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Understanding Attachment in Young Children (page 2)

By — North Dakota State University Extension Service
Updated on Feb 29, 2008

Development of attachment styles

Several key factors can affect the quality of a child's attachment. These can include the child's temperament (more active and outgoing, etc.), the context of
the situation (stranger present, familiar room, etc.), early history (traumatic experience, etc.) and other things. But the way in which a parent responds to and interacts with a young child is the key factor in how an attachment develops.

A child's attachment style generally develops based on the child's perception or understanding of the caregiver's reliability in providing comfort, support and security. Behaviors that promote attachment and provide the opportunity for meaningful interaction include:

• Smiling

• Looking at each other

• Vocalizing to each other

• Following

• Clinging

• Physical touch and hugging

• Exploring the surroundings

• Feeding interactions

• Crying

• Playing

Attachment Quiz - True or False?

Scientists who study parent-child interactions have learned much about what builds a strong attachment relationship. Answer to yourself whether the following statements are True or False.

1. Young children bond easily with a wide variety of caregivers in the first two years of life.

2. The type of attachment relationship a parent forms with a young child has little effect on how the child's brain forms.

3. Infants in the first six months who cry for food or comfort should not be picked up every time because they'll be "spoiled."

4. Young children really enjoy interaction but parents need to be careful not to "overstimulate" them.

5. Young children who have not formed healthy attachments often can overcome this challenge through intensive and caring attention.

The answer to the first three statements is FALSE; the answer to the last two statements is TRUE.

From research we know that:

1. Young children normally form strong attachments with one or two primary caregivers during the first two years of life, rather than many people.

2. The type of attachment relationship a child forms actually helps shape trillions of connections related to language, thinking, motor control and emotions in a baby's brain.

3. During the first six months of a child's life, children respond best to immediate and consistent attention and comfort and cannot be "spoiled" by it.

4. Children need a stimulating environment, but overstimulation can be stressful and have negative side effects on children at times.

5. Many programs exist to help children form strong, secure attachments if this has been lacking in their early development.

Parents and other caregivers should seek to understand the importance of healthy attachments with young children and work toward the formation of strong, secure attachments with children.

My Child's Attachments: A Personal Assessment

What do you think about the quality of your child's attachments to you and others?
With whom are those attachments? Might they be improved?
Use this exercise as a personal assessment to consider your own child's attachment relationships.

Section 1. Attachments to Whom?

Fill in the names of the people (you or others) with whom you feel your child has a primary (main)
attachment relationship. Then fill in those you identify as important secondary (supportive) attachment relationships for your child. This represents your child's "attachment web" of support for growth and development.

 

Primary

 ____________________

____________________ 

 

 

Primary

 ____________________

____________________ 

 

 

 

 

 

secondary

____________________

____________________

____________________

____________________

 

 

secondary

____________________

____________________

____________________

____________________

 

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