30 November, 2023
Impact of Attachment Theory on Childhood Mental Health


The focus of attachment theory is on long-term attachments and interactions between individuals, such as those between a parent and child and romantic partners. It is a psychological justification for interpersonal interactions and emotional ties. Humans  have a natural need to form ties with their caretakers while they are young. These early connections can still have an impact on attachments later in life.

The Stages of Attachment

In a study involving 60 newborns, researchers Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson examined the number of attachment ties that develop. Throughout their first year of life, the babies were checked on every four weeks, and then again at 18 months.

Schaffer and Emerson identified four different stages of attachment based on their data

Pre-Attachment Stage

Infants do not exhibit any unique attachment to one caregiver during the course of the first three months of life. Baby’s positive responses urge the caregiver to stay near, and the baby’s signals, including as crying and fussing, naturally draw the caregiver’s attention.

Indiscriminate Attachment

Infants start to exhibit preferences for primary and secondary caregivers between the ages of 6 weeks and 7 months. Babies learn to trust their caregivers to meet their requirements. Infants begin to discriminate between known and new persons, responding more favorably to the primary caregiver, but still accepting care from others.

Discriminate Attachment

At this age, between 7 and 11 months, newborns begin to exhibit a strong attachment to and preference for a single person. When they are away from their main attachment figure, they will resist (separation anxiety), and they will start to act nervous about strangers (stranger anxiety).

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Multiple Attachments

Children start developing solid emotional attachments with different caregivers besides the main attachment figure once they are about nine months old. This frequently involves elder siblings, grandparents, and a second parent.

Factors That Influence Attachment

Although this process may appear simple, a number of variables, such as the following, might affect how and when attachments form.

Chance for Attachment:

Children without a primary caregiver, such as those raised in orphanages, may not be able to build the necessary level of trust to create an attachment.

Quality Care Giving:

Children learn that they can depend on the people who are in charge of looking after them when caregivers respond promptly and consistently, which is a crucial building block for attachment. This is a crucial element.

Attachment Styles

There are four types of attachment styles

Ambivalent attachment:

When a parent departs, these kids get quite upset. These kids can’t rely on their primary caregiver to be there when they need them due to inadequate parental availability.

Avoidant attachment:

Children that have an avoidant attachment are more likely to avoid their parents or other caregivers and to not differentiate between them and total strangers. This attachment pattern may be because of abusive or uncaring caretakers. Children who are disciplined for asking for aid from a caregiver will learn to decline assistance in the future.

Disorganized attachment:

These kids behave in a perplexing mixture, seeming bewildered, dazed, or confused. They could shun the parent or fight back. Inconsistent caregiver conduct is probably related to a lack of a distinct attachment pattern. In these situations, parents may act as a source of both comfort and terror, resulting in erratic behavior.

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Secure attachment:

Dependable children express sadness when away from their caretakers and excitement when reunited. The youngster may be sad, but they don’t worry since they know the caregiver will come back. Children who are firmly linked feel safe asking their caretakers for assurance when they are scared. The most typical attachment style is this one.

The Lasting Impact of Early Attachment

Infants that have strong attachments as they grow older likely to have higher self-esteem and greater independence. These kids also tend to be more autonomous, do better academically, create strong social bonds, and struggle with sadness and anxiety less frequently.

According to research, failing to establish solid relationships as a young kid may have a detrimental effect on conduct as an adult.

Attachment issues are typically seen in children who have been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), potentially as a result of early abuse, neglect, or trauma. A larger risk of attachment issues may exist for children who were adopted after they became 6 months old.

Attachment Disorders

Children may occasionally experience attachment issues as well. Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) are two attachment disorders that may manifest.

When children do not develop strong ties with their caretakers, reactive attachment disorder develops. This frequently leads in emotional management issues and habits of disengagement from caregivers and is a result of early childhood neglect or abuse.

Disinhibited social engagement disorder, which is frequently brought on by trauma, abandonment, abuse, or neglect, inhibits a child’s capacity to develop ties with others. It is characterized by a lack of social boundaries and inhibitions with strangers, which frequently results in too familiar actions.

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Adult Attachments

Early attachments can seriously affect subsequent relationships, even if adult attachment types aren’t always the same as those exhibited in infancy. Adults who experienced safe attachment as children often have high self-esteem, satisfying love connections, and the capacity to open up to others.

A Word from TalktoAngel

Researchers now understand the importance of early connections between children and their care takers for a child’s healthy development.

These connections may also affect romantic relationships as adults. You might find it helpful to seek for strategies to increase your relationship security by being aware of your attachment style.

If you observe attachment disorder in your child and looking for “ Child Therapist near Meyou can choose platform like TalktoAngel who help in Child Counselling through there result oriented therapies by experienced child counselors. Your child can get therapy at the comfort of your own home.

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