Saturday, March 3, 2012

Theory of Attachment

Have you ever wondered if you, as a parent, were doing anything of worth to your new born infant?  Do you feel like all you do is nurse, change diapers, and put them to sleep?  What if I told you that by doing these things for your infant not only takes care of their basic needs, but is a model for them in terms of relationships.  What you are doing does count, and it is something that your infants will take with them through the rest of their lives.

Studies have shown that caregivers have an impact on their infant in the first year of the infant’s life through how responsive they are in caring for the infant’s needs.  For example if the infant is hungry, their reaction to show that they are hungry is to cry and once that need is met they will quit crying.  If the need is not met they will continue to cry.   Those caregivers who respond promptly to their infant’s distress calls form, what I call, a positive attachment.  The infant trusts that their needs will be met when they ask for it.  Later in life these children grow up to have positive relationships as well.  They care for others and trust people because their caregivers modeled this for them.  This is the type of attachment that we all should be working on with our infants.  The infant only cries when it has a need to be met whether they need a new diaper, food, holding time, or sleep.  There is an opposite attachment as well which I like to call negative attachment.

A negative attachment is formed when the infant’s needs were met inconsistently enough that the child doesn’t trust or rely on the caregiver for support.  What does it mean to meet the needs of an infant inconsistently?  This means that when the child gave its cues that it was hungry or had a soiled (poopy) diaper and the caregiver didn’t fix the problem right away, so the child was left in their dilemma.  These children became to learn that they couldn’t trust people to get their needs met, so when they were older they had dysfunctional relationships.  They couldn’t trust others and which would lead to broken relationships, these types of people never let their “guard” down because they learned early on in life that people can’t be trusted. 

Some people believe that if they quickly respond to their infant’s needs they are “spoiling” the child.  Let me assure you, your infant in no way can be spoiled if you are respondent to their own cues (crying, sucking, ect.), but it needs to be on the child’s time.  I am hopeful that this information was helpful to you, please let me know if you have any questions.

Crain, W. (2011). Theories of Development (Concepts and Applications) (6 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.



  1. I really liked your post on attachment because how we were treated as a child, directly impacts how we engage in relationships as adults. Personality disorders involving attachment are caused by various factors and events, such as a childhood trauma, abuse or neglect. Despite this, the causes are complex and not fully understood. It all depends on the individual. With this in mind, attachment styles are situational. How you relate to one person, does not mean that you will relate the same way to another person. Therefore, it is a person's self-concept that ultimately drives our communication with others and affects how we relate to them.

    1. And of course, this all starts at the very beginning with our parents. They help us in creating our self-concept and ultimately affected our attachment style and how we relate to others.