It is known that early experiences and relationships deeply affect the development of children’s brain from birth up till the age of three. These strengths such as the ability to take the initiative, engage in a strong mutual-attachment relationship, and achieve self-control help the child’s growth, learning and create protection that allows children to be more resilient when facing life stressors. This changes the assumption that children are naturally resilient and instead they build resilience up over time.

An infant or a toddler’s separation from a parent constitutes a significant stressor, putting that young child at risk for a variety of health, social, and emotional problems. Children communicate their needs through language as well as behavior and this will usually involve rebellion. This vulnerability depends on variables such as the quality of the attachment relationship before the separation, the duration of separation, and the intensity of experiences surrounding the separation.

The child’s vulnerability is also impacted by the way the caretakers respond to the crisis of separation. The child would need to have an honest life story and when the caregiver has not told the truth to the child this creates emotional damage. Not knowing about the jailed parent doesn’t allow the child to express themselves and realise the separation isn’t their fault. This also denies the child the opportunity to share the situation with others in their position. The unknown only offers fear, confusion and shame and a less chance for the child to meet the parent in prison.

In part 3 of the blog we will be discussing strategies that are best when the child is going to have contact with the incarcerated prison.



Therisa Gambin is a psychology graduate who worked in the HR sector for the past 4 years. She decided to change her career path and thus is at present an intern at Willingness and will continue to focus on psychology practices.