At birth, it is natural for boys and girls to establish a meaningful emotional relationship with their caregivers, usually their parents. The characteristics of this bond, also known as attachment, will be highly relevant to the full development of the child, with different types of attachment and secure attachment being the most beneficial.
Secure attachment is the bond that some children may have developed during their first years of life, characterized mainly by the fact that they have experienced a welcoming and warm relationship with their caregiver, which makes the child is perceived as a person worthy of being loved. to be loved and cared for, so that when she is having difficulty, she will seek help from that caregiver.
In this article, we’ll look at what secure attachment is and how we can encourage it.but first we will give a brief explanation of the phenomenon of attachment in developmental psychology and the different types, including secure attachment.
Attachment: different types
Attachment theory was developed by English psychologist John Bowlby.who defined the concept of attachment as the affective bond that a child establishes during his first years of life with his caregiver (for example, his mother), which is fundamental to ensure the care of the child and also for the formation of his personality and psychological development.
Let’s see below the 4 most known types of attachment, among which the secure attachment, which will be the one that we will analyze in more detail in this article.
1. Secure fixing
Secure attachment could be defined as attachment style developed by a person who is confident that their caregiver will not abandon or fail them. In this case, the person feels valued, loved and accepted. According to Bowlby, this type of attachment will largely depend on your caregiver’s persistence in providing the necessary care and security.
2. Anxious and Ambivalent Attachment
The attachment to anxiety usually develops when a child does not trust their caregivers and constantly feels insecure because in some cases their caregivers are not present, while in others they are. This is why this inconsistency on the part of their caregivers in providing the necessary care to the child caused him to develop this attachment style.
3. Avoidant Attachment
The attachment to avoidance is what happens when a child has assumed that he cannot rely on his caregivers, a fact that will cause him a lot of pain.
In these cases, babies will not cry when they separate from the caregiver, will avoid close contact with them, and will only be interested in their toys. This happens when the behaviors of caregivers have not been correct, so that they have not generated the necessary safety in the child.
4. Disorganized Attachment
This type of attachment could be exposed as a mix of avoidant and anxious attachment, being a case in which the child performs inappropriate and also quite contradictory behaviors. In this case, their caregivers were quite careless in caring for the child and their behavior conveyed a lot of insecurity, which is the opposite of a secure attachment.
What is a secure attachment?
Secure attachment is one that has developed when it has been a balance between the child’s exploration of the environment and the attachment of his caregivers, who are usually his parents; in other words, the balance between the weight of the child’s independence or autonomy and his dependence on his parents is balanced. There is therefore a fairly balanced organization both at the relational and behavioral level.
In the category of secure attachment, we find all the children who were able to develop during their first years of life a type of bond with their parents, which is characterized mainly by the fact of having lived with them a welcoming relationship. and warm, giving as a result, the child sees himself as a person worthy of being loved and cared for, so that when he experiences difficulties, he seeks the help of his parents, considering them to be a solid and secure foundation that can provide security and support at different levels (physical, emotional, economic, etc.).
Having developed a secure attachment during childhood this contributes to the fact that in the years that follow this person has favorable expectations of those around himyou will therefore be more likely to receive help from others when you need it (eg, your friends, your partner, your teachers, etc.).
Key Features of Secure Attachment
In American psychologist Mary Ainsworth’s research on attachment, the so-called “Strange Situation Technique” (Strange Situation Procedure), it was observed that children who had developed a secure attachment during separation from their caregiver or parent experienced the distress typical of the separation phase, but the close presence of it (secure basis ) during the reunion phase. would be enough to deactivate this attachment system and encourage the child’s exploration.
Children with a secure attachment will see their caregiver or parent as a safe base for their own explorations, having been able to develop trust in their caregiver’s availability in case they need it. In these cases, one can see a children who have a representation of themselves as worthy of love and care, and also have a representation of their care as trustworthybecause she is always available to respond to your requests for support and emotional comfort.
Of course, it should not be confused with being available at the level of accompaniment and safety of the child, with spoiling the child by giving him all the whims he wants so that he stops crying or crying. stop asking for something, without having taught him the value of things.
How to develop a secure attachment?
Encouraging secure attachment in children is extremely relevant due to several researches in psychologywidely accepted by the scientific community, have been able to confirm that the development of a secure attachment during the first years of life is a protective factor for the development of the interpersonal, emotional and cognitive development of the child during his stage of development. , also influencing his adulthood.
On the other hand, when a child has developed a secure attachment, he will have positive expectations concerning interpersonal relationships and will find it easier in later years to learn the basics of reciprocity in social relationships, which must be maintained by mutual trust. between the members of a relationship, whether family, sentimental or friendly.
Additionally, with a secure attachment, a child will have greater ease in correctly developing the ability to self-regulate one’s own impulses but also one’s own emotionsbeing this style of attachment very important when developing the bases of identity (balance between one’s own autonomy and dependence on others, self-esteem, etc.
Below we will list a series of guidelines that are essential for a child to develop a secure attachment style, so it is advised that parents and/or caregivers, including preschool or daycare teachers, of children to take into account:
- Pass the safety protection to the child
- Promote the child’s autonomy.
- Try to understand the child’s emotional state.
- Meet the implicit needs of the child.
- Comfort the child without judging or despising him.
- Correctly explain to the child everything he does not understand
- Pay attention to the child when he asks us because he is doing something he wants us to see.
- Give the child feedback positive that will help him continue to act correctly.
- Tune in emotionally with the child.
- Respond precisely to the needs of the child.
- Know how to be discreetly present on occasions when you need to explore alone.
- Set boundaries for your child consistently and sensitively.
- Allow the expression of the child’s emotions and respect it.
- Listen to the child’s opinions and take them into account.
- Explain to the child with confidence what he should do differently.
- Be an example of good manners for the child.
- Be available for the child.
- Be consistent with our actions.
- Be predictable with the child, so that he can regularly anticipate our behavior.
- Believe, prepare and trust the child.
- PIR Preparation Academy (2019). Handbook of Psychological Development. Madrid: APIR.
- Asensio, M. & Corriente, A. (2012). The book of psychology (Spanish edition). Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
- Benesch, H. (2009). Atlas of Psychology II. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.