The Child’s mind: Attachment and Anxiety

Hello Frontliners,

Happy 2018! I hope everyone had the opportunity to enjoy some time with friends and family during the holiday season.

Back to the north for me as of last Sunday, and after a full week back to work, it was so good to catch up with all the students and my co-workers.

General questions to consider: Do you miss anyone or anything right now? When was the last time you saw that someone or something? How do you cope with the distance?

Okay so….

What if, you did not know when you would ever see that person or thing again? You did not know where they/ it went? One day you saw them/it but the next day they/ it were gone without any sign or verbal warning….. Super frustrating eh? and if you are reading this you are probably an individual over the age of 10 years old.

Nonetheless, you might say to me- well we have tools and strategies to figure out where that person or thing went! True, but do children have these advanced problem-solving/ investigative skills?

Not yet. So, why do we expect children to know that when something or someone is gone that they can cope like an adult? They can’t.

This week, I had a great conversation with a family about attachment. When a child does not get a heads up to a person’s departure, we create the anxiety. Mother, Father, other family members, or friends/ teachers, a child needs to be taught and prepared to detach from another human being or thing. If it is only short-term or long term, children think in very concrete ways. For the most part they have not had the type of thinking that will allow them to think abstractly.

Example:

*Mom and dad leaves for the day*

Child  comes back from school and sees no parents

Conclusion: they left me and I do not know where they went! Are they dead? Are they hurt?

For many frontliners, we do a lot of work in many diverse settings. Yes, we live in a fast-pace society, but if you know that you have a strong therapeutic relationship with a young person and one day you decide to quit your job to go somewhere else without having that meaningful conversation; you have taught that child indirectly that our relationship was not meaningful from the beginning.

To decrease their own anxiety, children deserve to know about an adult’s or other child’s ‘leaving’ You do not have to go into great detail about why you might be leaving but having a conversation about ‘moving on,’ or setting up a plan when you do not see mommy or daddy after a whole day, or even a plan to talk to the young person about missing people and how we can show them that we are still thinking about them.

Not taking those moments with a child causes unnecessary anxiety, breaking future relationships that involve trust, and observing an increase of angry outbursts inside and outside the classroom setting.

Children want closure- we adults need the same thing. So, take those extra moments to talk and/or develop a plan.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Marleigh

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