OTTAWA, ON – Maintaining a child’s attachment to loving adults should be a parent's primary concern, and today we offer several tips toward achieving this. “We know 76% of Canadians believe it is best for children under six to be at home with at least one parent,” says Andrea Mrozek, Cardus Family Program Director. “Yet this isn’t always possible. Maintaining a good relationship with your child over the long term is important regardless of what care you are using.” All parents and caregivers can use six strategies to help kids build healthy attachments:
- Foster connections between the child and other responsible adults, including family and friends. By cultivating social relations in familiar settings like neighbourhoods, children can feel at home without actually being home.
- Create trust with caregivers. In whatever form of childcare you use, spend time with the caregiver, showing your child you trust him or her. That will help the child learn to trust the caregiver, too.
- Ensure caregivers understand attachment principles. A welcoming, friendly, relaxed, and personal greeting by a caregiver helps the child form a positive relationship with that caregiver. Developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld calls this “collecting” our children, which is part of inviting them into relationship with you.
- Multiple attachments to different adults are OK. There’s no reason for a parent to feel threatened by a child’s growing attachment to another responsible adult. Allowing multiple attachments smooths the transfer of care from one person to another.
- Slow down the morning routine. Giving a child even 10 minutes of unhurried attention in the morning can make the difference between a stressful, intense start to the day and one that involves smiles and laughter. This helps build the relationship between you and your child too.
- Give your child a locket or other memento with your picture in it. Having a constant reminder of a parent’s love helps build attachment and reminds a small child you can are still there for him or her, even while apart.
These six strategies, and the research behind them, are contained in the new Cardus report, Six Ways to Maintain Attachment When Using Daycare. Libby Simon, a freelance writer who was a school social worker in Winnipeg for 20 years, authored the report.
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Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, social cities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S. To learn more, visit: www.cardus.ca and follow us on Twitter @cardusca.