When you leave and re-enter a room, how does your little one respond? Your answer to that question could signal a certain "attachment style" that will follow your child for the rest of their life, according to ground breaking new research from Bethany Saltman of New York magazine. Experts now believe that attachment style, or the level of security and closeness a child feels with his or her caregiver, is more important to a person's lifelong development than IQ, social class, and temperament.
To discern different attachment styles and what each one means, researchers observed a participating mother and her 1-year-old for 20 minutes through a one-way mirror. The mother was instructed to exit the room, leaving her purse behind as a sign of eventual return, while the researchers observed the child's reaction. After a few minutes, the mother was instructed to re-enter the room.
"Reunion 2," as the researchers termed it, was the most important moment: If a child reacts nonchalantly or not at all, this could indicate that the child knows his or her advances will be rebuffed, or that the relationship is insecure. This sort of "attachment anxiety," which can be detected in children ages 1 and younger, has been linked to depression, anxiety, and unsuccessful marriages in adulthood.
What's more interesting (or terrifying) is that attachment styles can be passed down from generation to generation. If a mother was raised in an insecure attachment style, for example, chances are that she will, however unintentionally, raise her children in a similar manner. Moral of the story: Cultivate a secure attachment style with your little one in which they expect their needs to be met when interacting with you.
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