Babies: the importance of a secure attachment

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Mom and baby: the importance of a secure attachment

Among the psychologists of the developmental age it is back in vogue attachment theory. Conceived more than 50 years ago by the British psychoanalyst John Bowlby and scientifically supported by his pupil Mary S. Ainsworth (1913-1999) this theory holds that the quality of bond between the newborn and the mother (or with those who take care of him) profoundly influences the relational behavior of the adult.

At the end of the first year of life, we have imprinted in our brains an indelible model of how the family relationships that have been formed work based on the type of care promoted by the parents. From an evolutionary point of view, this is useful because we need to understand as soon as possible how to survive the environment around us.

The type of attachment as a child determines adult behavior.
"One of the reasons attachment theory is back in fashion is that its ideas visibly affect our daily life," he said. Kenneth Levy, associate professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University.

In fact, if you look at the classic categories of attachment styles: secure, anxious insecure, avoidant insecure, insecure disorganized; it's pretty easy to figure out which one applies to you and others in your life.

These categories are derived from hundreds of observations made on infants and children in a test called a strange situation, in which little ones are left alone or with a stranger for a limited time.


How to stimulate the psychophysical development of a child, from 0 to 2 years

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The first two years of a child's life are very important to lay the foundations for a secure attachment and to foster the development of fundamental motor, linguistic and cognitive skills ...

In this article

  • Secure attachment
  • Anxious insecure attachment
  • Insecure avoidant attachment
  • Disorganized insecure attachment
  • Attachment patterns affect adult behavior 
  • Attachment patterns can be changed 
Read also: Maternal love, 5 tips to build a good emotional bond with your baby

Secure attachment

In the test we see that children with secure attachment

  • they cry when the parents leave
  • and they run to meet him when they return.

They hug their parents and quickly reassure themselves.

In adults it is seen that there is a secure attachment if a stressful situation seeks comfort and support from a partner or family.

Read also: Bonding: how maternal love is born

Anxious insecure attachment

Babies with anxious insecure attachment cry when the mother leaves and go to her when the mother returns, but they are not easily reassured. Probably because the parent has shown in the past that they are not a sure comfort. So the little ones show anger, kick and scream.

As adults they tend to be obsessive in relationships and may have dramatic attitudes to get attention.

Read also: The education of children with emotional intelligence

Insecure avoidant attachment

Children with avoidant insecure attachment show no distress when the parent leaves them (although stress hormones and heart rate can be skyrocketing). And they don't show much interest when they come back because they are used to being ignored or rejected but also suffocated by too much attention.

The insecure avoidant adults they tend to have problems in intimate relationships and are more likely to end a relationship, especially if it is working out.

Disorganized insecure attachment

Finally the insecure disorganized both children and adults show anxious and avoidant behaviors illogically and irregularly. This behavior is usually associated with a threatening or abusive parent.

What the researchers eventually noted is that secure attachment provides a "secure foundation" for the infant to return to as he explores his surroundings. This "secure base" promotes a sense of self-confidence in the child, progressively promoting autonomy.

Read also: The child wants to be 'always' in his arms

Attachment patterns affect adult behavior

"If you have had a secure attachment, you will be fine because you have learned that if you have a problem you can turn to someone to help you get better, "he explains Miriam Steele, codirettrice del Center for Attachment Research alla New School for Social Research, New York.

"It is not so good if, on the other hand, you are part of that percentage, estimated to be between 40-50%, of children who have had an insecure attachment because at birth the first experience of care was not optimal (it is the case of distracted, contemptuous, unreliable, absent, threatening parents ...). In these cases, work must be done to create a secure attachment that allows you to ignore the wrong internal model, "explains Steele.

Given that the divorce rate is just between 40 and 50 percent, it would seem that changing is not that easy: in fact People with insecure attachment patterns struggle to create stable relationships as adults. These people subconsciously engage in insensitive, unreliable, violent behaviors, or reject a secure relationship because it is unfamiliar to them.

Attachment patterns can be changed

"Our behavioral system depends on our past history" said Dr. Amir Levine, a psychiatrist at Columbia University and co-author of the book "Attached," which explores how attachment behaviors affect the neurochemistry of the brain. "It's a bit like when you type in Google and the word you searched for comes out."

But past history doesn't have to be destiny. Intervention programs exist to help at-risk groups, such as teenage mothers, change attachment behaviors (often passed down from generation to generation) and establish safer relationships.
One of them is the Circle of Security, which has 19.000 trained operators in 20 countries.

What these protocols have in common is that they help participants understand their attachment style and modify it to be able to establish more positive relationships with their partner and family.

Read also: The 20 things to expect in the first year as a mother

Questions and answers

What does "bonding" mean?  

It comes from the English to bond, which means "to tie, join, weld". The word bonding refers to that special emotional bond that exists between her mother and her baby.

How to foster a secure attachment?

Look for physical contact and don't be afraid to hold it in your arms: touch, physical comfort, laughter and play are essential for good attachment.

  • attachment
  • first year
  • mom and baby
  • newborn 0-3 months
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