Good Attachment: Types, Behaviors, And Benefits Essay Example
The relationship a child forms with their caregiver during their first years is an important factor in their social and emotional development. Specifically, the type of attachment that a child develops has many implications for their behavior and future relationships. According to Parke and Clarke-Stewart (2011), attachment is “a strong, emotional bond that forms between infant and caregiver in the second half of the child’s first year” (p. 110). This enduring bond influences a child’s expectations about relationships in general, and it influences their behavior and emotional well-being. Attachment develops as children become familiar with their caregiver and start to discriminate them from strangers. The type of attachment a child forms is determined by the consistency, attentiveness, and degree of affection they receive in response to their needs. The quality of this relationship between child and caregiver differs from one child to another. However, three distinct types of attachment have been classified based on children’s behavior (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011).
Many children form secure attachments with their caregivers. This means that a child is confident that they can rely on their caregiver to be a secure base (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). These children are comfortable venturing off to explore because they know that they can depend on their caregiver if they encounter something threatening or stressful. According to Parke and Clarke-Stewart (2011), there are many behaviors associated with children who have secure attachments. These children are often physically affectionate with their caregivers without invitation, especially after playing. They also only accept comfort from their caregiver when they are hurt or upset, and will actively follow them in these situations. A securely attached child also likes to sit on their caregivers lap and will easily share with them when asked. They will also keep track of their caregiver’s location when playing and will show them new toys or discoveries that they find. Overall, securely attached children tend to be comfortable and at ease with their caregiver and easily placated by them (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011).
On the other hand, children who do not form secure attachments form a type of insecure attachment. In general, children with insecure attachments display many behaviors that are opposite to securely attached ones. They will not share with their caregiver or keep track of they are (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). If they find something new they will take it to where they can be alone. They will allow anyone to comfort them when upset, and do not readily show physical affection. These are general behaviors linked with insecure attachments, but there are also three distinct types that are associated with specific patterns of behavior (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011).
First, children may form an insecure-avoidant attachment. This means that children do not get very upset when their caregiver is gone and then they avoid their caregiver when they get back (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). They do this by turning or moving away and not acknowledging their presence. Even when these children do become upset when their caregiver is gone they avoid them when they return. Children who form avoidant attachments also restrict interaction with their caregiver by ignoring or responding to communication only when they have to and try to stay busy with toys as an excuse to stay away (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). Second, children may form an insecure-disorganized attachment with their caregiver. This means that child will seem confused and disorganized when their caregiver returns. They may freeze in place, rock back and forth, or look confused. They seem anxious and afraid of their caregiver but cannot cope with their discomfort. Children with disorganized attachments may cry for their caregiver and then run away when they approach. These children try to control their caregiver’s actions by making them feel bad or acting overly excited to see them (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). Third, children may form an insecure-resistant attachment. These children may get very upset when their caregiver leaves, but then behave toward them in contradictory ways when they return. For example, they commonly try to be close to their caregiver and then push them away. These children seem to desire contact, but it is not enough to placate them and they may show signs of anger. Children with resistant attachment try to appear overly dependent on their caregiver, but then they are resistant when they receive attention (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011).
Forming a secure attachment leads to many positive consequences. In the short-term, securely attached children are more persistent and effective at problem-solving, and do not become as frustrated as insecurely attached children (Waters, Merrick, Treboux, Crowell, & Albersheim, 2000). They score higher on IQ tests, and they pretend and explore more when they play. They also tend to be more socially competent and emotionally positive. They form close friendships, are better at resolving conflicts, and understand emotions better than insecurely attached children. In the long-term, adults who formed secure attachments as children have more efficient work habits, and they perform better at college. They also tend to have lasting friendships and regulate their emotions better in difficult situations, and they tend to be very determined about their goals and form quality relationships (Waters et al., 2000).
Forming a secure attachment is clearly extremely beneficial for a child, and caregivers can foster this attachment in many ways. Caregivers should be sensitive and responsive to their child’s signals and understand their needs (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011). They should also act in ways that accommodate their child’s mood and interests without interfering with what their child is doing. They should be accepting and not allow frustrations to thwart this acceptance or reject their child. Also, caregivers should be alert and available to their child and not ignore them. Behaving this way and constantly adjusting their care to their child’s developing competence and needs allows caregivers to foster a secure attachment with their child (Parke, & Clarke-Stewart, 2011).
Parke, R., & Clarke-Stewart, A. (2011). Social Development. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons.
Waters, E., Merrick, S., Treboux, D., Crowell, J., & Albersheim, L. (2000). Attachment security in infancy and early adulthood: a twenty‐year longitudinal study. Child Development, 71(3), 684-689.