It should be no surprise that children who are cared for in a warm and loving way in the early stages of life form closer relationships with their caregivers. We call this attachment. Children who are securely attached to their caregivers feel safe and secure, helping them to feel confident in exploring their world and take on new experiences necessary for healthy development.
Children also benefit from developing safe and caring relationships with others such as babysitters, teachers and coaches. These important relationships play a key role in shaping a child’s social and emotional development by teaching them how to:
- Care about others and their feelings
- Cooperate and shares
- Express opinions
- Resolve conflicts
- Form their own identity
- Feel good about themselves
Secure attachments formed in the early years act as a protective factor (external link), helping children to be resilient (external link) throughout all of life’s challenges.
Caregivers can support children in developing healthy relationships with others by:
- Providing opportunities for children to connect and interact with other adults and children through supervised play dates, attending community programs together, going to your local park etc.
- Reading stories together and talking about healthy relationships e.g. what makes a good friend
- Introducing your child to the people in your neighbourhood and/or community who can help them to grow and feel good about themselves
- Helping your child develop trust in others by leaving them for short periods of time with someone who shares your values and can also make your child feel safe and secure in your absence