Nurturing Positive Attachments with Firmness and Love

In the last parent meeting, we explored Nurturing Positive Attachments with Firmness and Love.

What is an attachment bond?

An attachment bond is the emotional connection formed by non-verbal. This bond forms easiest at infancy, though can happen and heal at any point in our life. The quality of this bond impacts mental, physical, intellectual and social development

How is this bond formed?


A secure attachment is forged through non-verbal cues such as tone of voice, quality of touch, facial expression, eye contact, body language, and how our adult pacing, timing, and intensity matches the needs of the infant.

Humans, from the onset, need to belong, to feel their needs met, to be understood, and attuned to. This need informs the infant and child’s brain and nervous system’s development which informs the emotional, mental, and physical development, and also impacts relationship forming patterns later in life.

There are important differences between love and care taking and forming a secure bond. Love and care taking include acts such as feeding, diapering, bathing, and singing to infants. A secure attachment bond occurs when we attune to the expressions of the infant or child in the moment. This can by done by mirroring a sad facial expression, slowing down, offering a hug, and being calm and centered enough in our adult experience to be able to register the expressed needs of the infant or child.

What is firmness?

Firmness is not anger or domination, rather, it is the setting of limits and expresses an adult’s own actions. Some examples:

  • I will wait until your body is ready.

  • I am going to walk away.

  • When you run into the street, it shows me we need to hold hands. Do you want to walk?

When a child experiences limits, they feel safer for knowing what the boundaries and expectations are. Without limits, it is the task of the child to experiment and test to see how far they can go. When one parents from anger or domination, a child learns to stop undesired behavior at the moment anger arises. Firm limits can prevent this.

Firmness demonstrates mutual respect for it respects a child’s right to choose what to do and it respects the adult capacity to respond to a child, but not be placed at the mercy of a child.

Clear limits and boundaries support family attachments with all family members knowing what is expected, rather than the alternative of feeling “told what to do.”

Here is a link to an article on Kindness and Firmness at the Same Time from a Positive Discipline lens. Here are a list of Positive Discipline strategies to test out with loving firmness: Positive Discipline Strategies.

Read the Parent Handout from the meeting for more insight into recovery, how to bond, and what motivates children’s behavior and need for consistent boundary setting.

Nia House

A Montessori Toddler & Preschool Program serving Berkeley since 1974