Secure attachment is classified by children who show some distress when their caregiver leaves but are able to compose themselves knowing that their caregiver will return. Children with secure attachment feel protected by their caregivers, and they know that they can depend on them to return. John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth developed a theory known as attachment theory after inadvertently studying children who were patients in a hospital at which they were working. Attachment theory explains how the parent-child relationship emerges and provides influence on subsequent behaviors and relationships. Stemming from this theory, there are four main types of attachment: secure attachment, ambivalent attachment, avoidant attachment and disoriented attachment.
Ambivalent attachment is defined by children who become very distressed when their caregiver leaves, and they are not able to soothe or compose themselves. These children cannot depend on their caregiver(s) to be there for them. This is a relatively infrequent case with only a small percentage of children in the United States affected. Avoidant attachment is represented by children who avoid their caregiver, showing no distress when the caregiver leaves. These children react similarly to a stranger as do they with their caregiver. This attachment is often associated with abusive situations. Children who are reprimanded for going to their caregiver will stop seeking help in the future. Disoriented attachment is defined by children who have no consistent way to manage their separation from and reunion with the attachment figure. Sometimes these children appear to be clinically depressed. These children are often present in studies of high-risk samples of severely maltreated babies, but they also appear in other samples.
Children who have a secure attachment to their primary caregiver will grow to have higher self-esteem as well as better self-reliance. Additionally, these children tend to be more independent and have lower reported instances of anxiety and depression. These children are also able to form better social relationships.
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