Attachment is a significant component that influences a child’s future abilities. From a psychological standpoint, it is thought that the child’s attachment style has a substantial impact on his or her development (Thompson, 2019). Attachment is a psychological tie that forms between parents and their children throughout their early years of life (Bucci, 2018). It is mainly established through instincts since a child’s defencelessness reveals itself in emotional reactions, which he uses to seek assistance unknowingly. A child’s sense of security allows him to explore the world around him, completely develop, and gather experience (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). Attachment is a type of program that begins even before a person is born and is triggered when he comes into touch with an adult for the first time. The aim of the essay is to present briefly the attachment styles and argue on the issue of whether and how do they influence further development of a child, both in cognitive and emotional dimensions.
Attachment theory is one of the essential attributes in terms of how children genuinely get to know their parents. The principle of attachment also applies in that the more a youngster separates from his parent, the more likely he is to experience anxiety and separation. Adults also want to feel attachment (and they do, in relationships, etc.), but they can function properly without it (Bucci, 2018). Children, on their side, must have a sense of attachment in order to completely develop, as their sense of security, perception of the world, and development are all dependent on it.
Several types of attachments are usually distinguished within the existing scholarship. Mary Ainsworth, who pioneered an experimental approach for monitoring emotional connection in children, was one of the key researchers (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). She was a key figure in the development of attachment theory and is best known for a practice known as The Strange Situation. This experiment consists of numerous three-minute activities in which the mother, kid, and outsider introduce themselves, separate, and then rejoin. In the lives of youngsters, this recreates the process of familiar and unfamiliar presence (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). The complexity of the event and the outcomes fluctuate, and the child’s emotions are observed.
Another scientist in the field of attachment theory, psychiatrist John Bowlby, claims that newborns are born with the need to form ties with their caretakers in order to survive. He regards this relationship as a set of guiding principles that he refers to as internal working models (IWMS) (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). These models describe how the kid understands and reacts to the caregiver’s conduct. The IWM is used by the youngster to organize activities with others. Internal working models are vital in a child’s development because they provide as a framework for future conduct (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). They have an impact on people’s emotions, conduct, interactions, and expectations in relationships.
The main types of attachment revolve around secure and insecure types (Thompson, 2019). Moreover, within the insecure attachment, there are subdivisions into avoidant and anxious subtypes (Thompson, 2019). This classification can ensure the proper understanding of the child’s development by defining a type of attachment and its short and long-term effects. One or more types of attachments are developed depending on how one’s connection with their parents was as a youngster. It is primarily up to him to determine how the individual would act in the future.
The most desirable sort of attachment is a secure type. It develops in children who grow up in pleasant, friendly households with parents who keep emotional touch with them on a regular basis (Thompson, 2019). Of course, such people have interpersonal issues, but the source of their troubles should not be traced back to infancy. Secure attachment teaches a kid to trust his or her parents, to convey his or her feelings, and, eventually, to trust others (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). The creation of a child’s social and emotional development is dependent on a reliable connection.
Anxious attachment develops when parents are inconsistent and, to some extent, unexpected in their behavior. As a result, the child learns to cling to them in order to avoid losing them (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). Self-esteem is poor in those who have this form of attachment since they are highly reliant and hence demand regular reinforcement of love. Avoidant attachment develops when parents reject a kid, do not respond to his needs, and do not emotionally support him. The so-called avoidants tend to emotionally detach themselves, making them appear highly self-centered.
The insecure early attachment has long-term implications that affect not just social development but also cognitive development. Insecure bonds and dysfunctional home conditions can result in difficulties with abstract thinking, the formation of strong analytical patterns, and logical challenges (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). It can also cause problems with information absorption, empirical knowledge acquisition, and overall difficulty in overcoming educational pressures. As a result, insecure connection poses a risk to cognitive development.
The signs of all the types of attachments can be identified during childhood, and their timely recognition can lead to necessary changes in parenting (if needed). The secure attachment signs are usually followed by normal development of a child, which includes abilities of emotional control, comfortability of being both in a group and alone (Thompson, 2019). If the kid had developed a secure attachment, he probably would not have problems with self-esteem and, if needed, can seek emotional support.
Anxious attachment style mostly manifests itself as insensitivity to criticism and avoidance of being alone. Rejection and abandonment are the most feared to the children with an anxious attachment, serving as a good sign that this type of attachment is developing (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). It is also connected with trust issues and generally low self-esteem. Detecting the signs of the avoidant attachment is more ambiguous; however, they are still recognizable. For instance, the issues with trust, avoidance of emotional intimacy, and uncomfortability with emotional expression can signal the avoidant attachment. The insecure attachment, thus, can manifest itself mostly in the issues of trust and emotional expression, which sometimes is hard to detect but at the same necessary to ensure the steady development of a child.
The existing scholarship numerously assessed the benefits of secure attachment and its positive influence on future cognitive and social development. Children who have a secure attachment can learn to control their emotions. Externally, a parent manages the kid’s emotions with basic parenting and gestures, and the youngster learns to deal with negative emotions and feelings (Fraley & Roisman, 2018). Over time, the kid will learn to perform it on his or her own, resulting in stable stress resistance. Children who have a stable attachment to a caring adult can grow up to be self-sufficient without having to cope with the uncertainty and misery that comes with loneliness.
Most significantly, children who are raised in a stressful environment, such as a lack of comfort, are preoccupied with preparing for threats and worry rather than learning and concentrating on their education. Secure attachment is, at its core, the initial social tie that aids a child’s learning (Bucci, 2018). The parent ultimately acts as a firm foundation for the kid to explore and immerse themselves in information without being side-tracked by discomfort.
Children that have a secure attachment are more likely to be socially competent. In many ways, social ties are essential for mental health and long-term growth. The concept of social competency incorporates all of the ways that social components of our lives may benefit us: proximity, mutual support, empathy, and compassion in all spheres of life, from classroom to family and community (Bucci, 2018). A variety of health indices, including mental health, physical health, health behaviors, and mortality risk, are influenced by stable social interactions (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). It might be beneficial to shape core conceptions of social competence by developing solid attachment during childhood.
People who develop insecure attachment patterns did not grow up in an environment that was reliable, helpful, and affirming. As adults, people with this attachment pattern frequently fail to form lasting relationships (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). The insecure early attachment has long-term implications that affect not just social development but also cognitive development. Insecure bonds and dysfunctional home conditions can result in difficulties with abstract thinking, the formation of strong analytical patterns, and logical challenges (Shaffer & Kipp, 2013). It can also cause problems with information absorption, empirical knowledge acquisition, and overall difficulty in overcoming educational pressures. As a result, insecure connection poses a risk to cognitive development.
On the other side of the attachment theory, there is a fierce criticism on the concept of attachment and especially on its future influence child’s development. First of all, critics of the attachment theory point out that it is not applicable in cross-cultural context. Most of the scientists developing the attachment theory are looking at the family and child development through the lens of Western cultural values, which is short-sighted in terms of global multicultural experiences. Another issue became the absence of fathership as a crucial part of the family and other caregivers (grandparents, etc.) (Safyer et al., 2019). Moreover, the development of the child is not fully dependent on the attachment style; its lack of causality thus proves as a major obstacle in the usage of this theory.
In conclusion, attachment, a link developed throughout a child’s early years of life, is an important factor influencing his knowledge and competencies. If a kid has formed a secure attachment, he or she will most likely have no issues with self-esteem and will be able to seek emotional assistance when necessary. The criticism of the attachment theory, however, points out the gaps in the theory and its lack of research in cross-cultural settings, which is important in the modern context. Thus, the attachment theory can be regarded as an important milestone in psychology but its defining effect on the child’s development is a subject for further debates.
Bucci, C. M. (2018). Factors Associated with Cognitive Abilities and Academic Competence in Adolescence. Adelphi University, The Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies.
Fraley, R. C., & Roisman, G. I. (2019). The development of adult attachment styles: Four lessons. Current Opinion in Psychology, 25, 26-30.
Pallini, S., Baiocco, R., Schneider, B. H., Madigan, S., & Atkinson, L. (2014). Early child-parent attachment and peer relations: A meta-analysis of recent research. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(1), 118.
Safyer, P., Volling, B. L., Schultheiss, O. C. & Tolman, R. M. (2019). Adult attachment, implicit motives, and mothers’ and fathers’ parenting behaviors. Motivation science, 5(3), 220.
Shaffer, D. R., & Kipp, K. (2013). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence. Cengage Learning.
Thompson, R. A. (2019). Early moral development and attachment theory. The Oxford Handbook of Parenting and Moral Development, 21-39.