Select Page

Forming a Foundation that Nurtures Secure Attachment at All Ages
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director: AllCEUs Counselor Education
Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast

CEUs are available for this presentation at AllCEUs

~ Identify the CARES approach to creating secure attachment
~ Explore the needs of children in infancy, early childhood and middle and high school to identify
~ Challenges
~ Ways to promote secure attachment in an age-appropriate manner
~ Requirements
~ Consistency
~ Attention
~ Responsiveness (mirror and up-regulation (soothing))
~ Empathy and validation
~ Solutions (generate)
~ Effects
~ They are lovable and worthy of support
~ Others are available and responsive
~ They have good emotional regulation skills
~ They have frustration/distress tolerance
~ They have self-efficacy
~ They can tolerate ambiguity in life
~ They can deal effectively with others
~ They can effectively problem solve and elicit assistance when needed
Infants (Maslow)
~ Biological Needs
~ Food when hungry
~ Shelter/Physical comfort
~ Protection from overstimulation
~ Sleep when sleepy
~ Contact
~ Safety
~ Consistent presence vs. Abandonment (no object permanence)
~ Startle / loud noises / pain
~ Love and Belonging
~ Caregivers provide attention, affection and nurturance
~ Unconditional positive regard

Erickson's Stages Psychosocial Development: Trust
~ Ability to interpret, trust and act on own feelings (self-confidence)
~ Belief that others will help fulfil needs (hope)
~ Self reliance
~ Comfortable with attention
~ Ability to be “alone”
~ Contentment

~ Inability to trust own instincts/urges/feelings
~ Reliance on others to tell them what they need
~ Inability to trust others will be supportive
~ Discomfort with and craving of attention (Abandonment fears)
~ Irritability/anxiety

Piaget– Cognitive Development
~ Sensorimotor:
~ Children do not yet have object permanence
~ Children do not yet have much of a frame of reference so they rely on parental feedback
~ Schemas formed during this time rely heavily on
~ Were needs adequately met (empowered vs. powerless)
~ Parental reaction (stress-level/attentiveness/consistency)

~ Think about the impact of adverse childhood experiences during this time. (Abuse/neglect, addiction, absence, mental illness)

Mindful Parenting
~ Be attentive to the baby’s cries and cues before they become hysterical
~ Accept the baby’s needs as they are to create a validating environment
~ Be consistent
~ Calm yourself
~ Stressed parent  stressed baby
~ Keep a routine to help set baby’s circadian rhythms
~ Feeding
~ Sleeping
~ View the world from baby’s eyes (esp. children with autism, FASD or sensory impairments)

Toddlers and beyond (Maslow)
~ In addition to biological, safety and love and belonging needs…
~ The toddler is now developing
~ Self-Esteem
~ I am lovable for who I am
~ I am loveable even when I make a mistake
~ Self-Efficacy
~ I am capable of trying new things
~ If I make a mistake, my caregiver is there to help me
Early Childhood: Psychosocial Development
~ Will: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Toddlers, 2 to 3 years) “Can I do things myself or am I reliant on others?”
~ Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool, 4 to 6 years) Children begin asserting control and power
~ Interferences
~ Overly permissive or overly strict parents
~ How does this prevent children from feeling safe and accepted?
~ Lack of praise for exploration and experimentation
~ How does this prevent children from feeling safe and accepted?

Early Childhood: Piaget–Cognitive
~ 2-6 years early childhood (Preoperational)
~ Preschoolers have difficulty discerning truth from fiction/dreams/imagination
~ Parenting challenge: Truth vs. Fiction
~ How can parents sometimes lack empathy/validation; responsiveness or problem solving?
~ Toy Story; imaginary friends, poof-up powers
~ Preschoolers tend to think in egocentric, centric & dichotomous terms
~ Parenting Challenge: Developing empathy without invalidating

Early Childhood: Piaget–Cognitive
~ Children of this age typically love to play make-believe.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Finding your make believe
~ Using play time for teaching interpersonal skills
~ Turn taking
~ Communication (What do you want to do? Tell me how to do it? Where are we going on the space ship?)
~ Effective conflict resolution (Stopping an activity, choosing an activity, between action figures)
~ Understanding what they are communicating through their play or art and helping them put words to it when needed

Early Childhood cont…
~ They often have difficulty putting into words how they feel or what is going on inside.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Helping them identify feelings and needs
~ Helping them identify and address feelings and needs before the red zone
~ You seem to be getting overwhelmed. What do you need to help you feel better?
~ They use everyday objects in “conventional” and unconventional ways.
~ Parenting challenge
~ Honoring their creativity in the right time/place (pots and pans; froggy amusement park; rain-shower bath; sweater for Raina)

Early Childhood cont…
~ Preschoolers also love to ask questions both to learn facts as well as learn how to interact with others
~ Parenting challenge:
~ Not getting impatient “Mommy, why is the….”
~ Helping children learn how to answer their own questions (scaffolding)
~ Helping children learn to self-regulate in mutual conversations

Mindful Parenting (Toddlers/Preschool)
~ Encourage children/yourself to explore and experiment
~ Praise children/yourself for trying even if they fail
~ Little Critter “Just for You”
~ Reassure children/yourself that they are loved as is
~ Create an “All About Me” book. Use LOTS of adjectives (helpful, kind, polite, creative, energetic, determined, good at…), and include a section for good/nice things the child did
~ Be aware of your opinions and how you endorse them to prevent unintended consequences, especially in this age of dichotomous thinking

Mindful Parenting (Toddlers/Preschool)
~ Practice family mindfulness at breakfast, after school and bedtime
~ Best and worst things
~ Pay attention to nonverbal (and verbal) cues and help the child label her feelings
~ Use feeling words and pictures (Happy, frustrated, angry, jealous, sad, guilty, overwhelmed, scared)
~ Help child learn to identify sensations, urges and feelings associated with emotions
~ Teach children to “check-in” with themselves periodically
~ Help child learn to tolerate emotions (Activities (walk, color, play), opposite Emotions, encouragement)

Mindful Parenting (Toddlers/Preschool)
~ Provide instructions objectively/pictorially to enhance efficacy

~ Only provide one task at a time
~ Start encouraging empathy
~ When watching a show— “How do you think [Dora] felt?”
~ After a disagreement — “How would you have felt if [that happened to you]?

Mindful Parenting (Toddlers/Preschool)
~ Use scaffolding to assist with problem solving and efficacy
~ Make suggestions
~ Ask probing questions (including limited response)
~ Use demonstrations
~ Introduce a prop (pictorial poster)
~ Provide support (i.e. discuss the plan, make a prop)
~ Offer encouragement
~ Examples: Tying shoes, cleaning up toys, coloring, puzzles, picking clothes, making lunch, baking cookies, playing ball, wash the dog.

Middle and High School
~ Erickson: Industry and Identity. What am I good at and who am I?
~ Time of exploration physically, recreationally academically and socially
~ Differences in physical development between peers
~ Much desire to “fit in”
~ Becoming more independent
Middle and High School
~ Parenting Challenges
~ Allowing secure attachments with others
~ Understanding increasing conflict as an effect of individuation
~ Setting and maintaining consistent limits and rules with rationales
~ Negotiating increasing responsibility
~ Being authentic and empathetic even during disagreements
~ Modeling emotion regulation and distress tolerance
~ Giving praise
~ Preventing vulnerabilities
~ Sustaining a goal directed partnership
~ Ensuring children know you are supportive “in spirit.”

~ Children need different things at different developmental stages due to their cognitive capabilities as well as their psychosocial needs
~ The key to attachment is creating an environment in which children feel safe, loved and accepted (unconditionally)
~ Consistency in attending, in messages and rules
~ Attention in a meaningful way
~ Responsiveness to help children identify emotions and self-regulate
~ Empathy to children’s feelings and perspectives to create a validating environment
~ Solutions are generated at first by the parents then my the youth to solve the problems