What is Attachment?

What is Attachment?

Attachment is a big topic and spans across a lifetime!

Attachment refers to the relationships and bonds between people. These bonds start to form at birth, and help develop a child’s sense of security in their world. It is important for children to have secure attachments to their caregivers because this supports trust and paves the way for children to develop healthy relationships in other areas of their lives. The attachment between a caregiver and child is also a key component to a child’s emotional growth and development. When these relationships are healthy, and consistent in a child’s life, secure attachments begin to form.

When thinking about the different types of attachment caregivers and children have, it can be helpful to break it down into secure attachments, and insecure attachments.

Secure attachments:

What does this look like? Caregivers are both physically and emotionally present, to help their children with their feelings and manage their emotions. Children will go to their caregiver and trust that they are there to support them.

How does this impact a child’s development? Caregivers are aware of what their children need and can provide safety, reassurance and support when needed. Children know that their caregivers will be there to make them feel safe and meet their needs. Children who experience secure attachments with their caregivers will be able to form trusting, healthy relationships with others in their lives and manage their own emotions in healthy ways.

Insecure attachments (anxious, avoidant, fearful-avoidant):

What does this look like? Children can be either clingy or actively avoid their caregivers. They can be hard to calm, or repress their emotions. Children will struggle with managing their own feelings and caregivers can struggle to be physically and emotionally present.

How does this impact a child’s development? Caregivers may not know what their child needs to feel safe. Children who experience insecure attachments with caregivers struggle with forming trusting and healthy relationships with others and may struggle to regulate their own emotions.

Attachments can form and change over time. Key components to building secure attachments between caregivers and children include things such as:

-Meeting and responding appropriately and consistently to a child’s needs.

-Playing and engagement. 

-Helping children regulate and understand their emotions.

-Being physically and emotionally present with your child.

Attachment is the basis of relationships, and attachments can grow and change over time. It is never too late to focus on building secure attachments.

Some examples of attachment-based therapies and programs include:

Theraplay- Child and Family therapy that focuses on building and improving attachment, self-esteem, trust, and overall engagement through the process of play.

Circle of Security Parenting Program- An 8 week, attachment based parenting program. The program provides a visual map for understanding attachment and focuses on the importance of meeting and responding to children’s needs to create secure attachments.


Cherry, K. (2022, May 26). What You Should Know About Attachment Styles. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/attachment-styles-2795344

The Circle of Security International. (2022). Resources for Parents. Circle of Security International. https://www.circleofsecurityinternational.com