Permanency is the topic of this post on the book “Inside I’m Hurting” by Louise Michelle Bomber. The book is written for educators and is a manual on working with attached challenged children in schools.
In chapter 8, “Permanency and Constancy,” Bomber explains why many attachment challenged children struggle with the concept of permanency. Bomber describes permanency in this way, “A child who has negotiated the psychological developmental stage of permanency will be aware that objects and the parent exist and will continue to exist, and that he or she (the child), exists as an individual and will continue to exist despite not being seen or directly connected to the parent.”
However, as Bomber explains, attachment challenged children may not have mastered this stage. “A child that has experienced neglect, chaotic and inconsistent parenting or traumatic experiences, however, may become very stuck, not understanding this important developmental concept,” she writes.
Bomber writes that kids in this situation may often do everything they can to stay connected to the significant adults in their lives.
After reading this, I understood somewhat why my kids can be so needy. But, I’m not the most patient person in the world, and the constant demands for attention can get on my nerves fast. So what do I do?
Bomber suggests that it’s important to help these children experience being connected to others. She recommends the following tactics to do this:
1. Sensory reminders: for example, using a visual image that will help children remember that they have not been forgotten when away from the parent.
2. Personal touch: using cautious touch to make a connection.
3. Reassurance: verbally reassuring children of your connection to them.
4. Eye contact: giving children sustained eye contact.
5. Physical presence: connecting through physical presence.
6. Hide and seek: not necessarily the traditional game, but a variation, involving hiding objects and finding them.
Bomber offers encouragement to parents and educators about this issue: “… the time will indeed come when the child will be able to internalize the concept of permanency to such an extent that they can throw away the ‘props’ – the symbolic representations of the fact that you actually do keep them alive in your mind.”