Attachment issues

What are attachment issues?

Normal attachment usually results in feelings of security which forms the base for a child to explore their environment, develop relationships, deal with emotions as well as manage stressful situations. Attachment difficulties arise mostly in children who have not had a normal connection with a parental figure due to abuse, neglect, institutionalisation or disruption of care.



There are four patterns of attachment that can help define "attachment issues":

  • Secure: children are able to be comforted by their primary caregiver and they use that person as a "safe base", allowing them to explore their environment at ease.
  • Insecure avoidant: The child does not give signals regarding the need for comfort. Attachment behaviour is downplayed by them.
  • Insecure resistant (ambivalent): with excessive amounts of distress and/or anger at separation from their caregiver, there may be difficulty in calming the child after a reunion.
  • Disorganised: behaviour patterns aren't organised or consistent. The caregiver may create stress but at the same time the supposedly safe base. Behavioural patterns may be contradictory and unpredictable.

Attachment issues can progress into adulthood. Attachment issues can also manifest as disorders. There are two types:

  • Disinhibited attachment disorder : Symptoms include having indiscriminately friendly behaviour and attention seeking . Attachment is described as diffused rather than selectively focused and there are poorly modulated peer interactions. There is a lack of awareness of social boundaries.
  • Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) : RAD is a consistent pattern of emotionally withdrawn and inhibited behaviour towards adult caregivers.


What is the prognosis of attachment issues?

Children with attachment issues can sometimes experience developmental delay. There may be a reduction in academic achievement at school, due to a number of factors including disruptive behavior, withdrawal, and difficulties in relationships with both peers and authority figures. They may be at higher risk of developing anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior.


What are symptoms of attachment issues?

Symptoms of attachment issues can start in infancy. There's little research on signs and symptoms beyond early childhood, and it remains uncertain whether it occurs in children older than 5 years.

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fear, unexplained withdrawal, irritability or sadness
  • Listless and/or sad appearance
  • Not seeking comfort for showing no response when comfort is given.
  • No smiling
  • Not engaging in social interaction but watching others closely
  • Failing to ask for assistance or support
  • No interest in playing games

How can attachment issues be prevented?

The following parenting suggestions may help prevent attachment issues:

Take classes or volunteer with children if you lack experience or skill with children or babies.This will help be more nurturing in your manner.

Engaging actively with your child - talking, playing, teaching etc.

Learn to interpret your baby's cues, such as different types of cries, so that you can meet their needs quickly and effectively.

Provide warm, nurturing interaction with your child, such as during feeding, bathing or changing diapers.

Offer both nonverbal and verbal responses to the child's feelings through touch, facial expressions and tone of voice.

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