Human Relationships

This is the fifth blog in a series titled, “The Core Concepts of Development.” Click to view the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.


Human relationships, and the effects of relationships on relationships, are the building blocks of healthy development.  (Wittmer & Petersen 2010).

Core concept 5 of Human Development states, “From the moment of conception to the finality of death, intimate and caring relationships are the fundamental mediators of successful human adaptation.” (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000)

British psychologist John Bowlby described attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”  There are many that think a parent is spoiling a baby when they pick it up each time it cries.  But newborn babies cry because they have basic needs that should be met.  

When a parent is available and reliable, a child develops a sense of trust in the world.  

The child can then rely on the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore the world.  That security and confidence will eventually result in less crying and more independence.  

A child will have a difficult time making appropriate attachments and building crucial relationships if they do not begin their life with a strong, healthy parent-child attachment in infancy.  This attachment is usually with the mother but can be any loving caregiver.  This first attachment gives them the example to follow and gives them the courage to branch out and make other attachments.  These relationships that are formed help a child to develop in a healthy, normal, and positive way.  

Humans need love.  Humans need other people.  Humans need a purpose in life, and loving relationships are one of the greatest purposes.

As parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends, we have a responsibility to look out for each other, to lift others through our friendships and relationships, and to love one another.

Bowlby J. (1969). Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic Books.

Shonkoff, Jack P.,Phillips, Deborah A., Committee, O. I. T. S. O. (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods : The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press. p. 27.  Retrieved from

Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/

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