Bowlby, one of the pioneer theorists of attachment, explained that attachment between children and their mothers or caregivers need to be established as early as when the child is born. Attachment is the emotional bond, which exists between two persons. Theorists of attachment believe that strong emotional bonds formed between children and their mothers or caregivers have significant effects that continue throughout the children’s life (Cherry, 2011). Attachment helps the child to stay close to the mother, and thus increases the child’s chances of survival. The theory of attachment is based on the concept that mothers who stay close to their children and respond to their needs as they occur, are able establish sense of security to their children. Consequently, the child is aware that the mother/caregiver is dependable, thus creating a secure base in which the child can grow.
There are three components of attachment, as provided by Bowlby, which are consistent throughout the lifetime of an individual. They include proximity maintenance, safe heaven, and secure base. The term proximity means closeness. People of all ages desire to feel close to their attachment figures in times of stress and difficulties (Cherry, 2011). Infants and toddlers desire this closeness too. Therefore, a child makes every effort to stay as close as possible to the mother/caregiver (Cherry, 2011). This enables the child to stay safe at all times.
On the other hand, safe haven refers to a situation where an attachment figure provides physical and emotional safety, soothing, and comfort to an individual during the times of distress (Howsare, 2009). Whenever a child feels threatened, he /she runs to the mother/caregiver for safety, soothing and comfort. Finally, the component of security base involves provision of a danger-free base where a child can learn, discover, and develop his/her own curiosity and interests in the world A security base is provided to the children by their mothers or caregivers (Howsare, 2009).
Mothers/caregivers need to establish healthy attachment bonds with their children. Establishment of healthy attachment bonds means providing care to infants and toddlers in a reliable and consistent manner (Tomlin, 2008). One of the importances of establishment of healthy attachment bonds is that healthy bonds help in building a sense of trust towards the caregiver. When care is provided to a child in a consistent and reliable manner, the child is able to develop a sense of trust not only towards the caregiver, but also to the surrounding environment. Providing attachment in a healthy manner enables the child to develop a positive attitude towards him/her self (Tomlin, 2008). The rationale behind this is that when children receive care from their caregivers in a healthy manner, they become aware of the fact that they are loved and appreciated. This love and appreciation is what helps them to develop positive attitudes towards themselves.
In addition, children can express themselves better when they have healthy attachment bonds with their mothers/caregivers (Tomlin, 2008). Establishment of healthy attachment bonds results into creation of a sense of trust in a child towards the caregiver. This trust is what enables a child to express his/her emotions towards the caregiver without fear. Brotherson (2006) observes that the kind of relationship that a child has with his/her caregiver serves as a basis of all future relationships for that child. This implies that healthy attachment bonds between a caregiver and a child results into establishment of healthy future relationships by that child.
From a personal perspective, a healthy attachment between a child and a caregiver should be comprised of love, attention, and time. Caregivers should show more affection to the children when they are still tender. This can be done through touching where a caregiver can massage the infant gently while holding him or her. Children who are shown love when they are young are likely to show it back when Love forms the basis for establishment of healthy attachment bonds. Time is of great essence in establishment of healthy attachment bonds. Spending more time with the child allows the caregiver to learn more about the child. For instance, how a child behaves while in pain, what makes the child happy or unhappy, and how a child behaves when in need of attention. This helps the caregiver to attend to the child in an improved manner since she can understand the child better.
Finally, the caregiver should ensure that the child receives all the attention he/she needs. This can be achieved by spending enough time with the child. Providing attachment to infants and toddlers using a combination of love, attention, and time can be realized because the three elements can be fulfilled at the same time. By spending enough time with the child, the caregiver is able to provide attention whenever the child needs it, and the more time the caregiver spends with the child, the more she is able to grow love towards the child.