The importance of attachment

The quality of attachment that an infant develops with a specific caregiver is largely determined by the caregiver’s response to the infant when the infant’s attachment system is ‘activated’. A normally developing child will develop an attachment relationship with any caregiver who provides regular physical and/or emotional care, regardless of the quality of that care. In fact, children develop attachment relationships even with the most neglectful and abusive caregiver. Therefore, it is the quality of the attachment between the child and the carer that is crucial.

Research has shown that having a ‘loving’ primary caregiver and developing an ‘organized and secure’ attachment to a primary caregiver acts as a protective factor against social and emotional maladjustment for infants and children (Egeland & Hiester, 1995; van Ijzendoorn;, Sagi & Lambermon, 1992). Attachment disorganization and insecurity has been proven to be a risk factor for later development.

Children may develop specific attachment relationships with different caregivers based on how that specific caregiver responds to the child in times of distress or need. A child may develop an organized and secure attachment with a loving mother whilst simultaneously developing an organized, insecure and avoidant attachment with their rejecting father and/or a disorganized attachment with a grandmother who displays atypical behaviours during interactions with the child (Benoit, 2004).
Identifying how a child responds to others, particularly the adults trying to look after them, can be very important information when you are trying to work out how best to support them.

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What is attachment?

 “A deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space”

As infants and small children cannot care for their own basic needs, they are born biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others.

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What next?

The aim of ARC is to facilitate and collaborate with individuals, groups or institutions wishing to pursue an attachment aware and trauma informed approach to their work in education.

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Become a member

By joining the ARC you will become part of our growing community of schools, settings, Virtual Heads, educational psychologists and many more, who are all committed to developing best practice by sharing their learning about attachment and trauma.