07 Apr

"John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist to focus on the connectedness between the child and caregiver, and how the child responded to separation from the caregiver". 

The word attachment refers to the emotional bond within a relationship. According to Bowlby, we all develop a specific attachment style that determines how we behave and respond in future relationships. 

Attachments begin from birth.  During the first few months of life most infants will form a secure emotional bond/attachment to their parents/care givers. 

Secure attachments help a child to form healthy relationships, confidently explore new things and cope better when faced with stressors and uncertainty. 

If a child’s needs are not met and they experience fear or neglect from their caregiver, they could develop an insecure attachment.

      Possible Causes

  • Frequent changes in the home
  • Neglect
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Problematic parenting
  • Parental addictions to drugs or alcohol
  • Being removed from the family home into care
  • Parental loss
  • Parental illness

There are 4 main attachment styles that develop, although it is possible to present with more than one. 

How can you support a child with an insecure attachment style?

As the child developed the attachment style through the inconsistencies and disorganized experiences of childhood, the most effective way to support them is to show them what a normal healthy attachment should look like.

Watch this quick video on how our early childhood attachments impacts on our future relationships

As you can see, unresolved attachment disorders has the potential to effect future relationships and generations of families. 

Below are some tips which you can use to create a suitable environment and safe base to improve the child's self-esteem and relationships and help break the generational chain of attachment problems.  

Ways to help  

Encourage them to express their emotion and offer a safe secure base for them to do so and listen to them carefully with warm responses to validate how they feel and show empathy and love.

Normalize feelings and emotional expression, encourage this by telling them its ok to cry and to show their emotions.

Set routines, boundaries and limits, such as bedtimes, rising for school, times to return home etc.

Make consistent eye contact when talking.

Quickly repair and reflect on any conflict between yourself and the child to demonstrate care and consistency.

Stick to promises or fully explain when promises needed to be broken

Encourage them to reflect on any negative behaviours- ask them what made them react this way? how can you help?

Finally, encourage them to have fun, to be children and to do the things that they enjoy. Develop an activity schedule which includes activities you can all do as a family. This will strengthen relationships and help with low mood.