All the behaviours below can be seen in most children and young people. When there is an attachment issue, the behaviours will be noticeably more extreme and persist over a longer period of time.
Challenging behaviour might be caused by emotional distress associated with an insecure attachment relationship.
- Separation anxiety (clingy behaviour that exceeds their peer group)
- Reluctance to initiate or accept affection or comfort from you when distressed
- Indiscriminately seeking caregiving from any available adult
- Excessive difficulty regulating emotions
For advice on bonding with your new baby, please�see our Bonding with your new baby page.
You can help build a healthy attachment throughout your baby?s childhood by:
- Getting to know your child?s emotional states and how best to react
- Being emotionally available when your child is distressed
- Provide parenting boundaries and structure; children feel more secure if they know what?s expected of them
- Initiating age-appropriate play with your child
- Offering physical affection, particularly when your child wants to be close to you
- Offering specific, positive feedback about their characteristics and behaviour
- Taking time to reconnect emotionally after separation, especially important for children who struggle with separation
- Taking a more nurturing parenting approach, offering lots of praise for wanted behaviour; children with attachment difficulties don?t respond well to punishments
- Working with your child to find objects and activities that soothe them
All these approaches can be adapted for work with teenagers, for example playing cards or ball games.
If you?re caring for young people with more significant attachment issues, such as fostered or adopted children, use the techniques above and discuss any concerns with your social worker.
Below is a video showing how baby massage can help you to bond with your new baby.
If you?ve concerns, speak to your Health Visitor, child's school or social worker.
Books that you may also find helpful include:
- Attachment-Focused Parenting; Effective strategies to care for children by Daniel A Hughes, 2009
- Creating Loving Attachments; Parenting with PACE to nurture confidence and security in the troubled child by Daniel A Hughes and Kim Golding, 2012