Youth First: Promoting Secure Attachments | News


Building a secure attachment between you and your child begins at birth. Your baby cries to express a need and you, as the caregiver, respond by meeting that need. By doing this consistently, your child learns that he can trust you to meet his needs and keep him safe.

This is essential for healthy mental, physical, social and emotional development. Having a secure attachment with a caregiver increases a child’s self-awareness, self-soothing abilities, empathy, and creative problem-solving skills.

The secure attachment that begins at birth develops throughout childhood. Below are four ways to promote a secure attachment with your child.

1. Use touch and eye contact. The “love hormone” is released in the brain of parent and child as you hold them in your arms and look them in the eye. This creates a strong connection in your child’s brain and generates a sense of security. This can be done by hugging, reading a book together in a rocking chair, or gently touching your child’s shoulder as you walk past them.

2. Practice emotional attunement. It’s about reassuring and comforting your child during difficult times. Children learn to manage their emotions through observation. When they come to you with a problem, be sure to stay calm and reassuring while you listen to them. This helps them better understand their own emotions and gives them the opportunity to internalize reassuring words. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the perfect advice for your youngsters, but simply listening and showing that you care about your child’s feelings can be enough.

3. Create a secure environment. Children shouldn’t have to worry about adult matters like bills, whether to eat, or relationship issues between their parents. For healthy development, they must feel safe with their caregivers and trust that their needs will be met. When exposed to a chaotic and turbulent lifestyle, children become anxious and find it difficult to feel safe. While these life issues can be stressful and unavoidable, keep in mind what to share with your children based on their age.

4. Share play and fun with your child. Just like touch and eye contact, shared play and fun release opioids in your brain and your child’s brain, bringing you closer together. Children who play with their parents are happier and more firmly attached. As an adult, you might not want to play with Barbies or Legos for hours after a long day at work, which is understandable. Instead, strive to find a mutually pleasurable activity that you can really enjoy, such as going for a walk in nature, playing a sport, or watching a favorite movie. Sometimes even household chores or preparing a meal can turn into a shared pleasure, so be creative!

Taylor Dore is a youth first social work intern at Evans Elementary School in Vanderburgh County. Youth First, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth and families. Youth First provides 78 Masters level social workers to 107 schools in 13 Indiana counties. Each year, more than 60,000 youth and families benefit from Youth First’s school social work and after-school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors and maximize student success.

To learn more about Youth First, visit or call 812-421-8336.


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