Author: Sarah Bilodeau

What is attachment?

Attachment is an affectionate bond between a child and their caregiver(s), which serves to join them emotionally. This begins from birth, and an attachment pattern(s) will develop in the first few years of a child’s life. Although these patterns may change over time and individuals may have different patterns with different people, the early patterns will influence how they later relate and bond with others throughout their life.

How is attachment built?

When a baby/child expresses a discomfort and a need (e.g. for food/warmth/soothing), the caregiver is invited to respond in a way that meets the need. The consistency of the caregiver’s responses to these needs, and the manners in which they attune to the baby/child will, over time, help lay the foundation for the child’s attachment pattern. When parents are reliable, consistent and emotionally available, the child learns to trust the caregiver. This helps develop a secure attachment pattern, which will later affect how they trust others and influence their sense of self-worth.

Why is attachment important?

Humans have an innate need to seek and maintain closeness with a caregiver in order to achieve security. Developing a secure attachment is also important for many reasons:

  • Research shows that children who are securely attached grow to feel loveable, are self-confident, and have self-esteem.
  • A secure attachment is linked to resilience and the ability to regulate stress levels and cope with adversity.
  • A child’s sense of safety, which comes with being securely attached, can aid their engagement and participation in learning and education.
  • A child’s earliest experiences impact brain development, which in turn will significantly impact future social, emotional, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral development.

A secure attachment helps develop social competency, which can contribute to building healthy friendships and stable relationships.

To help your child reach their full potential, consider the benefits that the quality of your relationship can bring. Each day is an opportunity to help your child feel supported, and to help strengthen the attachment.

How do you develop attachment? Read occupational therapist Chantal Chen‘s article, 5 Tips to Strengthen Parent-Child Attachment.