Topic Editor: Marinus van IJzendoorn, PhD, Leiden University, Netherlands
Topic funded by: Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research
Attachment is the emotional bond of infant to parent or caregiver. It is described as a pattern of emotional and behavioural interaction that develops over time, especially in contexts where infants express a need for attention, comfort, support or security. Parents’ ability to perceive, interpret and react promptly to their infants needs and attention, in turn influence the quality of their attachment relationships. Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, the relationship developed with primary caregivers is the most influential in children’s lives. A secure relationship fosters not only positive developmental outcomes over time, but also influences the quality of future relationships with peers and partners.
Secure parent-child relationships help children to a) regulate their emotion in stressful situations, b) explore their environment with confidence, and c) foster their cognitive, emotional and language development. Furthermore, children who are securely attached are predisposed to display positive social behaviours (e.g., empathy and cooperative behaviours) helping them to develop future positive relationships. On the other hand, insecure and disorganized attachment put children at increasing risk of problem behaviours and psychopathologies. Examples include preschool and school-aged aggression, depression and emotional dysregulation.