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How Family Therapy Can Help You Build a Healthy Attachment with Your Child

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The relationship you develop with your child is a crucial predictor of his successful development. All children form attachments with their caregivers in the first few years of life, and this attachment is representative of how the child feels about her caregivers. According to North Dakota State University, “the way in which a parent responds to and interacts with a young child is the key factor in how an attachment develops.” This means how you react to your child’s behavior has a long-term impact on your relationship and his ability to develop healthy coping habits.
 
The two main types of attachment are known as secure and insecure. Secure attachment represents a healthy relationship between yourself and your child and is evident in children who:
  • actively engage in their environment
  • respond positively to parental and peer interactions
  • are trusting of their caregivers
Insecure attachment signifies a strained relationship between a child and her caregiver. This style of attachment can result from inconsistent parental responses or parents who are not attuned to their child’s needs. Signs of an insecure attachment include:
  • Becoming unnecessarily frightened when away from caregivers
  • Responding with fear to caregiver interactions
  • Avoiding caregivers
  • Reluctance to engage with others or their environment
Many parents, especially those raising their first child, are not aware that their manner of response to their child’s behavior can influence thechild’s sense of security and ability to succeed socially later in life. There are, in fact, numerous variables that predict the type of attachment achild will develop with their caregivers and it is difficult to identify and address these variables alone. Family therapy can help by pinpointing the interactions that influence attachment and establishing a plan to teach parents how to effectively respond to a child’s needs.
Jodi Mitchell is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Fresno, California. She has a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology and a background in Recreation Therapy. Visit her website at www.jodimitchellmft.com.
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