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What is attachment and why is it important?

Attachment refers to a person’s relationship with their primary caregiver during their childhood and how that impacts their ability to build and maintain relationships later in life. As your child’s first and most important teacher, building a secure attachment with them sets your child up for success in their relationships throughout their lives.

There are 4 main attachment styles:

1. Secure Attachment

  • Trust others easily

  • Have good communication skills

  • Little difficulty regulating their emotions

  • Comfortable spending time alone

  • Easily connect with others

  • Knows how to manage conflict in a healthy way

  • Make themselves emotionally available to people in their life

Children with a secure attachment feel safe, valued, understood and comforted by their primary caregiver. As adults they will feel safe and confident in their relationships.

2. Avoidant Attachment

  • Strong sense of independence

  • Dismisses others easily

  • Difficulty trusting others

  • Uneasy when people try to get close to them

  • Avoid intimacy

  • Have commitment issues

Children with an avoidant attachment don’t actively seek comfort from their primary caregiver and tend to avoid interactions with others in general. Children may also show no preference to their primary caregiver to a stranger. As adults they will often have a difficult time building relationships due to their fears of intimacy and will avoid or invest very little emotion into their relationships. They may have a strong sense of independence and may feel threatened when someone tries to get close to them.

3. Anxious Attachment

  • Feel unworthy of love

  • Sensitive to criticism

  • Difficulties spending time alone

  • Low self-esteem

  • Difficulties trusting others

  • Feelings of jealousy

  • Fear of rejection and or abandonment

Children with an anxious attachment become distraught when they are separated from their primary caregiver but don’t often find comfort when they return, and they are usually more distrustful of strangers compared to children with other attachment styles. As adults they will worry their partners and friends do not loving them, are more prone to codependency within their relationships, often have low self-esteem and need approval from others to feel validated.

4. Disorganized Attachment

  • Difficulty trusting others

  • Trouble regulating their emotions

  • Fear rejection

  • Have characteristics of both anxious and avoidant attachment styles

Children with a disorganized attachment style may be confused and often fear something bad is going to happen. As adults they crave love and a sense of belonging but fear them at the same time. They frequently fall into a pattern of seeking love and then repeatedly rejecting it later on in the relationship. They will likely be inconsistent with their emotions, being emotional one day and distant the next.


How can I build a secure attachment with my child?

There are a few different things you can do to build a secure attachment with your child!

1. Engage in serve and return interactions with your child - Serve and return is just a fancy way of saying a back-and-forth interaction with your child. We will be sharing more information on serve and return interactions next week so keep your eyes on our social media if you would like more information. You can also ask any member of the Norwood team when you see us in groups or in the hallways!

2. Focus on the quality of the time you’re spending with your child - Yes, we want to make sure we’re spending enough time bonding with our children but how we’re connecting with them during the time we get to spend with them is just as important. You can do this by taking an interest in their favorite activities, engaging in child-led play, and by creating your own experiences together.

3. Be responsive to your child’s needs - This includes responding to them when they are upset or need something, validating their feelings and emotions, accepting your child’s invitations to play with them and more.

4. Understand you and your child’s temperament - When you understand your child’s temperament you will be able to better predict how your child will react to new situations. You’ll also be better equipped to prepare your little one for new situations and be able to support them in the way that they need. 


At Norwood Centre our team of qualified Early Childhood Development Subject Matter Experts work to provide tools that caregivers can use to support early childhood development. We hear you! If you have a question or concern, please ask us. We have a variety of Child Development Activities available on our website, find them at For short-term one-on-one coaching, please call us at 780-471-3737.

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