The parents entered their son’s pre-school to attend a parent-teacher conference. The teacher greeted them warmly and proceeded to tell the parents what a delight their son was to have in class. She told them how he helped around the classroom, shared with others, and got along so well with his classmates.
As the parents left the conference, the father whispered to his wife, “I guess we did something right.”
The parents did do something right and it started well before the parent-teacher conference. It started as soon as their son was born. That was the beginning of his first attachment. Those early attachments set the stage for his success in pre-school and beyond.
It can be difficult to appreciate how influential that first relationship is for an infant. Fortunately, parents can go a long way towards making that relationship a positive one. It all starts with being sensitive and attending to an infant’s needs. This includes knowing when an infant needs to be comforted and when he needs to be fed.
The more responsive and interactive parents are to their infant’s needs, the stronger the bond between them. These strong bonds or attachments become the cornerstone from which infants use to build all future relationships. Infants with strong and secure bonds will believe the world is a safe place where their needs will be met. In addition, they will believe that they are worthy of love and care.
By six months, infants have turned into toddlers and parents will notice that their toddlers have fully bonded with them. This can be seen in the way that toddlers follow their parents around and get upset when their parents leave them behind. The toddlers will also become more wary around strangers. In addition, they will use their parents’ reactions as guides on how to react in situations where it unclear how to act.
When everything goes well and the bonds between toddlers and their parents are strong, it is called a secure attachment. Roughly two out of every three toddlers have secure attachments. These secure attachments make toddlers more open to forming other attachment with adults, including teachers and daycare providers.
As toddlers move into early childhood, they will start interacting with other children their age. The secure attachments these children have already formed with their parents and other adults will carry over into making friends with their peers. These friendships are easier for children with secure attachments because they already know how to form a good relationship. One that focuses on being responsive to others’ needs and caring for them.
By the time children start going to school, they are ready to establish the social relationships that are needed to be successful. Their preparation for this smooth start in school all started right after they were born. Their parents responded to their needs and set the stage for their children to be successful.
This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Friday on April 15, 2016