Attachment issues in Infants and Toddlers: By Cynthia Buntain
Attachment is the term used to express close emotional bonding between caregiver and infant. However, if healthy attachment is not formed between caregiver and infant or toddler, most often there will be signs of distress among the infant. Healthy attachment requires meeting the baby’s needs promptly and cuddling, talking and smiling at the baby. When a parent does not have a loving warmness toward the infant, the infant might develop high levels of anxiety and distress.
(Reattachment phase) birth to 6 weeks, the infant has a naturally has an inbuilt signals such as crying, smiling and staring into the caregivers eyes. This helps the infant develop a close contact with the individuals who comfort them.
(Attachment in the making) phase 6 weeks to 6-8 months. Infants tend to respond to strangers differently than their direct caregivers. However, at 4 months old the infant usually does not protest when the parents are separated from the infant. Infants start to learn that their behavior has an impact on those around them. The baby then learns to develop a sense of trust. Erikson’s theory suggests that early development of trust and mistrust is essential for healthy development associated with attachment issues.
(Clear-cut attachment) 6-8 months to 18 months up to 2 years. The infant demonstrates separation anxiety when the caregiver is out of sight. It’s important to note, that not every child demonstrates anxiety, possible reasons could be the child’s temperament.
(Formation of a reciprocal relationship) 18 months to 2 years. The infant starts to develop a sense of when the parent comes and goes, and the return of the parent. This is the phase that separation anxiety most likely will decline.
(Secure attachment) Have you ever noticed when the infant is in a room with others how the infant might want to get down and explore, but it often return to the primary caregiver if anxiety arises? Secure attachment is the term used when infants use parent as a secure base. Also, secure attachment is thought to be healthy when the infant’s parent arrives and the infant seeks immediate contact with the parent.
(Avoidant attachment) Usually the infant shows no signs of distress when the parent comes or goes. Most often the infant acts the same way with strangers. Unfortunately, 15 percent of North American infants in middle SES families their infants demonstrate this pattern.
Research indicates the quality of attachment, is most generally very stable and secure for the infant most often is decided by socio-economic factors. Reasons research believes that this pattern of attachment exit is because; most often the low SES families do not have a good social support system and struggle financially as well.
To make sure you give your infant a healthy start, research has indicated that holding and responding to their needs and being loving and warm consistently, can lead to healthy attachment. However, if these needs are not met the infant will develop what is to be considered unhealthy attachment, which could lead to multiple dysfunctions later in life. Give your child a healthy start. There is less energy giving a smile and hug and being warm toward your infant, than there is in becoming frustrated because the infant is crying and needs his or her emotional needs met. Take the time to love the child you brought into this world. Family is everything.