The Secure & Independent Child

By Dina Halaseh, Educational Psychologist

Attachment theory helps us understand how a child›s early relationship with its caregivers has a profound effect that persists throughout life.

It is normal for children who are scared to seek out their primary caregiver›s presence to be comforted and cared for. By the same token, a child who is separated from her or his primary caretakers, feels anxiety and distress.

Relationships and attachments
Children have a natural desire to develop relationships with their caretakers from birth. Natural selection makes sure of this. Children who remain close to a caring adult are more likely to experience comfort and protection, and as a result, are more likely to survive into adulthood.

How is a successful attachment established, then? The main factors influencing attachment are nurturing and responsiveness. Although this may appear simple, the following might affect how and when attachments form:

1. Opportunity for attachment: some children may not have a primary caregiver, such as those raised in orphanages. Their circumstances may not allow them the chance to build the necessary level of trust to create an attachment
2. Quality caregiving: responding promptly and consistently helps children learn that they can depend on the adults who are in charge of looking after them

How do attachment styles show?
1. Secure attachment: children who can rely on their caregivers experience separation anxiety when these leave them, and feel happy when they return. They trust that the caregiver will come back. Children who are thus securely linked, feel safe asking their caretakers for assurance when they are scared
2. Ambivalent attachment: these are the children whose primary caregivers fail to meet their children›s needs, they are not really available for their children
3. Avoidant attachment: children who have this type of attachment avoid their parents or other caregivers and they do not prefer their parents over total strangers over their parents. This is usually the result of having abusive or uncaring caretakers. For example, children who are scolded harshly or hit for asking for assistance from a caregiver will learn to avoid asking for help as much as possible
4. Disorganised attachment: these kids exhibit a puzzling blend of behaviours, appearing lost or confused. Inconsistent caregiver actions, attitude and behaviours is probably the reason behind the lack of a distinct attachment pattern. In these situations, parents may act as a source of both comfort and fear, resulting in inconsistent behaviour
According to research, failing to establish secure attachments at a young age can have consequences in adult relationships.

Infants that are secure growing up are likely to have higher self-esteem and greater independence. These kids also tend to do better academically, create strong social bonds and are less anxious and depressed.

You can contact Dina Halaseh at