When it comes to caregiving, whether children are being cared for in a group setting (such as childcare, preschool, etc.), relationships are formed. Children of all ages form relationships and attach to their caregivers when their needs are met. This is oftentimes referred to as “The Caregiving Cycle” or “The Secure Base Model.” When a child has an immediate need and that child is unable to help themselves achieve the end goal, they seek support from other sources such as a parent, teacher, sibling, etc.
Why is this important information? Why does it matter? When children are provided the opportunity to create and maintain positive relationships with their parents and teachers, they are offered a, “…safe haven for reassurance when there are difficulties. Thus, a secure base promotes security, confidence, competence and resilience,” (Secure Base Model). In other words, children learn to trust. They learn that when they have a need, it will get met by someone trustworthy that cares for them. For an infant, the need may resemble something as simple as a diaper change. For a toddler, the need may be help regulating ones emotions during a difficult transitional period. No matter the situation or how dire the need is, children rely on adults to assist them. When the adults in a child’s life are meeting need after need, a healthy and secure relationship is created. When that relationship is established, children know that they will be helped. They know that when they are hungry, tired, etc. someone will be there for them. This allows children to focus on other things – rather than the constant worry or fear that they won’t be helped. When their needs are met, this gives children the chance to not only learn, but to also thrive in an environment such as an early childhood learning center.
The cycle looks like this:
- The child has a need that build in intensity over time.
- The caregiver intervenes and meets the need of the child.
- The child is then able to relax.
- A relaxed child is able to learn and actively participate in activities – learning time!
- The cycle starts over and begins again at number one.
The Caregiving Cycle is simple, really. Meet the needs of children in a timely and kind manner and the secure base that each child is longing for is created. Parents and teachers can help by offering a predictable pattern of behavior to create happy babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Kids Coach (Infant/Toddlers)
Lead Infant Teacher
“Secure Base Model.” University of East Anglia, https://www.uea.ac.uk/…/centre-for…/secure-base-model.