Communication is the key to secure attachment. Sharing and understanding emotional information enables us to feel deeply connected. Communication begins even before birth.
Pregnancy is the dawn of attachment, the time in which parents and unborn baby begin to communicate and attach. A mother’s thoughts, feelings, and stress are communicated via a neurohormonal dialogue, and are preparation for communication after birth.
Reciprocal and collaborative communication is the basis of attachment after birth.The caregiver’s sensitivity to the needs and signals of his or her baby is the essence of creating secure attachment. Infants communicate their needs and feelings by crying and body language. The way the primary attachment figure responds determines the type of attachment pattern established (secure, avoidant, anxious, or disorganized).
A parent’s style of communication often determines the quality of the relationship. Effective and secure communication includes:
•Focus on the behavior, not the child: Convey the message, “I dislike your choice and behavior, not you.” The goal is for the child to learn from the experience rather than feel criticized, rejected, or ashamed.
•Work as a team: It is important that parents talk about behavior and consequences so they are on the same page.
•Don’t lecture: Listen more, talk less, and children are more likely to trust and open up.
•Control anger: Children learn more when adults are firm, yet calm. Yelling, criticizing, and lecturing do not provide a positive role model of coping and communication, and create anxiety in children. Don’t threaten or give warnings: Repeated warnings undermine authority. A single warning can be effective. This allows the child to correct his or her behavior or face the consequences.
•Give positives: It is very important to give children positives. The best rewards are emotional—smiles, hugs, words of appreciation, and praise:“I really like the way you helped clean up. How about a hug.
Contact us with questions about communication and attachment.