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How Babies, Children and Parents Bond.


A baby learns to trust the caregiver, as each time baby has a need, Mum, Dad or Carer responds and baby learns that this person is dependable. This is the beginning of a Secure Attachment developing. Attachment Styles can be Secure or Insecure. Positive, or Secure attachments are vitally important to the development of children. Parents who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs allow the child to develop a sense of security.


Exploring and finding out about the world.

During toddler years a child will learn to explore the world and in doing so will meet with many challenges. When this happens, the child will naturally return to the caregiver for support and comfort or to have their needs met. Exploring in this way and building positive attachments is how the pathways in the brain develop. It enables a child to go on to build good relationships, trust, empathy and resilience. This Secure Bond and ‘good enough’ parenting, promotes a positive impact on the child’s development. The pathways in the brain go on to be their behaviour patterns in later life.


Attachment patterns established early in life can lead to a number of outcomes. When children develop secure attachments, as they grow older, they tend to develop stronger self-esteem and better resilience. They tend to be more confident, independent, perform better in school, have successful social relationships and experience less depression and anxiety.Secure attachments are made when the Carer responds to thechild’s needs as in the positive scenario below. When the childs needs are met all is well until the child has a new or different need.

But: What happens if, for whatever reason a parent is not responsive to the baby or child’s needs? Maybe they are not able to parent, through illness, alcoholism, drug use mental or emotional issues. The circle in the negative scenario is never ending. The need is not met, so the baby still has a need. It is a vicious circle.

Trust is not built in the second scenario. When children are not able to form secure attachments early in life this can have a negative impact on them in later childhood and throughout the rest of their lives.

Positive, or Secure attachments are vitally important to the development of children and shape their lives for the future. The child is not able to be reassured when something frightening happens to them and as a result, they can’t build trust or confidence. So, this relationship or attachment is insecure.


Without secure attachments children are not able to develop a good framework for relationships. This affects their confidence, understanding and learning potential. It can also affect their ability to build coping strategies and resilience. This means they may not be able to make sense of situations, feelings and emotions. Neither can they find ways of dealing with them, which can lead to feeling anxiousness or lack of trust in all relationships.


How Care givers can help.

The role of the parent or carer is to try to help build the secure base. If this secure base is missing for the child, very little will be achieved. A secure base can be likened to the foundations for a building. Without secure foundations a building would collapse. A carer can help build this base for a child through nurture and therapeutic parenting. By filling in the gaps of lost learning and development and through the provision of a safe, secure and loving environment, a child’s needs can be met consistently. This then in turn will promote a positive, secure attachment. Foster carers and adoptive parents need to do this for children who have built insecure attachments, or no attachments at all. Sometimes Grandparents or others may need to do this for children whose parents may have problems through ill health or emotional problems. But it can be done, with time, love and patience. And it is so worthwhile!


Belinda Wells.


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