ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Attachment Theory and Parenting Styles

Updated on June 10, 2012
Source

Attachment is simply the relationship or strong emotional bond that develops between an infant and his or her primary caregiver. There is more than one theory of attachment, psychoanalysis, learning theory, ethological theory and cognitive developmental theory all have something to say about attachment. This article will focus on the cognitive-developmental approach to attachment theory.

First in order for the infant to develop attachment there are two prerequisites. First he or she must be able to differentiate between the primary caregiver and a stranger. Second the child must realize that people still exist, even when he or she cannot see them.

Mary Ainsworth developed the Strange Situation as a way to assess the quality and nature of the attachment relationship. In the Strange Situation the primary caregiver twice leaves the baby alone or with a stranger and twice returns to be reunited with the infant. Based on observational data Ainsworth came up with three different styles of attachment. A fourth was added later by other researchers.

Secure Attachment

This is the ideal relationship between primary caregiver and infant. The infant demonstrates a willingness to explore a new environment while the primary caregiver is around. He or she is upset when left alone or with a stranger but greets the primary caregiver happily upon his or her return and actively seeks comfort from them.

Insecure-Avoidant Attachment

When the primary caregiver left the first time these infants were not upset and avoided her upon return. After the primary caregiver left the second time the infant was visibly upset but still avoided the caregiver upon return.

Insecure-Resistant Attachment

These infants became extremely upset when left by the primary caregiver. When she returned the infant alternately sought contact and then actively pushed her away.

Insecure-Disorganized Attachment

This was classified by later researchers as infants who seemed sort of dazed by being reunited with their primary caregiver. They froze mid-movement or engaged in repetitive behaviours.

Newer methods of assessing attachment styles have been developed over the years but we still talk about these four types of attachment, so it's worthwhile to look at the original research. Although most studies have examined the infants relationship to the primary caregiver studies have been done to highlight the importance of a child being securely attached to both parents. Each parent has been found to make unique contributions to a child's development and it is therefore important for the child to feel securely attached to both parents.

Parenting Styles

Different parenting styles have been associated with the different types of attachment and all have different consequences for the child's development.

Authoritative

When the child is an infant this style of parenting is marked by a parent who is responsive to the child's needs, consistently available when the child genuinely needs her and displays interactive synchronicity. Interactive synchronicity describes how a primary caregiver respects the infants signals to interact (or not) and responds appropriately. By responding consistently the caregiver teaches the infant that the world is a trustworthy place and the caregiver will always return. Later on this parenting style is associated with parents who are warm, set reasonable standards, explain the reasons behind the rules, expect age-appropriate behaviour, provide consistent discipline and remain responsive to the child's needs. This style of parenting is associated with securely attached children.

Authoritarian

Although similar in name this is a completely different style of parenting. Initially the parent is unresponsive and rejecting. Parent's ignore the baby's signals or interact with them in an angry or irritable way. it is also characterized by rarely having close bodily contact. Later on parents remain harsh, unresponsive and rigid. Parents use harsh punishment, don't bother to explain the reasons behind the rules, and expect complete obedience. This parenting style is associated with Insecure-Avoidant Attachment.

Permissive

Initially the parent is inconsistent in responding to the needs of the infant. Sometimes the parent is available and sometimes they aren't. Interactions are awkward and offer little affection. Later on this parent appears to have a reasonably affectionate relationship with the child. However, they are too lenient, provide inconsistent discipline, and encourage their children to act on their impulses. This type of parent will also withdraw their affection as a type of punishment. This style of parenting is associated with Insecure-Resistant Attachment.

Uninvolved

This style of parenting has been linked to maternal depression. It has also been linked to parents who neglect or physically abuse their children. Parents are indifferent or actively neglect their children. Parents focus on their own needs to the exclusion of the child's needs. These parents often don't know where their kids are or who they are with. This style of parenting is associated with Insecure-Disorganized Attachment.

Consequences

Secure/ Authoritative

Children exhibit positive social, emotional and cognitive development. For example they were better at solving problems, displayed more empathy for others, got better grades and showed more self-esteem, self-competence and self-confidence than children who were insecurely attached. They also developed closer friendships.

Insecure-Avoidant/ Authoritarian

This style has been linked to low self-esteem, conflicted, irritable children who are vulnerable to stressors. They tend to be fearful, moody, unhappy, aimless, deceitful and alternate between aggressive behaviours and sulky withdrawal. They are generally disliked by their peers.

Insecure-Resistant/ Permissive

These children exhibit low self-control and self-reliance. They appear immature for their age, anxious and show little initiative. They can be aggressive, domineering and uncontrollable. They vacillate quickly between anger and cheerfulness. Finally they are impulsive and non-compliant.

Insecure-Disorganized/ Uninvolved

These children are socially incompetent, irresponsible and immature. They are moody, aggressive and non-compliant. They suffer from low self-esteem. Later as teenagers this type of child is associated with skipping school, delinquency and arrests and precocious sexuality.

Attachment and parenting style have lasting consequences for our children. studies have shown that we tend to parent in the way that we were parented. So styles good or bay, have a tendency to be passed down through generations.

Source Material:

Hetherington, E., & Parke, R. D. (Eds.). (1999). Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint (5thth ed.). McGraw-Hill.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)