By the time we are toddlers we have developed strategies that help us navigate relationships. We learn from interactions with our caregivers that behavior brings forth different responses. A baby cries out, communicating distress: “I’m hungry, my diaper needs changing, I need to be held” - mom responds with reassuring tones: “It’s OK, I’m here, now let’s see what you need.” Mom feels warm and touched as her soothing responses help the child relax. They feel a secure attachment. Both feel joy and comfort in the pleasure of being known for what they experience.
The concept of a “secure base”, introduced by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1960’s, reflects the empathic and interested responses of caregivers to a child's attachment needs. With security as a foundation exploration of the environment follows. "Safe haven" (John Bowlby) is a term which describes the consistent acknowledgent and soothing a child can return to when she feels tension. For example, a toddler expresses excitement discovering that she can make a ball roll.