Attachment Styles 101

Attachment styles are part of attachment theory in psychology, developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. They help outline how we think, feel, and act in our relationships. Parents this post may be helpful as you think more about your relationship with your child and how you can support healthy and secure attachments in your family.

*Secure attachment develops in children with a parent or caregiver who is attuned and responsive to their needs. Securely attached children feel safe in the sense that when they are distressed, their primary caregiver will meet their needs and provide them comfort. Individuals with secure attachment are comfortable in relationships, trusting, are able to balance their own sense of self with being in relationships, and have a general overall healthy self-esteem.

*Avoidant attachment develops in children who do not experience attuned responses from a parent or caregiver when they are feeling emotional distress. Children who had this experience with their primary caregiver may feel uncomfortable in relationships and seek to be more independent. Those with an avoidant attachment style may place a high importance of being self-sufficient, and promote independence in their life both physically and emotionally. Being in close relationships and being connected with others may cause discomfort and they are more comfortable not being in close, emotional relationships.

*Disorganized attachment occurs when a child wants love and care from their parent or caregiver but is also fearful of them. Disorganized attachment can develop if the primary caregiver is overly punitive, critical and negative. Individuals with disorganized attachment fear being intimate and in close relationships with others. They also have a fear of abandonment, low sense of self-worth, and have issues with trusting others.

*Anxious attachment develops when children do not have consistent responses to their needs from a parent or caregiver. Children who had this inconsistent attachment experience with their primary caregivers may feel insecure, anxious, and overly clingy. Individuals with an anxious attachment may need constant reassurance from their loved ones, may feel less trusting of others, may have a generally negative view of self, and may overthink their relationships.

Be well,

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