Parent-Child Attachment Difficulties
Parent-child attachment difficulties can have many effects, both in and out of the home environment. The main predictor of how well your child will do in school and in life is the strength of the relationship he or she has with you, the parent or primary caretaker. The attachment bond between parent and child is a key factor in the way your infant’s brain organises itself and influences your child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. While attachment occurs naturally as you, the parent, care for your baby’s needs, the quality of the attachment bond varies.
A secure attachment ensures that your child will feel secure, soothed and safe. Your child’s developing brain organises itself to provide your child with the best foundation for life: a feeling of safety that results in eagerness to learn, healthy self-awareness, trust, and empathy.
An insecure attachment fails to meet your child’s need for security, understanding, and calm, preventing the child’s developing brain from organising itself in the best ways. This can inhibit emotional, mental, and even physical development, leading to difficulties in learning and forming relationships in later life.
There are many factors that influence parent-child attachment. These can include:
- Parent mental illness
- Child temperament
- Parental stress
- Parent’s emotional availability to a child
- Parent’s own experiences of being parented
- Social stressors
Understanding the impact of our early experiences and how we adapted allows us to better understand ourselves as people and as parents. The influence of our early attachments on how we learned to relate should not be underestimated; it can offer us valuable insight into how we may behave as a parent. Through understanding their own beliefs about parenting, parents can learn ways to build and maintain a strong secure attachment with their child through modelling of appropriate emotion regulation strategies and providing a secure and safe base for their child to explore the world.
You don’t have to be a perfect parent to build a secure attachment bond with your infant—no one is able to be fully present and attentive to a child 24 hours a day. Because the brain is capable of changing, repair is always possible and may even strengthen the secure attachment bond. At times, parents may require extra support if they notice there has been a disruption in the parent-child relationship. Our team of psychologists have vast experience working from an attachment-based parenting framework and are able to offer intervention to help strengthen the attachment bond.
Intervention may include assistance in areas such as:
- Non-verbal cues and how to respond to your child
- Strategies to ‘connect’ emotionally with your child
- The importance of physical touch to convey unspoken messages
- exploring parent’s own early experiences that may be impacting on the parent-child relationship