Attachment Theory

neglectful parentsecure baby

Baby making 101- a sperm must fertilize an egg in order to create life and thus we have biological parents. But that does not tell you anything about a child’s mother and father other than their ability to procreate.

When a baby first comes into this world they have very few basic needs. They want to eat, sleep, and rid themselves of waste. The one tool they have to communicate all of their needs is crying. When a baby cries, parents have options. They can consistently come to the aid of their child (HEALTHY); chose to neglect the child’s needs (UNHEALTHY); or use a combination of the two (UNHEALTHY).

Although little one’s have three basic needs for survival, they also have needs to improve their well being and brain development which stem from the level of attentiveness their caregiver provides.

A healthy baby will get the love and affection from parents who care for the child on an emotional, mental and physical level. This is portrayed when a parent consistently comes to the babies aid; meets all of their needs; makes consistent eye contact regularly; soothes and comforts the baby; etc. This young one has learned they have dependable parents and their needs will be met appropriately.

In a different scenario, a baby will cry and may or may not get their needs met; limited eye contact will occur; the baby will become stressed releasing toxins in their body; and thus they will not be able to regulate themselves. This young one has learned the world is an unreliable place where they cannot count on their sole provider to care for them.

When this happens, the infant’s brain holds this information as factual while it is still under going development and adapts it as truth. As this baby grows, the belief will transfer into emotions of feeling unworthy, unlovable, undeserving, etc. When children believe this about themselves, it will then begin to transfer to their adolescent and adult self, that others must feel the same way about them. In relationships, a race will ensue on which partner can beat the other to the punch and sabotage the relationship first. Inevitably, until the brain learns of a new way, relationships will be doomed for failure. Luckily, there is a way to rewire the brain!

To help aid in this process, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health uses an Attachment Theory model identifying the behaviors and lessons learned from early childhood to understand the behaviors of adults. Using this understanding, CCFSH begins a collaborative approach with clients to introduce new ways the brain can interpret information and carry out relationships to be successful.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

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