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Attachment & Parent-Child Relationships

“A Child forms one special attachment through life, which will act as a prototype for all future social relationships, disrupting this attachment can have severe consequences.’
   – John Bowlby 

Articles

Attachment: What works?
Donna Wittmer. (2011). Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning.

My Child and I: Attachment for life
Best Start Resource Center.

Baby Wants…..
Best Start Resource Center.

Learning How to Play and Playing to Learn: What Families Can Do
Best Start Resource Center.

Building Resilience in Young Children
Booklet for parents of children from birth to six years. Best Start Resource Center.

When Kids want Parents to Play all the time
Meghan Leahy. (2016). The Washington Post.

49 Phrases to Calm an Anxious Child
Renee Jain. (2016). GoZen.com.

How to Help Your Child Develop Empathy
Claire Lerner and Rebecca Parlakian. Zero to Three: Early Connections last a Lifetime.

Your Child’s Mental Health
Caringforkids.cps.ca.

Time In- Guiding Children’s Behavior
Parent Link. Australian Government. Women and Children’s Health network. (2016).

Self-Regulation from the inside out
Rosanne Papadopoulos. (2013). Brainwaves, Issue 35.

Parent-Child Attachment: A Bond of Trust
Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Development Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development. (2012).

Children See Children Learn
Childrenseechildrenlearn.ca.

Self-Regulation for Parents
The MEHRIT Center. Self-reg.ca.

Ways to Make an Adopted Child Feel Loved
Maija Kappler. (2020). The Huffington Post.

Research

The Relationship between Child Stress, Child Mindfulness and Parent Mindfulness
Lea Waters. (2016). Scientific Research Publishing. Psychology, 7, 40-51.

In the Relationship Between, Lea Waters discusses the correlation between parents’ mindfulness, the indirect/direct relation it has on a child’s stress level, and provides useful suggestions for parents on how to increase their’s and their child’s mindfulness.

Waters identifies the urgent need for parents, educators, and professionals to have a better understanding of childhood stress, as it is increasing rapidly. Current research has recognized that 20-60% of children “worry a lot or a great deal”, depending on their geographical location, and  30-40% of children report “experiencing high rates of psychosomatic stress symptoms”, such as headaches, stomach pains, and difficulty falling asleep. Mindfulness has been shown to “reduce stress and anxiety while improving physical and mental health” and refers to one’s ability to be present in the moment and the ability to focus on their own “feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations”.

This study used a “community sample of 68 parent-child dyads”, with each dyad completing a self-report survey, and a two scale design to measures parent and child mindfulness. Results concluded that child and parents’ mindfulness ultimately impacted the child’s level of stress, indicating the importance of children developing mindfulness skills as well as their parents. Waters details steps parents and children can take to improve one’s mindfulness, such as education and frequent exercise.

What is a Secure Attachment? And why doesn’t “Attachment Parenting” get you there?
Diana Divercha. (2017). Developmental Science.

In What is Secure Attachment? Diana Divercha highlights the difference between attachment and attachment parenting. Many parents find difficulty differentiating between the two and often relate a secure attachment to attachment parenting. As Alan Sroufe explains, “attachment is a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation and exploration and consists of three functions”, while attachment parenting is a “specific set of practices”, such as co-sleeping and breastfeeding, which are “not proven to be related to a secure attachment”. The authors explain that while these activities are all good, what truly matters for attachment is the “caregivers’ orientation and attunement”: what are the caregivers emotional state when interacting with the infant.

Divercha goes on to discuss the scientific history of attachment and the important contributions John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth made to the field. She explains why attachments styles are fundamentally important for the development of a child, their future relationships, and the impact attachment have on their own parenting. She provides the reader with a simplistic breakdown on identifing the formation of a secure attachment , between the ages of 0-3 years. Lastly, Divercha analyzes attachment and the neurological development it has on an infant.

Addressing Parent-Child Conflict: Attachment-Based Interventions with Parents
Aaron Kindsvatter and Kimberly J. Desmond. (January 2013). Journal of Counselling & Development. Volume 91.

In Addressing Parent-Child Conflict, Aaron Kindsvatter and Kimberly Desmond examine parent-child conflicts using an attachment theory lens. During family counselling sessions parents often present concerns for the parent-child conflict as a manifestation of internal disturbances, while underemphasizing the parent-child relationship. The authors believe therapeutic interventions which focus solely on intrapersonal explanations for the child’s behavior is problematic because parent-child relational patterns play a significant role in maintaining parent-child conflict.

Kindsvatter and Desmond proceed by identifying empirical support for attachment theory and parent-child conflict, and how attachment insecurity and emotion regulation impact interpersonal and intrapersonal behaviors. The authors go on to detail the effects of intergenerational continuity of parental insecurities and the parent-child conflict. Lastly, the authors explore various attachment-based therapeutic interventions to assist parents in resolving conflict.