Podcast #5: 

This is my absolute favorite topic – because it can change your family!

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Here’s our printable 1-page  Nurture Notes PDF:  Podcast #5 – Nurture Notes – Dr. Barbara Sorrels

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Krista and Dr. Barbara


New book for parents!

Nurturing Healthy Attachment: Building Parent-Child Connections to Last a Lifetime

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What is attachment?

The truth is that all parents are involved in establishing an attachment with their children. For example we can form a healthy attachment with our kids even if we don’t wear our babies.  

Attachment in the context of an adult and child relationship is a strong and enduring bond between a child and an adult who assumes responsibility for the well being of that child.  It is a relationship where a more mature other assumes responsibility for meeting the needs of the child in a warm, responsive and consistent manner.  It is a relationship where the child feels a sense of both physical and emotional safety in the presence of the adult, and has the confidence that that person will meet their needs in a kind and loving manner.

Why is a secure attachment relationship so important?

It’s in our very DNA. We are born looking for attachment.

  1.   Advances in neuroscience have discovered that the physical growth and development of the human brain is dependent upon the quality of the relationships and life experiences that we have in the early years of life.  
  • The actual number of dendrites or “connectors” in our brain is directly related to the quality of care that a child receives.  
  • In every interaction that we have with our child connections are being made in our child’s brain.
  • Parents are brain architects
  • The structure of a well-nurtured child’s brain is more complex than a child who is seriously neglected

 

  1.  Attachment relationships are the foundation of mental health.  
  • Children who enjoy a healthy attachment relationship with their parents are less likely to develop mental health issues later in life.  
  • Children with a healthy attachment to at least one consistently available, predictable, and warmly responsive caregiver are more likely to do well in school, make friends easily and respond to instruction and correction in positive ways.

Of concern to every parent is the behavior of their children.  What is a parents greatest tool in guiding the behavior of their children?

 

  1.  My power to parent is found in the strength of attachment.
  • Of concern to every parent is the behavior of their children.  
  • A parent’s ability to influence the behavior, attitudes and values of their child is directly related to the strength of the emotional bond.  The more connected I am to my child at an emotional level, the greater the likelihood that they will listen to me, respect me and want to follow my lead.  
  • When we have no relationship with our children, parents are left with resorting to power and control, reward punishment, and threat and fear to attempt to get their child to comply.  
  • I get phone calls from parents when they hit a wall and reach a crisis point with their child.  The story is usually pretty familiar.  Their child has become non-compliant and disrespectful.   Parents are usually surprised when the first thing I say is, “Tell me about the relationship that you have with your child.  How connected are you?  What do you enjoy doing together? What makes them laugh?  What makes them afraid? When was the last time you enjoyed doing something together?”  

    

  • I was talking with a lovely couple about their 17-year-old daughter one evening.  She was staying out past curfew—even sneaking out a few times.  Her language was changing, her manner of dress was different and she was less invested in school.   I know what they were wanting from me—they wanted me to give them the magic formula for fixing their kid and changing her behavior.  Instead I directed them to evaluate where they were at the moment in their relationship with their daughter and how strongly connected they felt with her.  Both parents got very quiet for a few moments but then quietly began to recount the subtle pulling away from their daughter over the last year.  As her behavior became less compliant and harder to manage they realized the small ways that they began to distance themselves.  Dad was no longer stopping by her room at night chat about the day.  Mom realized it had been months since they had breakfast together at Starbucks—something that they had enjoyed through the years.  It had been a long time since they had gone shopping together.  They came to the realization that they had pulled away as much as she had.   
  • It’s kind of like putting money in the bank.  When we spend meaningful time with our children connecting on an emotional level we put deposits in our child’s emotional bank account.  When we meet the needs of our children with love and respect, we earn the right to speak truth into their lives have influence.  

What benefit does having a healthy attachment provide to children and adults?

Children who enjoy a healthy attachment with at least one parent have a “secure base” from which to venture out into the world.  

  • The relationship acts as a fueling station so to speak, giving a child the needed emotional resources to approach the world with optimism and confidence.
  • They aren’t afraid to try new things and test their limits.  They know that when they need reassurance, encouragement and support, they can approach their attachment figure for the refueling that they need.  When their “tank” is filled they are able to go back out to explore and learn.
  • Mental health experts indicate that the loss of a secure base is perhaps the most devastating thing that can happen to a child.  When children sense danger, threat, uncertainty and fear their biological instinct is to turn to their attachment figures for safety and comfort.  They are like a heat seeking missile looking for a safe haven.  But when the people who are their secure base are not there it is psychological poison.
  • Securely attached children have an enormous advantage when they enter formal schooling.  They are able to invest their energies in learning rather than merely coping.  They have an “I can do it” approach to classroom life that allows them to be fully invested in learning.  

How does attachment give us a healthy view of ourselves?

It is in the attachment relationship that we develop what we call “self awareness.”  We will then approach life and all other relationships accordingly.  

  • We all at some level feel about ourselves how our earliest caregivers felt about us.  If we were loved and cherished by our parents, we come to view ourselves of loveable and worthy of care.  If our earliest caregivers were indifferent to our needs we come to see ourselves as somehow flawed and unlovable.  
  • How we love ourselves and love others, or not, is profoundly influenced by how we were loved as a child.   

What happens when children don’t form secure attachments?

 

Recap:

Attachment is: a strong and enduring bond between a child and an adult who assumes responsibility for the well being of that child.  

It’s the foundation of mental health and a pattern for relationships in the future.

Power to parent is in the strength of the attachment.

We all, at some level, feel about ourselves how our earliest caregivers felt about us.

Take some time to reflect on your own childhood and whether or not a secure attachment was established.


Order my new book, Nurturing Healthy Attachment!

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