Over the years, several studies have shown this association between secure attachment and the capacity for children to understand emotions. In a meta-analysis evaluating 10 studies involving 564 children in total, researchers studied the association between mother-child attachment and emotion understanding in children under 6 years of age. Results showed that there exists a consistent and positive association between the two variables. In other words, the more children have a secure attachment to their mother, the more they are able to identify, interpret and communicate their own emotions and those of others. This can be explained by the nature of secure attachments, entailing participation in several close relationships, therefore leading to more emotional exchanges.
In conclusion, secure mother-child bonds allow children to develop emotional competencies such as emotion understanding. Since emotion understanding is critical for child development and facilitates social interactions, mothers play a critical role, not only in providing a secure base for their children and in fostering self-expression, but also in effectively responding to their children’s affects and behaviors.
Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Attachment. New York, NY: Basic Books. (Original work published 1969).
Cooke, J. E., Stuart-Parrigon, K. L., Movahed-Abtahi, M., Koehn, A. J., & Kerns, K. A. (2016). Children’s Emotion Understanding and Mother-Child Attachment: A Meta-Analysis. Emotion, 16(8), 1102-1106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo000022