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How to Nurture Your Child's Emotional Development: Understanding Temperament and Building Bonds

After reading this article, you will:

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of your child's unique temperament and how it shapes their interactions with the world.

  2. Learn about the significance of attachment in your child's emotional development and how it influences their relationships with others.

  3. Discover practical strategies for fostering a secure attachment and supporting your child's social-emotional growth.

  4. Explore the Circle of Security framework and its valuable insights for building a strong parent-child bond.

  5. Feel empowered with the knowledge and tools to nurture your child's emotional well-being.

As parents, we play a crucial role in nurturing our child's social-emotional development. This involves understanding their unique temperament (i.e., their personality) and fostering a secure attachment with them. In this article, we will explore how temperament shapes your child's interaction with the world and how attachment influences their relationship with others. By gaining insights into these key aspects of your child's emotional development, you can provide the support and guidance they need to thrive. We will also introduce the Circle of Security framework, which offers valuable insights and strategies for building a secure attachment with your child.

Understanding Temperament

Temperament refers to the innate attributes that define a child's interaction with the world around them. It can be seen as their unique "style" or "personality." Research has identified three broad categories that loosely categorise young children's temperament:

  1. Flexible: Children with a flexible temperament tend to have a calm disposition and adapt well to changes in their environment. They are generally easygoing and exhibit a positive mood.

  2. Active: Children with an active temperament display intense reactions and may feel apprehensive in new or unfamiliar situations. They are often energetic and may require more support in managing their emotions.

  3. Slow to Warm Up/Cautious: Children with a slow-to-warm-up temperament may initially exhibit shyness or hesitancy in new situations. However, with repeated exposure, they gradually warm up and become more comfortable.

Attachment is a fundamental aspect of social-emotional development that begins with parental bonding in infancy. The consistent care provided by parents helps develop an infant's "basic trust" from birth to around 18 months of age. This trust forms the foundation of their emotional well-being and lays the groundwork for healthy attachment relationships throughout life. Attachment continues to develop as your child grows, shaping their ability to seek support from adults during times of stress or distress. A secure attachment provides a sense of safety and emotional regulation, allowing children to explore their environment with confidence, knowing they have a secure base to return to.

The Circle of Security Framework

The Circle of Security is an evidence-based framework that offers valuable insights and strategies for building a secure attachment with your child. It provides a roadmap for understanding and meeting your child's emotional needs, promoting their social-emotional development.

The framework revolves around the concept of a secure base, where children feel safe and supported. It encourages parents to be emotionally available, responsive, and sensitive to their child's cues. By doing so, parents create a secure environment that fosters trust and emotional regulation.

The Circle of Security framework emphasises the importance of being present and attuned to your child's emotions. It encourages you to validate their feelings, offer comfort, and help them navigate challenging situations. This approach helps children develop a healthy understanding of their own emotions and builds resilience in the face of adversity.

Practical Strategies for Building Attachment

To promote secure attachment and support your child's emotional development, consider the following strategies:

  1. Create a Safe and Nurturing Environment: Establish routines, provide consistent care, and create a loving atmosphere that promotes feelings of safety and security.

  2. Respond Promptly and Sensitively: Be attuned to your child's emotional needs and respond promptly and sensitively when they seek comfort or support.

  3. Practice Mindful Parenting: Stay present and engaged with your child during interactions. Practice active listening and show empathy towards their feelings and experiences.

  4. Foster Emotional Literacy: Help your child identify and express their emotions by using age-appropriate language and encouraging open conversations about feelings. Check out our emotions pack The Galaxy Guide to Running My Rocket for an engaging story about emotions and 80+ ready-to-go strategies to help your child navigate big emotions. The emotions pack also includes conversation starters developed by our team of Paediatric Occupational Therapists that help you build on your child's emotional literacy!

If you are interested on finding out more about the Circle of Security Framework, visit:


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