Growth Stages‎ > ‎

Attachment: Ages 0-3

Overview
Attachment: Ages 0-3
Following: Ages 1-8
Accountability: Ages 7-12
Self-Discipline: Ages 11-18
Independence: Ages 16-20+
Leading: Ages 20+

Select Pyramid Side:
   Maturity Goals (Yellow)
   Sacrifice (Blue)
   Connect (Red)
   Communicate, Explore (Green)
Maturity Goals: (Yellow Side of Pyramid)

Forming a secure attachment with our child is our top priority during the infant years because an infant’s brain craves physical and emotional closeness in order to accomplish optimal early development.

Brain Notes: In these early years, the brain’s simplest survival circuits dominate, causing the child to focus behaviors around seeking physical homeostasis (balancing hunger, fatigue, over-stimulation, etc.). The 5 major senses slowly come “online” allowing the brain to gain new information from the environment. Mirror neurons and exploratory circuits begin to propel the child’s learning, especially after the first year.

Sleeping through the night, though convenient in our society and in most cases a worthy goal, is secondary to attachment during the first 3 years. Expecting consistent, mature accountability or independence from our child (also common parenting ideas in our modern world) comes in later years on the Maturity Pyramid…when the brain is more ripe for it.

Helping the child form a secure attachment to Mom and Dad is our number one goal for this stage. Many, many child development experts talk about how important this is. There are dozens of tactics that build parent/child attachment. We use many of the ideas from William and Martha Sears, who coined the term “Attachment Parenting” in the 1990s.

We know we are accomplishing our goal when our child trusts us and therefore turns to us for sincere physical and emotional safety and comfort (usually noticeable beginning around 9 months and continuing through the tantrum years). When secure attachment occurs and continues, the parent/child relationship is prepared to Lead/Follow in the coming years.

NOTE: If I notice my body struggling (getting out of balance) to give sincere comfort to an innocent (but crying or tantruming or bullying) child, or if I falsely judge the child as annoying, manipulative, or devilish (and thus feel like trading him/her in or throwing him/her out the window)...I congratulate myself for noticing that my child is acting immature. But then I dig deep and make honest discoveries regarding my own Natural Defense Immaturity. I must accept my current level of dealing with opposition (or in other words immaturity) and at the same time accept the challenge of changing my brain chemistry so I am more prepared for future upheavals. I use this addiction recovery guide and focus on my foundational prefrontal cortex skills (suggestions here) to help break down personal walls of frustration, guilt, worry, anger, and depression so I can become more mature and thus free to assist my child in progressing and facing life’s challenges, as well.

Sacrifice: (Blue Side of Pyramid)
Practice sacrificing personal space at a time when my child depends on me completely.

Connect: (Red Side of Pyramid)
Discipline by directing our time and attention toward ensuring our child forms a secure attachment.

If a child needs to be corrected or removed from a situation, we physically go to her and bring her to us and hold her gently while talking calmly with her. If we can’t hold her gently because we’re too mad/overwhelmed ourselves, we must take a minute to meditate and re-engage our prefrontal cortex in order to make the best decisions with her. Expect to struggle with this at first. It’s a new skill. With practice, holding a child or being fully present with a child (even one that’s having a tantrum) can also be a very rewarding form of meditation.

We do not rely on any made-up consequences like spanking or time-outs to discipline during the Attachment Stage. We simply think and act upon thoughts that will increase our connection with our child. We take mental notes (or record them on our smart phones) regarding certain immature behaviors that could use the guidance of a mature example and then we ponder about how to incorporate teaching moments into our bonding and play time with the child in the future.

When my child pushes my buttons, I notice how my body tries to defend itself. If my defensive walls go up, I work hard to break them down so I can improve my ability to show honest empathy toward an innocent and immature being who simply needs help processing out of control energy. I work at resisting the temptation to judge my child as manipulative. I study child development and neuroscience to gain knowledge. This helps me remember that my child has a very immature brain with no guile and great potential. I’ve learned that children are scientifically not capable of manipulating the way most adults think they are (just like a newborn doesn’t have the neurological ability to walk yet). When I need to rejuvenate, I practice religion, meditation, yoga, etc. to gain parenting wisdom. 

Posts related to Connecting during the Attachment Stage:

Hitting (Attachment Stage 0-3)

Tantrums (Attachment Stage 0-3)

Fear of Bubble Bath (Attachment Stage 0-3)

Move, Communicate, and Explore: (Green Side of Pyramid)
Learn to walk, talk, eat, and copy.

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