Kids Meridian

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It’s all in the Hug :)

“Love holds the universe together because it is a real force, and not just an idea.” Dr. Maria Montessori

Attachment is a basic need for children. In order to develop healthily and solidly through life’s stages, we need to form a bond with at least one other. For a child, the other is the significant adult in his life. This adult’s presence is comforting to the child. This adult responds to him and as a result, the child feels safe in this world. Having spent about nine months in the comfort of a mother’s womb, the newborn is suddenly exposed to an unknown, bright and colder world. The adult in the infant’s life would ideally offer comfort, tenderness and warmth, as well as meeting the basic needs of food and hygiene. Everything that a baby needs for his first year is found in the mother’s breast milk. It’s as easy as that. The milk offers the nutrients and the immunity building. Breast milk also contains Omega 3 or DHA, which ultimately contributes to more intelligence and higher IQs (* In some countries, DHA is not added to formula milk as it is an expensive component). Breast feeding also offers a position in which the child feels body warmth and a connection, physical and emotional.

It is important to point out that the provision of food is not the ultimate goal. What the baby needs, even more than food, is the emotional and physical connection. They are in need of a reliable source of love. Psychologist Harry Harlow conducted research on baby monkeys offering two ‘surrogate mothers.’ One mother was made of hard wire whilst the other of terrycloth. The monkeys always went to the soft terrycloth mother, even when the hard wire one had the food!

This is what Erikson called Hope – the trust versus mistrust stage. After the warmth and comfort of the womb, out here in this big world, will my needs be reliably met? It is a child’s first experience with pain and it is his introduction to love. It is the definition of unconditional love. There are two aspects to this stage: the warmth and the reliability. The infant needs to know that you will warmly and reliably respond to his crying. In the absence of such attachment, the child is insecure. The child might become a clinger if the adult has been warm but unreliable. Or the child may become a loner if the adult has been reliable but distant(* for more on this, read Harville Hendrix). It has been shown that children who lack healthy attachments tend to be devoid of empathy. Many crimes in the world are conducted by those who feel no remorse.

When adults go into therapy at a later stage in their life, it is often to correct this basic unmet emotional need. It is through work with a therapist that one re-builds trust in another and the world and is capable to then develop through the later stages.

When we find mothers exacerbated by a child who won’t sleep the nights or a child who doesn’t respond, it is often linked to that basic attachment issue. Through Art or Play therapy, one is able to observe the missing link. With remedial work, where the adult corrects this default and reconnects with the child, the child returns to a state of peacefulness.

Babies who sleep too much or who cry upon waking might be giving us an indication that they are not enjoying their waking hours. They have come out from a warm, comfortable, soothing environment into a world that does not feel safe and comfortable to them. Maria Montessori noted that these babies were preferring to regress back to their state within the womb.

This is when the baby first realises that he is a separate entity and it is up to the adults to offer him an enjoyable experience of interconnectedness. For ultimately, life is interconnected. We are not separate. We are meant to care and be cared for. We are meant to work together towards a better world. We are meant to be in sync with nature and to be involved. We are connected to others, to nature. We are born interconnected, naturally caring for others and our surroundings.

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