How much do children’s experiences inside the womb and in their first few years of life affect their development and learning? During his webinar for Kaplan’s Classroom Management for Early Learning community on edWeb, Keith Pentz discussed cuddling, consciousness, and cognition and the significance of emotional engagement on development and learning. Cuddling determines children’s consciousness, which influences their cognition and decisions and relationships later in life. Cuddling and taking care of children’s needs also plays a role in children’s attachment to adults.

Four Types of Attachment

  1. Secure Attachment – Secure attachment is all about trust. Young children know their needs are going to be met by a significant caregiver. They’ve been cuddled, cared for, and loved. If they’re dropped off at daycare, they know their caregiver will come back and are happy when they return. Research has found that around 60–65% of infants in the United States experience secure attachment. When children with secure attachment enter preschool, they have confidence in themselves and can wait their turn because they’ve been cared for and loved.
  2. Avoidant Attachment – A child with avoidant attachment is not comfortable with adults. If they’re dropped off at daycare, the child won’t know how to respond because the adult has never really been there for them. It’s like they’re being picked up by a stranger even though that person is their primary caregiver. About 20% of infants in the United States experience avoidance attachment. When those children enter preschool, they may wander around the classroom a lot or do things on their own because that’s what they’re used to at home.
  3. Anxious Attachment – Infants with anxious attachment have needs that are sometimes met. If the child is dropped off at daycare, the child will start crying when the primary caregiver returns because the child wasn’t sure he or she would come back. The caregiver can’t always be trusted. About 10–15% of infants in the United States experience anxious attachment. When these children enter preschool, they may be very clingy because they’re anxious and not sure if the teacher will be there for them.
  4. Disorganized Attachment – If a child with disorganized attachment is dropped off at daycare, the child may throw a tantrum when the primary caregiver returns. The child is probably expressing through their actions that they are scared to go home. This is usually an indicator that there is some type of abuse going on in the home. It’s estimated that 5–15% of infants experience disorganized attachment. In preschool, these children will have extreme difficulties with relationships and will also have trouble dealing with life because no one has cuddled or cared for them.

One of the things Keith used to tell his undergraduate students was to leave their baggage at the door and love on the little ones in their care as much as possible. If you’re working with little ones on a daily basis, it’s imperative that you’re joyful and positive and that what you’re doing is creating healthy relationships and a healthy environment. Remember, if little ones aren’t happy, they can’t learn.

More About Keith

Keith is a National Early Childhood Specialist for Kaplan Early Learning Company and has worked in the education field for over 35 years. As one of our professional development presenters, Keith would be happy to come speak at your school or center about the importance of emotional engagement or another education topic. Please call 1-800-334-2014 or email for more information. Be sure to visit our Professional Development page to view all of our on-site and online professional development offerings.

Become a Member

You can gain access to free webinars and resources on a variety of important education topics—all you have to do is become a member of the Kaplan-sponsored Classroom Management for Early Learning community on edWeb. All members of the community can earn free CE certificates by joining in on live webinars. If you miss the live webinar, you can also earn free CE certificates by viewing a recording of the webinar and passing the corresponding quiz. By joining the community, you’ll also be notified of upcoming webinars.