How To Support Children With Attachment Disorder

Naturally, as our children grow up they develop attachments with those closest to them; specifically their primary caregiver. It's in these relationships that children are comforted with a secure base that guides them in learning and developing while building on their wellbeing, motivation, and resilience.

In fact, these early attachments have such a significant impact on their development that it can be seen well into their adult life with the types of relationships they form. However, there are children who do not have secure attachments with primary caregivers and may have attachment problems.

It can be difficult to parent a child who struggles with these important connections. Children with attachment disorder can be quick to anger, frustration, have a lack of trust and self-worth, and may pull away from anyone attempting to get close to them.

Trying to build a secure attachment and trust in a child who finds it difficult to process friendships and connections, can be problematic. It’s not always easy to understand the complexities of what creates and enforces a bond. Here are some suggestions which may help.

Remain Patient

Within the child’s frustration, we can find our own. Attempting to build a strong connection and bond with a reluctant child can be disappointing and complicated. What we consider to be an easy transition can take longer than expected. Try to stay patient with both the child and the process. Focus on the small improvements which take place.

Have Realistic Expectations

We can place unreasonable and unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others, especially when something appears relatively straightforward in our eyes. Have realistic expectations of what you can achieve with the child and go at their pace. Celebrate every win.

Offer Smooth Transitions

A child who struggles with attachment can struggle with the transition from one room to another, one teacher to another, and when routines are out of place. Take the time to support the child with understanding routines, agendas, and find the balance in building their confidence with knowing what changes are afoot. Try to maintain a routine they recognise and feel comfortable with.

Be Responsive

Recognise and react appropriately to the child’s emotions. Help them to feel loved and guide them in understanding their own emotions by helping them to identify and name their feelings. Listening, talking, and playing with the child will encourage connection, build skills and trust.

Manage Your Own Stress

Understanding and focusing on a child with attachment issues can be emotionally and physically draining. Ensure you look after and focus on yourself also. Life is demanding as it is, so when your attention is concentrated on the child in question, limit other stressors and remember to take breaks. Remember to find support and ask for help.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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