We are created for attachment. By attachment, What I mean by attachment is a healthy relationship with other people. Sadly, many of us aren’t very good at it. If this is new to you, read this blog post—What Is Your Attachment Dance?
I often notice the interaction between a child and his or her parents. I smile when I see a child confidently interact with his or her environment. I know that a lot of that has to do with how much that child trusts his or her attachment parent.
Then I also notice when a child feels insecure.
The reality is that every child that comes from a hard place comes to us with an insecure attachment style. No way around that fact.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way! Even as an adult, we can earn a secure attachment style.
A couple of years ago, my son’s attachment to Danielle and I was no doubt insecure. It still is in many ways; however, I am seeing positive signs that he is developing a more secure attachment.
Here are 5 positive signs I notice:
- He comes to me when he is hurt. You might think why wouldn’t a child run to his mom or dad when they get hurt, especially when they are young. But for a long time our son would run the other way or push us away if we tried to comfort him. Now he cries for us when he is hurt. He holds his arms open for me to pick him up, and when I do, he wraps himself around me.
- He is okay when I or Danielle are not at home at bedtime. My son struggled with needing to know that we were both there for him . I have learned that if we were not around, he thought that we were gone for good. A common response of a child who suffered abandonment. The other night Danielle told him as he got ready for bed that she was going to the grocery store. He replied, “Okay Mommy. See you in the morning!”
- He is able to spend right amounts of time playing alone. Similar to the previous sign, my son never wanted to be alone. He rarely played alone. In fact he had to be with us all the time. It wouldn’t be good for him to never want us around, but to never be able to play alone for a little while isn’t good either.
- He looks into my eyes. Not always mind you. But he used to never look into my eyes. Now he will for a few seconds before looking away. Looking into another person’s eyes for any person, any age, requires an amount of trust and lack of fear.
- He wants to make things right between us. We get a lot of practice making things right around our house. I overreact. He yells, hits, and throws tantrums. I speak to forcefully and get too rough with him. Recently we had one of these intense moments. Within a few seconds my son was standing next to me as I sat in his rocker. His hands rubbed my arm, and in a gentle voice he said to me, “Daddy, if you can apologize to me, I can apologize to you so we can be right again.” Yeah, who in their right mind won’t make it right with that?
I know that we have a long way to go still, but what I am seeing now gives me hope. How well our son learns to securely attach to us will decide how well he does later in life with his significant relationships.
My word of encouragement to you if you have a child from a hard place, please don’t give up. Trust that you can help your child develop a secure and healthy attachment. He or she needs you to keep doing the hard work of helping them heal now so that they know how to love and trust others well later in life.
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