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Attachment is an affective bond that the child establishes with one or more people in the family system and is influenced by the characteristics of the first affective relationships that children establish with their parents or caregivers.
Based on these first experiences, four types of attachment can be formed in childhood.
- Secure attachmentis characterized by an active exploration of the baby or child in the presence of the attachment figure, anxiety in the episodes of separation, reencounter with the attachment figure characterized by search for contact and proximity, and ease of being comforted by it.
- Anxious-ambivalent attachment children whose behavior is characterized by minimal or no exploration in the presence of the attachment figure, a very intense reaction of separation anxiety, ambivalent behaviors in the reunion (search for proximity combined with opposition and anger) and great difficulty in being comforted by the attachment figure.
- Anxious-avoidant attachment: It is characterized by the fact that the child has little or no anxiety about separation, there is no clear preference for the figure of attachment in front of strangers and for the avoidance of it in the reunion (by moving away from her, passing by or avoiding contact visual).
- Anxious-disorganized attachment, there are children who are disoriented, they approach the attachment figure with avoidance of the gaze, in the reunion with it they can show a search for proximity to, suddenly, flee and avoid interaction, manifesting incomplete movements or not directed at any goal and stereotyped behaviors.
In securely attached children A type of reciprocal, mutually reinforcing mother-child interaction is found, in which the attachment figure is effective in regulating the child's emotional activation, interpreting their signals, responding without intrusiveness, and maintaining frequent exchanges of joint attention ( share communication and actions on objects), which is translated by the child into expression of positive affect and maintenance of interaction.
Mothers whose children are rated as anxious-ambivalent They are affectionate and interested in the child, but they have difficulty interpreting infant signals and are incoherent, sometimes reacting very positively and sometimes insensitive. In this type of relationship, the child does not develop expectations of protection, he does not know to what extent he has the figure of attachment, which generates anxiety about the loss of the relationship, anxiety that intensely activates the attachment system and inhibits exploration , (that is, they do not want to be separated from their mother for fear of losing her, so they do not dare to explore the world and they are always close). At the same time, the anger at the frustration due to the repeated lack of maternal availability is also intense and persistent, and is integrated into the internal model as an anticipated anger that tarnishes the mother-child relationship. They are usually children who cry as soon as they are separated from their mother and they get very angry and have strong tantrums with her.
Regarding avoidant children, the interactive style with the child, is characterized by irresponsibility, impatience and rejection. The mother or main caregiver is not very patient and tolerant of her child's signals of need, even blocking their access and preventing them from approaching them. By avoiding and inhibiting attachment signals and behaviors, the child prevents rejection, anger, or further distancing from the mother. This type of attachment has also been associated with a maternal interaction style characterized by high levels of intrusiveness, as well as excessive stimulation with little relation to the child's condition and needs.
The disorganized attachment pattern in childhood suggests that this is a common pattern in children who have been victims of neglect and physical abuse. In this situation, the child has experienced cycles of protection and at the same time of rejection and aggression, he feels linked to his attachment figure and at the same time fears it, which explains the combination of approach / avoidance. This type of attachment has also been found in children whose attachment figures have not resolved the grief over the death of a loved one and express a degree of anxiety that generates fear in the child. In both conditions, the security base is also a source of alarm and concern, which generates approaches to the attachment figure interrupted by disorganized behaviors.
Mother-child relationships will facilitate the appearance of one type or another of attachment, and this attachment model will shape and influence children's future affective relationships and children's self-confidence, and therefore their self-esteem, self-concept and personality. Although these first affective experiences are not 100% decisive since the later experiences that children have will also influence that emotional and affective development.
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