￼Do you wonder if your child has developed a healthy sense of emotional connectedness to their surroundings? Healthy Attachment lays the groundwork for social and emotional engagement, intellectual and educational interest, and even physical and brain development.
Attachment is emotional communication without words. It represents a relationship that is more than just bonding or feeling close to your child. When your child’s needs were met before they could verbally convey needs, wants, and emotions, attachment develops.
The four types of attachment styles, first researched by the psychologist Bowlby, continue to grow as a very important perspective in developmental psych￼ology.
Secure attachment: These infants and children showed moderate distress upon separation but sought comfort and were easily comforted when the parents returned. They were independent, but loving toward their caregiver in a variety of situations.￼
Anxious-resistant attachment: A smaller portion of infants experienced greater levels of distress and, upon reuniting with the parents, seemed both to seek comfort and to attempt to “punish” the parents for leaving. This might include getting overtly mad at the parent, or being fractious and grumpy.
Avoidant attachment: Infants in the third category showed no stress or minimal stress upon separation from the parents. They generally ignored the parent.￼ In a series of elegant studies that were videotaped, babies that had avoidant styles literally turned their head away from the parent, because obviously they could not get up and leave.￼
The disorganized-disoriented attachment style refers to children who have no predictable pattern of attachment behaviors. This has often been linked to a chaotic or abusive environment￼. (See Kennedy & Kennedy, 2004, for the best description of this attachment style)￼.￼
Signs of healthy attachment
Connection to Caregiver
1. Your child prefers your company to that of strangers. Your child seeks you out with eye contact, gestures, or physical relocation. While your child can spend time with other people without much anxiety, she looks to you for support, a good indicator that they will have the ability to seek out appropriate social support later in life.
2. Your child looks to you to be comforted. Your child trusts that you know and understand his needs intuitively. She is secure in the knowledge that you are available and willing to be there when a need arises or life becomes scary or uncomfortable.
3. Your child welcomes and engages you after an absence. The mood is positive and accepting when you and your child are reunited after a period of separation. Your child’s disposition is warm, relaxed. He greets you openly.
Connection to Others
4. Your child gives, takes, and shares. The ability to complete these actions habitually, with little upset, are a key sign that social skills are well developed. She is empathetic, and able to remain relatively balanced emotionally throughout social interactions. Communication is reciprocal.￼
Healthy attachment results in healthy relationships. Current research indicates that our early attachment styles to caregivers, is reflected in our romantic and intimate relationships.
Neural and brain development￼
5. Your child delays gratification. A child with a healthy attachment is able to wait without becoming anxious, overwrought, or upset. They feel secure that a toy will be returned, their turn will come, or a promise will be honored. This promotes development of the frontal lobe and mental flexibility.￼
6. Your child is responsive to feedback. Healthy attachment facilitates trust.
Self-Awareness and Control
7. Your child is confidently independent. The beauty of a healthy attachment is that it promotes feelings of safety and trust for your child. At the same time, attachment supports the development of a confident, secure child, ready to explore and adapt to new situations. A securely attached child investigates neighborhoods, schools, new peers, and communities without much fear; secure in the knowledge that they have a safe place waiting for them.