Ever wonder if secure attachment is beneficial for your child? Or maybe you’ve questioned how secure attachment may impact your child’s sleep?
First, let’s talk about what secure attachment is. Secure attachment is when a child feels comforted by the presence of their parent/caregiver. Securely attached children often prefer their parents when they need to feel comforted, or even wish to have a parent near while exploring new things.
Secure attachment is the healthiest form of attachment and because it has lasting effects on an individual, it’s really important to healthy development and relationship building. When children grow up with a sense of stability and care, securely attached children find it easier to navigate the world around them as they grow older.
The 4 S’s of Secure Attachment
The Four S’s of Secure Attachment were developed by Daniel Siegel, M.D. who is a world-renowned neuropsychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of “The Whole Brain Child” and “The Power of Showing Up.”
Dr. Siegel states that parents can practice “secure attachment” by implementing the “Four S’s” which are “seen, safe, soothe and secure.”
Here’s how to practice Dr. Daniel Siegel’s Four S’s to promote secure attachment with your child:
This is not just seeing with your eyes, but this is tuning into your child’s mental and emotional state and sensing the mind behind their behavior. This is what Dr. Siegel refers to as “mindsight,” and where he directs you to respond to what you’re observing and seeing to help your child know how to understand their feelings.
Dr. Siegel states that we have two ways that we should focus on keeping our children safe and that’s keeping them physically safe, and making them feel safe with us as the parent/caregiver by avoiding responses that might frighten or hurt our children.
Dr. Siegel suggests we help our children deal with difficult emotions and situations when they are dealing with emotional distress by shifting the negative experience, and by creating meaningful interaction as this helps the child learn inner soothing via co-regulation.
When the first three steps are followed, Dr. Siegel suggests that we are providing our children with a sense of security and help them develop an internalized sense of well-being.
How Does Secure Attachment Tie Into Your Child’s Sleep?
If you find yourself wondering if secure attachment and sleep-training can co-exist, the answer is YES!
There ARE healthy levels of attachment, and having your child feel that they are seen, safe, soothed and secure with you even as you’re working through the sleep teaching process can be extremely beneficial to the process.
I teach families holistic, responsive approaches to sleep teaching/training because it’s important that as parents we maintain that sense of security for our children and continue to check in just to let them know we are there. Sleep training strategies are short-term behavioral interventions that can help a child learn the skill of sleeping independently. When this strategy is linked with setting solid foundations of sleep (nutrition, routines, sleeping environment and awake windows/schedule) your child can certainly sleep 10-12 hours at night and take longer, restorative naps during the day that are age-appropriate.
Please know that you can totally provide comfort and support to your child and still have a great little sleeper! Plus, when baby sleeps well, it allows for parents to get the rest they need so as a parent you’re able to be more responsive during the day to your child’s needs.
Don’t worry, sleep training will not get in the way of your child rushing over to you the moment they are hurt, upset, excited, or just wanting a hug or kiss from their parent(s). You can definitely have both!
If you’d like to chat in more detail about sleep challenges that your little one is facing, you can schedule a free discovery call here.