The origin of attachment theory
The attachments we formed with guardians as children influence us for the rest of our lives. Many psychologists have studied and supported attachment theory throughout the years. A British psychologist named John Bowlby was known for his work with attachment theory and childhood development. Many people credit Bowlby as the first attachment theorist. Mary Ainsworth also played a significant role in the development of the theory. She built on the work of Bowlby by expanding the research surrounding attachment and attachment theory. Four dominant attachment styles differentiate the ways that we attach to others. They also explain we behave as a result of that attachment. These attachment styles are called secure attachment, anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and fearful-avoidant attachment.
Attachment styles and what they mean
A child who is securely attached gets upset when their parents leave, but has the coping skills to handle it. They eventually calm themselves down. Adults who have secure attachments are grounded in their relationships. They have an independent lifestyle and enjoy their connections with others.
Children and adults who have anxious attachments seek reassurance from their loved ones. They can have abandonment issues and worry that their loved ones won’t stay. They may have difficulty trusting others.
A person with an avoidant attachment style is highly independent and uncomfortable with emotional intimacy. They also can have abandonment issues.
An individual the fearful-avoidant attachment is consistently afraid of getting too close or distant to people in their lives. Both children and adults can have these issues.
What does it mean to be securely attached?
If you’re securely attached as an adult, you’ll have trust in relationships. The exception is if there’s an important reason not to trust someone. You believe that your partner loves you when they say it. Unlike an anxiously attached person, you won’t question a partner as to if they love you. You won’t be nervous about the possibility that they’re lying, or they don’t genuinely care for you. When they show you they love you, you believe them. Securely attached people feel good about themselves with or without a partner. They’re comfortable asking for support when they need it and opening up to others. If you have a secure attachment style, you’ll generally be able to talk to your partner about your emotions.
Cultivating secure attachment as a parent
There are ways that you can cultivate a secure attachment style in your children as a parent. Your parents influenced your attachment style, and it’s your turn to help your kids feel secure. There are many things that you can do to cultivate a secure attachment to your kids. Responding to your infant’s need for food, sleep, and affection will help your baby develop a secure attachment style. You can use bottle-feeding or breastfeeding as a time to bond with your child. Hold your baby and communicate with them verbally, through facial expressions, and physical touch. As you bond, notice your child’s needs and how they change over time. Every child is different, and each one has unique needs, likes, dislikes, and ways of communicating those to you. Play with your child and develop a bond with them to cultivate secure attachment. Being a parent is a full-time job. You know your baby best; listen to your intuition and show your child the love that you feel towards them.
Determining your attachment style
You may feel grounded in your relationships, which is a sign of secure attachment. Perhaps you have abandonment issues and ask people for reassurance that they won’t leave you. That’s a sign of anxious attachment. You might be unsure of how attached you are to others. That’s where talking to a therapist can help.
Online therapy is a great place to explore relationships and how you become attached to people in your life. Your online counselor will support you in learning about yourself and help you develop healthy attachments in friendships and romantic relationships. You can work on abandonment issues and learn to trust others. Online therapy can help you learn to heal from trauma and broken bonds. Cultivating your attachment style in therapy enables you to connect with your loved ones.