7 Signs Your Child Has Developed A Healthy Attachment

In determining how well your child trusts, accepts, and connects with the world, healthy attachment is the key. 

Parenting is a big job.

From the beginning, you are well aware of each step in the process, each responsibility, and each milestone.

Even the way you look into your child’s face or interpret the things he isn’t telling you is important. More so, those non-verbal cues and your responses may be more important than the words that come later.

Do you wonder if your child has developed a healthy sense of emotional connectedness to his surroundings? Healthy Attachment (not to be confused with attachment parenting) lays the groundwork for social and emotional engagement, intellectual and educational interest, and physical development.

Attachment is emotional communication without words. It represents a relationship that is more than just bonding or feeling close to your child. Ideally, attachment becomes healthier and stronger the more your child experiences safe emotional connections. As your child’s needs were met before he could to convey his needs, wants, and emotions verbally, attachment developed over time.

No pressure, right? Not to worry, if you are wondering whether your child truly has developed a healthy attachment, it shows that you are already attuned to his needs.

Below, you’ll find there are some key indicators that may be helpful.

7 signs of healthy attachment

Connection to You/Primary Caregiver

1. Your child prefers your company to that of strangers. Your child seeks you out with eye contact, gestures, or physical relocation. While your child can spend time with other people without much anxiety, he looks to you for support, a good indicator that he will have the ability to seek out appropriate social support later in life.

2. Your child looks to you to be comforted. Your child trusts that you know and understand his needs intuitively. He is secure in the knowledge that you are available and willing to be there when a need arises or life becomes scary or uncomfortable.

3. Your child welcomes and engages you after an absence. The mood is positive and accepting when you and your child are reunited after a period of separation. Your child’s disposition is warm, relaxed. He or she greets you openly.

Healthy attachment results in healthy relationships.

Connection to Others

4. Your child gives, takes, and shares. The ability to complete these actions habitually, with little upset, are a key sign that social skills are well developed. Your child is generally not concerned or worried by the presence of other children. He is empathetic, and able to remain relatively balanced emotionally throughout social interactions.

Healthy Attachment

5. Your child delays gratification. A child with a healthy attachment is also able to wait without becoming anxious, overwrought, or upset. He feels secure that a toy will be returned, his turn will come, or a promise will be honored. Though this does not mean that it will always be easy for him.

6. Your child is responsive to discipline. Healthy attachment facilitates trust. Your child’s ability to receive firm direction and willingly allow you to guide him is a strong indicator that he trusts you to teach him how to behave properly. Over time, your child’s choices are wiser and more careful.

Self-Awareness and Control

7. Your child is confidently independent. The beauty of a healthy attachment is that it promotes feelings of safety and trust between you and your child. At the same time, attachment supports the development of a confident, secure child, ready to explore and adapt to new situations. A securely attached child investigates neighborhoods, schools, and communities without much fear; secure in the knowledge that they have a safe place waiting for them.

LaunchPad is a counseling practice in Richmond, VA that specializes in helping families overcome stressful circumstances. Our counselors work with children, teens, and parents to reduce conflict and strengthen relationships. Parents often consult with a parenting professional to discuss how to best support their families. Children and teens also benefit from meeting with a counselor to process internal struggles. Lastly, Family Therapy that focuses on strengthening attachment allows families to attain closer and more fulfilling relationships.

If you would like more information on how counseling can help you, Contact Us or Schedule an Appointment Online.

2017-09-22T15:34:19+00:00By |10 Comments

About the Author:

Mark is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist in Richmond, VA. He is the founder of LaunchPad Counseling, a private practice that helps children and adults find happiness and peace of mind by discovering strength inside themselves to improve their lives. Mark is also the author of the children's book What Does a Princess Really Look Like?


  1. Hira November 24, 2017 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Interesting article and and happy to see that my 23 month old seems to have a healthy attachment with me as most points apply on us. However with regards to point number 5, delaying gratification. She will wait or mostly not get upset when i tell her she has to wait till evening to go to the park(though sometimes she will cry) etc however she gets very impatient when she wants her favorite song playing in the car. She gets somewhat angry and will cry and fuss if the song is not played immediately. I do like informing her beforehand, in a calm manner, that we will wait for sometime and then turn the music on and I always honor my promise. Still wondering if not bring able to delay gratification in this regard is a cause for worry with regards to a healthy attachment. Thank you!

    • Mark Loewen November 28, 2017 at 9:25 am - Reply

      I’m happy the description was helpful to you! To deal with delayed gratification is a lifelong learning process. I’m reminded of afternoons when the crock-pot is cooking and the whole house smells so delicions. Makes me so hungry, and I can’t hardly wait! At 23 months, what you described seems very much developmentally appropriate for your little one. Kids (and adults) learn through repeated experiences. So if she, for example, struggles to wait, and you stay calm and proceed as planned, she will eventually learn that if she just waits, things eventually come to happen. Impulse control, decision making, and such are skills kids don’t need to already know. They are skills that you will teach them over time. Sounds like your little one is doing well! As she gets older, I think another website that could be a good resource for you is http://www.bravelikeagiril.com. Thank you for commenting!

  2. Erica March 1, 2018 at 5:26 am - Reply

    My child does not get excited when I pick him up from daycare. He barely notices and acts disengaged all evening. Is this a sign of unhealthy attachment?

    • Mark Loewen March 1, 2018 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Erica! The good news is that this is not a sign of unhealthy attachment. It’s actually pretty common. For kids, time runs very differently. By the time you get him, to him it feels like he has been there for an eternity. And he is fine! It just takes some extra work to transition back to being with you. One suggestion is that you engage him in some playful way before you leave the daycare. Spend a few minutes joining him in whatever he is doing. Do this with the intention of reconnecting after a long day. It also helps to have a snack in the car, his favorite songs ready to play, or something that helps with the transition. It can hurt any parent’s feelings when you get your kid and they act like they wish you wouldn’t! But it’s very normal. You are doing great!

  3. Hannah June 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Hi, I have read through the list and while my three year old seems fine in all other aspects, he does ted to become worried or concerned around other children. He has one close friend who he is relaxed with but he hates big groups of children or people he doesn’t know. For example if other children approach the sand pit he will stop playing and cling to me or ask to sit on my lap. Is this anything to worry about ?

    • Mark Loewen August 24, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Hannah,

      If he is fine at other times, I don’t think you need to worry about it too much. His hesitation around other children may have to do more with his temperament. If he is more introverted, he’ll prefer smaller groups. He could also just be slower to warm up, which is totally normal. You can help him become more comfortable with other kids by practicing it little by little. As he gets a little older, he may feel more comfortable when he has other friends with him. What I would recommend, is that when he starts feeling anxious like this, you can acknowledge his feeling, but make sure that you are calm and that your tone of voice communicates that everything is fine. As parents, we sometimes feel sad for our kids when they struggle (like during drop-offs). Kids don’t know why we are showing distress and they think we are upset just like they are (but we are just struggling because we see THEM struggle!) Hope that helps!

  4. MJ August 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Some of these could apply to unhealthy attachment as well, could they not? Like 7. Your child is confidently independent. – how do you tell if it’s a good independance or an avoidance independance?

    • Mark Loewen August 24, 2018 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      Yes, good point! There should be a balance. In general, secure attachment is about an internal sense of connection with the caregiver (and others). A younger child would show independence and explore their environment, but then check back in with their parent. As children get older, they may be more independent, but they would still have some sort of relationship with another person around them. A child that has secure attachment may be totally fine in preschool because she is around her teacher, whom she identifies as her “safe harbor.” She knows that even if she is not hanging around the teacher all the time, the teacher is available when she needs them. In regards to avoidance independence, this would be a child who doesn’t speak up when they need help. Not because she can handle it herself, but just because it doesn’t occur to her to ask for help. On the other hand, a child with insecure attachment would act like she doesn’t need help, and then resent someone for not helping. Or send confusing messages like that. Children are still learning how to interact with others. So a pattern or unhealthy interactions would be important to know if their attachment is secure or not. And as with everything, balance is key.

  5. Niku September 19, 2018 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Hello my son is 12 months old! I cant get him to eat real food and he’s standing up and crawling but has not started walking alone yet he does say mama papa and laughs alot he knows how to play peek-a-boo. My main concern is he’s very hyper. He doesn’t sleep well during the day and wakes up at night three to four times! He gets bord alot and he doesnt like the same toys! He doesnt like people to play with him he cris alot about anything. Should I be concerned

    • Mark Loewen September 20, 2018 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Hi Niku, I would recommend that you check with his pediatrician. Every child develops differently. It sounds as though you are concerned, and that’s a good reason for checking with a professional.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2008 Libbie Ave, Ste 101, Richmond VA | 804.665.4681 | Schedule an Appointment Now