Attachment Theory


Secure Attachment
A child whose parents exhibit consistent, positive, reassuring responses to a child’s needs tend to display 800px-Szymon_i_Krystian_003secure attachment behaviours. They will:

  1. approach the parent when s/he enters the room
  2. cry when the parent leaves
  3. confidently explore a room when the parent is present
  4. learn from a parent’s example when assistance is required
  5. express affection freely
  6. show curiosity about a stranger

Anxious-Resistant Insecure Attachment or Ambivalent Attachment

A child with anxious-resistant attachment style will typically 800px-Khmerchildrenexplore little and is wary of strangers even with the parent present. Now that makes sense to me. Aren’t most toddlers shy when a stranger enters the room? Perhaps this definition refers to older children. ARI is a response to unpredictable caregiving. This child cannot decide if s/he wants the parent’s attention or not. Typically this child will:

  1. display ambivalent behaviour when parent returns
  2. display resistant behaviour
  3. demonstrate an angry attitude, especially when parent
  4. is about to leave
  5. signal the parent when they want contact
  6. show distress when put down after being picked up

Anxious-Avoidant Insecure Attachment

A child with AAI ignores or avoids the caregiver.  The child ParentsDaughterAug1931shows little emotion when the parent arrives or leaves. The child doesn’t explore the environment. The apparently calm exterior of the avoidant child is actually a mask for distress. This child will:

  1. conspicuously avoid the mother
  2. pointedly turn away
  3. if there is a greeting it is a glance or a quick smile
  4. approaches mother only after excessive coaching
  5. attempts an approach by going past the parent
  6. If held, the child attempts to get down again

Disorganized Attachment

If the child doesn’t demonstrate consistency in achieving proximity or some relative proximity with the caregiver, then it is ‘disorganised’ since this indicates a disruption of Prayer_Time_in_the_Nursery--Five_Points_House_of_Industrythe attachment system (e.g. by fear). For some reason 52% of DA children approach the caregiver to seek comfort. This type of behaviour might exhibit itself when a rejected/neglected child approaches a caregiver for comfort, loses muscular control and falls to the floor, overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown. This behaviour is frequently observed in foster children and children who have inconsistent care. Most of these children’s mothers suffered major losses shortly before or after the child’s birth and became severely depressed. This child will:

  1. display obvious fear
  2. freeze and dissociate
  3. exhibit jerky movements
  4. display contradictory behaviour (eg. approaching and avoiding the caregiver)

The multiple child may exhibit all of these attachments since different selves may emerge at different times. For instance the child who is protected from abuse and trauma and only emerges when there is no threat in the environment may exhibit secure attachment. Disorganized attachment is probably the most prevalent. The child needs and seeks love and comfort, especially after a traumatic episode, but when the caregiver’s response is unpredictable, or when the affectionate caregiver is also the abuser, the child’s reaction will most certainly be dysfunctional as is the relationship. This isn’t to say that the manner in which a child shows attachment is a tool for assessing multiplicity. Rather, it would be indicative of the diagnosis that has already been made.



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