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Session 4/13

Page 4/5: Five Dimensions of Secure Caregiving

Five Dimensions of Secure Caregiving


Science has studied what caregivers do to give the child a secure relationship and develop a secure attachment pattern in the child. Here are five videos and text to illustrate and explain:


1: MUTUAL CONTACT

What caregivers do to give the child a secure relationship and develop a secure attachment pattern in the child:They often respond when the baby wants contact. They also often take initiatives to contact and stimulate the baby.
They use a melodious voice and clear facial expressions to show what they feel. They talk to the baby and try to make eye contact with it.

2: SENSITIVITY

What caregivers do to give the child a secure relationship and develop a secure attachment pattern in the child:They act in a sensitive way. They have tasks (feed the baby/child, put on clothes, sing songs or make other activities, etc.), but they “read” the feelings of the child and resolve the task in a flexible manner: if the child is sad, they comfort the child while putting on shoes, if the child is happy putting on shoes it becomes a play, etc. Being sensitive means that you don’t follow strict rules, you motivate the child by “meeting and understanding the way the child feels right now”.


3: BEING AVAILABLE

What caregivers do to give the child a secure relationship and develop a secure attachment pattern in the child:
They are available for the child. If the child is distressed, sad, or in need, there is a caregiver around to comfort and soothe it, providing a secure base. Care is given without conditions and quickly, until the child feels secure again. In this example from Italy, several young people had problems doing their homework because of a lack of confidence and concentration problems. Staff decided that they always do their homework with a caregiver sitting next to them. This improved their school performance and increased their self-esteem.


4: FEELING WITH THE CHILD, NOT LIKE THE CHILD

If the child is angry, sad or very desperate, the caregiver feels with the child, but not like the child. Even though the child is excited or angry, the caregiver does not become excited or angry – he or she stays in a calm feeling. The caregiver does not scold or punish the child. She may be firm, but does not feel angry like the child does, and she talks to the child in a kind and calm way. A child will become more insecure if the caregiver also becomes angry when the child becomes angry.

5: MENTALIZING – TALK ABOUT FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS

The caregivers are interested in what the child feels and thinks, and they try to mirror the state of the child’s feelings and thoughts. Even before the child can understand the words, they talk to the child while they are working about what the child may feel and think. For example when the baby looks at the caregivers, they may say “Oooh, you are looking at me now, that is nice, I think you are happy now, are you not?”. Or while they change a diaper they say: “It is so nice to have a fresh diaper, I can see that you are happy now!”. In this way the baby learns to understand how language and feeling are connected, and it learns to understand itself and others.