a healthy parent-child relationship. Attachment refers to the
interpersonal bond between a parent and a child. Children who
begin life in difficult circumstances, such as in chaotic homes,
foster care, or an orphanage, always have attachment repair
needs. That made sense to me as I prepared to be an adoptive
mom. But I was completely unconscious of my own challenges
with emotional connection and what I brought to the table as
a parent.
John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth dedicated their lives
to exploring what came to be known as Attachment Theory.
Attachment Theory asserts that it is critical for an infant to
develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for
the child’s successful social and emotional development. This
is particularly important for a child as they learn to effectively
regulate their feelings. A fundamental tenet of this theory is
that infants and children need a reliable caretaker who offers
consistent touch and mirroring. Both touch and mirroring are
necessary to receive and/or pass along a secure attachment
style.
Touch is a concept that we understand without a lot of
explanation. Babies need a great deal of tender, physical
contact to thrive. Mirroring needs a bit more explanation.
When a mother feeds her baby, about 18 inches from her face,
mom and baby gaze into each other’s eyes. If the baby coos
and smiles after eating, the mother reflects back this
satisfaction.15 If a baby gets distressed, then a mirroring
caretaker picks up the baby and reflects the infant’s emotion
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