Attachment refers to a person’s ability to form ties to other people that lead to lasting and meaningful relationships. Forming bonds with others allows a person to feel trust and empathy, which affects their own self-concept and self-esteem. Attachment issues most commonly begin to show before five years of age.
Both emotional and behavioral problems occur as a result of attachment issues. A child might not maintain contact with an adult in an unfamiliar situation and wander off alone. They may also not be comforted by the presence of their caregiver after the caregiver has been gone.
Attachment issues are typically thought to arise in childhood, when it is critical that a child forms a bond with a primary caregiver. Abuse, neglect, and rejection can cause a child to fail to form secure attachments to its caregivers. Issues are also cause by a lack of responsiveness by the caregiver to the child’s needs.
The most important thing to improve a child’s attachments is to increase the responsiveness of the primary caregiver. The caregiver must learn to be sensitive to the needs of the child and understand how they can fulfill those needs. When issues present later in life, therapy is crucial to help a person navigate potentially painful memories of childhood and reconcile these memories before beginning to develop secure attachments in their current state.