My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 1

Chapter 3: The Dance of Attachment

In this chapter you explore how attachment is the hallmark for mental health and how it serves as a foundation for healthy future relationships and is a requirement for optimal brain development. You will learn how to understand your child’s unique attachment style and how to begin healing a child’s attachment that has becomes insecure. 

Humans are hardwired for connection and belonging. Humans stay with their parents longer than any other mammal on the planet, and as such, their relationship with their primary caregivers are pivotal to their physical and emotional safety. Children are by nature extremely vulnerable beings, and they rely on us to meet most of their needs. Babies and children cannot simply fend for themselves; they need us to comfort, clothe, feed, and most of all, love them. This dependent relationship is the foundation for attachment: a deep and enduring emotional bond between two people in which each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of the other. Attachment is the hallmark of emotional well-being in humans, the anecdote to trauma, and the catalyst of resiliency. On the other hand, insecure attachment style in childhood is related to an array of negative mental health outcomes and unstable adult relationships later in life.

A child’s brain takes a significant amount of time to develop (up to 30 years of age), and their experiences with the outside world, including their attachments, greatly influence the architecture of their brain. We know that the higher the quality of attachments a child has with their caregivers, the stronger their brain grows, especially the thinking brain.

Something subtle but extraordinary happens when a child is in the right relationship with their caregiver. Little Amanda looks for her mother’s nod, and she tries the monkey bar for the first time; Ayden’s tears stop flowing as his father kisses his ouchy on his knee; Adam beams with pride as his mother throws him the ball and catches it while his father exclaims “You did it, son!”

It is in these moments of connection when we feel seen, heard, valued, and loved that we feel like we can move mountains. These small moments accumulate over time to form a bond that provides our children the strength to preserve, explore, and connect with other people. We cannot think of a more valuable gift you can give your child than that of a secure attachment.

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