When children are born, they naturally begin to form attachments with those who care for them. According to Dr. Carollee Howes, attachment figures other than the mother can be identified by three main criteria: providing physical and emotional care, showing continuity or consistency in the child’s life and having an emotional investment in the child. Based on this criteria, nannies serve as an attachment figure to the children in their care.
Erik Erikson, a German-born American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on the psychosocial development of humans, believed that infants learn to trust people and their environments if they receive consistent responsive care. Specifically, he believed that through feeding and responding to infant cries, caregivers help infants establish trust. Erickson believed that a child’s development of trust or mistrust in infancy control or influence future actions and interactions with others.
Providing responsive and consistent care is important because they breed a secure caregiver-child attachment. The term “attachment” refers to the emotional relationship between an infant and primary caregiver during the first year of life. Sensitive, consistently responsive, comforting and appropriate care result in secure attachments. Children with secure attachments will be more mature and positive in their interactions with peers and adults than those who lack a secure attachment.
Since infants spend a lot of time in their nanny’s care each day, it is important that a secure attachment forms. When the mother is absent, a nanny must accept the responsibility of bonding with the infant in her care.