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Our research current of studies in human development indicates that people who have strong attachments show greater depth of compassion, affection, forgiving, humanitarian and benevolent. (

 What is a relationship?  A relationship is a way in which two or more people are connected or the state of being connected.

Key message: when children are feeling connected to others, they are capable of a far more superior learning across the social, physical, cognitive and emotional domains. These domains are what we refer to as the foundations of the brain (we will touch on it soon).

So why are positive relationships so important in the early years? Because…

  • they provide children with the fundamentals to develop and learn social and emotional skills;
  • they provide a protective factor when building mental health
  • they enable children to freely explore environments and engage in social settings, play and learning environments;
  • building strong relationships early on helps to support children in their self-regulation, connect with others and build relationships with peers;
  • children learn from relationships that require them to be socially-competent, be caring, respectful and empathetic.

Key message: When respectful and responsive relationships are established, children feel a sense of security and belonging to the environment. This sense of belonging promotes children’s willingness to give new things ago, explore their environments and learn from trial and error.

How positive relationships are formed with children

  • adults provide warmth, trust, care, support and responsiveness to children and their needs;
  • through play, adults assist children to develop relationships and the concepts around building positive relationships with others (scaffolding);
  • ‘Serve and return’ relationships promote mutual response and activity, they are not one-directional.

Key message: relationships are established through supporting children in their play, social experience and everyday routines. By modelling behaviours of respectful relationships, children will learn how to reciprocate. Children need to feel supported and heard to form relationships.


Why are relationships so important when ‘building’ a child’s brain?

Building a brain is a lot like building a house. The four walls are the foundations; which are a child’s emotional, cognitive, social and physical development. How these ‘walls’ are built and the quality of them will depend on the relationships children have.

  • children’s relationships change during childhood. This is based on their capacity to self-regulate, socialise, empathise, their moral development, ethics and gratitude;
  • children need a network of people with different skills to help build their brain;
  • reliable and high-quality relationships are key to building strong brains that will last a lifetime;
  • nurturing, familiar and stable relationships are important when building strong foundations.

Attachment Theory: keys factors that contribute to strong attachments. (Bowlby)

Four attachment styles: the attachment type that is formed in the early years, generally is consistent throughout the child’s lifespan and carries through to adulthood

  1. secure: primary career is in tune and consistently responsive to the child needs = easier to get close to others, happy, friendly and trusting in their relationships, when problems arise they cope by talking them out.
  2. avoidant: primary caregiver seems preoccupied, indifferent or absent, child learnt to fend for itself and not rely on others = often uncomfortable forming close relationships, fear of intimacy and trust issues, do not like to depend on anyone else, including their partner, when problems arise in their relationships they avoid and distance themselves to cope.
  3. anxious/ambivalent: carers are inconsistent with the attention given to the child. The child becomes anxious because they don’t know what to expect, and the inconstancy leads them to become clingy and unsure = seek intermate relationships, worried they won’t be loved back, anxious about relationships, obsessed, constantly get jealous and have a fear of abandonment.
  4. disorganised: when parents’ behaviour is unpredictable, no organized strategies allows their child to feel safe and get their needs met without fright and worry. Such unpredictable behaviour can leave children experiencing some trauma, leaving them reliant on someone who is threatening their safety zone. This can result in serious trust issues, aggression, violence, intimacy dysfunctions, addictive and compulsive behaviours

Key message: children form relationships with many people in their lives which provides a range of experiences, skills and interactions. Building relationships with many role-models contribute to their development as children and adults. Investing in building a strong and healthy relationship will have a life-long effect on children and their later relationships.

Helpful links/more information:

Please feel free to get in touch anytime if you’d like to know more.

Hannah and Oliva