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Nurture healthy attachments and set the stage for future relationships

Developing secure and healthy attachments with people is important throughout a person’s life, but especially in the first few years. Children whose parents are unavailable, disengaged or chronically inattentive are more likely to have insecure attachments and experience difficulty with close relationships later in life.

Neglectful and abusive parenting can also have a negative effect on brain development. If parents are engaged, stable and responsive, children feel safe and secure. This sets the stage for developing healthy relationships later in life with friends and loved ones. Research also shows that children who had a consistent relationship with a caring adult in the early years are more likely to get better grades, practice healthier behaviors and cope more effectively with stress later in life.

Parents who provide loving care and attention to their babies help their children develop a strong attachment. One way to promote a secure attachment is for parents to be present and engaged with their child.

Here are 7 ways parents can foster bonding and attachment:

  1. Talk often with your children from the day they are born.
  2. Use feeding and diapering times to look into your baby’s eyes, smile and talk to your baby.
  3. Hug them, hold them and respond to their needs and interests.
  4. Listen carefully as your children communicate with you.
  5. Read aloud to your children every day, even when they are babies. Play and sing with them often. Babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make.
  6. As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with age-appropriate toys, puzzles and books.
  7. Ensure a safe, orderly and predictable environment.

This is posted in conjunction with Oregon Parenting Education Week 2012

The Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families promotes the development and well being of children, youth, and families by generating, translating, and sharing research-based knowledge.

The Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC) supports delivery of high quality parenting education programs and collaborative efforts to strengthen regional parenting education systems.

OPEC is a partnership of four of Oregon’s largest foundations (The Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, The Meyer Memorial Trust and The Collins Foundation) and Oregon State University.