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Leonardo Morris
Leonardo Morris

The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Life !FULL!



The attachment theory argues that a strong emotional and physical bond to one primary caregiver in our first years of life is critical to our development. If our bond is strong and we are securely attached, then we feel safe to explore the world. If our bond is weak, we feel insecurely attached and as a result are afraid to leave or explore a rather scary-looking world.




The Attachment Theory: How Childhood Affects Life



People who are securely attached are said to have greater trust, can connect to others and as a result are more successful in life. Insecurely attached people tend to mistrust others, lack social skills and have problems forming relationships. There is one type of secure attachment and there are 3 types of insecure attachments: Anxious/Ambivalent, Anxious/Avoidant and Anxious/Disorganized. In response to distress, the first 3 react organized, while the last acts disorganized.


Everyone knows that childhood influences the way a person transforms into an adult. There are 4 types of attachment during the early years that categorize adults into different behavior patterns.


The attachment theory argues that a strong emotional and physical bond to one primary caregiver in our first years of life is critical to our development. If our bonding is strong and we are securely attached, then we feel safe to explore the world. We know that there is always that safe base, to which we can return to any time. If our bond is weak, we feel insecurely attached. We are afraid to leave or explore a rather scary-looking world. Because we are not sure if we can return.


People who are securely attached are said to have greater trust, can connect to others and as a result, are more successful in life. Insecurely attached people tend to mistrust others, lack social skills, and have problems forming relationships. There is one type of secure attachment and there are 3 types of insecure attachments: Anxious/Ambivalent, Anxious/Avoidant, and Anxious/Disorganized. In responses to distress, the first 3 react organized, while the last acts are disorganized.


Mali was developed in collaboration with Med. Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom (Pediatrician), Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (Obstetrician), Dr. Vorachai Chuenchompoonut (Obstetrician), and Ketsupar Jirakran (Developmental Specialist). Behind the app is a group of passionate parents, editors, and creatives who share a vision for holistic lifestyles and evidence-based early childhood education.


The attachment theory argues that a strong emotional andphysical bond to one primary caregiver in our first years of lifeis critical to our development. If our bonding is strong and we aresecurely attached, then we feel safe to explore the world. If ourbond is weak, we feel insecurely attached. We are afraid to leaveor explore a rather scary-looking world. Because we are not sure ifwe can return. Often we then don't understand our ownfeelings.


The legacy of inadequate childhood attachment poses a considerable burden for the individuals themselves, for society, and for public services. Disturbed childhood attachment relates to adult physical and psychological ill-health, including major causes of mortality.4 It is a key factor in intergenerational parenting difficulties, and predisposes children to substance abuse, temper problems, homelessness, promiscuity, early pregnancy, and criminality.


To grow up mentally and relationally healthy, a young child needs to experience a responsive, warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with an adult in early life. This adult then becomes a secure base from which the child can explore the environment. The responsiveness of this attachment figure creates internal models as generally accessible and responsive. As a result, this child will handle emotional stress, such as separation anxiety, hostility, and avoidance, with less fear in later relationships.


Having a disorganized type is a strong predictor of emotional dysregulation and related mental health problems, such as attachment-related anxiety, later in life. These children usually grow up with poor emotion regulation and control of negative emotions. They are more likely to show oppositional, hostile, and aggressive behavior.


A survey was administered to 1030 adults through Qualtrics, with participants recruited using quota-sampling to reflect the demographic characteristics of U.S. adults. Participants completed a survey about their childhood experiences, four domains of family health (family social and emotional health processes, family healthy lifestyle, family health resources, and family external social supports), and demographic characteristics. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling.


Although research on childhood experiences indicates their influence on adult health, little is known about how ACEs and PCEs affect family life. Research has demonstrated that parenting styles are often passed down to children who then parent their children using similar methods and traditions [26, 27]. Families develop through family patterns and life cycle events and processes [28]. For example, research indicates that individuals who were abused as children are more likely to abuse their own children [27], and parents who have unresolved emotional issues from childhood are more disorganized in their parent child attachments and exhibit more frightening parenting behaviors [8, 29]. On the other hand, parents that were raised in a home that had more positive coping strategies and parenting efficacy were more likely to perpetuate these positive coping strategies in their own families [26]. Other studies have shown that parents who have experienced more PCEs in their childhood are better able to provide a positive home life for their children [26] and have improved family function, family cohesion and overall health [5, 30, 31].


The purpose of this study was to measure the association between childhood experiences with adult family health. Results indicated that childhood experiences, particularly PCEs, were predictive of family health in adulthood. Specifically, consistent with Hypothesis 1, ACEs were negatively associated with family social and emotional health processes and family health resources, irrespective of PCE score. However, when accounting for PCEs, ACEs were not associated with family healthy lifestyle nor with family external social supports. Conversely, regardless of ACE score, PCEs were positively associated with all four family health domains (Hypothesis 2). The absolute value of the standardized betas portraying the relationship between childhood experiences and family health was larger for PCEs as compared to ACEs across all four domains of family health (Hypotheses 3).


Irrespective of ACEs score, PCEs were associated with better family health. The strength of association was consistent across all of the family health domains. These findings indicate that PCEs set a positive trajectory for lifelong family health. PCEs include positive role models, emotional support, and family stability in childhood. Children that experience more emotional support from family or social networks may have better long-term mental health outcomes and less chronic health issues as they age, which are important family health resources [39]. Furthermore, individuals with high PCEs tend to have more self-confidence which provides a foundation for healthy relationships in adulthood [8, 40] and serves to buffer against mental health issues [19, 20, 25, 41]. All of these effects are resources that adults can draw upon to foster healthy routines, affection, respect, communication, trust, and support in their families and also engender healthy social support networks that the family can draw on when additional help is needed. Furthermore, the same healthy family that helped to foster PCEs during childhood likely continues to be a supportive family system in adulthood, even as family membership and structure may change through births, marriage, death, and variation in relationships through life stages.


This study provides preliminary data that increases understanding about how childhood experiences affect their later family health. Integrating resilience theory with the life course theory, this study indicates that both ACEs and PCEs affect family health in adulthood, though PCEs appear to be particularly salient to future family health. A breadth of positive childhood experiences in the home, community, and school may have a significant impact on future family life, even in the presence of adversity. Further research is needed to better understand the intergenerational transmission of family health using longitudinal and diverse samples. Public health professionals can apply upstream and mid-stream intervention efforts to promote PCEs and prevent ACEs in an effort to promote family health across generations.


In the early stages of development, children develop different attachment patterns to their parents or caregiver. These attachment styles can be predictive of how children grow up. For example, anxious or avoidant attachment styles are often powerful predictors for psychopathology or maladjustment development in the later stages of life (Benoit, 2004).


On the contrary, children with secure attachment styles to their parents are also more likely to have secure attachments to their romantic partners. This being said, attachment styles from childhood play a significant role in all the relationships you will encounter.


In addition, our article Attachment Styles in Therapy: Worksheets & Handouts provides useful worksheets pertaining attachment styles. Download 3 Free Positive Relationships Exercises (PDF)These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients to build healthy, life-enriching relationships.


This piece tackled attachment theory, a theory developed by John Bowlby in the 1950s and expanded upon by Mary Ainsworth and countless other researchers in later years. The theory helps explain how our childhood relationships with our caregivers can have a profound impact on our relationships with others as adults. 041b061a72


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