Our behavior and identity are formed in our early years with the relationships we have with our caregivers being the most significant for our development. That is not to say that your daughter will continue to scream the house down so that she can get her own way as an adult. Relax as that phase usually passes. However, when it comes to your child’s general temperament and attachment, it is the early bonds that are crucial.
Temperament and types of babies
Just looking at our own families, we know that all children are different so we must understand that we need to adapt our parenting styles to suit the needs of each child.We often point out that our little ones are “starting to develop their own personality” and this will be influenced by our parenting styles, including how we react to different behaviors displayed by our children. When we talk about temperaments we generally split them into three categories, each of which will provoke a different reaction from you as a parent.
- Easy babies will adjust to change easily and are generally calm and easy going. Babies with this temperament will generally experience a positive response from their parents and a secure attachment is established. When we leave the room our child will become upset, but is easily comforted when we return. As time goes by, they will eventually feel safe as they learn we will always return.
- Difficult babies will struggle to control emotions and will display negative responses to new experiences. Parents of difficult babies can often feel stressed and rejected by their babies when they are unable to comfort them. When we leave the room, they become upset, but will still be difficult to comfort when we return.
- Slow to warm babies just need a little guidance and time so that they will feel comfortable and a secure attachment can develop. When we leave the room our baby will be upset and will take time to calm down when we come back in, but will eventually allow us to comfort them.
It is important to remind ourselves that when a child has an insecure attachment it does not mean that they do not like us or that we are bad parents. Life for children is complicated and many factors affect a child’s temperament.
It is important that we adapt our method of parenting so that we do not create insecure attachments (when no attention is paid to parents coming in and out of the room) or disorganized attachments (when the child is inconsistent in strange situations).
If our children show signs of insecure attachments due to their temperament then we should not leave them alone with strangers for long periods. With gentle encouragement and more time to get to know a new setting, a resistant child will gradually feel more secure. Lots of love and affection and confirmation that you are present will eventually see your child gain more independence.
Our children will learn a lot from us and when they are growing up and the rules, advice, and information we provide will stay with them. Psychologist Diana Baumrind said that there are 4 different styles of parents based on how demanding we are and how responsive we are.
The four styles are:
- Authoritative: This highly demanding and very responsive parent will have a strong emotional tie with the child and will have the most positive impact on her life. The child will understand the rules and consequences that will allow them to go on to develop healthy relationships.
- Permissive: A less positive parenting style in which there are no clear rules or boundaries, although there are strong emotional bonds.
- Authoritarian: Highly demanding but not very responsive and with little emotional ties. You may want to negotiate with your child so that compromises can be met, for example, if they promise to do their homework they can see friends afterward
- Neglecting: This parent is neither responsive or demanding and has little investment in their child.
It has long been established that the attachments that we experience as children affect our adult lives. No matter what parenting style we follow, it is important to understand that we can always make changes and that there is always a lot of work still to be done. A difficult child can put a strain on family relationships but when we listen to their needs and work together to use rules effectively, secure attachments can be made.