Understanding Attachment Theory

Authors: Brigid Daniel & Sally Wassell

Attachment is the product of a relationship

Secure attachment is associated with a parenting style that is warm and sensitive. The parent has to be able to take account of the child’s needs and temperament and respond appropriately. Patterns of attachment are, therefore, the products of a relationship between the child and the adult, and are influenced by the interaction between the child (with his or her temperament) and the adult.

The early pattern of attachment acts as a kind of template or internal working model for later relationships. The internal working model is, therefore, based upon the child’s sense of self and his or her experience of others.

An appreciation of the complexity and depth of children's ties to their care-givers is the main message that can be drawn from attachment theory for child care practice.This does not mean that children should never be separated from adults they are attached to, clearly there are situations where this is necessary. It does, however mean that attachments, even apparently damaging ones, must be treated with respect because of their importance to the child.