Attachment theorists believe humans develop behaviors as a result of how their caregivers nurture them. According to attachment theory, the type of bond that develops between child and caregiver affects the child’s later relationships. There are four bonding types:
- Secure: The securely attached child freely explores his/her surroundings and is easily comforted.
- Preoccupied: Children with preoccupied attachments will move easily between their caregiver and a stranger when looking for comfort but will simultaneously resist the comfort given.
- Dismissive: Children who experience dismissive attachments show distrust of the caregiver and have an inability to be comforted.
- Fearful: This attachment pattern is characterized by erratic and confused behavior as the child is unable to recognize which behaviors gain favorable attention from the caregiver.
Secure attachment patterns are thought to develop from a consistent and nurturing caregiver, whereas the insecure attachments are the result of inconsistent, emotionally neglectful and/or abusive caregiving. Several researchers have cited that as many as 80% of abused infants and children exhibit insecure attachment patterns.