Troubled Parent-Child Attachments

02/18/2017 02:17 pm ET

Households vary tremendously. Some are quiet. Others’ boisterous. But the issue is how do parents show their love and do their kids really feel it? When parents are acrimonious children feel insecure. They wonder if their parents still love each other and then question if they love them as well?

Kids need a lot more reassurance than we generally think. They need to hear a sincere, “I love you” every day. This needs to be an unconditional love, not one based on merit. If you are angry with your child, it’s imperative that later you remind them that no matter what they did, you still love them.

Children think differently than adults. Their sense of time is more short-lived than that of adults. So they need to see expressions of love frequently to know they are safe and secure.

Signs Your Child’s Attachment to You is Insecure:

1.Does your child have a tendency to greet strangers and even hug them inappropriately? This may happen when they first meet someone or even don’t know them like approaching someone at the mall and seeking a hug. This is often the sign of an attachment disorder.

2. Does your child shrink back when you go to hug them? Are they wary you may treat them with the same mixed feelings or even animosity they witnessed with your partner? This is a sign of your child’s avoidance for fear they aren’t securely attached to you.

3. Does your child have rapidly shifting moods? For a while they are loving and playful and then as if out of nowhere they get angry or deeply sad? Are they hard to console or talk to at that point? They may be worried about their attachment to you. Stay steady and let the moment pass, then reassure them that you are there for them by giving a hug, playing longer, or sharing a favorite treat.

4 Is your child struggling with going to sleep? At bedtime do they have more than the usual excuses to avoid their bedtime routine? Do they start saying they are afraid of the dark regardless of the night light and other reassurances that you are nearby? Something is going wrong with their feeling of safety that you would definitely be there if they needed you during the night. Take the time to have a conversation to learn what they fear and tell them you will check in on them during the night to see they are sleeping well because you love them so much.

All these examples are just a few of the types of unusual behaviors of children who have insecure attachments to their parents. This must be taken very seriously and often warrants a consultation with a professional psychotherapist before the feelings increase causing more suffering.

Parental guidance may be useful for parents having trouble with their partnership because it may shed light on the child’s insecurity.

Addressing the potential problems early on are key to the well-being of the whole family.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit Laurie on her website to gain more insights: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.

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