Understanding the process of attachment and how to promote attachment as a parent are very important concepts for adoptive parents to understand. Attachment is the emotional bond between a child and his/her parents through a consistent sequence of affectionate interaction. Establishing a secure attachment or bond is very important for the child’s psychological health and emotional behavior. Especially for adopted children, their adoptive families must understand why and how to implement successful parenting strategies that promote secure attachment styles and the well-being of their new addition.
Some adoptive parents may believe attachment comes naturally, while others worry that it may be too late or more difficult to foster this intimate relationship with an adopted child. Because attachment is so critical to a child’s emotional growth at this stage, there are ways parents can actively create a meaningful and positive relationship with their baby early on.
The Process of Attachment from the Baby’s Perspective
Forming attachments happens differently for everybody, especially when it comes to adopted children. Older children may have been exposed to abandonment, different types of caretaking styles, and/or inconsistent care, which would affect their attachment style and the way they interact with others. In order to avoid anxiety and distress in your child, parents should work to assume a stable, nurturing position in the baby’s life. Maintaining this role over time, will allow the child to form a secure attachment with their new parent.
Bonds are often formed through a cycle of attachment. When a caregiver is consistently meeting a child’s emotional and physical needs, he/she is promoting consistency in the relationship, which is the foundation for a healthy relationship in the baby’s life. Caregivers that don’t always meet the child’s needs may cause the child anxiety, and constantly changing caregivers can disrupt the cycle of attachment.
How Adoptive Families Can Promote Attachment
Achieving genuine attachment with your little one requires conscientious and routine work. It’s not always easy to gain a child’s love and trust, but anyone with enough dedication can accomplish it. First and foremost, it’s crucial to learn as much as possible about the child’s background and history. Learning information about the pregnancy and the relationships the child has developed already, provides adoptive parents a basis of understanding from which to build their relationship with the adoptee.
Here are some steps parents can take to nurture attachment once the child is home with them:
- Maintain close physical contact with the baby – Physical contact is the best way to communicate with babies. By keeping the baby close, parents are reassuring them that they are loved and appreciated – a fundamental emotion.
- Stay attentive and responsive –It’s critical to assess their behavior to understand how they feel. Demonstrate that you care by responding to their needs.
- Encourage expressions of emotion – It’s unhealthy to repress emotions, so when you see your baby expressing their feelings outwardly, make sure to reinforce and encourage it.
- Uphold a predictable and stable environment – We all fear the unknown, which is especially true for babies! Try to create a consistent and structured routine, so your child isn’t inadvertently stressed. This way, they will know what to expect and when to expect it.
- Find the perfect balance – Giving your child attention is not the same as spoiling them. Always meet their emotional needs, give them sufficient attention when they ask for it, but don’t give in to unreasonable demands.
For some families, attachment will come naturally and for others, it will be take hard work and commitment. Either way, attachment parenting is integral to your child’s development and shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, the absence of empathy and care could lead to a disruption in the attachment process, resulting in destructive behavior, low impulse control and other negative symptoms. Responsive Parenting, or focusing on meeting a child’s needs to create a secure attachment style, can boost your child’s self-esteem and trust, allowing them to be more secure and independent later in life.
The bond between a parent and child is unique and irreplaceable. If you’d like to learn more about how you adopt a child and foster healthy attachment, you can contact us at 800-637-7999 or visit our website.