How to Foster Child Development Through Healthy Childhood Attachment

How to Foster Child Development Through Healthy Childhood Attachment

It can be tough being a parent sometimes.

Have you ever had to deal with Childhood Attachment?

The best thing to do when your children feel more attached or clingy is to recognize and validate the feelings that your child has at the present moment and offer comfort when needed. Please don’t ignore them or force them into interaction when they are having these feelings.

You also want to prepare your child for new situations beforehand by giving them some background of what will happen in advance, so this doesn’t trigger their need for closeness.

Checking yourself about any actions that could enable clinging behavior might be another factor as well.

Child Attachment Strategies

Are you looking to help your child feel comfortable enough to play and explore independently without needing you by their side at all times?

Being a parent can be exhausting — especially when you can’t catch a break. An essential part of child development is learning how to be independent and have healthy child attachment.

The following steps will help your child feel more independent and confident.

  • Understand their introverted nature by recognizing that they may find group situations overwhelming.
  • When the situation demands it, make them feel safe in these group settings with reassurance or supervision so they can explore independently without fear of being left alone if needed.
  • Build up children’s independence through encouraging playtime where there is no adult interference; such as letting them play by themselves rather than accompanying them every step of the way.
  • Give kids the opportunities to figure out how things work themselves-it’s ok if they fail a few times at something. When a child solves a problem themselves, it builds their confidence.

You may have noticed that your child needs to feel safe before they can explore the world. A sense of safety is essential for children’s development and growth.

Children who are close or proximal to their caregiver will develop a stronger attachment, which helps them understand that they are protected from danger in the environment around them.

Child Development: How to Cope with Child Attachment

We often hear phrases like “clingy children” or “clingy toddlers,” and when these phases happen, it’s natural to ask ourselves whether our child will grow out of these behaviors or if they’re healthy.

We don’t need to discourage their want or need for closeness and safety, but we want to help create a better balance between proximity and separation.

As long as we understand that patience is key and take care of ourselves before anything else, there’s no need to worry.

It may sound like common sense, but by staying positive and setting limits and boundaries, our children will learn how to behave in society and develop self-esteem.

Establishing a Sense of Safety Through Closeness to Caregivers (Developmental Milestones)

Before a child develops the confidence to explore, they first need to feel safe. That safety net establishes a healthy development by closeness or proximity to a caregiver, which helps the child understand that they are protected.

In developing his widely recognized attachment theory, John Bowlby explained that a child is born with an innate behavioral system hardwired to seek proximity in the early years.

Bowlby explains that a baby’s attachment behaviors, like smiling or clinging, are reciprocated by adult behaviors, like touching, holding, and soothing, perpetuating the child’s attachment behaviors.

One way to ease the need for attachment is to understand when the right time is to react to these behaviors — like if the child is acting out of stress or fear — versus the child being used to comfort. Then, have a secure plan with any other caregivers to encourage complete confidence that your child is appropriately taken care of.

For example:

  • Keep emergency numbers safe
  • parents’ numbers
  • for disease control
  • for poison control
  • the child’s doctor’s number if necessary
  • Have a plan if anything unexpected happens
  • Have an emergency person on standby

Thriving on Routine

Providing a sense of safety through predictability is an excellent tactic to help build your child’s life confidence.

This sense of safety can be created through a routine or schedule. We generally feel safe when we have a level of stability and predictability in our lives. And then we muster up the courage to take risks and explore.

Think about it like this: in the morning, your best days are likely when no one disrupts your routine.

Most of us thrive better on routine because it helps structure our days and makes us feel prepared. It is crucial to help do this for your children as well. With a routine established, a child can establish a better sense of control over their lives.

A routine is an essential part of life for most people. But, when you get too rigid about the structure and consistency in your daily activities, it can lead to increased stress levels in various ways, like never being able to make spontaneous decisions on what’s best at that moment or feeling trapped by obligations with other commitments.

It’s natural for things to happen, so remember that flexibility will help keep those stresses down.

Help your Child Feel Heard

In addition to closeness, children also want to feel heard and recognized.

Babies coo and babble, toddlers ask repetitive questions, and school-aged children and adolescents look for ways to be noticed. They want to feel heard, which is achieved through consistent responses from the people around them.

Simply put, through repeated interactions with parents/loved ones, children gauge their level of responsiveness, which determines if they feel worthy of being heard and valued.

 A brief disclaimer: No parent is perfect, so perfection should not be the goal. Children respond well to a predictable pattern of parental interaction to feel confident knowing they are heard and acknowledged regularly.

When you acknowledge and reflect your child’s feelings, they will feel heard. In addition, when children feel seen or acknowledged by a parent, their confidence in themselves increases considerably.

Attuning to the Nonverbal

It is essential to listen and pay attention to spoken words and unspoken words, and expressed needs. In addition, knowing what type of interaction style your child responds best to is helpful. For example, some children thrive from rough and tumble play; they love excitement and noise.

Others need a much calmer and softer approach. Your response style communicates your sensitivity and care. In summary, it’s critical for children to first establish a sense of safety in the relationship for a child to feel confident and secure.

Children can truly thrive by balancing closeness and separation, creating structure in the day, and attuning to/listening to verbal and nonverbal communication.

Human Development

Child development is an essential part of growing into a competent adult. And while all children are unique, there are still milestones that they should meet along the way as they grow up and learn about themselves in this world.

To help your young children with their emotional developments, add “developmental milestone checklists” to daily routines.

Track your child’s development:

  • language development,
  • social, emotional development,
  • and physical skills.

A developmental screening test can alert you to red flags if there is a developmental delay. In addition, developmental milestone checklists are a great way to help your young kids develop self-awareness and understand the skills they need to work on.

Start by adding these checklists into routines that you do daily with your child to see what skill needs improvement or more practice, making them better adults later in life! Don’t use these if they add stress to you or your child’s life, only if it is fun!

Final Words

Be sensitive and empathic when dealing with an over-attached child. Children need your consistent responsiveness and warmth, especially during the early years.

Responding to their signals will help the child trust others to meet their needs

  • Respond calmly: Model good behavior by being calm in interactions with children and control your own emotions
  • Be involved: It is important to interact, be present for them, and positively engaged with a child; smile at them
  • Finally, show positive body language that includes nurturing behaviors like holding hands or hugging


Do genetic factors play a role in child development?

Genetic factors play a huge role in how children develop. With that said, it is essential to remember that genetics are just one piece of the puzzle and environmental influences also impact their development, including parenting, culture, education, and social relationships.

What are the developmental milestones in child development?

The five pillars of child development are:

  1. cognitive,
  2. social and emotional development,
  3. speech and language,
  4. fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination skills (such as handwriting), and
  5. gross motor skills.

What do you do if your child has developmental delays?

For parents struggling with a child’s behavior and social skills, medication or particular types of behavioral therapy can help.

It’s important to talk with the child’s doctor or healthcare provider and discuss all possibilities before seeking medication. You can also work with an occupational therapist, speech therapist, behavioral therapist, or physiotherapist to work on developmental challenges.

Do environmental factors have an influence on attachment during a child’s development?

The environment does strongly influence the effect of childhood attachment. A child’s genetic factors interact with their physical environment.

Some factors include :

  • How many children are in the household?
  • Is the child the youngest?
  • Does the child interact with others often?
  • Has there been a life event to take into account?
  • Does the child prefer familiar people?
  • Is the child going through developmental issues?
  • There are so many more “factors.” Human development is complex!
It is essential to be patient and understanding with your children and take it slow if needed.

Does breastfeeding cause over-attached child development?

Breastfeeding has been shown to assist in the development of over attachment between mother and child. One theory about how breastfeeding relates to over-attachment goes back to the relaxing and calming effects breastfeeding has on children when drinking. Indeed, most babies who breastfeed do not develop over-attachment. Instead, most babies who breastfeed have normal emotional development. Please talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about your baby’s attachment and development.

Author, Dr. Dina Kulik

Author, Dr. Dina Kulik

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