I’m deeply worried

Last week I attended 11 fantastic thesis presentations from this year’s Psychotherapist graduates from the Gestalt Institute of Scandinavia. It was very inspiring and with a recurring theme of attachment style. One thing has stayed with me, which is my deep worry about the influence of mobile phones and tablets in the relationship between the baby and its caregiver. I feel like sharing some of this knowledge with you, and have a wish you will help to share with people in your network, who have just become parents or is about to.

Attachment style – how you relate to other people

Attachment is a huge theme within the psychological field, so there is a lot of well known and well documented knowledge on this.

To put it very simple, attachment is the first emotional relational bond the baby experiences in its life. It is to its primary caregiver – typically the mother. The essence of this first relationship will form the baby’s attachment style, which will follow the baby the rest of its life and really creates the deep basis for how the baby will be as person in all future relationships.

“And this is where my worry comes in, if the mobile phone or tablet steals a lot of attention from the baby”

If the baby gets the necessary care and attention it will form a “secure attachment”, which is the healthy attachment style, with a secure base of trust and confidence. It will create a healthy basis for future relations for this person. If the necessary care and attention is not there, the baby will form an “insecure attachment”. There are 3 kinds of insecure attachment styles – avoidant, resistant and disorganized – and a lot of theory I will not go into. However just mention, in the western part of the world, it is estimated about 60-70% of the population who has a secure attachment style.

The key to a secure attachment is the period 0 to 2 years old, where the baby needs a lot of eye contact, responding and mirroring from its caregiver. And this is where my worry comes in, if the mobile phone or tablet steals a lot of attention from the baby. Babies and children are very robust, and some incidents of this is not a problem, but if it happens on a regular basis, it is very likely to influence the baby towards an insecure attachment – hence my worry with mobile phones and tablets taking a lot of attention in our time.

Still face experiment

Please look at the “Still face experiment” in the video below. Now imagine a mother or father with a small baby or child, sitting with their baby and a mobile phone / tablet, and something interesting is catching their attention, maybe even having headphones on, and not noticing the baby or child’s call for attention. I’m sure no mother or father will do this deliberately, but my worry is that this is happening unaware on an increasing scale, due to lack of knowledge of the potential consequences.

Relations and leadership

I work with leaders, to improve their leadership. The challenges I meet, are very often around their relations with people in all parts inside and outside their organization. Attachment style is always an element my colleagues and I are aware of when working with leaders, and trust me – it is very clear that an insecure attachment style gives you extra challenges in all your relations. The good news is, that it is possible to work with this, and move from an insecure to a secure attachment style, but it takes a good amount of in-depth coaching or therapy.

Help spread the knowledge

My aim with this post is not to blame any mothers or fathers regarding this. I deeply believe that every mother and father in the world are doing their best for their child, with the life situation and resources which is given to them.

My deep worry is, we will see an increased share of insecure attached people in our world, having more challenges in their relations, and I know from my work – this is a heavy burden to bear.

Please help me spread this knowledge to the people in your network, who have just become parents or is about to – thanks.

Jesper Bobjerg
Gestalt Institute of Scandinavia

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