You probably are guilty of assuming bonding and attachment are the same. Although both terms refer to the feelings you and the baby, bonding is instant, while secure attachment is a bit broader.
For instance, a preschooler will sit tight and wait for the mother to give a reassuring smile for him to join his friends playing at the park. A few month-old babies will calm down once the dad lifts him even if the dad is on the phone.
A nine-year-old will perform better on stage once he sees the parents nodding and cheering in support. Although these cues seem minute, they depict the attachment that exists between the caregiver and the child.
Solid attachment is vital for your toddler’s healthy development. Below is an in-depth discussion of solid attachment.
The contrast of attachment and bonding
It grows depending on how you relate with your baby as he grows. Do you react to your infant’s needs warmly and sensitively? Is your warm response consistent? Your child forms an attachment and bonding depending on how you respond when he is upset or sick. It grows with time as you care and interact with them in the daily practices.
The initial attachment and bonding occurs when your baby first cries, and you try to meet its needs, whether it’s feeding, changing the diaper, or cuddling. Your response shows the toddler that they can trust you and can feel safe and comfortable around you. With time you also get good at guessing what your child requires; hence, your child also feels.
Centuries ago, people believed that attending to your infant immediately after they cry, spoils the infant. However, reaching out to the child when in distress or sick can never be spoiling. It assures the child you are willing to dedicate your time to getting to know and showing them love. Besides, responding to the baby’s needs teaches the baby to also react to you. The child will connect with you such that they will enjoy your company and will even show excitement or some reaction even when you are far.
This solely depends on you. It is the love and compassion that develops when you get to the doctor and you see the blurry image of your child during scanning. It could also come when you become pregnant. Or the intense love that feels your heart when you first hold the baby after delivery.
Bonding is also the intense, unique care and concern for your child. Unlike solid attachment, bonding develops even before birth. Thus, it solely exists with the mother. It is also effortless like it could come as an overwhelming love when you experienced the baby’s first kick. However, it could also take longer to develop. Some people even experience it first at birth.
Several factors contribute to a prolonged bonding process. For instance, if you didn’t have a close relationship with your parents, it could also be a contributing factor. Besides, some life events, such as a difficult pregnancy or birth complications could also affect you emotionally. Hence you may need some time to heal emotionally; then the bond will develop. Marriage problems, previous miscarriage, and financial difficulties may even pressure you and affect your bonding process with your new bundle of joy.
Importance of solid attachment
If you are always responsive and nurturing to your offspring, by the time they are one year, they perceive you cherish and view the relationship as reliable. In turn, this yields benefits in vital development areas of your child’s life.
Until they are three years old, your toddler’s brain rapidly grows. The encounters they face during this time greatly affects how the brain grows. Positive stimulation encourages the brain to develop vital connections, thus helping it grow. For instance, when you storytelling or sing to your offspring, the brain forms a connection related to speech.
Besides, solid attachment and bonding makes your kid feel protected and loved! Thus, the brain concentrates its energy on developing other crucial pathways such as IQ. It is also vital for the brain’s frontal cortex that is crucial for judgment. Also, a solid attachment enables the child to learn from varied experiences, which helps the brain in building more connections.
Solid attachment is fundamental in determining your child’s future relationships. It helps your child in understanding how they should give an emotional response. It also helps them to learn how to trust people. It also encourages the uptake of empathy. Once your child sees themselves as worthy, they will also see value in others. Your child will always be sure that you will address their basic needs. Thus, they will see the need to attend to other requests.
Anytime your child is in distress, stress hormones get released in the brain. As a caregiver, when you react with soothing actions, you assist the child in releasing the tension hence reducing the stress hormones. With time, your baby grows brain pathways to a proper reaction to stress. In the future, the child will handle anger and disappointments better.
How do you develop a solid attachment?
It’s not a must that you are perfect for you to establish a secure attachment and bonding with your child. The critical aspect of your care does not depend on the education you give or the bond that you have for your child. Instead, it all depends on the quality of non-verbal cues that occur.
It’s better to develop a solid attachment while your kid is still a toddler. However, you can start making your child perceive that you cherish them and understand them regardless of their age.
Your baby’s brain will mature when he or she enters adulthood— that is in their 20s. The brain undergoes continuous changes throughout life. Even in their adulthood, you can still converse in nonverbal cues with them. Also, non-verbal cues can aid your growth and sustain your relationship with other people.
Obstacles to forming a solid attachment
Hindrances to a solid attachment and bonding occur in early stages of life when they are infants. You may cherish your offspring, yet find it hard to cater to their needs. Since your newborn may not even understand why they are in distress or why they are crying, they look up to you to assist them to feel better. However, if you aren’t able to calm yourself down and handle your daily pressures calmly, will you succeed in soothing the child?
Besides, your older child also depends on you to provide comfort and security. They expect you to initiate connections to attain solid attachment. Nevertheless, if you are ever depressed, frustrated, or preoccupied, it is their intellectual and social development that suffers most. Below are factors that hinder a secure attachment:
How infants affect the creation of a secure bond
Different encounters shape the brain of your newborn. It plays a huge part in your baby’s nervous system development. However, some factors may affect the infant’s willingness to form a solid attachment and bonding with you.
If you delivered through the cesarean section or you had a difficult pregnancy, the nervous system of your infant gets affected, making them unresponsive to your cues.
Infants who remain in the neonatal unit before they are adopted end up feeling insecure and stressed. Thus, once you adopt them, it may take some time before they can respond to your non-verbal communication positively.
Infants who do not stop crying and have their fist tightly clenched and make their body so rigid may not notice your soothing cues.
Luckily, since the brain of the toddler is still so undeveloped, your child can still overcome the challenges they faced during birth. Thus, if you remain consistent, serene, and understanding, within months, your toddler will relax and trust you enough to let the attachment form.
How a senior kid can influence the formation of a solid bond
As your child grows older, their experiences and environment may be an obstacle to the formation of solid attachment. At times the occurrence affecting the feeling of attachment is inevitable. However, the child may be too young to grasp the circumstance and why it’s happening. Thus, they may interpret it as the home is unsafe; no one cares or loves them. It may, therefore, become more challenging to reach out to them. They include:
- Your child may seek attention by showing extreme behaviors such as bullying and throwing tantrums.
- Your child may also have difficulty in the case that they get admitted to the hospital or separated from the parents for a long time.
- When the caregiver is inconsistent with how they meet the needs of the child, the child may get confused and may never know how their needs will be addressed.
- n a scenario such as foster children or when parents pass away, movement from one caregiver to another may affect the child’s development.
- Also, when a child goes through abuse or mistreatment it will affect his ability to form an attachment with any other new caregiver.
How parents can be an obstacle to the formation of solid attachment
As the caregiver, your feelings pay a huge role in determining your attachment with the kid. It shapes the development of pathways in your toddler’s brain. In case you become stressed because of life events, you may not notice when your non-verbal emotional cues. It will also hinder your sensitivity. Hence, you will not give positive feedback to your offspring’s need to copy your emotional cues
Even when you are healthy and responsible, you may still have trouble establishing a solid attachment and bonding. For instance, if your parents did not promote solid attachment development, then you may not be able to know it’s like. But you can always transform for the better! In the same way you can enhance your health and strengthen your muscles with exercise, you can also strive to find better stress management methods and the methods of dealing with strong emotions. That way, you can foster a solid attachment with your child.
Today, technology has prominently interfered with your daily activities. Do you find it hard to compel the urge to text your friends during meal-time? Well, that’s how many cellphones, TV, and laptops have indirectly affected your child’s growth. You often end up giving attention to them instead of your child. The distraction also makes you not to hold eye contact or mirror emotional non-verbal cues with your child.
You don’t have to dedicate 24 hours of attention to the fondness to form. Neither is it a must that you are a perfect parent. You have to allocate quality time to your offspring and try to avoid any d distraction. You should also be sensitive to their needs and be ready to learn and address their non-verbal cues consistently.
Nonverbal communication that encourages solid attachment
It is communication done by the use of facial expressions or even touch. As a caregiver, you should use all these to guarantee your offspring security and comfort. As your child grows and gains his speech, you still use the non-verbal cues to address their emotional needs and promoting a solid attachment and bonding.
You should look into the eyes of your child with affection or even smile with your eyes. It assures your child that they should feel safe and secure. Besides, when depressed or sad, you cannot look into their eyes. When communicating with them or when they are cooing, maintaining eye contact helps them to feel cherished. It also helps maintain the conversation.
You can communicate so much information using your facial expression only. Thus, ensure your facial expression shows the calmness and that you are attentive during your conversation with your child. It will help them feel cherished with you. However, displaying an angry or fearful face will result in the child copying your expression. Thus, they will be stressed and insecure.
Although your child may not understand what you said, they recognize a harsh, busy and understanding tone. Any time you converse with your child, your tone should match what you are conveying.
Did you know that your contact tells your child a lot about your emotional state? Your touch can either be disinterested, sad, tender or attentive. Therefore, be mindful of how you wash or hug your baby. If your child is older, keep reassuring them with a gentle rub on the arm, or a warm hug.
Your posture also conveys a lot to your child. How do you sit or walk? When you converse with your kid while you have crossed your arms or while slouching, it tells them that you are not interested. Thus ensure your posture is relaxed, leaning toward the child and its open. That way, you show your child that they matter most to you.
The pace or timing of your speech reflects your emotions. When you couple these with facial expression, movement and speech intensity, your child can tell the state of your mind. When your speech has an adult pace and is stressed, then you are only stressing your child. To soothe and reassure your baby ensure to slow your pace and use a less forceful tone than usual.
Creating secure attachment
You do not have to stay 24/7 with your child for the attachment to grow. It will do more damage than good to your child. Besides, as a working parent, you probably wouldn’t want to lose your bond with your child for the job. But how do you create a solid attachment with your child?
Be your child’s primary caregiver
During the first two months, you can hand in a baby to anyone, and they will be glad as long as the person is warm and holds them well. However, between two and six months, the child starts to develop a fondness for the person they see attending to their needs most. Also, they seek that the caregiver understands them. You wouldn’t want that person to be the nanny, would you? Then this period is the time to form a solid attachment with your child.
Although traditional gender role obliges childcare to be the mother’s role, in reality, the dad should be just as involved. Besides, a secure attachment is an ongoing attachment to your child. It will help you understand why your child is crying; it also helps the baby to learn to trust you.
Maintain sync with your baby
In the first few months, your baby will eat and sleep at odd hours. For instance, they might sleep every two hours during the day and stay up almost the entire night. You need to adjust to their feeding and sleeping schedules. That way, you will feel less stressed up. Thus there will not be a time when you will release your frustrations on them. After six months, your baby’s circadian rhythm should be fully working hence expect a good night’s sleep and an active day.
Moreover, ensure you enjoy every activity with your baby. For instance, you could make the diaper changing as fun and interacting as possible. You could also tickle the baby. However don’t keep a stunning face, enjoy the joy your child shows when tickled.
Harry Harlow conducted a study to prove the importance of affection for children. The monkey in the survey opted for the soft and more loving surrogate mother over an infectious mother even if she provided food and shelter. In the same way, your baby needs affection and comfort.
Try to understand what your baby needs and respond to it fast. It should also be a consistent habit. Who said it would be easy? Well, before your child learns to point out what he needs, be ready for the struggle. It is an adventurous journey full of frustrations. Putting yourself in the child’s situation will help you find an accurate solution quite first. For instance, you could take your child swimming, but at night they seem not to sleep and wake up early. That way you will tell that there is something about swimming pools that your child hates.
Take an interest in your child’s interests
Have a positive attitude toward your child’s reaction. Children’s games may not be that interesting; however, try to find one or two things you enjoy about them. Show the child you are enjoying; that way, you will make them feel loved.
Besides, it provides a loophole for you to teach your child. For instance, when you are paying an animal puzzle, you could make it more exciting. You could say, “look at this goat piece!” You can tell them to imitate the sound that a goat makes. Moreover, there’s no better way to get attached to your kid than through laughter. Thus use creative ways to make the games you play as enjoyable as possible.
Have you not slept for three consecutive nights? Your left eye may even b twitching from the lack of sleep you have. However, your child lets out another shrill demanding another meal after throwing all that you served them on the floor. In such a situation, it can feel impossible to keep calm and smile.
However, this is where the saying “fake it till you make it” applies. Take deep breaths, relax, and take care of your baby’s needs. Keep calm and be happy while doing it. That way, your baby learns that they can always trust that you will be there for them. Besides, faking the positivity will make you happy.
Stimulate varied senses
Use games to stimulate brain development using your games. Use ABC to help you in ensuring you are stimulating all critical systems. You can encourage affection by using giggle-inducing games such as producing silly sounds.
You can stimulate the behavior with physical games like running after each other, splashing pool, or bathtub water. Lastly, you must encourage the development of your child’s cognition by engaging in thinking activities. Here, you could sing and read books for your baby
However, when the baby shows disinterest try not to force them. If the child doesn’t want to play with water, you could sing or read a story to them. I will make the baby feel understood
When your baby cries, screams, or giggles, they are trying to let you know about their feelings. How would you feel if someone was ignoring you? You create feelings of being unloved and insecurity when you downplay their emotional communication. Instead, let the baby know you understand them. For instance, when your child spills food, wait until they react. If they are remorse, then hug them and help them feel less upset.
If your child shows fear of interacting with friends in a play park, let them know where you’ll be seated watching them. That way they will feel more secure.
Developing solid attachment with Daddy
Unfortunately, to the male’s perspective, dads do not have the privilege of carrying the child to full term or breastfeeding. Even though they yearn for a strong attachment with the child, their bonding will take place at a different timetable.
Besides, their attachment with the child doesn’t have to be precise as the parent. The dad shares different activities with the infant, which are also vital in the child’s development. The parents could support each other, even with this difference. The dad could benefit from the encouragement that he’s on the right track.
Some activities a father could engage in to promote bonding include:
- Taking part in the labor and delivery of your wife.
- Attending to the child’s needs by feeding or diaper change
- Reading stories or singing for the child also grows the bond between them.
- You could also wash the child
- You should mimic the child’s movements and coos. The baby uses this when trying to communicate. Thus, when the child feels understood, they will draw you closer by communicating with you often.
- Letting the child learn your varying face textures
Parenting and formation of attachment will be more comfortable when you have a reliable support system. Besides, the first few days will be so stressful and overwhelming. At such a point, when you have someone to reassure you then you are on the right track is all you crave for. Developing a bond with your newborn will be more comfortable when you are not tired from house chores. A supportive partner or family will help. You could ask for family support during the first few days when you bring the child home.
Secure Attachment and Bonding
Secure attachment is vital for a child’s development. Are you worried that you did not establish an attachment with your child early enough? Well, don’t stress at it anymore; it is a lifelong process. Thus you can have your second chance even while the child is in later childhood stage. Besides, if you had a good shot when your child was an infant, remember it doesn’t stop just because he’s all grown. Keep up with making the child feel secure and loved. That way, he will be able to confidently face life and all the negative emotions that they face.
Has this guide shined a light in your life or answered any questions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
For additional Smart Money Mom tips, check out these articles: Best Ways to Lose Weight as a Stay at Home Mom, Quick and Easy Skin Care Routine for Every Woman, or even Learn How to Put an End to Child’s Pestering.
Be sure to join us on Facebook and share similar stories around the world from mothers also going through similar struggles as you. We’ll see you there!