It's going to be OK: Tips for helping your child with attachment during this time

This pandemic is affecting us all on varying and devastating degrees, we each have our own stories of how it has touched our lives and as I practice self care I have to also balance the needs of my son and daughter- especially since for the last few weeks I have noticed my son has become incredibly attached. After speaking with a counselor she explained attachment and gave me a better understanding of how to be there for him and that is what I want to share with you.

Right now Miguel is having attachment issues and feeling unsure about his life. Though he knows there's an illness that makes everyone sick, he is feeling insecure and who can blame. Our world (everyone's world) has turned upside down. His life has changed and so he is trying to make sense of it.

This is what my counselor (she) told me and so with the notes I took I want to share, as it really did help me understand on why, what he was doing and how to be there for him, without feeling overwhelmed myself.

If we look at history, our biology is based on attachment, stay close to people to stay alive. When she told me this it clicked on what attachment is and why Miguel is feeling disconnected or unsafe because he's unsure of his world so he's trying to stay alive, he feels he's in harm's way because of the changes.

So he is constantly asking to play; an attachment need is often worked through by play. He needs to burn off energy so it's running around, Pokeman battles, chasing games, heroes and villains, and baby and mama play. These play activities show the emotional side of what he is working through and it makes me sad that this going on for him and all children. Obviously the games are ok to play at for awhile but they get boring and I don't feel like playing Pokeman for the 100th time a day.

So what can I do? While here are some strategies I was given to support Miguel:

  • Give in to his needs which means "you're safe with me"

  • Evaluate my beliefs regarding play

  • "Grow up"

  • The more I "push back" the more "needy" or anxious he becomes

  • "Bridge the gap"

This all sounds overwhelming, don't worry I'm going to break it down.

Give in to his needs and evaluate my beliefs regarding play:

This is within limits but understanding play is important for growth especially in early years. Children learn so much from play and so re-evaluating what play is and how I can use it to support Miguel is re-educating, reorganizing the play we do so he gets his needs and I don't resent the Pokeman battles. I can do this by suggesting making Pokeman badges or drawing Pokeman characters that we hold for the battles. I can add onto his ideas with my own interests so we are both engaged and I'm present with him.

Growing up:

to me, is recognizing it's not about me. It's about being present, having compassion for others and myself, doing what is needed to ensure 'survival', accepting things as they are and change what I can. I think I'm still figuring out what ''Grow up'' is as sometimes I don't feel like a grown up. I think recognizing and being aware that when I get frustrated with my children, it's a time for me to step back and grow up.

The more I "push back" is when I need to "grow up". I'm thinking of myself and my needs and I'm forgetting that Miguel is feeling unsafe and he needs to feel like it's ok. So a way around this is to address what he needs and what I need. My counselor gave this statement:

"I love you so much. I need 10 minutes because I'm feeling I need quiet time. When I'm done I will play Pokeman battles with you"

and use a timer he can see and keep track of the time. I actually ordered those sand timers as they come in 1 minute, 5, 10, 15 and 30 minutes. I have been using this and it does seem to help. It ensures him I still love him, he's still safe and it gives him a healthy boundary where we both look after our needs.

"Bridge the gap" is something I'm still working on as I manage and balance our live at this time. I do quiet time with him so he might get his tablet while I work, he cuddles on me while I read, I haven't done these yet but giving him a shirt of mine at night, checking on him during the night are other ideas to bridge the gap.

Though I haven't read it yet there's a book recommended from my counselor 'What young children need you to know' by Bridgett Miller which provides daily insights on how to be there and connect with children more. Once I read it I'll provide more information.

If anything I see attachment as he's connected to me and right now he does need me a little bit more to feel a little safer in a world that has changed overnight. Attachment is when he needs a bit more emotional safety and it can be repaired as long as I continue to be there for him by play, setting healthy boundaries, growing up and bridging a gap where he knows it's going to be ok.

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