The Six Stages of Attachment

Therapist and author Susan Stiffelman walks us through the six stages a child moves through on their journey of attachment with a parent
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The Six Stages of Attachment

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- Neufeld has a wonderful model where he talks about the six stages that a child moves through in the first six years of life on this journey of deeply and securely attaching to their parent. The first stage is proximity and it's the sense of closeness and connection in a physical sense-oriented way, initially. The second is sameness. That's at around the age of two. The third stage is belonging or loyalty, the sense that the three year old has that we are on their side, there's a possessive quality to that stage. The fourth stage is significance, the sense that the child knows that they're cherished for who they are as is. The fifth is love. It's sort of the unadulterated expression of love that we have for them without it being attached to accomplishments or achievements or even behavior, and the final stage from six onward is being known. And this is the child who confides in you, but these stages, using those inroads, we're to talk a lot about in my book, is a way to fortify the connection and strengthen, in all kinds of ways, to let the child know that, that the solid, closeness that they share with a parent is permanent and that they can lean and rely on it to get them through life.


Therapist and author Susan Stiffelman walks us through the six stages a child moves through on their journey of attachment with a parent

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Susan Stiffelman, MFT

Author & Therapist

Susan Stiffelman is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected and the weekly parenting advice columnist at the Huffington Post. You can sign up for Susan's free parenting newsletter. 

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