Creative Child

Building Great Relationships in Infancy and Early Childhood

(Strong Attachment Series Part One)
by Rebecca Eanes

The key to parenting children has never been in discipline techniques or clever consequences but in having a connected relationship. Great parent-child relationships make children happier, healthier, and easier to parent. Research has shown that a strong, secure attachment is the best foundation for healthy development, so it’s important to know how to develop such an attachment bond and what to avoid that may harm the relationship. We know that our earliest relationships actually build the brain structures we use for relating to others our whole lives. Being securely attached isn’t just important for infants and young children. Through adolescence and into adulthood, it is important to have a healthy, connected relationship. Connection is vital because the human brain is literally wired to connect, and when that connection isn’t there, we suffer emotionally, and that basic need for connection is never outgrown.

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Because a strong attachment is so important throughout childhood, this is the first post in a three-part series of building great relationships with our kids. This post will concentrate on children from birth to age 6.

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Infancy

Building a great relationship with your infant is all about meeting your baby’s physical and emotional needs and fostering trust. Adapted from my book Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide

Here are some tips for building trust and connection with your infant:

  • Get to know your infant’s cues and respond to them promptly. Babies communicate with you through sounds, gestures, and facial expressions. Read 11 Important Baby Cues.
  • Give plenty of hugs, kisses, snuggles, and skin-to-skin contact. Some studies have shown that affection facilitates brain development. Skin-to-skin contact calms babies, helps them sleep better, and lowers stress levels for the parent, too!
  • Smile, talk, and interact frequently with your baby, but also be aware of your baby’s cues for downtime. A baby who is turning away from you or arching her back may be saying “enough!” This is why learning your baby’s cues is so important.
  • Feed her at the first hunger cues, before she begins to cry for food if possible. As you feed her, talk softly and make eye contact.
  • Respond promptly to cries. “Research shows that babies whose needs are met quickly as infants actually become more secure and confident and less whiny as children.” You cannot spoil a baby.

 

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