Attachment and Bonding
Considerations for Infant and
Toddler Overnights
January 23, 2015
Barbara Rila, Ph.D.
Texas AFCC 13th Annual Conference
Fort Worth, Texas
Attachment drives child development
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An attuned parent allows
the child’s needs to be fulfilled, and
helps them develop emotional regulation,
and offers stimulation for learning when the
child is calm and alert.
Discontinuity of attachment interferes
with child development.
• Parents may not learn to adequately read the
child’s signals of need states, causing agitation to
the young child.
• Such a parent will not offer optimal soothing for
emotional regulation, also contributing to
agitation in the young child.
• The child stays in a stress response, attempting to
have needs satisfied and be soothed.
• Learning cannot optimally occur in times of
stress, and therefore the development is
compromised in the child.
Building attachments to help a young
child with a visitation schedule.
• Both parent and child contribute to the
attachment relationship. Reciprocity is key.
Parent contributions to attachment
• Attunement to child’s needs and emotional
states
• Availability to meet these
• Consistency in response to child
• Responsivity to child’s cues
Parenting styles
• Authoritarian; ranging from abusive to
‘helicopter’ parenting
• Authoritative; mature, responsive guidance
• Casual; ranging from neglectful to laxness in
discipline and expectations
Parent’s preferences
• For the comfort in parenting a particular stage
of development
• For tasks of parenting
Nurturing
Limit setting
Playmate
Teacher
Child’s contribution to the attachment
relationship
• Temperament
Easy
Slow to warm up
Difficult
Sensory sensitivities and appetites
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Touch
Taste
Aroma
Visual
Sounds
Movement
Body position
Best fit between parent and child
should be the primary overnight
location in order to
• Protect and build attachment
• Protect child development
• To help child build additional relationships
throughout the life span
Use an Infant Mental Health Specialist
or a Child Development Specialist to
• Evaluate the best parent-child fit
• Assist both parents in recognizing the child’s
needs and preferred styles of soothing
• Help adapt parenting to meet those needs
• Craft plans for visitation
Essentially, parents of young children
need to provide:
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Safety
Stability
Security
Stimulation
Sensitivity
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Attachment and Bonding Considerations for Infants