Explain the process of: bonding, attachment, developing secure relationships

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.4: Promote children’s emotional well-being
Learning outcome: Understand children’s needs in relation to emotional well-being
Assessment criteria: Explain the process of: bonding, attachment, developing secure relationships


In this article, we will explore the processes of bonding, attachment, and developing secure relationships.


Although the exact definition of bonding is debated, it can generally be described as the process by which a parent and child develop a strong emotional attachment.


Bonding typically begins during pregnancy, as the parents-to-be begin to feel a sense of connection with their unborn child. This feeling can grow stronger as they experience the baby’s movements and view ultrasound pictures.

After the child is born, bonding can continue to develop during shared activities such as cuddling, breastfeeding, and playing. As the parents get to know their baby’s unique personality, they often form even deeper attachments.


It is important to note that bonding does not always occur immediately or automatically – in some cases, it may take time for the parent and child to develop a strong bond. However, with patience and love, bonding can be a very rewarding experience for both parties involved.

Bonding can be affected by various factors, including post-natal depression, difficult or premature birth, and medical conditions that result in a child having additional needs.


Post-natal depression can interfere with a mother’s ability to bond with her child, as can the stress of caring for a premature or sick infant. A child’s medical condition may mean that they can not be picked up or touched.

Additionally, mothers with medical conditions that require them to be hospitalized or away from their babies for extended periods, who are in a lot of pain or have restricted mobility may have more difficulty bonding with their children.


However, it is important to remember that bonding is a natural process, and even mothers who experience these difficulties can develop a strong bond with their children with time and patience.


Attachment is the key relationship a child has with their caregiver(s).


Attachments begin to develop during the first few months after birth when babies have what is known as indiscriminate attachments, meaning they prefer to be in the company of humans, but who the humans is not important

At around eight months, babies will start to develop stronger attachments to their primary caregivers, such as their parents, and become distressed when separated.


They will then go on to form additional attachments, for example, with the key person in their childcare setting, providing their primary attachment(s) remain stable.

Attachment is important for a child’s development as it helps them feel safe and secure, which is essential for their social, cognitive and emotional development.


Forming secure relationships

It takes time for children to develop secure relationships. A strong relationship with primary caregivers can help with forming other relationships.

Children will observe new people and watch how their caregivers interact with them. Over time, the child will begin to interact more with others and develop relationships with them, providing the adult provides positive care and security.


Younger children, age three and under, can take longer to form new relationships than older children. This is because they have not had as much experience with other people and are less able to understand the emotions of others. However, with patience and support from adults, all children can learn to develop strong relationships with others.

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