Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: A Quick Reminder

From API’s Publications Team

Mother and ChildA January 6 article in the United Kingdom’s Nursery World magazine, “A Unique Child: Attachment – Practice in Pictures – A Sense of Security,” illustrates the difference between a securely and insecurely attached child.

Secure attachment, according to the article’s author Anne O’Connor, creates empathy between the parent and child, so that the child “begins to appreciate that their caregivers can have feelings and needs of their own.” In addition, as conflicts arise, secure attachment allows the child and parent to develop a partnership in resolving the situation.

According to O’Connor, secure attachment occurs when a child has a safe, affectionate, and predictable emotional bond with his attachment figures, whether primary or secondary, with these main features:

  • Sensitivity;
  • Affection; and
  • Responsiveness.

“Secure attachments provide a safe base for a child, reducing fearfulness and stress while building confidence and self-esteem,” O’Connor writes. In essense, the child learns through countless positive experiences that her attachment figure can be relied upon to meet her needs.

Also, secure attachment helps the child to develop self regulation toward stress, which helps in conflict resolution such as preventing potential tantrums.

Children with insecure attachments, on the other hand, tend to over-react to minor stressors, unable to self-regulate their stress levels. In addition, these children – because they cannot trust their attachment figures to provide consistent, reliable emotional care – have difficulty in empathizing with their caregivers. By not connecting in this way, the child has less chance of getting emotionally hurt.

To read the entire article, go to—Practice-pictures—sense-security/.

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