4 Attachment Types To Know Before Becoming a Parent


Attachment can be defined in a number of ways, but can be simply defined as the connection that is developed between a child and caregiver. There are 4 patterns of attachment that a child can develop while being parented, but first…

How is attachment developed?

Attachment is developed through repeated and consistent interactions between a child and caregiver. If this cycle is repeatedly met (doesn’t have to be perfectly met, thank goodness), a child will develop a secure attachment.

 When is attachment formed?

Attachment patterns are developed during the first 12 months of life!

Attachment patterns are usually stable over a person’s lifetime! (The attachment style a person develops as an infant will remain their attachment style as an adult UNLESS the person DELIBERATELY attempts to change that attachment style)

4 ATTACHMENT PARENTING TYPES

  1. Secure
  2. Insecure – Avoidant (Organized)
  3. Insecure – Ambivalent (Organized)
  4. Insecure – Disorganized

A child's behavior can be linked to attachment issues as an infant! #fostercare #adoption

1. SECURE ATTACHMENT TYPE

How is Secure Attachment Developed?

  • Touch, closeness, eye contact – Think of how you hold an infant and look into his face
  • Emotional attunement – Tuning into the internal state of another
  • Secure environment – Feeling safe and cared for
  • Shared pleasure, play, and FUN!

Characteristics of Secure Attachment Type

  • Seeks out caregiver when in need of physical or emotional support or comfort
  • Ability to talk about a wide range of feelings, both positive and negative
  • Feels comfortable exploring new environments while continuing to use their caregiver as a “secure base”
  • Enjoys and is comfortable with physical and emotional closeness
  • Positive beliefs about themselves, others, and the world
  • Emotionally stable (emotional regulation)

2. INSECURE-AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT TYPE

How is Insecure-Avoidant Attachment Developed?

  • The infant is repeatedly NOT soothed
  • The attachment cycle is broken, and the distressed infant stops asking for help
  • The infant is left unattended, in neglectful families or orphanages
  • Sadly, the infant still produces stress hormones, yet doesn’t act stressed
  • The infant learns not to depend on anyone to soothe or meet his needs

Characteristics of Insecure-Avoidant Attachment Type

  • Emotionally distant and aloof
  • Limited tolerance for feelings
  • Inflated self-reliance to minimize need for connection
  • Independent or inappropriately mature
  • Lacks empathy
  • The child’s solution is limited dependence on relationships. Take care of self. Deny or avoid feelings or emotions.

3. INSECURE-AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT TYPE

How is Insecure-Ambivalent Attachment Developed?

  • The distressed infant sometimes has his needs met
  • The caregiver is inconsistent (due to their own unresolved attachment histories, or could be due to substance abuse or mental illness)
  • Disruptions is care due to inconsistent or chaotic caregiving (also displacements via foster care)

Characteristics of Insecure-Ambivalent Attachment Type

  • Crave attachment yet pushes away (push/pull behaviors)
  • Clinginess (bottomless pit)
  • Unable to self-soothe (as they get older) and need all soothing from an outside source
  • Fear of abandonment
  • The child’s solution is to keep caregivers in constant proximity

4. DISORGANIZED ATTACHMENT TYPE

How is Disorganized Attachment Developed?

  • Caregiver is frightening, dangerous, or causes terror
  • Child needs the caregiver for survival but is terrified of the caregiver
  • Child cannot find a solution which results in disorganized attachment

Characteristics of Disorganized Attachment Type

  • Significant difficulty with behavior, emotions, attention, and relationships
  • Attempts to control their caregiver in order to make them more predictable
  • Prone to dissociation
  • 80% of abused children have disorganized attachment (Siegel)

To learn more about attachment and how your parenting can affect your child’s attachment, you can read Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Dan Siegel (Amazon affiliate link).