When the attachment connection—the emotional tie that forms between a newborn or young child and its primary caregiver—is broken or does not develop securely, it can cause attachment problems in young children.
Having attachment problems can have an influence on your child’s capacity to express their emotions, develop resilience, trust, and confidence, and engage in healthy relationships since the quality of the attachment bond has such a significant impact on your child’s development.
It is possible to fix an attachment problem, regardless of how distant or insecure your kid seems, or how frustrated or worn out you feel from trying to connect with them. You can form a close relationship with your kid, influence their growth, and aid in their building with the correct resources—along with a fair dose of tolerance and love.
Attachment issues vs. attachment disorders
Children with attachment challenges often lie somewhere on a range, from minor concerns to attachment disorders. While minor attachment problems are typically manageable, if your kid has serious problems, one of two different attachment disorders may be diagnosed:
- Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
An infant/ child with RAD seldom looks for consolation when upset and frequently feels vulnerable and alone. They could be quite reclusive, emotionally distant, and hard to soothe. When you approach them, they can push you away, ignore you, or even become hostile.
- Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED)
A kid with DSED does not appear to favor their parents over other individuals, including strangers. They won’t show any pain when a parent isn’t there and will seek comfort and attention from just about anyone. Children with DSED frequently struggle to develop deep relationships with others while being extremely comfortable with strangers.
Both kinds of attachment disorders are more prevalent in young children who have experienced trauma, abuse, were placed in foster care or orphanages for an extended period of time, or were taken from their primary caregiver after developing a bond.
Causes of attachment issues
A young kid will learn that the world is a dangerous and terrifying place, if they frequently feel abandoned, lonely, helpless, or uncared for a long period of time
This can happen for many reasons:
- Nobody comforts or responds when a baby screams.
- When a baby is hungry or wet, they go for hours without getting any attention.
- The infant feels alone since no one acknowledges, converses with, or smiles at him or her.
- A young child will only act out or exhibit other extreme behaviors to attract attention.
- A baby or young kid suffers abuse, trauma etc.
- The requirements of a kid are occasionally addressed and occasionally they are not.
- A baby or small kid is admitted to the hospital or is taken away from their parents.
- A newborn or child is transferred from one caregiver to another (for example, as a consequence of adoption, foster care, or the death of a parent).
- The parent’s sadness makes them emotionally inaccessible.
Signs of attachment issues in children
In children, signs of attachment difficulties might show up in their interactions with siblings and classroom peers. Insecurely attached children may be:
- Shy around people and reluctant to participate in group activities.
- Excessive reliance on others.
- Acting out quickly to get attention.
- Susceptible to taunting instructors and parents or friends.
- Anxious and easily stressed.
- Emotionally unstable, frequently displaying great rage, hopelessness, or terror.
Ways you can help your child
Prepare yourself emotionally
- A child with insecure attachment is already experiencing stress, so it is important that you evaluate and manage your own stress levels before trying to help your child.
- Helping your child may take a long time. Focus on taking small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.
- The process may not be as rapid as you expect. But by remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, you create positive surrounding for your child.
- Happiness and laughter go a long way toward repairing attachment problems and energizing the child.
- Reduce other demands on your time, make time for yourself, so that you can give your full attention to your child.
- Maintain your optimism and hope. Be mindful of the fact that kids can sense emotions. They will feel disheartened if they notice you are dejected.
Provide stability and security
- For kids with attachment disorders, safety and stability are crucial concerns because they feel uncomfortable in the world. They maintain a high level of self-protection, yet doing so makes it difficult for them to accept affection and assistance.
- Setting limits and boundaries make the world seem more stable and predictable to children with attachment difficulties. It’s important that they understand what behavior is expected from them, what is and isn’t acceptable, and the consequences if they disobey the rules.
- Remain calm when your child is upset or misbehaving. Remember that “bad” behavior means that your child doesn’t know how to handle need your help. By staying calm, you show your child that the feeling can be handled.
- Be immediately available to reconnect following a conflict which can be especially disturbing for children with attachment issues.
- Child with attachment issues need to learn that, although you/ caretaker may not be perfect, you love them no matter what.
- Try to maintain routines and schedules. A child with attachment issues may feel threatened by inconsistency.
Support your child’s health and make child feel loved
- Your child’s eating, sleep, and exercise habits are always important, but they’re even more so for kids with attachment problems.
- Make sure your child eats a healthy balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Making child’s sleep schedule help to reduce childhood sleep problems.
- Any type of physical activity provides a great antidote to stress and frustration.
- Express your child love through rocking, cuddling, and holding—attachment experiences they may have missed out on earlier.
- Mind your nonverbal cues. Your body language can send all kind of good and bad messages.
- You must help your child to identify emotions and express their needs.
- Listen, communicate, and play with your child.
If your child is suffering from a severe attachment issue or either type of attachment disorder, it’s important to seek professional help form a Child therapist.
Start by consulting with your pediatrician, a child development specialist, or an organization that specializes in child development or attachment disorders such as TalktoAngel. It is an online counseling platform they use combination of therapy, counseling, and parenting education for the treatment. These ensure that your child has a safe living environment, improves their relationship with friends, and develops positive interactions with people around them. If you are seeking for a “Child Counselor near Me” you can consult TalktoAngel for your child’s overall well-being.