Child Attachment

Child Attachment

A Secure Child Attachment

Research on child attachment indicates that children who enjoy secure attachment relationships  do better in life across a range of psychological domains. Secure attachment relationships  contribute to psychological resilience and well being, and promote positive psychological outcomes in children, not only during childhood, but across the lifespan. Compared, to less securely attached children, securely attached children do better socially. They show higher levels of self-esteem. They show better ability to navigate relationships with children and other adults, and to self-regulate and control their emotions and behaviors. They are also likely to do better at school, and to show better ability to concentrate and pay attention.

Securely attached children do better as adults. Compared to children with less secure attachments they are more apt to:

  • Enjoy stable long lasting romantic relationships 
  • To enjoy rewarding, close  friendships.
  • Do well at work and cope successfully with professional challenges.
  • Show psychological resilience, including good problem solving skills, good emotional and behavioral regulation and the ability to set appropriate boundaries with others. 
  • Show good self-esteem. 
  • Raise securely attached children.

Child attachment relationships shape our self-perceptions, our perceptions of others and how we perceive their intentions and behaviors. Child attachment relationships can influence our levels of physiological arousal,including our abilities to regulate our emotions and behaviors, as well as our psychological well being,and the quality of our relationships with others.

Children who lack secure attachment relationships, or who experience the kinds of toxic stress that can contribute to insecure child attachments, or what we call Adverse Childhood Experiences can show negative alterations in brain chemistry, and elevated stress hormones  that can impair  functioning across  major developmental domains. Not surprisingly these children are at greater risk than securely attached children of showing child behavioral problems. For example:

  • Behavior problems, including conduct disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anger, lack of impulse control, violent behavior
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Poor physical health
  • Inability to trust others and problems forming and maintaining healthy rewarding relationships

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory rests on the belief that our earliest attachment relationships lay the foundation for our social, emotional and psychological development. Secure attachments develop in children who enjoy early attachment relationships with care givers who are able to meet her needs for attention, physical contact, understanding, acceptance, comfort and a sense of security. Emotionally secure environments where the child feels safe and secure foster secure child attachments.   

Children's relationships begin to build from birth, and center on the child's relationship with his or her primary caregivers. With time the child's relationships branch out to include extended  family members, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, as well as teachers, and others who play a role in the child's life. 

These relationships interact to shape the child's feelings of security and trust, and his ability to  build secure and trusting relationships with others from childhood, and into the adult years.  

To learn more about child attachment and how to promote a secure attachment style in a child, click here.

Dr O'Connor offers Psychological Assessments that she tailors to the specific needs of a child or adolescent who is showing attachment problems. 
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