Childhood attachment is an immensely significant part of children’s development. As a child care provider, you have daily contact with children who are newborn through to 5 years of age. Children’s need for attachment is strong at this stage in life. In fact, this time is the most influential in terms of defining a child’s sense of self and formation of relationships with others.
Understanding children’s need for attachment
Attachment theory is the pre-eminent theory used in studying the behaviour of children. It refers to the biological instinct where a person seeks physical closeness to an attachment figure when they sense a threat or discomfort.
They seek this closeness because they anticipate a certain reaction from the attachment figure. For children, their attachment figures can come in many forms such as a parent, an older sibling or a child care educator.
Child care educator attachment
As many children spend time in child care, they can form an attachment to their child care provider. You can help foster this attachment by showing care and being responsive to the child’s needs. Sometimes, this is as simple as giving a crying toddler a caring cuddle after they hurt themselves, or being a little playful when the child is being cheeky. A child will react positively if they sense that you actually care about them.
Attachment takes time. You can’t expect the children you care for to become attached immediately. For a child to form healthy attachments they need to trust their attachment figure, they also need to see them on a regular basis and for a prolonged period. Once a child feels safe and secure in their child care setting, they are more likely to form an attachment.
Parents often express concerns about their child developing an attachment to their child care provider. In this case, communication is key. You should explain to the parent that attachment with others will greatly assist in the development of their child’s sense of self and will help them to form meaningful and long-lasting relationships in the future.
Children’s need for attachment is certainly a fundamental need, and as a child care provider, you can play an important role in ensuring that they reap the lifelong benefits of healthy attachments.