Co-authored by Nadia Delshad, PsyD and Shara Weiss of Mommy Perks
Secure Attachment presents a healthy bond between parent and child. This healthy bond will affect the child in future relationships: at school, in the home, with peers, and even in the workforce. Below are ten tips for cultivating a secure bond with your toddler or young child. You are not limited to these ten ideas; feel free to create your own, based on your family dynamic.
Eye contact | At any age, children learn a sense of security through direct eye contact. Parents and caregivers can get on their knees, if needed, in order to look directly at the child. Show your child that you care, that she/he has your full attention, and that you are directly invested in her/his child’s life.
[Related reading: 15 Parenting Musts, Dr. Sally Goldberg]
Listening ears | Have you ever attempted to have a conversation with someone only to hear, “What?” or “Hold on” or “Huh? Say that again. I was busy doing something else.” It can be very frustrating to feel ignored, right? Children also get frustrated by this. They want to know that their grown-ups are paying attention and listening to the poem, song, story, or silly joke.
Say good-bye and hello | When leaving or coming back, be sure to say good-bye and hello to your child. This is a simple way to instill peace and calmness in a child’s life. “When leaving, mom and dad say good-bye because they will miss me. When coming home, they greet me because they are happy to see me again!” This helps to generate a sense of belonging. Fun song to teach your kids (replace ‘mommy’ with ‘daddy’ or ‘grandma’, etc, if needed): Hap Palmer My Mommy Comes Back
Bedtime routines | At this age, children continue to love and need bedtime routines: baths, story time, a song or prayer – whatever your family dynamic includes. If you have more than one child consider taking turns with the reading. That way, each child gets to choose their book. If they want to snuggle on the bed and read with everyone, that is also a wonderful option. Give your child lots of choices at this age. Choices are important, as they grow and mature.
Morning rituals | When your child awakes say, “Good morning!” Give your child a hug and say something like: “How did you sleep?” or “Did you have any dreams?” or “Did you wake up hungry?” You don’t need to say much in the morning – asking one simple question and offering a hug will be sufficient to create a sense of security in this little person’s life.
Put down the electronics | Be sure to set aside time every day, or evening, to spend with your child(ren). You could do a puzzle together, sing a song, read a book, go for a walk, bake or cook, color, play with Legos, play the piano, etc. Allow your child to choose what activity you do that uses all ten fingers (good for fine motor development). Studies are now showing that some children have difficulty using their fingers because of electronic over-use. Choose at least one activity every day that involves all ten fingers. Helpful article: Why handheld devices should be banned for children under the age of 12
Weekend routines | Create weekend routines that include family dinners or outings, church or synagogue, family walks, or weekend meals at a family-favorite restaurant. Children thrive when routines are set. In fact, if you forget to follow through, they will happily remind you. “Mom and Dad! You forgot that we do family game night every Saturday night. Come on – it’s time!”
Music | Music is wonderful for brain development; especially Classical music. Play music in your home, car, on road trips, and any other convenient place and time. It’s also a great idea to play music on the way to school (unless this is a prime moment to talk to your child one-on-one about their school life, homework, friends, or potential bullying they might be experiencing).
Homework | Help your child with any homework they might have. Sit down together at a regular spot. This can be a bedroom desk, the living room table, or any other location that works for your home set-up. Do your best to remain calm and collected, while helping. Model positive homework habits by encouraging your child to complete assignments on time, with their best handwriting.
Charitable endeavors | Whether you help at church or synagogue, in the local school, or in your own apartment complex, choose to do community service as a family. You can serve at a homeless shelter together, collect water in the summer time (for people living on the streets in the heat), pass out toothbrushes downtown, give out socks in the winter, volunteer at school fundraisers, or assist with any other event that includes helping those in need.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. Feel free to create your own, of course, as you see fit. By being present in your child’s life, you’ll leave a lasting mark of security that will carry over into every relationship that follows.
View previous articles, from this series, here:
About Nadia Delshad, PsyD: I am passionate about helping individuals, couples and families identify and achieve their therapy goals by building on their individual strengths. I have 20+ years of experience, both academically and in practice, in child psychology, clinical psychology and clinical hypnosis. I have helped clients across the lifespan manage a number of concerns including transitions, relationship concerns, anxiety, depression and trauma. I specialize in couple’s therapy and use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) with couples and families. I am actively involved in advanced training with The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT) and offer “Hold Me Tight®” relationship enhancement groups throughout the year. I believe in an integrated approach utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relational Therapies, Clinical Hypnosis and Mindfulness based therapies to encourage clients of all ages to make lasting, positive changes.