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Our relationships are fundamental to how we deal with life and how we feel. Here we look at what connection is, how it can affect our lives and what can be done to improve it.

What is connection?

Connection is a deep and lasting emotional bond that develops between a child and their caregivers during the first years of life. This bond is crucial to the child’s emotional development and affects their ability to build relationships throughout their lives.

Connection theory, introduced by psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the mid-20th century, emphasizes the importance of a secure relationship between child and caregiver for healthy psychological development.

Connection can affect us throughout our lives, but if you have an insecure connection, there are things you can do to make it better.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

Benedetta Osarenk


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The theory behind connection

Connection theory explains how the quality of early connection affects a child’s behavior and interactions in future relationships, both in childhood and later in life. A secure connection is formed when the caregiver is emotionally available and responsive to the child’s needs, giving the child a sense of safety and security. Children with secure connection tend to develop strong self-esteem, independence and the ability to cope with emotions and stress.

In contrast, insecure connection can occur when the caregiver is inconsistent, unavailable or unresponsive, which can negatively affect the child’s emotional health and relationships. Research in connection theory has had a major impact on the understanding of child development and has contributed to the development of interventions aimed at supporting and improving the relationship between child and caregiver. By promoting secure connection, we can lay the foundation for children’s well-being and success in life.

Different connection styles

Connection styles, formed early in life through interactions with caregivers, influence our relationships throughout life. The four main styles – secure, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized – influence how we deal with intimacy and dependence. Secure connection involves comfort with closeness, while avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized connection can lead to challenges in relationships due to respective independence, insecurity and stress management. Understanding these styles offers insights for personal development and guidance for building healthier relationships.


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Connection in children

connection in children is a fundamental part of their emotional and psychological development. This deep, emotional bond that children develop with their primary caregivers is crucial to their sense of security and well-being. From birth, children seek the closeness and comfort of their caregivers to protect them from danger and meet their needs. This interaction underpins the development of the child’s connection style, which can vary depending on the quality of the caregiver’s response to the child’s needs. The four main connection styles include:

  1. Secure connection: children feel secure when the caregiver is present, become upset when separated, and calm down when the caregiver returns. These children have learned that their needs will be met in a predictable way.
  2. Avoidant connection: Children avoid contact and interaction with the caregiver after a separation. This can develop when the caregiver consistently ignores or rejects the child’s needs.
  3. Ambivalent (or contradictory) connection: Children show ambivalence and may both seek and reject contact. This often occurs when the caregiver is inconsistent in meeting the child’s needs.
  4. Disorganized connection: Children exhibit disorganized and disoriented behaviors in the presence of the caregiver. This style can arise from trauma, abuse, or extreme inconsistency from the caregiver.

A secure connection is ideal for child development, as it promotes self-confidence, emotional balance and the ability to cope with stress. On the other hand, insecure connection styles can lead to various challenges in emotional regulation and relationships later in life.

To promote secure connection, it is important for caregivers to be sensitively attuned to the child’s cues, consistently meet their emotional and physical needs, and offer a sense of safety and trust. This includes being present and available, responding to crying and expressions of discomfort in a calm and comforting way, and encouraging exploration and independence with support and encouragement.

Understanding connection in children is essential for anyone working with or raising children, as it not only helps build a strong foundation for a child’s future well-being, but also promotes the development of healthy interpersonal relationships throughout life.


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How can you create a secure connection with your child?

Creating a secure connection between a child and their caregiver is a fundamental process that lays the foundation for the child’s emotional and psychological development. A secure connection gives the child a sense of safety and trust, which is crucial for their future relationships and well-being. Here are some ways in which caregivers can promote the development of secure connection:

1. Be emotionally available

Being emotionally available means attentively listening and responding to your child’s needs. It involves being present, not only physically but also emotionally, to provide comfort and support when needed.

2. Responding consistently to your child’s needs

Consistent caregiver response helps the child feel understood and valued. This means responding quickly and predictably to crying, signals of hunger, tiredness or desire for closeness and comfort.

3. create and maintain routines

Regular routines for feeding, sleeping and playing help create a sense of predictability and security for your child. It helps them understand the world around them and feel confident that their needs will be met.

4. Encourage exploration

Secure connection is not only about meeting the child’s basic needs but also about encouraging and supporting their exploration of the world around them. By giving your child the space to explore safely, you can help them develop independence and self-confidence.

5. Be a safe base

For children to feel confident about exploring their surroundings, they need to know that they have a safe base to return to. By being a source of comfort and security, the child can feel safe to explore and learn new things.

6. Show love and affection

Physical closeness, such as hugs and loving touch, are important expressions of love and affection that strengthen the connection bond. Showing love and appreciation on a regular basis helps your child feel valuable and loved.

7. talking about feelings

Helping children to understand and express their feelings in a healthy way is important for their emotional development. By talking about and naming emotions, and showing that all emotions are okay, you teach your child how to manage their emotions.

By incorporating these principles into everyday life, caregivers can create a stable and secure foundation for their children’s emotional development, laying the groundwork for their ability to build healthy relationships throughout their lives.

Treatment with a child psychologist

Seeking help from a child psychologist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties. Common methods include play therapy for younger children, where play is used as a tool for expression and processing, as well as other methods developed for therapy with children. $1 for older children, which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Parents can receive parental counseling and support to better help their child at home. Working with a child psychologist can give your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way.

12 frequently asked questions about connection

What is attachment?

Attachment is a deep and lasting emotional bond that develops between a child and their caregivers during the first years of life. This bond is crucial to the child’s emotional development and affects their ability to build relationships throughout their lives.

Who developed attachment theory?

The theory of attachment, introduced by psychoanalyst John Bowlby in the mid-20th century, emphasizes the importance of a secure relationship between child and caregiver for healthy psychological development.

What are the different attachment styles?

Attachment styles shape how we interact and build relationships throughout life, based on early experiences with our caregivers. The four main types – secure, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized – influence our ability to attach, manage emotions and respond to closeness and distance in relationships.

How can you tell if a child has a secure attachment?

Children feel secure when the caregiver is present, get upset when they are separated, and calm down when the caregiver returns. These children have learned that their needs will be met in a predictable way.

How can insecure avoidant attachment manifest itself in children?

Children avoid contact and interaction with the caregiver after a separation. This can develop when the caregiver consistently ignores or rejects the child’s needs.

How can insecure ambivalent attachment be noticed in children?

Children show ambivalence and may both seek and reject contact. This often occurs when the caregiver is inconsistent in meeting the child’s needs.

What is disorganized attachment and how can it appear in children?

Children exhibit disorganized and disoriented behaviours in the presence of the caregiver. This style can arise from trauma, abuse, or extreme inconsistency from the caregiver.

How can you create a secure attachment with your child?

Creating a secure attachment is crucial to a child’s development and involves being emotionally available, consistently responding to needs, creating routines, encouraging exploration, being a secure base, showing love and discussing feelings. These actions build a solid foundation for the child’s emotional well-being and future relationships.

What is a child psychologist?

A child psychologist is a licensed professional with knowledge and experience in working for the well-being and mental health of children and parents. They offer therapy and counseling, but also work with families in parental support and the whole family when needed. They also collaborate with schools to create good conditions for the child.

Can I see a child psychologist privately?

It is possible to receive psychological treatment for attachment problems. In the case of a child, you can seek help through, for example, the BVC and BUP. You can also have private therapy with an experienced child psychologist.

How long is the treatment?

The treatment is adapted to the nature of the child’s or parent’s problem. It is often a longer treatment when it comes to attachment.

Where can I go if I or my child needs help from a child psychologist?

Depending on how old your child is, you can turn to different services. For children under 6 years of age, the Child Health Care Center (BVC), over 6 years of age you can seek help through your health care center. Over the age of 13, you can go to the youth clinic or the school counselor. You can also contact child and adolescent psychiatry (BUP). At Lavendla we have experienced child psychologists who can also help.

How can a treatment with a child psychologist work?

Seeking help from a child psychologist is an important step when a child is experiencing mental health difficulties or if you are having difficulties as a parent. Here is a brief overview of what treatment can look like:

First step: Initial consultation where the psychologist assesses needs through conversations with the child and parents.

Treatment plan: An individualized plan is developed, based on the child’s specific situation and needs.

Types of therapy: Common methods include play therapy for younger children, where play is used as a tool for expression and processing, but other methods can also be helpful, as well as talk therapy and $1 for older children, which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Parental counseling: Parents receive guidance and support to better help their child at home.

Monitoring and adjustment: The treatment plan is continuously evaluated and adjusted as needed to ensure the best possible outcome.

It is important to remember that each child is unique, and therefore treatment may vary. Working together with a child psychologist can give you and your child the tools they need to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy way. At Lavendla, we have child psychologists who can help make the hard stuff easier.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.