouse and children. When that first attachment is disrupted, a domino effect happens with future attachments.
Here are some ideas for helping kids learn how to build healthy attachments:
- Be patient. Attachment will take time. Allow your child to take as much time as needed (maybe even 30 years). Allowing this attachment to happen as naturally as possible will empower your child to lead the way in making attachments to others in his or her future.
- Be consistent. You remain the same even though your child will draw close and push away throughout childhood and possibly into adulthood as well. This is natural for all children, but for our children, it can feel magnified. Stand strong as a parent. Love unconditionally.
- Learn methods for attachment. Work with a therapist who specializes in attachment, bonding, and trauma. Read about attachment. We recommend our new book, Securely Attached: How Understanding Childhood Trauma Will Transform Your Parenting. You can also find recommended resources in our partner blogs and resources section of our website. Find what your child needs and seeks out. Your attachment strategies will vary depending on age and personality. As you learn, teach your child. They will need these strategies if they are to be empowered to bond with their friends and future spouse and children.
As we often talk about with trauma, remember that trauma changes the way our children view the world around them, and interact with it on a daily basis. As our good friend Andie Coston says, “Trauma colors everything!” It does, and then some. You may also spend a long season dealing with behaviors that are prompted from a trauma history. The most important thing you can do as a caregiver is consistently remind yourself where this behavior is coming from. That allows you to step back and respond differently to your child.
What are some ways you are empowering your child to build healthy attachments? Share with us over social media below…