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What is Attachment?

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and caregiver in the first several years of life.

It profoundly influences every component of the human condition - mind, body, emotions, relationships and values. Attachment is not something that parents do to their children; rather, it is something that children and parents create together, in an ongoing reciprocal relationship.

Attachment to a protective and loving caregiver who provides guidance and support is a basic human need, rooted in millions of years of evolution. There is an instinct to attach: babies instinctively reach out for the safety and security of the "secure base" with caregivers; parents instinctively protect and nurture their offspring.

Attachment is a physiological, emotional, cognitive and social phenomenon. Instinctual attachment behaviors in the baby are activated by cues or signals from the caregiver (social releasers). Thus, the attachment process is defined as a "mutual regulatory system" - the baby and the caregiver influencing one another over time.

Beyond the basic function of secure attachment - providing safety and protection for the vulnerable young via closeness to a caregiver - there are several other important functions for children:

1. Learn basic trust and reciprocity, which serves as a template for all future emotional relationships.

2. Explore the environment with feelings of safety and security ("secure base"), which leads to healthy cognitive and social development.

3. Develop the ability to self-regulate, which results in effective management of impulses and emotions.

4. Create a foundation for the formation of identity, which includes a sense of competency, self-worth, and a balance between dependence and autonomy.

5. Establish a prosocial moral framework, which involves empathy, compassion and conscience.

6. Generate the core belief system, which comprises cognitive appraisals of self, caregivers, others, and life in general.

7. Provide a defense against stress and trauma, which incorporates resourcefulness and resilience.

The above explanation was taken from

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Submit & Attach

Fight or Flight 

If neither their fight or flight options are open to them, most will freeze. Stop.

won’t be able to locate them and will move on.

Submit or comply 

There’s also this last inner defense: cry for help. We’ll let cry out, An example of this is just like a baby cries when they are about to have their injections, they may pull away from the doctor, trying to get to their Mum and all while this sad, heart wrenching cry comes out. The mothers instinct is to pull them closer and soothe them. Another example is when you walk into a room of not knowing anyone and you look for a perceived friendly face. That’s the attachment system at play.

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