Researchers in the field of attachment have discovered that it is impossible to spoil babies by responding to their cries. On the contrary, prompt responsiveness leads to a solid foundation of trust and a secure attachment in the infants by one year of age. Infants whose parents delay in responding to their cries become demanding and clingy by one year of age, and are described as being "insecurely attached."4 http://www.awareparenting.com/comfort.htm
Attachment is the drive to pursue and preserve closeness and contact with others. (Mate, 2010, 193) There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious (ambivalent), avoidant, and disorganized. Research shows that without safe secure non-stressed attachment the brain cannot develop optimally. “The three environmental conditions absolutely essential to optimal human brain development are nutrition, physical security and consistent emotional nurturing…emotional nurturance is an absolute requirement for healthy neurobiological brain development.” (Mate, 2010, 193)
How we learn to be in a relationship with others has its origin in our first relationships. It is through relationships with important attachment figures that children learn to trust others, regulate their emotions and interact with the world, develop a sense of the world as safe or unsafe and come to understand their own value as individuals. When those relationships are unstable or unpredictable children learn that they cannot rely on others to help them. When primary caregivers exploit and abuse a child the child learns that they are bad and the world is a terrible place. (Allen 28T) Both attachment and attunement develop slowly and over time.
Attunement is being in tune with someone’s emotional states. It’s not about parental love but the parent’s ability to be present emotionally in such a way that the infant/child feels understood, accepted and mirrored. (Mate, 2010, 249) Attunement is deeply instinctive and is easily subverted when the parent is stressed, depressed, or distracted. (Mate, 2010, 250) A parent can be fully attached to the infant- fully “in love”- but not attuned. (Mate, 2010, 250) Children in poorly attuned relationships may feel loved, or be aware that love is there, but on a deeper and essential level they do not experience themselves as seen or appreciated for who they really are. (Mate, 2010, 250) Poorly attuned relationships provide an inadequate template for the development of a child’s neurological and psychological self-regulation systems.
Bonding refers to the parents/caregivers feelings toward and connection to the infant. Bonding is believed to occur in the first hours/days of the infant's life though it can occur during pregnancy or later in the infants life. Massage can help facilitate attachment and attunement and can deepen the bond between child and caregiver.
Self-regulation is the capacity to maintain a reasonably even internal emotional environment (i.e. no extreme highs and lows). A person who can effectively self regulate does not depend on others or external activities/substances to feel ok.