A toddler's attachment to his mother is vital for his emotional development.

Importance of a Toddler's Attachment to a Mother

by Dana Hinders

Caring for a toddler can be utterly exhausting, but the fact that your child wants to be by your side every minute of the day is actually a good thing. If you are your toddler's favorite person in the world, it means he is securely attached to his mommy. If you are so busy you can't find time to finally lose those last 10 pounds of baby weight, take comfort in the fact that you're helping your toddler set the stage for a lifetime of successful emotional development.

1. Understanding Attachment

According to German psychologist John Bowlby, infants become attached to their mothers through physical contact with their mother's skin, heartbeat and body heat. This bond continues to grow throughout the toddler years because mothers are generally the primary caretakers of children. Even if mothers decide to return to work, securely attached toddlers feel content because they do not doubt the devotion of their mothers. This, of course, means you can stop with the "mommy guilt" every time you pick up your briefcase and head out the door.

2. The Benefits of Attachment

A toddler who is securely attached to her mother will not necessarily perform higher on cognitive tasks, but will often demonstrate greater enthusiasm and perseverance when learning new things. Securely attached children will also be more sociable, cooperative and ego-resilient. This can lead to more favorable treatment by teachers and peers, thus setting a pattern for social interaction that can continue into adulthood.

3. Promoting a Toddler's Attachment to Mother

Many people believe that attachment parenting can increase a toddler's level of attachment to his mother. There are seven B's of attachment parenting that sum up the basic beliefs associated with this philosophy: birth bonding, breastfeeding, bedding down close to baby, baby wearing, belief in the value of your baby's cries, beware of baby trainers, and balance in parenting. According to Dr. Sears and other supporters of attachment parenting, following these principles will increase trust and intimacy between mother and child. Parents who practice attachment parenting often say that they feel more empowered because it teaches them to be very aware of the child's needs.

4. Fathers Make a Difference Too

When a child's mother is unable or unwilling to care for her, the role of the father, grandparents and regular caregivers becomes much more important. Research by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that sensitive responsiveness to the needs of a child promotes secure attachment and helps a toddler develop strong relationships with others. Feeling loved and cared for is essential for a toddler's emotional development, regardless of whether her mother is available at any given time. So the next time you need a bit of "me" time, don't hesitate to leave your little one with another caring adult for a while.

About the Author

Dana Hinders is an Iowa-based writer. She earned her B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa in 2003.

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