Articles and Topics
Is my 19-month-old too attached to me?
Kathy Creason Dayton
The intensity of a child's attachment to his or her mother is probably not as important as how secure it is. Attachment to the mother will show different patterns as an infant moves toward the preschool years, generally appearing most intense from about 12 to 24 months. If secure, regardless of various indicators of intensity, it allows the infant to separate greater and greater distances from the mother for longer and longer periods of time without anxiety. A securely attached infant will move from place to place or person to person, often returning to the safety of the mother's side from time to time, then moving off again. Sometimes a seemingly intense attachment masquerades an insecure relationship, one indicating that basic trust of the adult has not been achieved. The insecurely attached infant often protests any separation but then, surprisingly, rejects the mother's offer of comfort and reassurance once they have a reunion. I suggest you check out your toddler on the security dimension, then think through whether the attachment is too intense.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education