Types of attachment

A child’s attachment quality or attachment pattern may be tested between the ages of 12 and 18 months using the so-called Strange Situation, a standardized test developed by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth.

We distinguish between three main types of attachment: “secure,” “insecure-avoidant,” and “insecure-ambivalent.”

There is also a fourth group of “disorganized-disoriented” attachment in which the children seem to exhibit no purposeful attachment strategy. For a variety of reasons, such children are unable to construct a stable attachment with an attachment figure. Sometimes parents behave toward their child with fear or anxiety, sometimes they respond with threats, or they collapse in helplessness, unable to respond at all to their child’s temper tantrums or other behavior. Such unreliable or fear-inducing behavior may confuse the baby, making attachment difficult.

The attachment pattern that infants build with their first attachment figure remains relatively stable throughout their life and affects overall development and personality. Attachment patterns may be passed on from generation to generation. Because of this, it is important to recognize one’s own attachment pattern, and to learn through feedback how to strengthen one’s own child’s attachment

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