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Session 2/13

Page 3/5: Topic introduction B: Working with the baby's secure base supporting exploration behaviour

Topic introduction B: Working with the baby’s secure base supporting exploration behaviour

As long as the attachment system is active, the baby will spend all it’s energy to look for the caregiver in order to avoid separation, and this is very exhausting for the baby. On the other hand, all babies must learn about separation – caretakers and parents have to do other things also. How do you teach children not to be too afraid when separated?


The caregiver teaches the child how to separate without fear by doing two things:

  • The caregiver teaches the child about separation gradually, so the baby does not panic.

For example, the caregiver puts the child to sleep, walks away, the baby cries, the caregiver goes back and soothes the baby. Next time the separation is a little longer, and so on. You can see this in kindergartens in the morning and any time a parent is leaving her child. In the end, the child is not afraid when the mother leaves. If she leaves abruptly or scolds the child and then leaves, the baby will keep crying and panic again and again.

  • The caregiver also teaches the child to remember the caregiver when she is out of sight.

For example, you can see the caregiver play titty-booh or hide-and-seek with the child. The caregiver makes fun and goes behind a door for a short while, then comes back before the child is too afraid. In this way the child learns that “she is there even when I can’t see her”. This helps the child to feel secure even though the caregiver goes away for a while.

As a professional, you should be with the baby/toddler and exercise these two ways of teaching the child about calm separations.