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Actualizado: 4 mar 2021

Showing ourselves available and close-by to provide reassurance.

Attachment is a concept coined by Bowlby which states that human bonding (proximity, contact, safety) is fundamental for human development.

A strong and optimal bond between the child and their parents is essential. Having this type of attachment will facilitate the emotional and healthy development of the kid.

Attachment can be given in four different ways according to the parental style.

  • Disorganized attachment: when the parental style is abusive.

  • Avoidant attachment: this is given when the parents avoid to involve with the emotional and affective needs of their children. There's not much intimacy between them and the interests and preferences of the kids are ignored. This style of attachment can be a result of kids that tend to close emotionally speaking and that will replicate this model as adults.

  • Ambivalent or anxious attachment: the anxious parent is unpredictable and, in some cases, intrusive. The emotions of a parent with this style of attachment usually takes control of what is going on and this makes it unstable to create an optimal attachment.

  • Safe attachment: is the parent that is present when needed. It may be full of mistakes and errors with the correspondent tries and remediations. This is why children get the message of "You are safe. I'm with you. We're going to fix it together"

Attachment and how we show that we are available to our children is very important for a positive development.

A good parameter to know if a child is growing positively, is realizing that he has, at least, one safe attachment with one person.

In January 2020, Tina Payne Bryson, PhD and Daniel Siegel MD, published "The Power of Showing Up”, where they updated and proposed four strategies to generate safe attachment with children. Below you will find a high level summary of their proposal.

The best thing a parent can do is to be present for their children as this will help build safe attachments.

Be present means to offer quality time, which is given through 4 concepts that are developed as "Four S".

  • SAFE: We can't avoid our children's suffering or hurting others, even ourselves. But we can give the;m a sensation of "safe harbour", generating the possibility and assurance to take the necessary risks to grow and change.

  • SEEN: Truly seeing a child means that we are paying attention to their emotions (ALL of them, the good and the bad ones) and make an effort to connect with what is happening in their minds, regardless their behaviour.

  • SOOTHED: This doesn't mean that life is a calm sea. It's about teaching your child how to react when life gets difficult, how he can face the hard times and show him that you are going to be by his/her side, on the road. A "soothed" kid, as authors explain, is the one who knows that he won't "suffer" alone.

  • SECURE: When a child knows that he can count on you, over and over again. When with trust we contribute with safety, focus to be seen and calm when they need it, your children will trust in their attachment so that they can be successful.

When kids know and feel most of the time safe, seen and soothed, their brains are programmed to know with certainty that if they happen to be crossing some stressful situation or a bad time in their lives, someone will see them and will help them.

Repeated safe attachment experiences help to develop the middle part of the prefrontal cortex. In it, is located the: ability of introspection, empathy, emotional regulation, corporal regulation, assertive communication, intuition, morality, executive functions... To sum up, every part of the brain that allows us to be mentally healthy and tolerant to face adversity and be healthy adults.

Many times, we can find adults that have had unsafe attachments during their childhood and have difficulties to interact as grown ups.

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