Secure attachment and brain development

Pediatric Psychotherapist Tina Payne Bryson shares advice for parents on how a baby's brain development is greatly impacted by attachment between a parent and child
How Attachment Affects a Baby's Brain Development
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Secure attachment and brain development

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The type of attachment between a parent and a child has a profound impact on how a child's brain is developed. What I mean by attachment is if a parent is able to provide what's called secure attachment, they have a relationship with their child where the child feels connected, secure, and protected. The child is sure and knows that they can count on their parent consistently meeting their needs. Not all the time, not perfectly, but for the most part, they know that the parent will be there to meet their needs. When the child has this experience over and over, it actually allows the brain to wire the expectation for other relationships. It also develops the frontal lobe; the part of the brain that allows us to have empathy, to be flexible, to understand ourselves, to communicate well with others, to have all kinds of good and powerful ways to make decisions and be successful. Whereas, if children have parents who are only inconsistently available to them or who brush them off or dismiss their emotional states, children's brains get wired that they expect that others won't be there or won't be there consistently to meet their needs. One of the most important things we can do as parents is let our children know, consistently through our behavior that we are there for them and will meet their needs consistently.

Pediatric Psychotherapist Tina Payne Bryson shares advice for parents on how a baby's brain development is greatly impacted by attachment between a parent and child

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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