Parenting Perspective: The Attachment Factor
December 17, 2009 (WPVI) -- A few weeks ago, I brought Sienna to a relative's to visit. When we first got there, she was smiling and giggling... acting like her typical adorable self. But then, when our relative asked to hold her, something strange happened.
Sienna was in her arms for no more than thirty seconds when her lips started quivering, her eyes started welling up and then, a huge scream. It went on for a half hour. Even after I took her back to calm her down. I chalked it up to Sienna being tired that day. I thought, 4 months was much too young for her to start getting upset in the arms of people she isn't familiar with.
Wouldn't you know it but a week later some friends came over and the same thing happened. I admit, there's a small part of me that actually loves this because, of course, I want to be the person my daughter prefers to be with. But obviously there are a lot of people in Sienna's life who love her and love to take care of her from time to time.
Part of this early attachment may be my fault. Both my husband and I have been a little apprehensive to take Sienna on regular outings because of all the worry about swine flu. After Sienna had to spend those two weeks in the hospital back in September, we became a little gun shy about letting others outside the immediate family visit with her and hold her. But this is a necessary lesson in socialization.
I fully understand that all children go through this attachment phase, I just wasn't prepared for her to do it this soon. And it breaks my heart to watch her so upset, especially when I know the remedy is within arm's length.
So, over the last few weeks, I've introduced Sienna to more and more people and I've learned that although she needs to get used to being in the arms of other people, it does not have to happen immediately. My husband and I let her warm up a bit to new people or even family she doesn't see on a regular basis. After about a half hour, when she becomes familiar with them, I take it one step further and let them hold her.
Sometimes the transition is smooth, other times, not so much. Especially when she is looking at me while she exercises her lungs, seeming to say "Why are you torturing me like this mommy? All I want you to do is hold me."
It's really, really hard but I know the repetition is important. I also have to remind myself that she's not being tortured. No one is harming her, it's just a new experience. For a baby, that can be frightening. I'm constantly trying to think of ways to soothe her while she's with someone else, but the reality is, time will be the only remedy.
As Sienna becomes more familiar and at ease with changing environments and different people, new experiences won't be so startling. But there is a little tough love involved. Even with all the tears and sniffles, I'm pretty sure it's tougher on us than her.
parenting - erin o'hearn, parenting, erin o'hearn
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