Neuroscience of Connection — Why It Is So Hard to Stay Apart

Diane Arnold

When parents look at their newborn, they will ask many questions like, “What will he be like when he grows up? Will he do well in school? Will he get along with other kids and be happy?”

Scientists now believe that the answers to these questions depend in large part on how the young child’s brain develops.

And that this development in turn depends on both nature and nuture from his support groups.

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Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Recent advances in brain research have provided great insight into how the brain, the most immature of all organs at birth, continues to grow and develop after birth.

Whereas this growth had been thought to be determined primarily by genetics, scientists now believe that it is also highly dependent upon the child’s experiences.

The CDC tells us that positive or negative experiences with our family and community can add up to shape a child’s development and can have lifelong effects.

We were created to survive in community (Or, Common unity);

the need to interact is deeply ingrained in our genetic code.

As social animals we survive because we form bonds, which provides mutual aid — for survival.

Bottom Line- Humans don’t do well if they’re alone.

It is interesting that the absence of social connection triggers the same, primal alarm bells as hunger, thirst and physical pain.

Attachment theory was initially researched by a man named John Bowlby.

His mission was to understand why children experience anxiety and distress when separated from their primary caregivers.

His work describes the forming and security of our early relationships.

Children grow and learn best in a safe environment where they are protected from neglect and are given plenty of opportunities to play and explore.

OK everyone Relax — — Perfect parents do not exist.

It is impossible to be physically or emotionally there 100% of the time for your children. Even the most sensitive of caregivers get it right only 50% of the time.

By the time we 12 months old, we have developed a map in our brain of how we will look at relationships. For example, how safe will they be? Or, how responsive will they be to our needs?

These maps also tell us how to interact with the other relationships in our lives.

For example, our partner selection, how to react when you feel happy or even lonely, and mostly importantly, how well our relationships will progress.

Recognizing our relating styles can help us understand our interests, strengths and vulnerabilities.

And, here is a huge key — -When we understand our style, we open a door to understanding our relationship needs.

Why is that important?

We were made for relationship! Our power to bond with another human was a gift given to each one of us.

An example of the power of bonding is seen in the real life story of Brielle and Kyrie Jackson of Westminster, Massachusetts.

These twins made national headlines due to the rapid recovery of one of the twins.

Brielle, not yet a month old and weighing only two pounds at birth, was slowing getting weaker and in danger of dying. Nothing seemed to be working to help her recovery.

Her twin Kyrie, three ounces heavier, was doing much better.

As Brielle’s condition got worse, their nurse went against hospital rules and put the twins in the same crib. When she sensed her sister, the healthier of the two threw an arm around the other in an endearing embrace.

If that wasn’t amazing enough — The smaller baby’s heart rate immediately stabilized and her temperature rose to normal.

Because of this, hospital practices with preemies were changed across the country. These twins are healthy are now out of college.

The staff at this hospital confirmed an actually a physiological basis for attachment.

Early relational experiences shape the brain’s neural activity.

Interestingly enough, this theory can begin to explain why we respond certain ways when we are hurt or separated from our loved ones.

During this time of purposeful isolation, take time to remind ourselves that being a little lonely makes complete sense.

Because we are just missing our normal connections. Spend some time thinking about the amazing times we have had with them in the past. But, more importantly, how about planning some special moments for the future?

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Creating Connection — Building Community- Restoring Family Covenants. A place to find wellness resources and people to do life with you.

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