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Attachment may be the key to breaking the multi-generational cycle of addiction and abuse. It is the connection between children and their parents and caregivers, which is formed from birth and nurtured by behaviors that allow children to feel secure, know they are loved and that their basic needs will be met. Strong, healthy attachment to a caregiver is crucial in the first years of a child’s life and results in feeling: "I am a loved child," "I am safe and secure in my caregiver's care," and "I am the center of my caregiver's/parent's attention!"



Physical and emotional availability - “in the moment” availability of parent or caregiver.

Parents/caregivers need to learn to:

1. Manage their own stress, so they can be emotionally available.

2. Focus on children, especially during feeding and play times, setting aside all distractions (cellphone, email/tests, TV, and other electronics).


Responsiveness to children’s needs.

1. Understanding and interacting appropriately to children’s cues.

2, Maintaining daily schedules and routines.

2. Providing sound nutrition and adequate sleep. (Sleep is a significant risk factor for both physical and mental health.) 



1. Giving children affirmations. Saying “I love you” every day. Providing lots of loving, nurturing touch (hugs, kisses, cuddles).

2. Often playing with and reading to children.

3. Being available to calm and soothe children when they are upset.


A Caution: Parents/caregivers who have experienced a number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) themselves may not have experienced a secure attachment. As a result, they may have:

  • Limited physical or emotional availability to their children.

  • Difficulty establishing trust.

  • Limited ability to empathize with their children.

More information: 


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