John Bowlby is considered the “Father of Attachment” because he coined the term “Attachment Theory.” Bowlby believed in some aspects of Sigmund Freud psychoanalytic approach which proposes that early experiences in childhood have important influence on development and behavior later in life. Bowlby believed for a healthy overall development of a child to occur, this child must have the ability to have a strong relationship with a “caregiver” in which case it would normally be one of the parents.
He also goes on to state that “the propensity to make strong emotional bonds to a particular individual is a component of human nature.” It’s very important for both parents and nannies to understand that. Bowlby is simply saying that children have an innate ability to form strong bonds with the individuals who care for them and that it’s part of a healthy phase of development.
There are times that parents get upset when a child cries when a nanny is leaving for home in the evenings. If some parents want to be honest, I’m sure many would admit that it’s very upsetting to them seeing their child cry after another individual. However, we can help a child through this by considering doing the following:
- Nannies, I know that some of you unconsciously support that behavior by your own response to the child when he/she cries when you leave for home. If you kiss and continue to hug the child in an attempt to soothe that child, although these are kind gestures, you are conditioning that behavior. In basic terms -child cries -you respond with hugs and kisses -child learns that I will get hugs and kisses when I cry in the evenings when my nanny leaves- therefore this behavior is repeated daily. What can we do instead? Get the child involved in something they love to do prior to you leaving for home. Maybe it’s a good time to do some artsy stuff or find whatever interests them when the parent gets home. Nannies say your goodbye and try not to prolong the process. I had a little boy many years ago who would grab my clothes and cry for “one more kiss” every evening. I now realize that I added to his frustration because as I saw him cry I gave many more kisses and so that became the ritual every evening. Now I understand that this was not healthy for the child emotionally.
- Parents especially moms, although it’s a natural feeling do not get mad at the nanny because your child gets upset when the nanny leaves, please remember you have chosen a great nanny that your child loves. Also appreciate the fact that if your children love the nanny, this is a testament of your good judgement in choosing that nanny. You have done well! Just discuss ways that you and your nanny can come up with a good plan to aid your child.
- Nannies, no the child will never love you more than the parents nor do you ever want this anyway!! Parents no, your children will never love the nanny more than they love you. They will love a nanny who shows them kindness, who’s listens to them and attend to their needs. You may feel guilty that perhaps you are away from home for long extended periods because of work obligations but understand that you are also teaching your children very important life lessons in the process.
It’s my hope that we all will take some time out to consider Bowlby attachment theory so it guides us as we continue to love the children in our care divinely.