When your child is small, they may spend the majority of their time wanting to be firmly planted in your arms or by your side. As they grow, the space between you may widen as they explore the world with more gusto than when they were very young, but if you and your kid have developed a strong bond, they will exhibit some or all of these sweet signs your kid is beautifully and securely attached.
While warm hugs and sloppy toddler kisses are some of the absolute best things in the world, watching your child exist in the world while knowing that they are secure enough in their attachment to know that they are loved and well cared for is equally as heartwarming.
Maureen Healy, author of The Emotionally Healthy Child and child development expert at Growinghappykids.com tells Romper why it's important for children to develop secure attachments. "Children need to form healthy relationships with their parents or caregivers. This helps them feel safe in the world and secure (emotionally) that they can move forward on their path of healthy development," Healy says. She also notes that these healthy attachments can happen with grandparents, teachers, or other important people in a child's life as well in order to facilitate healthy social, physical, mental, and emotional development.
If your kids is showing any of these sweet signs that that are beautifully and securely attached, you can rest assured knowing that you have a wonderful bond that won't be easily broken.
1. They say "I Love You"
If your child ever rushes up to you with a random "I love you" streaming from their lips, this is one signal that your child is beautifully and securely attached. According to Healy, children who "offer kind words of love such as 'I love you' without prompting" are showing secure attachment.
2. They Smile At You
It's an amazing feeling when your little one gazes at you with a joyful smile, but it's also a sign that they feel safe and secure with you. Healy says that if "your child smiles at you, looks in your eyes with appreciation," they are likely securely and beautifully attached to you.
3. They Look To You For Reassurance
If you notice your child consistently seeking out your reassurance when they are playing or engaging in activities independently, this is a sign that they are securely attached and your bond is strong. "In toddlerhood, we often see children checking in with their parents in new situations (i.e. when meeting someone new, checking to see if the parents are smiling — expressing that they novel person is safe — or showing a fear response — indicating that the novel person is a threat)," Dr. Michael Mintz, clinical psychologist at Children's National Health System, tells Romper.
4. They Offer Hugs & Cuddles
It's not uncommon for kids to want to hug their parents (and oh how sweet those hugs are), but a child who moves toward you for a hug is showing affection that is indicative of a secure attachment, according to Healy.
"They might enjoy snuggling with other caregivers but still prefer a close caregiver’s snuggles," Dr. Mintz tells Romper.
5. They Make You Things
I have a refrigerator full of random drawings and coloring book pages that my boys have given me. This artwork has significant meaning to me, as I know it was made with pure love, but it also is a sign that my kids are beautifully attached. "Your son or daughter may also make you artwork without prompting, and this is a big sign they feel connected to you in a healthy way," Healy says.
6. They Share Their Passions
If your child is able to open up to you and share their interests with you, this is a sign that they are developing a secure attachment. "If your son loves robotics and STEM camp, then hang out with him, let him teach you about robots, have him show you the motherboard he just rewired. Said differently, let your child be the teacher and you the student. This creates a healthy bond so you rely on them for learning similar to how they rely on you for life necessities (food, clothing, housing, healthy affection)," Healy says.
7. The Still Want You At Bedtime
When a child is securely attached, they will be comforted by the presence of their primary caregiver and want that type of comfort when it's time to fall asleep. "Even as they start to become comfortable around less familiar people, toddlers and preschool-aged children still show a preference for their closest caregivers, particularly around intimate routines, such as bedtime. They might have fun playing with an aunt or uncle, but then ask that mommy or daddy put them to bed or read to them at nap time," says Dr. Mintz.
8. The Come To You When They're Hurt
Nobody can fix an ouchie or a boo boo quite like Mommy or Daddy, and a securely attached kiddo knows this to be true. "A securely attached child might look for a parent when they are upset or hurt and be soothed with their social support, even if other caregivers’ affection doesn’t quite cut it," Dr. Mintz tells Romper. "Children tend to develop a hierarchy, by which they will seek the love and support of the closest caregiver available in a given moment. For example, an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or nanny might be able to soothe a child in a given situation if there are no parents around; however, in the same situation, the same child might pass over the secondary caregiver and instead seek support from their primary caregiver."