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Session 4/15

Page 3/5: Topic B: Working with the baby's Secure Base

Topic introduction B: Working with the baby’s secure base – How to support exploration behaviour

As long as the attachment system is active, the baby will spend all its energy to avoid or minimize separation, and this is very exhausting for the baby. On the other hand, all babies must learn about separation – caregivers 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 to separate without fear by doing two things:

  • Practicing still longer separations gradually, so the baby learns that the caregiver always returns.

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. 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.


  • Teaching the child to remember the caregiver when he/she is out of sight.

For example, the caregiver plays peek-a-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 gets 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 foster or kinship parent, you should practice and exercise ways of teaching the child about calm separations.