Saturday, May 03, 2008

Attachment Issues

There has been a thread on one of the HE lists over the issue of "attachment", in the context of leaving a child for the first time at playschool/school etc.

It is an emotive subject and one of course where a parent must make their own decision. But speaking as a parent who did it, thinking it was "normal" and the only way - and who now know differently and wishes someone had enlightened me, I was deeply impressed by the post made by one parent.

It is reproduced here with his permission, and I hope you find it as stimulating as I did.


I speak as a qualified social worker who covered attachment as part of his degree course. I am also father to a 3 year old and 6 month old.

The issue here is the whole attachment process. This is a basic survival mechanism which has been observed in all birds and mammals. It works on the infant by keeping her close to the parent, and the parent by keeping her close to the infant, and making her tolerant of the infant.

It is the conduit for love. A child's attachment hunger is stronger than its hunger for food, so powerful is this force. It keeps parent and child close to each other, until the child is mature enough to be able to survive on its own. Attachment also stimulates brain development, laying down neurological pathways until about the age of 7, when the attachment foundation has been laid.

Basically the stronger the bond between infant and parent, or other primary carer, the better the child is able to relate to others, the healthier its relationships, and the higher its self-esteem. Strong attachment actually boosts individuation, the process by which a child gets to know himself as aseparate, discreet individual.

Attachment boosts independence.

However the way we live now, is so anti-nature, that children are shunted off, away from their parents before they are ready. This weakens the attachment bond between parent and child and has been shown to lead to all sorts of problems later on in life, including behaviourial problems, higher degree of addictions, aggressive behaviour,r elationship problems, and earlier sexual maturation.

Let your children move away from you naturally, when they want to. They will know when they are ready. Until then they will come and go as and when they choose.

This is healthy. They are learning about themselves, their capabilities and their world.

For more on this go to youtube and search under "attachment". There are some excellent short clips that explain it better than I do. I also reccomend searching for Dr Gordon Neufeld on youtube.

Read this for an introduction to childcare and attachment. You may also find the following useful:

"Why love matters" Sue Gerhardt
"Hold on to your kids" - Neufeld



Wobblymoo said...

That's quite profound, wish I knew then what I know now

pixieminx said...

Excellent - Thank You for the post, I too followed the herd and sent my then 2yr&8month old DD1 to pre-school in order to prepare her for school and had a whole host of attachment issues up until she was 6 and a bit and we pulled her out (3 days after I found of HE was a 'Legal' option!) . My DD1 has always been very close to me and never liked being separated from me, nor I from her. It's just not natural to only have them 'with you' for near on 3 years and then give them up to the system. Grrrrrr

pixieminx :-)

Bridget said...

People often say to me " How can you stand having five children around you all day?" I thought maybe I was overprotective, I hate being without my children, not just a sense of responcibility, I genuinely enjoy their company. I'm glad I don't seem to be the only one!