We have been discussing how Reactive Attachment Disorder impacts children and adults. Since this syndrome originates with the dynamics between the parent or caregiver and if or how the child attached (bonded) to that adult, then how does a healthy attachment develop?
How does a parent create a healthy bond with his 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.
It is all about relationship
A child’s attachment style generally develops based on the child’s perception or understanding of the caregiver’s reliability to provide comfort, support and security. Behaviors that promote attachment and provide the opportunity for meaningful interaction include:
- Looking at each other
- Vocalizing to each other
- Physical touch and hugging
- Exploring the surroundings
- Feeding interactions
As you can see, these behaviors are all about the relationship the parent has with the child, one that requires a great deal of intentionality—spending time together, touching and interacting.
Be intentional about the relationship with your child
So often in our society, with both parents working and so much to do, it is easy for parents to provide the basic care for their child and not spend quality time playing with their infant. Yet, play is one of the most important things parents can do to help their child become emotionally and relationally healthy. The interaction also prevents the RAD symptoms that we have aleady discussed in some of my other posts.
It is vital, even from the early days of infancy, for time and touch to be a part of any parent-child relationship. This is how we give our children the opportunity to develop in healthy ways and have a meaningful and fulfiling life.
Besides, what more fun can parents have than to spend time with their infant and enjoy unabashed enthusiasm for life. Parents just shouldn’t miss the wonderful expressions of joy in their child’s faces as they give their child what is truly needed, a healthy attachment to his or her favorite people in the world!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Information taken from Deepening Trauma Awareness, Diane Wagenhals, 2008. All rights reserved. Licensed materials.