Bowlby’s Attachment Theory
Bowlby’s work focused on the idea that children develop within the context of the relationships they have with their caregivers. He thought that infants seek out bonds with adults as a survival mechanism and if strong bonds are not formed in early childhood, the child may struggle to establish healthy bonds in the future.
According to attachment researchers who built upon Bowlby’s work, four different attachment styles can develop:
- Secure attachment occurs when caregivers consistently meet the needs of a young child. The child’s needs are met in a warm and nurturing manner. This results in the child knowing that their caregivers can be depended upon.
- Avoidant attachment occurs when caregivers failed to respond to the needs of the child. This results in the child not trusting that their needs will be met.
- Ambivalent attachment occurs when caregivers respond to children’s needs in an inconsistent manner. In this case, the child’s needs are sometimes met with nurturing, and other times the needs are not met at all. This causes the child to be confused about whether their needs will be met in the future.
- Disorganized attachment occurs when a caregiver’s response to a child is harmful, erratic, or unpredictable.
The type of attachment that a child experiences will impact their behaviors and interactions with other caregivers. If they feel that they cannot trust the adults around them, they may be less likely to explore their environment or build relationships with others.
An adult’s ability to respond to the needs of children can be impacted by the amount of stress that they are experiencing. Keep this in mind as you navigate the holiday season. Be present and nurturing with the children in your care to form and maintain strong attachments.
Help families reduce stress and access resources that can help them be better prepared to meet the needs of their children in nurturing ways. Share activity ideas for families to do at home that are designed to build bonds between children and their family members.
For the main article Keeping Child Development in Mind During the Holidays, CLICK HERE
For the article Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, CLICK HERE
For the article Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development, CLICK HERE
For the article Executive Functions, CLICK HERE