Understanding Attachment Part I

1. Attachment is an innate process by which a new-born enhances his or her chances of survival by responding to any threat or insecurity by seeking out, monitoring the behaviors of and aiming to maintain closeness to his or her protective caregiver (called the attachment figure, aka Mom or Dad).

2. You can observe this process in a little baby that will cry if and when his or her attachment figure (Mom or Dad) leaves the room or goes out of sight. When the attachment figure (Mom or Dad) returns and engages with the baby – the baby will usually settle and calm back down.

3. This biological drive to maintain closeness increases the chances that the little child will receive enough food, clothing, physical touch and care to grow and thrive.

4. In time this process of honing in on and doing whatever it takes to ensure the presence of the attachment figure (Mom or Dad) applies not only to the physical needs of the child, but also to emotional needs.

5. What this means is that when a child is under stress, in danger or under duress he or she will seek out and flee to the attachment figure (Mom or Dad) for safety: “Attachment is the interactive regulation of emotion…[it is] to seek the ‘safe haven’ of a stronger or wiser other when we are threatened with danger” (Wallin, 2007, p. 301).

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