What is Attachment Theory?

July 14, 2013

Even prior to birth, social factors are at work shaping individuals’ values and beliefs. There is mounting evidence that the conditions experienced in the womb are at least as important as genetics in determining how we perform mentally and physically during life.

Attachment theory suggests humans have an innate drive to form attachment with others. Secure attachment is characterized by having a sense of self, as being worthy of love and the belief that others are available and dependable. This is achieved by having reliable and available caregivers who become the attachment figures. These attachment figures provide the infant/child with a secure base from which to motivate exploration of the environment and lead emotionally fulfilling lives.

Bowlby (1969-1988) placed great importance on a child’s attachment to their mother. He believed that the child’s behaviour later in life would depend on the way in which they were attached to their mother. He believed that children who are securely attached to their mother would find it easier to separate and develop as individuals.

As a new mother it is normal to experience feelings of confusion about how best to care for your baby. Not only are you susceptible to physical and emotional changes that can render you feeling vulnerable, you will be bombarded with opinions and advice (all well meaning) about how best to care for your baby. There are many parenting styles all supposedly superior to the other, not to mention cultural and generational differences that may further add to your confusion.


Some helpful tips

Always be guided by up to date proven advice from health care professionals.

Remember no two mother baby relationships will be the same, so accept what may work for others may not work for you.

Allow yourself to acknowledge that it may be normal to feel frustrated and confused. You will be physically and emotionally at your limit so don’t add extra purpose by feeling that you need to stick to certain rules to be a good mother. In normal circumstances providing your baby is well and you are not experiencing symptoms of post natal depression, you should trust your instincts, allowing yourself and the baby to feel more secure.

Remember, secure attachment is all about your baby feeling safe, nurtured and loved. This is achieved not through a particular parenting style but through tending to your baby’s physical needs and creating a healthy emotional connection.

About the Author