June 19, 2019
Most new mothers and fathers want to “bond” with their babies as soon as possible, and continue to foster a strong emotional connection by responding to their infant’s cries; and by consistently feeding, changing, and soothing him or her whenever they are needed.
In return, children who feel securely attached to their parents and/or caregivers tend to form better relationships, solve problems more readily, try new things and explore independently, and take stress in stride, according to a recent report by the website, Verywell.
Conversely, babies who view the adults in their lives as unreliable tend to form insecure attachments and may be more apt to avoid people; exaggerate distress; show anger, fear, and anxiety; or refuse to engage with others.
According to the Verywell report, a classic sign of disinhibited social engagement disorder is “overfriendliness with strangers.” Rather than developing a healthy fear of strangers, a child may seek comfort from a stranger, sit on a stranger’s lap, and not exhibit any distress when a caregiver isn’t present.
In cases of inhibited attachment disorder, children internalize their feelings: They do not seek comfort in times of stress from family, familiar individuals such as teachers, or strangers, according to a study conducted at the University of Amsterdam and published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. They are detached and show a minimum of positive affection.
Aside from a lack of close, positive relationships with caregivers, children with attachment disorders are likely to struggle academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. They are at a higher risk of developing legal issues during adolescence as well.
Children with attachment disorders tend to have lower IQs. They also are at a higher risk of having language problems.
Overall, 85% are likely to have psychiatric disorders as well. A 2013 study that examined children with attachment disorders found that:
- 52% had ADHD,
- 29% had oppositional defiant disorder,
- 29% had conduct disorder,
- 19% had PTSD,
- 14% had an autism spectrum disorder,
- 14% had a specific phobia; and
- 1% had a tic disorder
No one knows exactly why some children develop attachment disorders while others living in the same environment don’t, according to Verywell. But, researchers agree there is a link between attachment disorders and significant neglect or deprivation, repeated changes in primary caretakers, or being reared in institutional settings.
Attachment disorders are fairly rare in the general populations. Children in foster care, adopted children, children who have been traumatized, or children who have been institutionalized are the greatest risk.
Children don’t grow out of attachment disorders on their own. Their symptoms may shift as they grow older, but if left untreated, they are likely to continue to have ongoing problems into adulthood, including difficulty regulating their emotions.
Even when a child with an attachment disorder is placed in a loving home with a consistent caregiver, the symptoms won’t immediately resolve, Very Well reports. They tend to push their caregivers away and the behavior problems often repel those around them. They usually require intensive ongoing treatment.
If you are considered about your child’s attachment, talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can conduct an initial evaluation and rule out any medical issues.
Research contact: @Verywell