Role of the Attachment Person

By Judy Arnall


(Adapted from S. Landy 2002  Pathways to Competence:  Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children.)



  1. Protect the child and give them a sense of trust in the world.  Inform children of dangers and make sure their home and environment is free from danger as much as possible.  Protect their minds and spirits from overwhelming input from media, people, and situations.
  2. Help the child learn to control his behaviour, sort out his emotions and manage them, and explore his thinking.  Help the child learn appropriate behaviour and inappropriate behaviour, as well as empathy and consideration for others.  Use discipline methods that encourage attachment, respectful teaching, and problem solving, rather then detachment methods such as isolation, physical punishment, humiliation and consequences.
  3. Encourage exploration and curiosity of his environment within a web of safety.  Provide age-appropriate stimulation for intelligence and creativity.
  4. Provide a source of comfort and nurturing when the child is distressed.  Children often feel afraid, lonely, angry, upset, ill, hurt or jealous.  A nurturing parent will name the feeling, comfort the child with soft words, hugs and holding, and time spent helping the child sort out their intense feelings.  This does not have a time limit and may occur day or night as needed.
  5. Work out relationship problems when they come up.  The attachment parent takes the initiative to talk and problem solve issues as they come up in respectful ways.
  6. Respond to and notice children often and as needed, so they learn that they are important. Encourage their capability.
  7. Provide a safe outlet to talk about feelings and experiences that may be frightening to the child. 
  8. Create joyful and happy memories, rituals, and celebrations of family life to give children a sense of predictability and fun.
  9. Let children know when you leave and when you will be back.  Avoid threatening phrases that the child will be left behind, as it can foster insecurity.  Trust is built when good-bye rituals are established and by making the child feel as comfortable as possible about the good-bye.  For a child that has difficulty when separation, consider leaving him as least as possible until he can developmentally handle it.
  10. Try to be as predictable and positive as possible in reacting to the child’s behaviour.  Predictability provides security.  Children and adults look for patterns in the world and learn to expect them.  When children feel that they can predict patterns, they feel more secure, capable and a since of mastery over their environment. 

Many parents and caregivers carry out the role of the attachment person by standard attachment parenting behaviours such as long term breastfeeding, co-sleeping, wearing baby in a sling, not letting the child cry it out, practicing gentle discipline, and nurturing children with time, attention, immediate response, empathy, and kindness.