There are three different types of insecure attachment:
A parent has either been inconsistently or intrusively responsive to their child's needs. The child will either be too clingy and submissive or reject their carer. There is a longing for closeness but the fear of rejection or being over-responded to prevents this.
Not often abused or neglected but needs have been met by an insensitive or dismissive response. Children may show lack of interest in caregivers but remain in distant contact in case this leads to rejection. There's a desire for closeness but anger that needs have not been met. With other children they are emotionally defensive or use passive aggressive behaviour to manipulate.
The most recently recognised and often with the most extreme consequences. This pattern is most often associated with children who have been severely abused or neglected and can end up feeling unloved, unlovable, rejected, unworthy, abandoned, bewildered, bad and evil. They may exhibit challenging behaviour from total apathy to outright aggression, both physically and verbally, against people and property. They may lack the emotional words to understand and express their feelings and be oppositional, refusing to do as requested, no matter what the request.
They will try to manipulate situations and in their teens they might choose to seek consolation in alcohol, drugs or promiscuous relationships. They may not see the truth as others see it and will not respond to reason or logic.
Children with an attachment disorder may be:
• superficially charming (phoney)
• indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
• destructive to self and others
• cruel to animals
• unable to give or receive affection
• inappropriately demanding or clingy
Many show signs of:
• passive aggression
• abnormal eating patterns
• repressed anger
• abnormal speech
• poor peer relationships
• erratic behaviour
• cause and effect thinking
• a conscience
• impulse controls
• ask persistant nonsence questions
• chatter incessantly
• tell lies
• avoid eye contact
• exhibit extreme behaviour - stealing, solvent abuse, etc.
• sabotage placements - foster care, school
Many need support in order to:
• be able to respond positively to a significant other and feel valued
• thrive in the dynamics of a family
• comply to the basic rules of society and with reasonable requests
• have a realistic sense of self and surroundings
• develop a non-confrontational attitiude
• accept responsibility for own actions
• manage feels appropriately
To need their needs we must:
• provide a positive role model
• create win/win situations
• give clear, consistent guidelines and boundaries; yet allow some flexibility
• be honest and truthful, with sensitivity to the young person's feelings
• give calm, measured responses in confrontational situations
• always endeavour to let them know it is their behaviour that isnt liked, not them
• tell them which behaviours annoy/irritate and tell them why
• allow our emotions to be seen: parents/carers are people too
• support them in building positive relationships
• listen to them: hear what they have to say - but remember, they communicate in more ways than just verbally
• remember that the adult in responsible for helping young people make appropriate, positive attachments
• give them a safe, secure environment to express their innermost feelings, fears, hurts, etc.
• plan with them their adult life; help them to understand the attachment process and how they can be positive as an adult
For more information, email us here, or call 0800 138 1184 to discuss a referral in confidence.