Influences on Attachment: Differences between Parent and Child

It is important to keep in mind that attachment relationships develop between two individuals. Both individuals bring qualities and characteristics that influence the development of this unique bond. As anyone who has spent time around babies will know, all are different in terms of their preferences, their sleeping and eating habits, and how they are most easily soothed. The baby brings her own unique personality or temperament.

Your baby may send out strong signals when she needs something, crying or protesting loudly. Or, your baby may be quiet, rarely fussing or crying, leaving you to anticipate and respond to her needs despite the lack of clear signals. What works for “everyone” may not work for your infant. You are the expert when it comes to your baby. Cultivating an awareness of what works for your baby is the key to responsive caregiving. It is an important building block of a secure attachment.

Just as babies have distinctive personalities and characteristics, so do parents! All parents are continuously and deeply affected by the countless interactions they share with their baby throughout the day. You most likely feel effective and loved when you are able to quickly soothe and comfort your baby. You may feel frustrated and worried when your baby’s distress persists despite your attempts to soothe him. How you feel about yourself, about the act of parenting, or about your own childhood attachment relationships can all have an impact on how you connect and attach to your baby. Becoming aware of these experiences and how they continue to influence your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool in ensuring that you are able to bond with your baby in a healthy and loving manner.

Resources » Attachment & Relationships


Bowlby, John (1956) “The growth of independence in the young child.” Royal Society of Health Journal, 76, 587-591.

Bowlby, John (1988) A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. London: Routledge.

Lieberman, Alicia (1993) The Emotional Life of the Toddler. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc.