What is it?

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Attachment is the specifically emotional connection between two persons across time and space.

In developmental psychology, secure attachment is the optimum quality of attachment that a baby develops with his or her reference figure. A baby’s desire for secure attachment is innate, which is why babies seek out a secure attachment figure who will provide them with protection, care, and support. Attachment behavior is an evolutionary adaptation that has enabled the human species to survive.

Attachment behavior manifests when babies attempt to convey their basic needs to a caregiver, most often their mother or father, by means of facial expressions, vocalizations, and body language in the hope that their signals will be understood and responded to sensitively.

Responding sensitively to a baby’s signals means that the primary caregiver is able to perceive those signals, interpret them correctly, and respond to them promptly and appropriately. For a secure attachment to develop, it is especially important for a baby to feel that his or her signals are usually responded to sensitively.

All parents want only the best for their children, and they act to the best of their ability and understanding. Nonetheless, it can happen that because of a lack of understanding of their baby’s basic needs or because of trauma that they themselves experienced in childhood, parents respond to their baby in a manner that makes secure attachment difficult. This is why it is so important for parents to understand their baby’s basic needs and signals, and to work through some of the issues that may make their behavior toward their child problematic.