Can Babies Be Made into Bullies?
Molly Skyar, in open conversation with her mother, Dr. Susan Rutherford, a clinical psychologist and expert in human behavior, view parenting decisions through a psychologist’s perspective.
MOLLY: If your baby didn’t develop a secure attachment to a parent, how might you see that child acting in preschool and elementary school?
DR. RUTHERFORD: You might notice that preschool- and elementary school-aged children with attachment issues don’t discriminate enough between known caregivers and strangers. For example, they may go off with someone else without a backward glance at Mom or Dad. Young children should have different feelings for their regular caregivers than for other people.
MOLLY: Might it be something like preschool anxiety?
DR. RUTHERFORD: Preschool anxiety is very normal, and it can easily affect both secure and insecure children. But some children with attachment difficulties might appear unusually sad or scared and exceptionally difficult to console.
The key words here are “unusually” and “exceptionally.” All preschoolers run through a gamut of emotions, especially as they begin to separate and spend time away from home. But children with attachment difficulties stand out. This is largely because they don’t feel safe to reach out and explore in ways that are typical for their age.
When a child develops secure attachments, it creates a foundation for developing the ability to cope with friendships, intimate relationships, marriage, and eventually, their own role as a parent.