The developing field of infant mental health, with its emphasis on brain research and the developmental role of parents, provides a clearer understanding of the meaning of a ‘secure attachment bond.
A secure attachment bond is defined as an emotional connection formed between an infant and their primary caretaker. A landmark report, published in 2000 by The Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development, identified how crucial this attachment bond is to a child’s development. The report also mentions that secure attachment bond apparently affects the way a child develops mentally, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Attachments happen while caring for the baby, but the quality of the attachment bond will depend on the quality of the nonverbal and the verbal communication between the caregiver and the child. It’s not just the infants but older kids do have a need for secure attachment bond.
Obstacles to creating a secure attachment bond may happen when the caregiver is unavailable for reasons like depression anxiety, anger, grief etc. resulting in the child’s, physical, emotional, and/or intellectual development to suffer. Often daily life distractions like cell phones, computers, social media or urgent emails may prevent a caregiver from paying full attention on the child, resulting in missing out on opportunities to make contact and engaging in a secure attachment process. When such behaviors continue for lengths of a period, the secure attachment bond does get impacted.
Some tips for building a secure attachments, are continuing to figure out the child’s needs using verbal and non-verbal cues such as making eye contact –to pick up on the positive emotions conveyed: tone of voice –to differentiate between loving, harsh, indifferent, or preoccupied tones: touch– to convey emotional state like attentive, calm, disinterested or upset : body language – whether it’s relaxed, anxiuos, defensive or uninterested: pacing, timing, and intensity – pacing, timing, and intensity of your speech, movements, and facial expressions reflect the state of mind. Positive queues cues from the caregiver play a big part in defining the secure attachment bond.
Lastly, in simple words, secure attachment is an ongoing partnership between you and the child, without being a perfect parent. If one notices a disconnect, attempt a repair irrespective of the age of the child. The effort to repair will deepen the trust, increase resiliency, and build a stronger relationship.
Director SACAC Counselling Pte Ltd
Clinical Member SAC
SAC Registered Counsellor
CMSAC, Reg, CLR, MSc (Counselling), Grad Cert. (Counselling)