Attachment is the emotional bond an infant forms with their primary caregiver dependent on caregiver behaviour, which can affect a child’s development and future relationships with others (1,2). Secure attachments are formed through sensitive, reliable relationships allowing children to feel safe and explore (3). On the other hand, insecure attachments are formed if the early relationship between infants and the caregiver is, for example, inconsistent, abusive or inappropriate, resulting in a fearful environment (3).
Risk and/or Protective Factor
Secure attachment is a protective factor for mental health, as it has been associated with better coping mechanisms and faster recovery from distress, promoting well-being (4). Secure attachment can also foster resilience in youth (5), a further protective factor.
Insecure attachments, however, have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety as well as long-term effects on emotion regulation (6,7).
1. Gibbs BG, Forste R, Lybbert E. Breastfeeding, Parenting, and Infant Attachment Behaviors. Matern Child Health J [Internet]. 2018;22(4):579–88. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-018-2427-z
2. Fearon P, Campbell C, Murray L. Social Science, Parenting and Child Development. In: Michie J, Cooper CL, editors. Why the Social Sciences Matter [Internet]. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK; 2015. p. 8–29. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137269928_2
3. Mentally Healthy Schools. Attachment and child development : Mentally Healthy Schools [Internet]. [cited 2021 Feb 8]. Available from: https://www.mentallyhealthyschools.org.uk/mental-health-needs/attachment-and-child-development/
4. Mikulincer M, Shaver PR. An attachment perspective on psychopathology [Internet]. Vol. 11, World Psychiatry. Blackwell Publishing Ltd; 2012 [cited 2021 Feb 8]. p. 11–5. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC3266769/?report=abstract
5. Werner EE, Smith R. Vulnerable but invincible: A longitudinal study of resilient children and youth. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1982.
6. Girme YU, Jones RE, Fleck C, Simpson JA, Overall NC. Infants’ Attachment Insecurity Predicts Attachment- Relevant Emotion Regulation Strategies in Adulthood. Emotion [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 22]; Available from: /record/2020-00788-001
7. Rosas Santiago FJ, Marván Garduño ML, Hernández-Aguilera RD, Campos Uscanga Y. Insecure Attachment as a Risk Factor for the Development of Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in a Sample of Mexican Adults. Issues Ment Health Nurs [Internet]. 2020 Nov 9 [cited 2021 Jan 22];1–8. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01612840.2020.1836538