This is a continuation of our discussion on The Power of Attachment. To read the first part of this series, click here.
The Power of Attachments: The Negative Attachments
In the previous article in this series, ‘Part two of our discussion on The Power of Attachment,’ we covered Dr. Diane Poole Heller's advice on how one can achieve a secure attachment (regardless of their current or past ones). As well as how we, as parents, significant others, friends, or loved ones, can help their inner (or actual) child self is Securely Attached.
In the following, we will briefly discuss the negative Attachments, including what can cause them and what to avoid from them happening to your child.
Avoidant attachment is an attachment style that develops during early childhood. It tends to occur in children who do not experience sensitive responses to their needs or distress. Children with an avoidant attachment style may become very independent, both physically and emotionally. Like all unchecked attachments, the consequences that come with Avoidance Attachments will likely last well into adulthood.
EXAMPLES OF CONTRIBUTORS THAT MAY LEAD TO AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT
this example illustrates a couple of the factors involved in the development of the avoidant adaptation in children that can continue into adulthood:
- Isolation - occurs when a child is left alone too often. This can also refer to not receiving enough face-to-face contact with their caregiver.
- Lack of presence - occurs when a caregiver isn’t present, or present enough even when they’re physically, but not, emotionally there.
- Task-based presence - occurs when a parent’s company is predicated upon them teaching their child or needing said child for some practical activity.
- Absence of touch - occurs when a young child is deprived of appropriate, compassionate, physical contact with their caregivers and other family members.
- Emotional neglect - occurs when caregivers aren’t sensitive to the emotional needs of their children.
How Can We Help a Child or Loved One With Avoidant Attachment?
Despite their body language, what they say, or how they might actively try to make you feel, Avoidantly Attached people do want connection; they just need more transition time to take the pressure off and ease the way for a smoother path to harmony. So if you have a child, partner, or loved one who is Avoidantantly Attached, Dr. Poole suggests offering them space:
“I’d love to take you out to dinner and connect with you in about thirty minutes or so. How much time do you need to get ready for us to go out and enjoy a nice evening together?”
Dr. Poole says it’s a valuable and proactive way to signal respect to them while also giving them the opportunity they need to make the necessary shift.
When a child receives love and affection sporadically, it can result in long-lasting problems for the child. When the parent is inconsistent in their behavior and attitude towards a child, they cannot understand why love and affection get taken away or dished out randomly.
“Many of us who have ambivalent attachment actually did receive lots of love and high-quality interactions with our parents; it’s just that our relationship with our caregivers was marked by unpredictability and inconsistency.”
-Dr. Diane Poole Heller, p.87 of The Power of Attachments
This unpredictability creates fear and confusion because they don't know when they'll get love or suddenly get neglected again. They are not secure. As they grow up, this fear and belief that love and affection are fleeting, sporadic sentiments continue into adulthood.
EXAMPLES OF CONTRIBUTORS THAT MAY LEAD TO AMBIVALENT ATTACHMENT
- Interrupted Regulation - occurs when a young child has relaxed into a relationship with their caregiver that allows them to regulate or receive nurturance, connection, and love before the parent abruptly does the one thing that most endangers the child’s ability to do so.
- Overstimulation - occurs when a child is not given space when they’re supposed to learn how to self-regulate. This vital stage requires young children to be given enough space to learn to develop healthy boundaries. Constant contact or intrusions can be detrimental to a child’s development.
How Can We Help a Child or Loved One with an Ambivalent Attachment?
When it comes to helping a child or loved one who lives with an Ambivalent Attachment, do all you can to make sure they feel loved, cared for and that they whole-heartedly understand they matter to you. For those who suffer from this, themselves, it’s all about providing that same love, nurture, and care for your inner child; to provide your inner litter girl or boy self the reassurances you didn’t receive from your parents or caregivers. Don’t wait for others to provide this level of much-needed care.
An easy exercise might include listing all of the things you like or even love about yourself. Then, repeat these positive affirmations continuously, and have them handy when triggered.