Janae B. Weinhold, Ph.D.

securely bonded childSecurely bonded children act self-confident, have strong self-esteem and function at high levels socially, emotionally, mentally and physically. They are able to engage in reciprocal relationships, able to both give and receive love.

They are compassionate, express concern about the feelings and needs of others, have well-developed creativity and cooperate with both other children and adults. Securely bonded children are often seen as ‘successful without people recognizing that their success is the result of a strong foundation of bondedness with adult caregivers.

Secure Bonding Forms the Foundation for the Separation Stage of Development

Bonding with parents and others, which usually starts at birth, allows children to develop a sense of basic trust and safety. Securely bonded children have experienced a deep attunement with their parents that includes lots of physical contact, holding and nurturing touch, and many pleasant reassuring messages to the child.

independent toddlerSecurely bonded children know their parents want them, and that they are loved for who they are. Secure bonding provides children with a solid social and emotional foundation so that they can begin to separate physically and emotionally between 9 and 36 months.

During this period, they learn to walk, feed themselves and become toilet trained. These acts of independence help them feel strong and secure enough to gradually move away from the dependency on their mothers. By age three, are ready to spend more time with father. His role is to help the child safely explore his or her world, and move towards becoming emotionally autonomous human beings.

The stronger the bond between children and their parents, the easier it is for the children to separate. Insecurely bonded children struggle with emotional separateness. They often get caught in an internal conflict between wanting and needing more “baby time” and feeling pulled to explore the world.

Ideally, children should complete emotional separateness from their parents by about age three. Unfortunately, few children achieve this ideal, and they struggle with being independent, accountable and self-directed. This is the foundation for codependent behaviors in adulthood.

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