Seeing your newborn for the first time brings you immense joy as a new parent. A baby is fragile and is very dependent on you. As a new parent, most especially as a mother, you are filled with happiness upon gazing at your baby’s face. At the same time, you also feel doubtful whether you can sufficiently provide for your baby’s needs.
Being overly dependent, a baby relies on you as the primary caregiver or guardian to provide for all their needs, including safety and protection. Parents are often the primary caregivers of children.
Your highly dependent newborn seeks connection from you for their survival and growth. You, as a parent, play a very crucial role in your child’s development. How you respond and react to your child’s needs will determine whether the child will grow up having an organized or disorganized attachment.
There are four different attachment styles based on the Strange Situation Model. Through the Strange Situation Model, it is easier to explain the different conflicting behavior of infants and young children toward their attachment figures.
According to a study conducted by Lyons Ruth, Attachment Theory is vital in supporting a child’s development. Each of these four attachment styles reflects how the child may handle stressful and unfavorable situations as well as their impact on their mental states. Listed below are the four types of attachment styles:
The secure attachment style is considered the healthiest attachment of the four types. This shows a healthy relationship between the child and the primary caregiver.
The caregiver responds to the child’s needs with much comfort and concern without fail. The child, in turn, is cheerful every time they see their caregiver. Kids from this type of attachment grow up having a secure base and are emotionally and socially stable. The strong emotional support they receive during childhood makes them feel safe and secure.
There is no denying that an infant cries a lot. Crying is their only means of communicating with their guardians. The avoidant-insecure attachment style results when a guardian gives attention, care, and comfort to the crying child with much coldness and irritation.
The child in an avoidant attachment style is most likely to detest comfort from the guardian. Children born from this attachment style will grow up not trusting others and have difficulty understanding them.
This attachment style shows inconsistency on the part of the guardian in addressing the needs of the child. This means that the guardian sometimes tends to the child positively and promptly while at other times responds with irritability and annoyance. In turn, the child also shows inconsistent reactions to the guardian’s care.
This results when a caregiver often ignores the infant. The child grows up developing erratic behavior, feeling fearful of others, having low self-esteem and erratic behaviors, and avoiding interaction with anyone at all costs.
The child may behave with resentment toward a parent or caregiver even up to adulthood. The child grows up fearing others and depends only on themselves.
The term “disorganized” was used simply because the guardian’s behavior and the child’s response to the guardian are very unpredictable and unstable. The guardian’s neglect of the child can either be intentional or unintentional.
The disorganized attachment style is considered the most violent of all four attachment styles. This is very common in family environments that are experiencing domestic abuse and violence.
A disorganized individual needs constant help and support in handling stress. Aside from this, here are other signs to take note of:
- You want to build relationships with others but are fearful of entering a romantic relationship.
- You could also be diagnosed with other psychological illnesses such as depression, dissociative identity disorder, and borderline personality disorder, which affect your mental health.
- You show erratic or inconsistent behavior. You fear abandonment in your relationships.
It is established that fear from physical domestic abuse and unresolved trauma in childhood is the main cause of disorganized attachment style. A child who is very much dependent and in love with the neglectful guardian will develop stress, inner confusion, and hurt because the guardian overlooks their needs.
This will be evident in the child’s present and future relationships. Here are other possible causes of disorganized attachment:
- You have parents who suffer from depression, marital disputes, trauma, and the unresolved death of an attachment figure.
- You have parents who are hostile and self-centered and are dealing with so much stress that they are unable to take care of you.
Disorganized attachment is intergenerational. Parents who experience childhood trauma and stress can pass on the same kind of attachment or relationship patterns to their kids.
Due to disorganized attachment, approximately 80% of infants suffer from maltreatment in early childhood. A child who is left alone for a long time will develop neurological disabilities.
To better understand what disorganized attachment is in children, you can consider this situation: A child is in the room with the parent and a stranger. The child sees the stranger and is already scared, even if the parent is in the room.
The parent leaves the room momentarily. Still, the child’s fearful reaction remains the same. Even after the parent’s return, the child’s fearful reaction did not change. In conclusion, a disorganized child will have an unchanging reaction of fear whether the parent is physically present or not.
It can be determined if a person comes from a disorganized attachment background through the Adult Attachment Interview. The Adult Attachment Interview is an interview with open-ended questions that could last for an hour, where questions about attachment in childhood, childhood experiences, and adult attachment are asked.
A disorganized adult often seeks relationships and connections. Here are some of the possible signs that someone might be a disorganized adult:
- Since fear causes disorganized attachment, they show fear and reject or avoid certain situations.
- They also fear being in a romantic relationship as well as being intimate with someone.
- They are very inconsistent and are unable to open up and trust anyone.
- They find it difficult to handle stress, which is why they show destructive behavior when stressed.
Being a disorganized adult can affect your social and work dynamics. You are easily content with being alone and have difficulty trusting coworkers. This makes looking for a stable job difficult.
Disorganized attachment is hard to treat but is preventable. Therapy is a good solution to your attachment problems. Here are some ways a therapist can help you with your attachment relationship:
- If you are an adult who came from a disorganized attachment background, a therapist can help you make sense of your problems by first resolving your own fears in your early childhood.
- Therapists are people you can trust. They are not judgmental, so it is easy for you to open up to them. You can start your healing process by first trying to understand your childhood story, what you experienced, etc.
- If you plan to be a parent, a therapist can guide you to develop positive parenting styles and attachment strategies to minimize the development of disorganized attachment in your kids.
Development starts in early childhood. You can support and help a child prevent disorganized attachment by making them feel secure and safe. Listed below are some points to consider:
- You should be prompt and available to entertain your kid’s age-appropriate needs.
- If you make mistakes, admit them and reconcile.
- You should immediately reconnect with your kid after every conflict or argument.
- Set healthy boundaries and limitations for your growing children.
- Maintain a predictable daily schedule so the children can manage their expectations.
- You should acknowledge your kid’s interests and help them pursue them.
It is still possible to have a relationship with someone who has disorganized attachment. Being aware of the behavioral signs will lessen the heartache in the partnership. Listed below are tips on how to overcome your disorganized attachment and feel more secure in your relationships:
- You should acknowledge what provokes your feeling of abandonment. What is your current situation? What are the people around you doing that make you feel abandoned, alone, sad, or afraid?
- You should learn to relax. Some people consider serenity as a luxury because being calm and relaxed is so hard to get by in this modern time. You can do simple rhythmic movements like walking, rocking, or swaying to calm your nerves.
- You should always ask yourself what your needs are. What do you need right now? Be kind to yourself. Being honest with yourself will make it easier for you to communicate your needs or concerns to your loved ones.
- You should be able to communicate your needs or problems appropriately. Coming from a problematic family condition, being ready to communicate and open up can be difficult and requires practice. You should be patient, gentle, and forgiving toward yourself and the people around you. Like you, they are human beings who also make mistakes.
- You should make peace with your past. You are no longer living in your childhood. Make a sincere commitment that you will move on, and that you will not allow your children to experience what you did.
It will take some time for you to build a more trusting relationship with others and break away from your fear of abandonment as well as your negative and violent behavior. Getting yourself “organized” is difficult to do alone. You can only reach the finish line with flying colors with the help of therapy.
You need someone to help and guide you every step of the way. Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) and its team of therapists are available and ready to provide you with family counseling and trauma therapy. You are just one click away from booking an appointment. Schedule your therapy today.