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13 Ways to Encourage Attachment with your Toddler

March 27, 2010

Last month I gave you 7 ways to encourage attachment with your infant. It only seems logical to follow that popular post up with information about encouraging attachment with your toddler.

Remember that your child’s attachment needs will be delayed in comparison to his chronological age. If your child comes home at age 2, he will likely have the attachment needs of an infant. Even school age children and teens may have attachment needs similar to a newborn- yet expressed in a “big kid way.” Do you have some questions about how secure attachments are created? You can visit my previous blog post, The Beginnings of Attachment.

So, without further ado….

  1. Read books and nursery rhymes while sitting close
  2. Touching games and rhymes (this little piggy, creep mouse, thunder and rain storms on their back)
  3. Make silly faces in the mirror together
  4. Tactile sensory activities- rice, shaving cream, finger paint
  5. Play and be silly!!! (Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen is an EXCELLENT resource)
  6. Touch the child’s palms or soles when cuddling (From Deborah Gray, Attaching in Adoption pg 211)
  7. Continue holding frequently- toddler carriers like an Ergo or Wrap
  8. Take lots of pictures and make a photo story book starring the child
  9. Reduce or restrict the number of caregivers
  10. Keeps a calm, structured, and predictable environment
  11. Positive NOT PUNITIVE Discipline
  12. Continue with responsive parenting
    1. Attunement will help you differentiate between wants and needs
    2. Attention is a need
  13. Help children label their feelings

I’m sure you’ve noticed the common theme is quite simply- be PRESENT with your child. Connect emotionally. Laugh a lot. Hold them close. Encourage tactile experiences. HAVE FUN!!!




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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. wendy sterk permalink
    April 19, 2010 2:19 pm


    Thanks for the info. We have friends that just brought home a 3 y/o and as I watch them with their little boy I wonder if I can give advice to help in the hard times AND it helps ME as I think about bringing our little boy home too. I will give your website to her.


  1. 9 Way to Enhance Attachment with your School Aged Child « Gobbel Counseling & Adoption Services

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