What is Secure Attachment? Why is it Important?

Secure attachment is the foundation of social relationships and plays a key role in future relationships. Secure attachment in infants is very important for establishing healthy relationships in childhood and adulthood. In this article, we have explained what is a secure attachment based on the emotional bond between the mother and the baby, what happens in the absence of it, and what you need to know.

What is secure attachment?

The emotional bond created by the nonverbal communication between the baby and the primary caregiver is what we call attachment. The concept of attachment was first used by John Bowlby in 1958, and attachment styles were defined by Mary Ainsworth. Both of these scientists are pioneers in the field of children and secure attachment.

Although it is known that babies develop attachments to fathers, grandparents, grandmothers and even siblings, the basic bonding takes place between mother and baby.

When does secure attachment begin in infants?

According to Bowlby’s attachment theory, babies are born with a biological predisposition to develop attachment relationships. Behaviors such as searching for the breast, catching the breast, turning the head, sucking, turning to the mother, and preparing by sensing the breastfeeding hours are among the attachment precursors of the 0-2 month old baby.

The social reactions of the 2-6 month old baby are starting to increase. She begins to make prolonged eye contact, make noises, and laugh at her caregiver. This period is called the stage of attachment formation in the baby. Even though the baby has not yet chosen the figure to attach to, he is able to recognize you and his father and react to you.

With the seventh month, babies choose the person to be attached to, this attachment is 7-24. clears up over the months. The baby directs his attention to the so-called “primary caregiver”, who takes care of all his needs.

How is a secure attachment between mother and baby?

You don’t have to talk to communicate with your baby. You can also communicate nonverbally through sensory signals transmitted through body language, touch, or facial expression. This nonverbal communication is an effective method for establishing a secure bond even when the baby starts talking. So, what should you do to have a secure attachment with your baby, now let’s go into some details.

1. Tone of voice

We know it’s too young to understand you yet. But he doesn’t need to understand what you’re saying! A loving, caring and lively tone is enough for your baby to understand his feelings. For this reason, take care to have lots of interest and affectionate conversations with your baby.

2. Facial expression

They are face reading experts. Whether you are angry, sad or loving, your baby can understand all these positive and negative emotions. Therefore, using a calm and attentive expression while communicating with your baby will make him/her feel safe.

3. Eye contact

Communication with the eyes is everything! Long-term loving eye contact with your baby is a great way to make her feel safe and happy.

4. Touch

A strong touch is the basis of a secure attachment with the baby. How you touch your baby is very important for you to convey your feelings to him correctly. A warm hug, the contact you make with your body while you take a bath, and a light touch to your face, along with a smile, are the most effective ways to convey your love to your baby.

5. Talking Everything

It’s best to talk to your baby in any situation. “He doesn’t understand me anyway.” When you go to work or go out, you should not neglect to talk to him. He is aware of your absence, so in such situations you should prepare him for separation. “I’m going now, but I’m coming,” he said in a calm, reliable and loving tone. Leaving your side by making sentences like these will make your baby feel safe.

There may be some concerns about working mothers and secure attachment. If you establish a healthy communication with your baby, you do not need to experience such fears. Whenever you stop communicating with your baby, he suddenly disappears when you go somewhere, or you run away when you go to work so that he doesn’t cry, then you can create a feeling of insecurity in your baby and cause separation anxiety .

6. Show that you understand

Your baby may not always be cheerful. Some days he may smile, another day he may cry a lot. No matter what, always try to understand your baby’s feelings.

7. Playing games

Playing games is one of the ways to securely attach children. Secure attachment games such as “Ce-ee”, “Squirt Boatman” and hide-and-seek are very effective in reinforcing the bond between you and your baby. Actions such as clapping your baby’s hands, making funny noises in his belly, and smiling at his face both entertain the baby and help him gain a sense of confidence.

Characteristics of the securely attached child

There are many signs that show secure attachment is achieved in babies. When we examine the behaviors of securely attached infants, we see that they have no difficulty in expressing their feelings. These children, who exhibit more empathetic and mature behaviors in the later stages of their lives, are in strong communication with their environment. Let’s take a closer look at these features:

  • They do not experience separation anxiety, they can be separated from their parents more easily.
  • They do not show behaviors such as rejecting their parents returning home. They exhibit extremely positive emotions.
  • They are less aggressive than children with ambivalent and insecure attachment styles.
  • They are open to change, they learn more quickly.
  • They dream richer.
  • One of the characteristics of securely attached babies is that they are more social and adaptable during childhood. These are children with high self-confidence.

What is insecure attachment?

Attachment problems can be seen in children who had to be separated from their parents frequently during infancy. The baby who is separated from his mother is also psychologically stimulated when he is reunited with his mother. This indicates that the baby has an internal psychological response to separation from its mother.

Insecure attachment in babies can slow down emotional and mental development and lead to difficulties in learning. An insecurely attached baby may have difficulty in establishing relationships with other people later in life.

  • Children who had to be separated from their parents frequently (the mother had to stay in the hospital for a long time),
  • Exposing the child to physical/sexual abuse,
  • Abandonment of the child by the mother or father,
  • Situations such as the inability of parents to give their babies the necessary emotional support due to their past experiences or personalities can cause attachment problems.

How to solve the secure connection problem?

Infant-parent psychotherapy is recommended for attachment problems, especially in children under the age of 3. In this method, the specialist takes the baby and parents to the session together.

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