Keys to Building Attachment with Young Children (page 3)

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

The Benefits of Healthy Attachment

Children need adults to be reliable, caring and consistent in the care they provide. Children learn to take care of themselves only as well as an adult cared for them. Healthy attachments tend to develop as children's needs are met in this manner, and this helps them see the world as responsive and caring. This leads children to a sense of security and well-being that is critical in early development.

Understanding attachment relationships is a reminder that children have essential needs for love, security and comfort that only caring and responsive adults can meet. Parents and other caregivers provide the "attachment web" of relationships a young child needs to thrive. Healthy attachments provide young children with benefits such as:

  • A sense of trust
  • A willingness to explore
  • A positive view of oneself
  • An understanding of empathy
  • An ability to express emotions

The parent-child relationship serves as the original model for future relationships a child will experience. It is this first relationship a child uses as a template to apply to future relationship experiences.

The quality of a child's early attachments has an important impact on the success of later relationships. Success in relationships during one's life often has roots in the early moments of a young child's experience and the attachment bond. So, love your child and build a healthy attachment relationship that will serve as a foundation for future successful relationships.

Recommended Resources

Books and Articles

Bailey, Becky A. (2000). I Love You Rituals. New York: HarperCollins.

Fun-filled, engaging book filled with activities for parents and children designed to build relationships, enhance development and improve child well-being. Very hands-on and activity-oriented, a practical and resourceful guide for parents and caregivers of young children.

Brazelton, T.B. (1992). Touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development. Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books.

Best-selling reference book on a young child's emotional and behavior development by T. Berry Brazelton. Well-written, engaging and comprehensive, a very good book for parents and others.

Karen, Robert. (1990). Becoming attached. The Atlantic Monthly, February 1990, 35-70.

Outstanding article that details the history of attachment theory and research, and discusses implications of attachment for parent-child relationships in society. Very readable and comprehensive.


Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Attachment (2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.

Brazelton, T.B. (1992). Touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development. Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books.

Bretherton, I., and E. Waters. (1985). Growing Points of Attachment Theory and Research. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50 (1-2, Serial No. 209).

Goldberg, S. (2000). Attachment and Development. Hillsdale, N.J.: The Analytic Press.

Marchel, M.A. (1996). Attachment theory: Parent-child relationships revisited. Early Report, spring 1996. Minneapolis, Minn.: Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota.

Waters, E., C.E. Hamilton and N.S. Weinfield. (2000). The stability of attachment security from infancy to adolescence and early adulthood: General introduction. Child Development, 71(3),678-683.

Publication Date: April, 2006

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