If your're in a hurry…According to attachment theory, from birth, your baby has a natural and vital need to create strong bonds with one person (or even two). The better these bonds are, the more your child's emotional and affective security is fulfilled!
- your child has confidence in you and therefore in himself;
- your child manages his emotions and stress with more ease;
- your child gains in autonomy;
- your child has every chance of becoming a happy and fulfilled adult!
And now, the question that is burning in your mind... But how to create these bonds that are so important for your child? Don't panic! If you have clicked on this article, you are certainly already doing the right thing ;) Just in case, here's a quick summary
- listen to your child's needs and take care of your child regularly
- practice breastfeeding, if possible;
- practice babywearing (all our babywearing methods are here!)
- welcome his emotions in a benevolent way
- practice active listening.
Are you interested in this topic? Read our full article below!
You've probably already heard of the attachment theory. But do you really know where this concept comes from? Although the theory originated in the late 1960s, it's only in the last 20 years that early childhood specialists have really taken an interest in it. And yet, knowing what is at stake in this theory can offer a new look at parenthood and the first years of our babies' lives.
Where does this theory come from? What does it consist of? And how can it influence our behaviors and reactions as parents, as well as our education methods? Let's take stock!
What are the origins of this famous attachment theory?
The theory of attachment was born from the work of the British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, John Bowlby. From the beginning of his career, he was interested in the consequences resulting from the early separation of a child from its parents.
Until the end of his life, he made known his criticisms of certain theories put forward at the time. He felt that the studies did not take enough account of the relationship between the child and his environment.
Following this observation, in 1958 he wrote the article "The nature of the child's tie to his mother". For the first time, the term "attachment" was used. But it was in 1969 that he pushed his analysis further by publishing the work "Attachment", the first volume of the trilogy "Loss and Attachment".
Note: Nowadays, this work is still considered a reference in psychology and parent-child relationships!
Afraid of the baby blues? Do you know the essential attachment theory?
This theory states that all babies have an innate and vital need to build a strong bond with a specific person. From an evolutionary perspective, Bowlby insists that nurturing a strong emotional bond with one or more "attachment figures" is as essential to the survival of the species as eating, drinking and sleeping.
The stronger and better the bond created with the attachment figure, the more secure your baby will feel if he/she encounters a stressful or distressing situation.
Fear, pain and fatigue are all factors that activate your baby's need to get closer to his attachment figure in order to soothe himself. Once this stressful period is over, your child will quietly resume his or her activities in complete autonomy.
What are the 5 main behaviors that babies can easily spot, a sign of their need for attachment?
To create this bond of attachment, a baby has 5 innate skills such as:
- cuddling and/or
In the early weeks, these calls are not directed to anyone in particular. But after a few months, your baby's primary attachment figure will be the one best able to soothe your baby's cries and reassure him.
If you are designated as the primary attachment figure, you have a special relationship with your baby. You may even have noticed it already? Your baby talks, babbles and smiles more easily with you than with other adults?
Then congratulations! Your baby trusts you and sees you as his number one source of comfort and emotional security!
Who becomes the attachment figure that is so important to your baby?
|The person who becomes the main attachment figure is the one who takes care of the child emotionally and physically, the one who stimulates him, the one who is regularly present at his side.|
This person is referred to by Bowlby as the caregiver. In his 1969 work, Bowlby states that the toddler is able to create different levels of attachment. Thus, the child has a primary attachment figure and one or more secondary figures. This hierarchy depends on the quality of the care given, as well as its regularity.
Most often, the primary attachment figure is the mother, but of course this depends on your family nucleus and your organization.
How can knowing about attachment theory benefit your child?
Let's leave the theory aside and focus on day-to-day practice! In concrete terms, how does providing a secure emotional and affective framework benefit your baby's development? How does a strong attachment contribute to your child's motor and cognitive development?
Build your baby's sense of security
Your baby's strong attachment to you provides a reassuring environment and a sense of security. This feeling of security is essential for your baby to develop in the best conditions.
In concrete terms, your child will be able to move away from you little by little to explore his environment because he knows that, if necessary, you will be there for him.
Help your baby (and yourself) cope with the dreaded separation anxiety
The period between 6 and 9 months of age is marked by major changes that are more or less easy for a toddler to handle. On one hand, his motor skills are in full development and, on the other hand, separation anxiety and fear of the unknown are on the rise.
However, thanks to the strong bond that has been created between you two since birth, your baby has all the keys to face these first challenges of life.
|For example, the moment, so dreaded by parents, of the arrival at the nursery is much easier for a baby whose affective and emotional security has been created and reinforced over the months. Your departure is less disturbing for your baby because he trusts you and knows that you will come back very quickly.|
Encourage your baby's autonomy and reinforce his self-confidence
The attachment figure is the foundation that allows the child to explore the world and his environment in a safe way.
Thanks to these bonds of attachment, your child gains in autonomy while knowing that in case of need, he will be able to come back to you. Hence the importance of the quality of his attachment bonds. The better they are, the more self-confident and independent your child will be.
|You have certainly already heard from some people that your child is too dependent on you and that he will never be able to detach himself from you. However, thanks to the numerous studies on the subject (Bowlby 1969/1982; Ainsworth 1972; Guedeney 2017), we now know that once his needs for security and closeness are met, your child can move towards autonomy with confidence.|
As your child grows, the need for physical proximity gives way to the need for accessibility. By the age of 3, your child will no longer need to be physically close to you as much as he did before that age. Instead, he needs to know that you are accessible and available if he needs it. So don't worry (and your friends and family), just because he's following you around today doesn't mean it's going to last for the rest of his life!
Help your baby manage stress and emotions
Creating and reinforcing bonding with your baby is essential for his development and well-being. Thanks to the strong and secure attachment bonds created during the first years, your child will be able to better manage his stress and emotions. He will be able to face difficulties more easily. In short, he will have every chance of becoming a fulfilled adult!
Discover how to promote bonding in everyday life
In order to become independent, your child needs to feel protected and comforted. On a daily basis, there are several actions and reactions that help meet his needs. Here are some of them:
- listening to your baby's needs (changing, feeding, cuddling, etc.);
- be regular in the care of your baby (every day, with the same person or persons);
- practice breastfeeding;
- practice babywearing;
- welcome your emotions in a benevolent way;
- practice active listening.
Becoming a parent is not easy every day. Trying, trying again, groping, looking for solutions, understanding your baby's cries, are all behaviors that mark the life of a parent.
Even if in the first few weeks, you don't always know what your child's cries are and you take a long time to understand what he needs, it doesn't matter! Don't feel guilty! Bonding with your baby is a construction over the months. We can all make mistakes and correct ourselves.
The main thing is that your presence, comfort and care are constant and regular.
4 reasons to know the attachment theory
If there is one thing to remember from this article, it's that knowing the attachment theory and applying its principles to your child's daily life will provide him with all the resources necessary for his growth and development. In short, by putting the foundations of this theory into practice you:
- develop your baby's sense of security;
- encourage your baby's autonomy and self-confidence;
- help your baby cope with separation anxiety;
- help your baby deal with stress and emotions.
So, it's up to you ;)