Attachment in Childcare: Feeling at Home
Childcare is often times a secondary home to many children in our society. Families come to rely heavily on this service to meet their children’s day-to-day needs in a variety of ways including socialization. Even families who do not rely on childcare seek social opportunities for their preschool aged children in environments similar to Daycare in the pursuit of socialization.
Research has shown that the sociability of preschoolers is actually a loss of shyness, as explored in Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s book “Hold On To Your Kids”. Children are not shy in their own home, and when feeling a strong sense of attachment, they feel free to behave authentically. So are all attachments created equally? No. If peers fill this role we see children controlling and being controlled by children purposely and unintentionally, when given their immaturity, could be very detrimental and leads to stress of all kinds.
So how do we promote an attachment between our children and their care providers and a sense of home outside of home? Children need to develop relationships with the care provider and spend one on one time and lots of eye contact throughout the day. This is much more easily attained in smaller group settings where care providers have more opportunities to connect with individual children. When children are represented within the space they can gain a sense of belonging.
By displaying photographs, art-work and items from home or familiar cultural objects/images children are reminded that they are important and part of the centre. The Parent and Care provider relationship is important in supporting the child’s connection. When a child observes positive communication, genuine relating and consistency they will have an easier time attaching to the new adult.
While many parents are keen to focus on peer socialization, the important first step begins with forming an attachment to the adult and feeling at home in the centre order to develop healthfully into an independent social being, with a strong sense of self, before disappearing into a sea of peers. Children who develop socially out of healthy attachments have strong future friendships and relationships with their peers.
Gordon Neufled, PH.D., and Gabor Mate, M.D, Hold On To Your Kids, (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2005), p. 238.
ECE and Mom of Three