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A secure base:

A Secure Base is vital for all children from birth onwards. Did you know that only a startling 60% of children are classified as Securely Attached? Leaving almost half of children with an Insecure Attachment Style.
By Jessica Ryan-Zenman
Date: October 27 2011
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A Secure Base is vital for all children from birth onwards.  Did you know that only a startling 60% of children are classified as Securely Attached? Leaving almost half of children with an Insecure Attachment Style.  Securely attached children have higher self-esteem and they generally make friends more easily, perform better in school and go on to have much more satisfying and lasting intimate relationships.  Attachment styles are long lasting and have long-term consequences for adulthood. Insecure attached children can often have relationship problems, depression, anxiety, addictions and poor self-esteem in their adulthood.

The first five years are key in forming a secure attachment with your child. Making yourself a secure base for your child to explore and interact with the world from is one of the best gifts you can give your child.

Here are some tips to help guide you in providing a secure base for your child:

  • Make sure your child has plenty of physical contact with you, touch is an amazing communication tool and displaying plenty of warmth towards your child through touch is vital for them to feel loved and good about themselves.
  • Tell your child that you love them, tell them often, you can’t tell them enough!
  • Your child’s sense of self and self-esteem grows from what you give them.
  • Make sure your child knows they are special to you and valued just for being them. There has been a lot of controversy lately over not praising your child too much or telling them they are special because you could be encouraging narcissism. I completely disagree with this. A child needs to know they are special to you no matter what and regardless of what they do, don’t do, what they are good at or not good at. They need to know they are good enough just as they are. Doing this will actually encourage them to be loving and giving towards others and be less narcasstic because they are able to validate themselves and don’t constantly crave the external validation.
  • Always validate your child’s feelings, very young children often can’t manage the huge emotional rollercoaster that is part of toddlerhood. They need you to recognise what they are feeling, name it for them and soothe them. Never punish your child for having a feeling. It’s been said that when children are behaving “badly” they often need your love and understanding the most and I think this is very true.
  • If you have a baby, always always say goodbye to them if you have to separate. I know it’s tempting to sneak away for fear of upsetting them but when they notice you have gone and they will, they often feel betrayed and doing this repeatedly damages their ability to trust you.


*A book that’s great for helping babies to cope with separation is “Owl Babies” by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson. It’s brilliant!


Jessica Ryan-Zeman

Jessica is a member of CAPA (the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association of NSW) with a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Sydney and near completing her Masters of Applied Psychotherapy and Counselling from the Jansen Newman Institute.   Jessica currently works part time for a private psychiatric hospital in Sydney and has extensive experience working with a wide range of presenting problems.

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