The Importance of Attachment

Attachment is an emotional bond and connection to another person. Psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194).

Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that lasts throughout life. According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, thus improving the child's chances of ‘survival’.

Infants become attached to adults who are sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them, and who remain as consistent caregivers for some months during the period from about six months to two years of age. When an infant begins to crawl and walk they begin to use attachment figures (familiar people) as a secure base to explore from and return to. Parental responses lead to the development of patterns of attachment; these, in turn, lead to internal working models which will guide the individual's perceptions, emotions, thoughts and expectations in later relationships. Separation anxiety or grief following the loss of an attachment figure is considered to be a normal and adaptive response for an attached infant. These behaviours may have evolved because they increase the probability of survival of the child.

“The central theme connected to attachment is that mothers who are available and responsive to their baby's needs establish a felt sense of security in their children. Your baby knows that you as the caregiver are dependable, which creates a secure base for your child to then explore their world.”[1]

The Key Components of Attachment

There are four key components of attachment:

  • Secure Base: The caregiver provides a secure and dependable base for the child to explore the world.
  • Separation Distress/Anxiety: When separated from the caregiver, the child will become upset and distressed.
  • Safe Haven: When the child feels threatened or afraid, he or she can return to the caregiver for comfort and soothing.
  • Proximity Maintenance: The child strives to stay near the caregiver, thus keeping the child safe. 

Attachment theory and concepts are here and here to stay. Attachment parenting is undertaken often times naturally. I have no doubt attachment began when parenting began but the theory helps us understand the importance of positive attachment relationships. Give your baby a sense of connectedness in infancy and give them the best start in life. Connect through observation, mirroring and responding [2] and maximise the potential for mutual communication and understanding.

“Our brain development, our emotional development -- even our later ability to control our emotional selves, our tempers and delay gratification -- all depend on having our innate relationship needs met as infants.”[3]

Attachment Parenting is as flexible as you want it to be. Every parent who knows the principles can use it intuitively to suit the needs of their baby. Do not think of it as a set of rigid rules. As always, use your own parenting know how and intuition to decide what's best for you and your family.[4]

Vivien Sabel UKCP MBACP ScPTI

Author of The Blossom Method™ The Revolutionary Way To Communicate With Your Baby From Birth available on Amazon

Relational Psychotherapist/Clinical Supervisor/Researcher

http://www.viviensabel.com

[1] This quote was taken from Dr. Laura Markham’s blog Attachment Parentinghttp://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/attachment-parenting

[2] Observation, mirroring and responding are the three core components of The Blossom Method™.

[3] This quote was taken from Dr. Laura Markham’s blog Attachment Parentinghttp://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/attachment-parenting

[4] This was adapted from Dr. Laura Markham’s blog Attachment Parentinghttp://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/attachment-parenting