The word ‘attachment’ describes the emotional bond between a child and their main caregiver that develops during the early years of life 

Young boy with carer 

It is the relationship that the parent/carer and child create together, and describes how they get along.

Child attachment

This relationship is important because it teaches children about themselves, others and the world around them. For example, children whose parents are loving, consistent and responsive learn that they are loveable and that others can be relied upon. What’s more, the attachment relationship also plays a critical role in enabling your child’s social, emotional, and brain development to take place in the best way possible.

Sometimes things can affect attachments; this isn’t usually anyone’s fault. Lot of different things such as illness, stress and life events affect how relationships are formed.

Top tips

  • Structure and consistency: Research shows us that babies, children and young people feel happier and more secure when they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Try introducing routine to your day and stating clear boundaries. Be consistent and see it through.
  • Spend time getting to know your child: What food, toys, books, films and music do they like? Learn to understand their cues – what do their different cries mean, or what does it really mean when they say they’re fine? Try to respond appropriately to each communication.
  • Have fun together: Enjoy being with your child – get in touch with your own inner child and play! Try reading books, cooking or playing sports. With teens you may like to go for a walk, go shopping, learn a computer game or head to the football.
  • Support your child in exploring their world: Encourage them as they try new experiences such as toys, sports or learning new skills; try to help them just enough so they can do it themselves.
  • Give ‘em some love! A caring touch helps babies, children and young people feel loved and secure. Try offering hugs and kisses, paint their nails, brush/dry their hair or offer a foot rub (if you dare!).
  • Help your child to feel loved even when you are apart: You could comment on what your child is doing as they play, catch their eye or give them a thumbs up. With older children try giving a high five or send a text.
  • Comfort and protect your child: Calm and soothe your child’s distress and help them to make sense of their feelings eg ‘I know you’re feeling sad, you were having so much fun and now it’s time for Nan to leave.’

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Extra information

Local services

  • If you would like further support speak to someone at Pause, your GP, health visitor or school nurse.