Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE
Erica's New Book Releasing the Mother Load is officially out! Order your copy today!
LEARN MORE

February 20, 2024

December 9, 2020

The Secret to a Secure Bond

E:
48
with
Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
New York Times Best Selling Author

What You'll Learn

  • Trusting Your Parenting Decisions
  • Explaining Attachment Science
  • Practical Ways To Cultivate A Secure Attachment
  • Using Your Own Nervous System to Ground You

As a parent, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the decisions you need to make about your child, their care, and ultimately how you are going to handle parenting decisions. In the end, there are many ways to be a great parent. If we look to science, it has shown us that secure attachment is one decision that will aid in brain development and build a connection with your child. Dr. Tina Payne Bryson joins us to talk through the four pillars of secure attachment, the importance of secure attachment for children and adults, and how science can help guide your parenting decisions.

Trusting Your Parenting Decisions

“Trust yourself and trust your baby,” Dr. Tina said. No one decision we make is really going to impact who our child becomes. “You want to do what is right for you, your family, and your baby,” she explained.

No one decision we make is really going to impact who our child becomes.

“When people come at you—especially if they’re really adamant about that one approach and that one way to do it—to me that’s always a red flag. To me, that’s more about the person feeling a need to defend their decision than it is you,” Dr. Tina said. 

When you get input from people that isn’t aligned with your parenting style just say, “Thank you for caring about me and giving me this input, but I’m going to try it this way and see how it works out.” 

Explaining Attachment Science

Attachment science is not attachment parenting. “If you do nothing that is prescribed in the attachment parenting approach, you can still have a baby that is beautifully securely attached to you,” Dr. Tina said. “And the flip side of that is true. You can do all of those things and have a baby that is not attached to you.”

“The attachment system gets most activated when infants are in distress,” she explained. The baby cries to let you know something is wrong, and your attachment system kicks in to protect and comfort the baby which may mean feeding or changing a diaper. 

Dr. Tina explained, “The most important thing we can do—the best predictor for how kids turn out—is that they have a secure attachment with at least one caregiver.” A secure attachment means the baby knows that its needs will be met by an attuned caregiver. 

40% of us grew up with parents who didn’t respond to our emotional needs.

“Our history is not our destiny,” she said. And that’s a good thing, because 40% of us grew up with parents who didn’t respond to our emotional needs. They might say things like, “Go to your room if you need to cry,” or something equally dismissive. Or they may have responded sometimes and other times been consumed with their own needs. This results in an anxious-ambivalent attachment. This means we’re not sure we can count on other people, so we’re anxious about the attachment.

Worse than that is the “disorganized attachment pattern.” This happens when a caregiver is the source of your distress. We’re biologically wired to seek our caregivers in distress, but when our caregiver causes us pain, another mechanism kicks in and tells us to get away from them! “This causes disorganization in the brain,” Dr. Tina explained. 

Even if we grew up with an insecure attachment, we can still provide our children with a secure attachment. We just need to reflect on how our parents didn’t always meet our needs and process them. Self-reflection is a never-ending process in parenting.

Practical Ways To Cultivate A Secure Attachment

Dr. Tina likes to use the “4 S’s” as a practical way to build a secure attachment. These are safe, seen, soothed, and secure. 

Safe: We want to keep our kids safe and we don’t want to cause them harm. If we do cause them harm, we need to make a repair for that.

Seen: We need to look at why our child does things, not just their behaviour. “It’s really about having your child’s internal experience and the way you respond be a match,” Dr. Tina said. When our response isn’t a match, the child feels like they have to deal with this emotion on their own. This can cause them to rely on their peers for advice and understanding more than us.

Soothed: “This is nurturing, supporting, helping, comforting,” she explained. “But a lot of parents don’t know that when our children are raging and having big, big feelings it’s really stressful.” You can correct the behaviour later. Attempting to address during the tantrum, isn’t going to be productive. 

Secure: “Secure attachment is really about having the brain be wired to know that if you have a need someone is going to show up for you,” she said. If we practice the first 3 S’s (Safe, Seen, Soothed) often enough, kids will eventually be able to help themselves and in time help other people feel secure.

But this can be emotionally draining. For us to be able to provide this kind of support to our children, we have to feel seen and secure too. A lot of the work I do with moms is to help them stay calm in their body, so they can attune with their children. We matter too.

Using Your Own Nervous System to Ground You

Since staying calm is a big part of being able to appropriately respond to your children, you can use your nervous system to calm your body—and even your mind—down. You can place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. This will help calm you, so you can stay in control. Another thing you can try is releasing a slow breath. When our exhale is longer than our inhale, it activates the parasympathetic branch of our nervous system. This helps to turn the temperature down on big emotions.

You can also try sitting on the floor in a relaxed position. If you’re standing with your arms crossed or your hands on your hips, it can actually amp up the tension in your body. Sitting in a relaxed position activates different neurological pathways. And from your child’s point of view, you’re not escalating the situation by towering over them. 

If you want to be the safe harbor for your child when the world is stormy, we can’t be the storm.

The most important thing to remember is there is no one right way. Most things just don’t fit in the binary of “right or wrong.” “If you want to be the safe harbor for your child when the world is stormy or when they’re stormy, we can’t be the storm,” Dr. Tina said. But parenting is hard, so we need to make a repair if we find ourselves being the storm.

While there is no right or wrong way to do most things, it can be easier to figure out what to do if you know what’s important to you. But sometimes it can be hard to even know what that is when we have friends and parents giving us advice and constant media messages. 

The Motherhood Roadmap will help you figure out your family values, so you know what to prioritize.

NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Tags:

Attachment Parenting

Stage:

Postpartum, Motherhood

Share Now:

OUR GUEST

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
New York Times Best Selling Author

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson is the author of the Bottom Line for Baby and co-author (with Dan Siegel) of two New York Times Best Sellers—The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline—each of which has been translated into over fifty languages, as well as The Yes Brain and The Power of Showing Up. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Connection, a multidisciplinary clinical practice in Southern California. Dr. Bryson keynotes conferences and conducts workshops for parents, educators, and clinicians all over the world, and she frequently consults with schools, businesses, and other organizations.  An LCSW, Tina is a graduate of Baylor University with a Ph.D. from USC.  The most important part of her bio, she says, is that she’s a mom to her three boys.

Erica Djossa
Erica Djossa
PMH-C | Founder of Momwell
Erica is the founder of Momwell, providing educational resources and virtual therapy for moms. She is a mom of three boys and a registered psychotherapist. Erica’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, Breakfast Television, Scary Mommy, Medium, Pop Sugar, and Romper. how they want it.
RELATED ARTICLES
June 17, 2024
June 12, 2024
Understanding Brain Development in Children: How to Supportively Approach Discipline, Meltdowns, and More
E:
229
with
Tammy Schamuhn
Co-founder of Institute of Child Psychology, Psychologist, Co-author of The Parenting Handbook
May 31, 2024
May 15, 2024
Encouraging Healthy Screen Time Habits: Rethinking Our Approach in the Digital Age
E:
225
with
Dr. Michael Rich
Founder of Digital Wellness Lab
April 29, 2024
April 24, 2024
Understanding and Implementing Responsive Parenting: How to Break the Yelling/Shame Cycle
E:
222
with
Dr. Cindy Hovington
Founder of Curious Neuron
February 20, 2024
September 20, 2023
Managing Mom Anxiety: Why Millennial Moms Are So Anxious and How to Overcome Our Fears
E:
191
with
Dr. Lauren Cook
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 6, 2023
How to Raise Confident Kids: Breaking Cycles of Negative Self-Esteem
E:
189
with
Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
Founder of The North Star Developmental Clinic
February 20, 2024
August 2, 2023
Establishing Family Values: How to Identify What Matters and Avoid Comparison
E:
184
with
Mell & Joe Hashey
Founders of Strong Family Co.
February 20, 2024
June 21, 2023
Myths About Toddler Behavior: How to Reclaim the "Terrible Twos"
E:
178
with
Dr. Cathryn Tobin
Pediatrician
February 20, 2024
April 19, 2023
Overcoming Grief as Our Children Age: The Value of Acceptance and How to Be More Present
E:
169
with
Bryana Kappadakunnel
Marriage & Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
January 11, 2023
Understanding Baby Temperament: How to Tune Into Your Child’s Natural Personality
E:
155
with
Dr. Cara Goodwin
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 28, 2022
Establishing Age-Appropriate Boundaries With Kids: How to Set Limits That Kids Want to Follow
E:
140
with
Tia Slightham
@parentingcoach on TikTok and Founder of Parenting Solutions
February 20, 2024
September 21, 2022
Encouraging Independent Play: Why Unstructured Play Matters and How to Foster It
E:
139
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
September 7, 2022
How To Help a Child Regulate Their Emotions: Why Remembering the Good Matters
E:
137
with
Dr. Becky Kennedy
Founder of Good Inside
February 20, 2024
August 24, 2022
How to Support a Child Going Through Transitions: Strategies for Separation Anxiety, Back-to-School, and Beyond
E:
135
with
Jess VanderWier
Founder of Our Mama Village
February 20, 2024
August 17, 2022
How to Help a Child With School Anxiety: Easing Worries and Promoting Resilience
E:
134
with
Dr. Becky Kennedy
Founder of Good Inside
February 20, 2024
August 10, 2022
Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? Kindergarten Readiness Is Different Than You Think
E:
133
with
Susie Allison
Founder of Busy Toddler
February 20, 2024
May 25, 2022
Navigating Tantrums and Meltdowns: Understanding Sensory Reactions and Supporting Neurodivergent Children
E:
122
with
Laura Petix
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
April 6, 2022
How to Get Kids to Stop Whining: Strategies for Communicating With Young Children
E:
115
with
Joanna Faber and Julie King
Authors
February 20, 2024
March 23, 2022
How to Get Your Kids to Listen: Tips for Managing Defiance in Young Children
E:
113
with
Joanna Faber and Julie King
Authors
February 20, 2024
February 23, 2022
Navigating After School Restraint Collapse: What Causes the Meltdowns and How You Can Help
E:
109
with
Dr. Kristyn Sommer, Ph.D.
Child Development Researcher
February 20, 2024
October 13, 2021
Momming With ADHD
E:
90
with
Dr. Melissa Shepard
Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
August 25, 2021
Helping Our Kids Cope With Change
E:
83
with
Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart
Pediatric Psychologist
February 20, 2024
August 4, 2021
Kindergarten Readiness
E:
80
with
Cori Stern
Learning Specialist and Behaviour Analyst
February 20, 2024
July 14, 2021
Modeling Consent in Parenthood
E:
77
with
Jess VanderWier
Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
May 12, 2021
Understanding Secure Attachment
E:
68
with
Dr. Tanya Cotler
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
March 24, 2021
Managing Screen Time Without Guilt
E:
61
with
Dr. Elizabeth Adams
Clinical Psychologist
February 20, 2024
April 1, 2021
Bedwetting and Constipation
E:
62
with
Dr. Steve Hodges
Pediatric Urologist
February 20, 2024
December 9, 2020
The Secret to a Secure Bond
E:
48
with
Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
New York Times Best Selling Author
February 20, 2024
November 25, 2020
Conscious Boundary Setting
E:
47
with
Ashleigh Warner
Family Psychologist
February 20, 2024
September 30, 2020
Managing Tantrums According to Science
E:
43
with
Cindy Hovington, Ph.D.
Founder of Curious Neuron
February 20, 2024
April 1, 2020
Parenting Through Covid
E:
27
with
Dr. Elizabeth Adams
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
March 11, 2020
Fostering Early Language Development
E:
25
with
Carly Tulloch
Speech and Language Pathologist
February 20, 2024
March 4, 2020
024: What is the purpose of discipline?
E:
24
with
Jessica VanderWier
Psychotherapist
February 20, 2024
February 19, 2020
The Power of Sensory Play
E:
22
with
Dr. Allie Ticktin
Occupational Therapist
February 20, 2024
December 4, 2019
Fostering Independent Play
E:
16
with
Bryana Kappa
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 23, 2019
The Secret to Mindful Mothering
E:
10
with
Bryana Kappa
Marriage and Family Therapist
February 20, 2024
October 9, 2019
Tuning Out the Noise and Tuning into Your Child
E:
8
with
Dr. Elizabeth Adams
Psychologist
February 20, 2024
October 2, 2019
Taking the Stress, Guilt, and Chaos Out of Mealtimes
E:
7
with
Kacie Barnes
Toddler Dietitian