Senses: The infant or toddler does whatever he can to maintain physical proximity with the person to whom he is attached. The child needs to sense his attachment figure through smell, sound, sight or touch. When close contact is threatened or disrupted, he will express alarm and protest
Sameness: The child seeks to be like those she feels closest to. She imitates how they walk and talk. She identifies with the parents and their preferences and demeanor.
Belonging and Loyalty: To be close to someone is to consider that person “one’s own.” The toddler will lay claim to “my mommy” or “my daddy.” Related to belonging is loyalty – being faithful and obedient to one’s attachment figures.
Significance: To be dear to someone – to matter to somebody – is to ensure closeness and connection. The preschooler seeks to please and win approval. He is extremely sensitive to looks of displeasure and disapproval. He lives for the happy face of those he is attached to.
Feeling: Emotion is always involved in attachment. Children who have strong connection to a parent through warm, affectionate feelings can tolerate much more physical separation, yet hold the parent close. The child carries the image of the loving parent in his mind, and finds support and comfort in it.
Being Known: To feel close to someone is to be known by them. In pursuit of this intimacy, a child will share his secrets. A securely attached child does not like to have secrets from her parents because of the resulting loss of closeness. There is no closeness that can surpass having shared our deepest concerns and insecurities, and still being liked, accepted, welcomed, loved.
Neufeld, Gordon, Ph.D.; Mate, Gabor, M.D. (2008-11-19). Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. Random House, Inc., Kindle Edition.
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Attachment and Orientation
Attachment is the pursuit and preservation of closeness and connection, physically and emotionally. Attachment is at the heart of relationships. In the life of the developing human being, attachment is what matters most. It is an absolute need. The adult attached to becomes the child’s “compass point.” Children have an innate orienting instinct. They need to get their sense of direction from somebody. Infants naturally orient to their own parents. Utterly helpless and unable to function on their own, they must attach to an adult. Our children must remain attached to us emotionally until they are able to stand on their own, think for themselves and determine their own direction. As children grow, they have increasing need to orient; to develop a sense of who they are, what is real, why things happen, what is good. Children need the help provided by attachment. As long as the child can find himself in relation to his compass point, he will not feel lost. The attachment instinct impels the child to keep his compass point close. The child’s worst fear is getting lost – losing contact with his compass point.
Family Therapy - Plano