6 May 2021

Building a secure attachment relationship with your child

From Nine To Noon, 11:23 am on 6 May 2021

Children need emotional security before they can learn and a secure relationship with a reliable primary caregiver is the foundation of this, says parenting coach Joseph Driessen.

Sometimes stress and overwhelm can make parents less reliable than their child needs them to be and the child can lose faith that they are loved.

father and young daughter

father and young daughter Photo: Caroline Hernandez / Unsplash

Behaviour such as hyperactivity and shutting down is often rooted in a lack of emotional security, Driessen tells Kathryn Ryan.

Clinginess is another common sign that a need is not being met.

"Many people think we should harden the child up - away from the clinging. But I think you should look at that and say what's the cause of this? "

Too often parents and teachers focus on the child's behaviour as the thing to fix rather than going underneath to the heart and asking 'What is missing and how can we give that? Driessen says.

"The cause [of the behaviour] is lack of [secure] relationship - the outcome is lack of learning."

Joseph's advice to parents is: "Check your addiction to your phone and check how hard you're working towards your child's emotional security".

"How often do you say to your child 'I'll deal with it later'? It's hard work to be a parent and to be available when your child is anxious. Most parents will do a good job but some parents might think 'Maybe I should think about this and change my priorities'.

Thankfully, a child who lacks secure attachment for whatever reason can be helped by a renewed or repaired primary attachment relationship with an adult, Driessen says.

"The method is very simple. There's one person who takes care of the child or makes the child feel 'you're special to me and I care about you' even though I'm just your teacher or your grandma'... let's not worry about your bad behaviour. Let's focus on me being here for you'.

"The key is that the child needs for their development someone to love them and feel special to."


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