Indicators of impaired bonding

Developmental delays

The bonding between the young child and their caregivers provides the experiences required to develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Lack of consistent and enriched experiences in early childhood can result in delays in motor, language, social, and cognitive development.

Eating

Children may hoard food, hide food in their rooms, or gorge at meals even if they have had years of consistent available foods. They may have rumination (throwing up food) and swallowing problems.

Soothing behaviour

In order to self-soothe, infants may have learned primitive soothing behaviours. They may bite themselves, head bang, rock, chant, scratch, or cut themselves. These symptoms will increase during times of distress or threat.

Emotional functioning

A range of emotional problems is common, including depressive and anxiety symptoms. One common behaviour is "indiscriminate" attachment. All children seek safety – some may seek attachments for their safety.

Inappropriate modelling

Children model adult behaviour, children learn that the behaviour they have experienced is the "right" way to interact with others. This potentially causes problems in their social interactions with adults and other children.

Aggression

The ability to emotionally "understand" the impact of your behaviour on others can be impaired. In more extreme cases, aggression is often accompanied by a detached, cold lack of empathy. They may show regret (an intellectual response) but not remorse (an emotional response) when confronted about their aggressive or cruel behaviours.
Professionals can help support bonding and attachment through:

  • Interacting with children based on emotional age
  • Being consistent, predictable and repetitive
  • Modelling and teaching appropriate social behaviours
  • Listening to and talking with these children
  • Having realistic expectations of these children
  • Being patient with the child's progress

Bedwetting

Bedwetting or nocturnal enuresis is a common childhood condition.

Bedwetting is normal in children who are under five years old, and the majority of young children will wet the bed at some stage. It affects 15% of all children, 45% of children with a parent who has also had the condition, and 75% of children with two parents who have had the condition.

Bedwetting is often caused by an overactive bladder, but it can be the result of problems with the development of the bladder. It can also be due to a neurological disorder (disorders of the brain and nervous system).

There are two types of bedwetting:

  • Primary nocturnal enuresis: persistent, involuntary bedwetting during sleep in a child who aged five or over
  • Secondary nocturnal enuresis: where bedwetting comes back after a dry period of at least six months

Secondary nocturnal enuresis is often linked to a stressful event, such as bullying at school, or the divorce of a child’s parents.

Bedwetting usually stops when the child gets older, because:

  • Their bladder capacity increases
  • They produce less urine at night
  • They learn to wake up when their bladder is full

In time, almost all children stop wetting the bed, often without treatment. Approximately 1% will continue to wet the bed into adulthood.

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