As I studied more, I found myself looking at the relationships between parent and child. If we can't remember early childhood, do parent child interactions even matter?
It wasn't until I learned about attachment that these questions were answered.
Attachment is building a bond between parent and child. The four different styles of attachment are differentiated by the influences the parent has on their child.
Turns out that though we can not remember most of our memories from early childhood, the bond and trust that is created, or not created during infancy, can carry throughout childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood!
Of the different styles of attachment shown in the diagram on the left, the secure attachment is the ideal.
Babies with a secure attachment often feel more confident in themselves. They feel more apt to explore new surroundings and know that their caregiver will be there to reassure them along the way.
One of the best ways to build a secure attachment is to respond to the child's needs, especially during infancy (birth to about the age of two). It is so important to know that YOU CANNOT SPOIL AN INFANT! Responding does not spoil the child, but reassures them that their needs will be met. For example, if they are hungry, the child learns that he or she will be fed, or if they are scared, that mommy or daddy will comfort them. A secure attachment develops as parents are consistent, and are quick to respond.
When parents respond to their children, they have more positive outcomes, but will still have their fussy moments that include various types of crying. When an infant cries, they are not trying to be annoying, but are getting their caregiver's attention so their needs can be met! Because verbal communication doesn't begin until about age one, crying is a helpful way for infants to communicate. They might be communicating that they are hungry, need a diaper change, are too hot, tired, lonely, or even over stimulated (mayoclinic.org-crying newborns).
Photo Credit: Crazy80frog | Dreamstime
As I learned about attachment, I learned that by listening to cues like crying, parents can be more aware of their children's needs. When they respond consistently and sensitively, they can encourage a secure attachment with their child, which will give them confidence and reassurance that will follow them into the later stages of their life.