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Attachment: Building Healthy Relationships

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of stress for families, which poses a serious risk to children’s development. Safety measures like physical distancing, masks, lockdowns and so on have affected the social and mental development of children. As the world is beginning to reopen, we can help children to slowly transition and become more involved in their world by building healthy relationships through attachment.


What is attachment?

  • The emotional bond between a child and a parent or caregiver that develops over time (1).
  • It grows and changes how they see the world and influences their development (1).


Why is attachment so important?


  • It is directly linked to long-term positive, emotional, and mental health outcomes for the young and old (1).

  • It influences the quality of future relationships with their peers and partners (1).



Ways to build a healthy relationship with a child 


  • Provide comfort:  When children feel ill, frightened, physically hurt, or lonely, they will want you to reassure, rock, and hold them. If you can respond as consistently as possible, they will learn that they are safe when you are around (2).


  • Respond and notice: Showing interest in children’s activities and spending frequent one-on-one time with them shows them that they are important to you and is a wonderful way to promote attachment. These activities can be warm and intimate, even if they are brief (2).


  • Provide a sense of trust: Empowering children builds mutual trust. Let them know you believe in their ability to do and learn new things. Keep their environment as safe as possible and allow them to explore increasingly complex and difficult situations as they move through their developmental milestones (2). For example, when they are learning to crawl or walk, let them go off a short distance, but remain nearby to supervise so they can return to you for comfort, praise, or support.


  • Be predictable and positive: Try to be as predictable as possible to provide children with an additional sense of security. Keep to a routine for meals, playtime, sleep and so on. Establish clear rules and follow through on them as consistently as possible. You may need to have extra patience and adjust your expectations as many children will be struggling just to cope during this time of unpredictability and stress (2).


More information on Attachment and Early Childhood Development can be found at https://www.healthunit.com/early-child-development.



1Van IJzendoorn, M., PhD. (2019, September 1). Attachment at an Early Age (0–5) and its Impact on Children’s Development. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. https://www.child-encyclopedia.com/attachment/according-experts/attachment-early-age-0-5-and-its-impact-childrens-development

2AboutKidsHealth. (2009). Attachment: What you can do. SickKids. Retrieved from https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=505&language=English


Submitted by Edna Asamaka WCTF-5
For the Middlesex-London Community Early Years Partnership


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