As a mom, I have learned a lot about attachment parenting, and as a therapist I have learned a lot about attachment through schooling and work. Attachment is important to the wellbeing of humans. Studies are showing that children who do not have secure attachment figures in there early years often struggle with behavioral problems later in their childhood and adolescence (Kochanska & Kim, 2013).
Components of attachment include affective, behavioral, cognitive, kinesthetic, psychic and physical security components (Fitton, 2012).
Affective components involve the affection demonstrated between child and caregiver. This component also helps build emotional intelligence. Affection includes things like cuddles, Kangaroo care, kisses and hugs.
Behavioral components involve the behavior the child demonstrates to increase proximity to the parent. The child signals a need to be close, for example crying or fussing and then stopping once picked up. As your child grows they will begin to explore more, but will still check to make sure you are there. This behavior occurs to insure that the caregiver is still within proximity, and to help build individuation and a relationship with the rest of the environment. Parents can support the behavioral component by promptly responding to a child’s requests to be close, and encouraging and supporting the child as they begin to develop their own identity by exploring away from their parent.
Cognitive components include the way a caregiver-child communicates together. The way you communicate with your child lays the framework for how their brain will work. Language skills, intellectual potential, conscience and competency are influence by how we teach our children to think. Talking to your baby, and explaining what you are doing is a great way to encourage the cognitive skills. You will notice that in Intellidance we encourage parents to tell their children what we are doing, this is to help with the cognitive component.
Kinesthetic or Tactile components involve touching. How we touch our children influence their sense of security and closeness to us. Showing love to your baby through baby massage, holding hands (once they are older), and hugs are all great way to increase security. Being rough with your child can cause struggles with their sense of security and closeness.
Psychic component involves the caregiver being psychologically available to the child. This means being able to care for the child when they are upset. Caregivers who had difficult relationships with their own caregivers may struggle with this, as ability to cope and trust others may be an area of strain. Our ability to be emotionally available to others is influence by our own secure base. Being patient with your child and taking care of yourself are great ways to strengthen your ability to deal with an upset baby. In addition, asking for help and being aware of your own challenges is helpful.
Physical Security includes the attachment figure (parent, caregiver). The attachment figure must be reliable and physically present for the child to bond to. Attachment involves time, space and situation. Just being present with your child is helpful for attachment., as is putting down technology and playing with your child and, showing your child when you leave you always come back.
Those of you who have taken Intellidance will notice that many of the attachment components are directly discussed and included in the Intellidance classes. For example, the emotional intelligence components discussed in class, the tactile activities in baby brain play, the encouraged communication with your child while you move to ensure a sense of security and increase their cognitive skills.
Attachment influences many areas of an individuals life, setting your baby and young child up with a strong and secure attachment is extremely helpful in giving them a secure future.
Lindsay Wolf is a provisional psychologist who specializes in human attachment, parenting, couples and post-partum depression. She is also a certified Intellidance instructor offering classes in St.Albert, Alberta.
Fitton, V. (2012) Attachment Theory: History, Research, and Practice,
Psychoanalytic Social Work, 19:1-2, 121-143, DOI: 10.1080/15228878.2012.666491
Kochanska, G. and Kim, S. (2013), Early Attachment Organization With Both Parents and Future Behavior Problems: From Infancy to Middle Childhood. Child Development, 84: 283–296. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01852.x