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Secure Attachment For Kids: What Is It and How Do You Accomplish It?

Secure Attachment For Kids: What Is It and How Do You Accomplish It?

We, as parents, all want our children to be securely attached.

How do we achieve that when we might not even know what it means?

Also, what are some of the benefits of having a secure attachment?

Parenting is complex and can at times be very challenging. There isn’t one right way to raise your children. It depends a lot on their developmental age, stage and character of the child. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all, but wouldn’t that just be great? From the moment that you bring your children in to the world, you worry. You worry if you have the right approach, if are you responding in the right way and, if you are giving them too much or too little attention.

Parenting can sometimes be one big worry. 

The 4 S’s of Showing Up

Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson describe in their book The Power of Showing Up that there is one thing that you can always do and that’s showing up. This means being fully and consciously present. Having a secure attachment means that at least one of the parents is showing up.

Daniel and Tina talk about the 4 S’s that power a parent’s care so that it is predictable and supportive of healthy and empowering relationships.

But what do these 4 S’s stand for?

1. Safe

Making a child feel protected, physically, emotionally and relationally. Children need to feel safe and also, to know that they are safe. We can make mistakes in this respect sometimes, and that’s okay as perfect parents don’t exist. When you do make a mistake it’s key that you repair it, because you want to make things right again, to bring back that sense of safety.     

2. Seen

Seeing your child is more than just being physically present. It means focusing on their feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant, and thoughts beneath their behaviour. So looking beyond external behaviour and being empathetic. Use tone, touch, gestures and eye contact to let your kids know they are seen.

3. Soothed

Soothing is about teaching kids to deal with the ups and downs in life and, being there for them when they need us. They shouldn’t have to doubt if we are there for them during tough times. This doesn’t mean taking away or avoiding difficult situations but, it means being there for them to deal with these situations. Let them know they aren’t alone. 

4. Secure. 

Safe, seen and, soothed leads to the 4th S: secure. This has to do with predictability. 

The goal of parenting isn’t just showing up, but creating a secure attachment by showing up. 

Scientific research has shown that having one attuned and present person in a child’s life predicts how a child turns out.  

Your job as a parent is not to prevent them from experiencing setbacks and failures, but to give them the tools and emotional resilience they need to weather life’s storms, and then to walk beside them through those storms.

-Daniel J. Siegel

Benefits of a Secure Attachment

  • Overall greater social competence
  • Stronger leadership qualities
  • Better coping strategies to deal with stress
  • Better emotional regulation
  • More empathy
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater academic success
  • Happier and better relationships with parents
  • More positive, closer and effective social interactions and friendships
  • Greater trust in life

Enough reasons to focus on a secure attachment!

I suggest the book The Power of Showing Up from Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson to a lot of families that I work with as it’s a great read and it makes you think about your own attachment and how to help your child be securely attached. 

Be in touch if you need some support and guidance in navigating parenting. There’s always room for improvement and professional input is a good investment in your child’s long term wellbeing.

Find out more about child, adolescent and family therapy and read more of our articles on parenting:

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By Claire, Child, Adolescent and Family Therapist

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