Keys to Building Attachment with Young Children (page 2)

By — North Dakota State University Extension Service
Updated on Jul 21, 2009

"Parental Behavior and Attachment - Where Am I?"

Key aspects of parental behavior relate strongly to the quality of attachment that develops between a parent and child. These are listed in the table below.

Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = Never, to 5 = Often) as to how often you are responsive in these ways in your interactions with your child by checking the appropriate box. This is not a scientific evaluation, but it can help you to think about areas on which to focus.

  Never Seldom Some-
Usually Often
I make myself physically available to my children as much as possible, and focus on them when we are together.
I pursue opportunities to learn more about and gain experience with children through reading, classes, volunteering or other opportunities.
I am aware of my child's cues for help or assistance, understand what they mean and respond in a way that comforts the child.
I respond quickly and consistently to the cues or needs expressed by my child.
I respond in a caring, positive and warm way to my child's needs rather than roughly or harshly.
I pay attention to what my child's signals mean and respond in appropriate, helpful ways.
I follow my child's interests and cooperate with them in play or doing tasks rather than forcing the child to follow my own preferences for interaction.
Avoid Overstimulation
I take care not to frustrate my child by watching for signals to stop or slow down interactions that are overstimulating.

Attachment Challenges

Children and parents have times when they face challenges in forming healthy, secure attachments. In such circumstances, seeking the assistance of competent professionals and receiving guidance on forming better, healthier relationships is best. Parents need to understand that attachment challenges may result from a variety of factors, including:

  • Temperament of the child
  • Prenatal or birth trauma (low birth weight, extended time in medical care, fetal alcohol syndrome, etc.)
  • Adoptive circumstances for the child
  • Foster care circumstances for the child
  • Significant family trauma (divorce, death, etc.)
  • Poor family modeling for parents (parents in childhood had poor attachments themselves, etc.)
  • Troubled or hostile home environment

These and other factors can, at times, significantly inhibit healthy attachment formation. All parents and caregivers should consider the possible influence of such factors in their own adult-child relationships.

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