Can children be too attached to parents?

Dr. Gordon Neufeld, PhD Psychologist & Author, explains whether children can become too attached to their parents and why the child-parent bond is so important to a child's development.
Can Children Be Too Attached to Parents?
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Can children be too attached to parents?

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There's this idea in our society that children can be too attached. It's a dreadful idea. The short answer is: absolutely not. A child can be too insecurely attached, a child can be too superficially attached. If you think of plants, it becomes obvious. Can a plant be too attached? No, a plant can be too insecurely attached through its roots, a plant can be too superficially attached. And the same things are true. What has given us this idea that a child can be too attached is when a child is to preoccupied with attachments. And children become too preoccupied with attachments when there's no release from them. It's like physical hunger. A child will become totally preoccupied with physical hunger if they were not full. But would we go around saying no, the child is too hungry? No, of course we wouldn't say the child is too hungry. Our job would be to fulfill the hunger that is preoccupying them. It's exactly the same thing with attachment; if we fulfill the attachment needs of children, they would be released from it, just like in hunger, such a child is not preoccupied by it. The second idea that has generated this myth that children can be too attached is the fact that we've confused attachment with simply physical contact and closeness and physical separation. And so we think that a child is too attached if they cannot separate from us physically. But in actual fact, the opposite is true. If a child is deeper attached through sameness, through significance, attached through a sense of belonging, of loyalty, emotionally through emotional intimacy or feels known, they have many ways of holding on when physically apart. That's the answer. Just like is one too attached to one's spouse? No, one can be too superficially attached, or too insecurely attached. But the more deeply attached a child is, the more they can separate physically.

Dr. Gordon Neufeld, PhD Psychologist & Author, explains whether children can become too attached to their parents and why the child-parent bond is so important to a child's development.

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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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