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What is attachment theory? Why are early bonds so important?

schedule 9th January 2014 by Alex Bateman in Safeguarding

attachment theory and babies

Attachment theory explains the importance of social interactions and relationships for human beings. It helps us understand not only the connection between children and parents, but emotional connections throughout our lives.

What is attachment?

A simple definition of attachment is a persons emotional bond to another person. The founder of attachment theory, psychologist John Bowlby, described attachment as a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.?

Bowlby argued that the bonds formed by children with their earliest caregivers have a profound impact throughout that persons life. He believed attachment may have evolved to keep children safe and to improve their chance of surviving infant hood.

New discoveries from neuroscience have helped us to understand how early relationships shape brain development, as well individuals physiological ability to experience and manage emotions. Attachment theory helps us to understand how children develop a sense of emotional security, and how this enables them to explore the world.

Since Bowlby introduced his ideas in the 1950s, great strides have been made in understanding that the attachment process operates throughout life, from birth until death. Scientistis have now given us new ways of understanding and talking about attachment. This course will make use of those concepts to foster a deep understanding of attachment.

Why is attachment important?

Patterns of attachment formed in our early years have a profound effect on the way we live the rest of our lives. This is because it is the attachment process that shapes the way we manage emotions. Coping with feelings is a physiological process, which we draw on daily, throughout our lives.

This means that the emotional patterns we develop in our early years affect the way we will later conduct romantic relationships, friendships, dealing with authority figures, and may even shape symptoms of illnesses like dementia. Attachment has a much more dramatic impact on our lives than most people realise.

This course keeps us continually aware of children's need for a sense of safety, and how the fear of separation drives numerous behaviours. Understanding the physiological basis of that fear helps us to see children in a new light, bringing compassion and curiosity to our interactions.

Alex Bateman - Virtual College

Author: Alex Bateman

Alex is interested in the strategic application of learning and development. In particular how organisations can promote engagement with ongoing learning campaigns. He spends his spare time renovating his Victorian house. Ask him about his floors, I dare you.

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