Childhood Attachment

Childhood Attachment

In this 2 part section we will focus on how our attachment style develops. Let’s go right to the beginning—our childhood—to explain how our early experiences with our caregivers dictate the ways in which we attach. For a powerful resource, and the most influential contributing book to this article, read Attached. We will explain attachment development, the 4 types of attachment, and a breakdown of the 4 types of attachment using children’s reactions to stress as an example.

2 Parts

Part 1 will be about childhood and personality; Part 2 is about adult, romantic relationships. All people are on a spectrum in regards to the different types of attachment styles they can have, however, it’s useful to define your primary style as this will show you what works and what your challenges are in your personal needs and relationship dynamics.

Source of Style

There are 3 causes for attachment development:

1- Predisposition – somehow we are born this way and just are wired to have certain emotional and neurological needs.

2- Primary caregiver – How were you treated and were your needs perceived to have been met or not, based on your way of seeing things as a child.

3- Life experience: What have you been through and what has this taught you?


Attached states that it takes about 4 years to change one’s attachment style, but research proves it can change in a lot less time than that. I often see clients make significant changes from 6 to 12 months of work, and sometimes as short as 1 to 3 months for small changes. Don’t lock yourself in, just be curious and open to learn about yourself.

4 Types of Attachment:

  1. Secure
  2. Anxious/preoccupied
  3. Avoidant/dismissive
  4. Anxious-avoidant combined

Through research, we observe how children react with their caregiver.

  • The secure child gets upset, wails, but does well to calm herself.
  • The anxious-preoccupied child will show tremendous distress, protest and will get angry
  • The avoidant-dismissive child will ignore mom on the outside, but on the inside he still feels extreme levels of distress
  • The anxious-avoidant is a mixture between the above two.

If you have secure parents, you will develop into a more secure person. Our personality develops in this childhood stage. How your personality develops manifests in how you get attached to things. Don’t put yourself in a box, instead look at the patterns! Most clients that I work with as secure in some ways and have anxious or avoidant styles as well. We focus on bringing out more security and learning to identify and work on the insecure parts. This work is gratifying and empowering as it opens up self-awareness options that were never seen before.

3 Key Points:

  1.     One’s attachment is expressed on a spectrum—there are different types of attachment one may identify with.
  2.     It takes time for people to change their attachment styles, but each person is capable of changing.
  3.     Our personality developed as a child; we learn how to attach from our early experiences with our caregivers.

Resources Mentioned:

  •     Attached – Book about attachment that Joseph highly recommends

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