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THE ATTACHMENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILDREN AND THEIR CAREGIVERS

Why do babies cry when their mother leaves the room? Why do young children seek out a parent for a hug when they get hurt? Why do infants want so insistently to be fed on a regular schedule? These and other questions relate to the key interactions that build a relationship between adults and young children – the attachment relationship.

Attachment is the word used to refer to the relationship developed between a baby and a parent or primary caregiver during the first two to three years of life. How this relationship forms depends on how a parent responds to a child’s needs for care, comfort and security. It develops over time and goes through a variety of phases.

Babies will develop this relationship with the parent(s) or person who provides the most direct, responsive care to their needs. This type of attachment with one to two significant adults is the primary attachment relationship. Then children will form supporting relationships with other caring adults, which fall into the category of secondary attachment relationships. Ideally, a child will be able to form one to two strong and positive attachment relationships with parents, and then have a supportive web of secondary attachments with siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, close friends, caregivers, etc. This is the most positive environment for a young child.

Several key factors can affect the quality of a child’s attachment. These can include the child’s temperament (more active and outgoing, etc.), the context of the situation (stranger present, familiar room, etc.), early history (traumatic experience, etc.) and other things. But the way in which a parent responds to and interacts with a young child is the key factor in how an attachment develops. A child’s attachment style generally develops based on the fact that the child knows that the caregiver will be reliable in providing comfort, support and security.

Social workers in the employment of Free State Care in Action are trained to assess the attachment relationships of a child. If necessary they will provide Attachment Therapy in order to repair disrupted attachments a child may have. Support and counseling are also provided to parents and caregivers of children with disrupted attachments. For more information contact Free State Care in Action at 051-4446143