Long-term relationships and attachments between people, such as those between a parent and child or romantic partners, are the main emphasis of attachment theory. It is a psychological defense of social relationships and emotional attachments. It is in human nature for them to develop relationships with their caregivers while they are young. Later in life, attachments may still be influenced by these early relationships.
The Stages of Attachment
Researchers Rudolph Schaffer and Peggy Emerson looked at the quantity of attachment bonds that form in a study involving sixty babies. The newborns were examined every four weeks for the first year of their lives, and then again at eighteen months.
Based on their findings, Schaffer and Emerson classified attachment into four stages:
• Pre-Attachment Stage
During the first three months of life, infants do not show any distinct connection to a single caregiver. Positive reactions from the infant encourage the caregiver to remain close by, and the baby’s cues—such as crying and fussing—naturally bring the caregiver’s attention.
• Discriminatory Adhesion
Between 6 weeks and 7 months of age, infants begin to show preferences for primary and secondary caregivers. Babies come to believe that their caretakers will take care of their needs. Babies start to distinguish between those they know and those they don’t, reacting better to the primary caregiver while still taking care of others.
• Prejudicial Attachment
Newborns start to show a strong attachment to and preference for a single person at this age, which is between 7 and 11 months. They will resist (separation anxiety) and become apprehensive about strangers (stranger anxiety) when they are separated from their primary attachment figure.
• Several Attachments
By nine months of age, children begin to form strong emotional bonds with caregivers other than their primary attachment figure. Elderly siblings, grandparents, and a second parent are usually involved in this.
Factors Affecting Attachment
Despite the seeming simplicity of this process, a variety of factors, including the following, may influence the way and timing of attachment formation.
• Possibility of attachment: Youngsters reared in orphanages or without a primary caregiver could find it difficult to develop the kind of trust needed to form an attachment.
• High-quality care giving: Reliable and rapid responses from caregivers help children develop a sense of trust and reliability that is a critical component of attachment. This is an important component.
Four categories of attachment styles exist.
• Ambivalent attachment: These children become quite unhappy when a parent leaves. Due to insufficient parental availability, many children cannot depend on their primary caregiver to be there for them when they need them.
• Avoidant attachment: Children who lack the ability to distinguish between complete strangers and their parents or other caregivers are more prone to shun them. Abuse or lack of compassion from caregivers may be the source of this attachment style. When a child receives discipline for approaching a caregiver for help, they will learn to say no in the future.
• Disorganized attachment: These children exhibit a bewildering variety of behaviors, seeming puzzled, perplexed, or disoriented. They might either fight back or avoid the parent. A lack of a recognizable attachment pattern is likely the cause of inconsistent behavior on the part of caregivers. Parents may be a source of both comfort and anxiety in these situations, which may cause erratic conduct.
• Secure attachment: Reliable kids show eagerness to be with their parents again after being apart from them for a while. Even when the child is depressed, they don’t worry since they know that the caregiver will return. When they are afraid, children who have strong relationships feel comfortable asking their caregivers for reassurance.
The Long-Term Effects of Early Bonding
Strong bonds in infancy are associated with stronger self-esteem and more independence in later life. Additionally, these children often develop strong social ties, are more independent, do better academically, and experience depression 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. Children adopted after six months of age may be more susceptible to attachment problems.
· Anxiety Disorders
Adoption problems might occasionally also affect children. Two possible attachment disorders are reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED).
Reactive attachment disorder arises when kids don’t form close bonds with their caregivers. This is a product of early childhood trauma or neglect and typically results in problems with emotional regulation and caregiver disengagement practices.
Disinhibited social engagement disorder prevents a kid from forming relationships with other people and is often caused by trauma, abandonment, abuse, or neglect. It is typified by a lack of social boundaries and inhibitions while interacting with new people, which usually leads to behaviors that are too similar.
· Adult Connections
Even while adult attachment types aren’t necessarily the same as those displayed in infancy, early attachments can have a significant impact on relationships in the future. Safe attachment experiences during childhood are associated with strong self-esteem, fulfilling romantic relationships, and openness to others.
Scientists now know that a child’s healthy growth depends on early relationships between them and their caregivers.
Adult love relationships may also be impacted by these connections. Being conscious of your attachment type may help you look for ways to strengthen the stability of your relationships.
If your child exhibits symptoms of attachment problem and you’re seeking for a “Child Therapist near Me,” you may choose a website like TalktoAngel, which offers result-oriented therapies administered by qualified Child Counselors to assist with Child Counseling. Therapy for your kid is available in the convenience of your own home.