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From birth, the newborn has a need to bond. It seeks protection and closeness with a caregiver. However, this need is not always the same. It is particularly pronounced when infants are afraid or have the feeling of being separated from their attachment figure. Physical closeness is particularly good at satisfying the infant's need to bond. The term "bond" in the sense of an interpersonal emotional bond was established by John Bowlby in the middle of the twentieth century. A secure bond is a psychological protective factor for children and an important basis for personal development…
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At least one attachment figure is important for child development - whether mother, father or adoptive parents. However, there is often not just one attachment relationship, but several, to which there are different degrees of emotional connections. Sensitivity is particularly important in the creation of bonds. It makes it possible to identify needs and to react to them quickly and appropriately. Eye contact, linguistic exchange and touch play a major role here. Body contact promotes the formation of the hormone oxytocin, which in turn strengthens the emotional bond. Sensitivity also helps the child to cope with demands and impressions of the environment.
Types of attachment
Through research into attachment patterns in infancy, three types of attachment (attachment qualities) emerged. The respective characteristics can be recognized at the end of the first year of life. It should be noted that these attachment models result from research and represent observations in a standardized situation. So they cannot simply be “readjusted” yourself 1: 1, but are intended to give an insight into the different bonding patterns.
Infants as young as one year of age demonstrate secure attachment through fear, crying, and loud protest when separated from the caregiver. You are looking for the familiar person. When this comes back, the babies want to be hugged and reassured. The appeasement then occurs after a short time.
Children with this type of attachment behave calmly when separated from the attachment figure. They do not welcome her after their return either - on the contrary, they even turn away from her. Outwardly, this behavior looks very uncomplicated, but the children are mostly under stress, as scientific studies have shown.
Insecure, ambivalent (ambivalent, fearful) bond
If this pattern of attachment is present, stress is clearly visible in children in separation situations or during a terrifying event. This manifests itself, for example, through loud crying and protest. This is also the case with securely bound children. However, if the mother returns after a separation situation, differences in secure attachment become apparent. If the child is now, for example, taken in the mother's arms, it holds on, but at the same time signals avoidance of attachment through aggressiveness. Children who are insecure cannot be soothed again so quickly. They send out contradicting signals - hence the term "ambivalent-fearful". In addition, the children show less pleasure in exploring their surroundings.
A connection can be seen between the attachment experiences of the parents and the attachment patterns of their children. The attachment experiences that children have with their caregivers significantly shape their behavior and their emotional world. However, there are also so-called pathological types of attachment such as disorganized attachment and attachment disorders.
Children naturally enjoy exploring their environment. It is therefore important that they are encouraged and accompanied by attachment figures. Secure ties enable you to go on a voyage of discovery - with the safe haven in mind. "Equipped" with a secure bond, everyday challenges can be mastered better.
Infants have a basic need for protection, emotional security, and closeness. Certain behaviors of the baby, e.g. laughing, clinging, eye contact, etc. promote this protective instinct in the parents. This reaction is in principle the same for women and men. Therefore, both parents - mother and father - can take care of their baby competently and sensitively.
The role of parents
The bond between parents and children is an important basis for development and later relationship skills. It helps children to build up basic trust and develop self-confidence. Both parents can contribute to a loving relationship with their child. The parents' love and affection for the child are consolidated in the first year of life. In some people these feelings arise spontaneously, in others more slowly. In expectant fathers, the bond with the child is promoted if they are present at the birth and take part in caring for the baby from an early age. It is also never too late to get involved in childcare.
Mother and father can learn together what a baby needs and how to understand its needs. Perhaps some fathers are initially biased in dealing with the infant. Not only can they ensure good conditions for a mother-child relationship, but they can also give their child warmth and love. In fathers too, contact with the baby arouses feelings such as happiness, tenderness and patience.
Divide childcare if possible
If fathers take on certain tasks in looking after the child, this relieves the mother, who sometimes needs a break. In the best case scenario, grandparents or friends can also step in. Careful interaction with one another helps the parents to cope with any problems in a situation that is new and unfamiliar to them. Children who are securely attached to both parents make little difference later in their trust in maternal and paternal protection - for example when the mother or father leaves the room. They also show less separation anxiety because they know that there is always a second person who offers security.
How the relationship with the child is designed and how they divide up the tasks or who takes parental leave is the personal decision of the legal guardian. A successful partnership can also have a positive effect on the parent-child bond. The quality of the bond between parent and child depends particularly on emotional and not on material values.
Information on strengthening and supporting parenting skills can be found under Early Help.