(Photo credit © wittybear – Fotolia.com)
In the first of this series you learned that the basics of why attachments are significant.
- Attachments are the necessary building blocks for our lives
- Attachments are the foundation for emotional and mental well-being
- Attachments are foundational to interpersonal interaction
How you grow and mature is based on the quality of your bonds. Without an attachment foundation built on consistent, healthy interaction, your emotional well-being and mental health will suffer.
According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, for the infant and young child, attachment relationships are the major environmental factors that shape the development of the brain during its period of maximal growth.
Attachments are essential in helping an infant brain develop and function. Secure bonding and attachments enable these processes to properly take place:
- Develop relationships
- Establish the relational circuit within the brain
- Build an internal interpreter to tell you what things mean
- Gain capacity to synchronize with others
- Allow for repair of broken attachments
Healthy bonds and attachments establish the foundation for your relationships. It is impossible to have healthy, meaningful relationships without mutual bonds between people. A relationship is based on attuning and communicating with one another verbally and nonverbally in a dance of shared signals.
Bonding involves a specific sensitivity to signals between mother and child. For the infant brain, there is a time to play and a time to rest. Disruption of these cycles has negative consequences.
A mother’s role in bonding with her child is to synchronize with the child’s various states, depending on what the child needs at a given time.
A child who wakes up from a nap will need mom to be sensitive to his/her mental state and energy level. A healthy mother will be quiet, gentle, and soothing in her voice, until baby has lightened up the senses and is ready to play.
The mother who is not sensitive to the child’s condition may overwhelm and upset the child by reflecting her condition uponthe child.
When mom fails to recognize her child’s attachment light is on, the child experiences rejection. This misalignment creates immense distress in the child. Subsequently, this awful experience, a “death” feeling, will be avoided. Sadly, the “death” state corresponds with “rest states”, so the child avoids rest.
The insecure attachment feeling will haunt the child until the individual is healthy and secure enough to work through attachment pain years later. In the meantime, attachment pain goes unchecked and anything that resembles rest is avoided. Agonizing attachment pain is often covered up (think addictions), medicated, and disregarded as much as possible—(“ignore it and it will go away” or “run to keep ahead of pain”).
The mother who desynchronizes with her child produces serious damage to her child’s attachment circuit.
Insecure attachments form when parents and children fail to synchronize. Insecure attachments are associated with a higher incidence of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and mood disorders. 
A secure attachment forms through plenty of synchronized interaction between mother and child. This strong bond grows when mom responds to her child’s signals in timely fashion. Mom synchronizes with the child, builds joy, and provides rest at the appropriate times. Mom downloads her brain structure and mental state as well as enhances baby’s emotional regulation ability through shared attunement. Shared attunement is the alignment of states of mind between mother and child. Attunement is expressed through facial expressions, tone of voice, body gestures, and eye contact. 
Joy Building — Joy is produced when mom’s face lights up, expressing I am delighted to be with you! Joyful exchanges establish a secure bond with baby that will travel a lifetime. As the child reaches full capacity of joy, she will look away, or gaze avert. Breaking eye contact stops right hemispheric communication and says, ‘let’s rest!’
Healthy mothering understands this need for rest, and will respect the need. Unhealthy mothering results when mom fails to recognize her child’s need for rest and continues pushing her state onto the baby. This happens if mother feels rejected by baby’s action so she pushes even harder to keep baby’s attention. The continued pushing overwhelms baby’s attachment circuits and can lead to dissociation at worst, or a painful disconnection at the least. Mom’s capacity surpasses that of her infant. Trying to compete with mom’s high energy levels only creates overwhelm and an internal crisis.
Secure bonds provide an infant with a solid foundation to build joy and experience intense emotions. Both are important for the infant to practice. A secure bond with mom provides needed strength and safety to experience bonds with others.
As the child grows older, dad becomes a prime candidate for the baby to synchronize with. Dad helps expand the child’s capacity to synchronize with others beside mom. However, in the beginning mom is essential to provide a foundation and framework the child requires throughout life.
Shared attunement develops a secure foundation for interpersonal relationships and emotional health.
Synchronizing builds strong bonds, a house that can withstand life’s storms and turbulence.
We know that it is possible to fill in the gaps that happen to us as we acquire these essential relational brain skills. If you feel yourself resonating with some of this and sense that there is more to to life and relationships than you have experienced; if you want to explore this area of attachment, you can learn the skills of quieting inner fear and panic in Track One of Thrive Training.
Thrive Training Reminder…
Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas
July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Registration Information here.
May your joy be full,
Chris & Carol
Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer, www.thrivetoday.org
Twitter – @coursey_chris
Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com
Carol’s email – firstname.lastname@example.org