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Attachment Theory Concept

Attachment Theory Concept

The attachment theory is a developmental psychology theory about creating an attachment to a person that furthers one’s mental drive to take risks within their own life for their personal gain. This is usually with the caregivers of children therefore focuses on the four parenting styles to provide a guide for the child’s attachment or detachment from society.

The Founding of the Theory

This theory was originally founded by John Bowlby whose studies focused mainly on the idea that a child’s development is very heavily dependent on the child’s ability to form an attachment to one of their primary caregivers which usually was one of their parents. His studies showed that if the child could develop that level of attachment to at least one of the parents or caregivers then they had their own sense of security and foundation. He also uncovered that children without that level of attachment were extremely fearful and did not venture out to the world to explore causing them to take fewer risks out in the world because they do not have the support of that parent or caregiver to give them the courage to take a gamble at the chance, which affects their development since they do not explore so they do not learn (Saul McLeod).

Another psychologist who used Bowlby’s research to develop her own ideas is Mary Ainsworth who continued the research of the attachment theory. Her studies uncovered a concept called “attachment behavior” which is the behaviour when a child who does not have any attachment wishes to connect with someone or reestablish their connection with someone, Ainsworth believed that this was an innate human ability that was a primal instinct. Ainsworth conducted her experiment by observing families with strong attachments and families with weak attachments, then separated the child from the caregiver to observe their reactions. She uncovered that children with strong relationships did not cry and believed that the parent would come back shortly while the children with weak relationships would endlessly cry until the parent returned. This demonstrated that children who received the strong relationship and support from their caregivers could withstand being separated from them and showcasing their adventurous ideas while the other children without that support and care cried showing their need for the attention and love that they were not getting and showcasing their dependency on that attachment (Psychologist World).

Two developmental psychologists named Cindy Hasan and Phillip Shaver took the attachment theory to a different level with their studies into the attachment of adult relationships. Their research showed that adults who grew up with weak attachments experienced feelings of inadequacy that showed a lack of intimacy with both parties. Adults with too strong of an attachment experienced issues with co-dependency, however, the combo that worked was when the adults could develop a good level of intimacy while maintaining a balance of independence. This showed how children need to have that feeling of adventure to be successful in their social lives in their adulthood (Psychologist World).

The attachment theory focuses on the four parenting techniques to showcase how the parent or caregiver plays a major role in the child’s development. These were developed by a developmental psychologist named Diana Baumrind. She focused her studies on the four dimensions of parent-child interactions: parental control, maturity demands, clarity of communication and nurturance. Parental control is the enforcement of rules set by the parents for the child, and maturity demands are the level of expectation that the parents put on the child for them to live up to whether it be social or academic. Clarity of communication is how well the parents communicate with the child to understand their opinion and effectively discuss with them to obtain the desired behaviour they wish to have. The last one is nurturance which is how well the parent projects the comfort, warmth and protection the child needs from either physical or emotional pain or discomfort. With the four dimensions, Baumrind could develop the four parenting styles: authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian (Greenwood).

Some criticism of this theory, however, is that it does not always apply to every case with many children either making a positive or negative experience out of the parenting style they grew up with. Another criticism is that some cultures do not truly show that attachment as children, for example in Papua New Guinea or Uganda their culture shows that the childhood attachment that Western culture demonstrates is very alien to them. The idea of that is strange to them because children there are given a rear-end duty yet they still grow up to be very well-benefitted members of society.


The authoritative parenting style is renowned for being the most positive and beneficial style for the normal child. These parents are easy to recognize by their organized structure of the home with a set of rules that showcases a solid foundation for the child while also expressing a very open communication line for the child and parent to nurture a very productive relationship into the future. These show a very healthy household for the child to develop making it very successful for the child and the parent themselves (Hughes 2013). In my own family, my parents were very authoritative so that was the parenting style that I grew up on. Now I grew up to be a very independent person that is attached to my mom for advice on what I should do when I’m in a sticky situation; this shows that the authoritative style is a very successful style of parenting for children.

One of the big ideas about the authoritative parenting style is how the parent reacts to the child when they fail to meet the parent’s expectation. An authoritative parent is much more nurturing and forgiving towards the child rather than punishing them. So, the authoritative parent shows the child clear standards that they expect but show supportive discipline instead of a more punishing one so that the child will be more socially responsible, self-regulated and cooperative in their actions in the future (Cherry 2016). This parenting style is overall the best way to go because it creates a healthier household that is supportive of the child and nurtures their need for growth and development into adulthood.


In the neglectful or uninvolved parenting style, the parent is completely detached from the child showing no support, love, care, or even acknowledgement of the child. In extreme cases This can cause serious effects in the child’s behaviour, for example, the child begins to act out in school, becomes involved in activities that are above their age, has poor academics, and become delinquent when they reach high school. Another result of this parenting style is that children have extremely low self-esteem and develop the mindset that they are less competent than their peers (Cherry 2016).

Note however that not all children experience a negative effect from neglectful parenting, some children can take from it a positive experience that helps them build better relationships with people outside their immediate family that they encounter in the future (Hosier 2014). When I was growing up as a child my real father was very much neglectful to my sisters and I, so I never had that nurturing and caring relationship with him, therefore, I grew from that making me more prone to the people I have in my life. I take the time to truly decide if I want someone in my life before they are given the time they get from me; this has helped me build so many amazing relationships with my friends that I wouldn’t know what I would do without them.


The next parenting style is the permissive one. This one is about how the parent shows an overwhelming amount of love and care for the child. These parents try to be one of the child’s friends rather than being a parent. This causes the child to become impulsive with their behaviour and act out irrationally when they do not get what they want and this is because the parent does not discipline the child when they misbehave but instead rewards them for it. This leads to the child becoming very selfish and does not take responsibility for their actions when they misbehave (Greenwood).

Permissive parents avoid confrontation with their children so they make sure to cover up the behaviour by taking the child out to their favourite place or buying them something that they have been wanting for a long time. The parents are too nurturing for the child and do not imply rules or structure to the household making it self-regulated by the child themselves. This style is bad for the child because without that structure the child grows up without a sense of authority and throws “temper tantrums” when they are not treated as their parents treat them making it difficult to experience the real world (Cherry 2016).


The last parenting style is the authoritarian style, this parenting technique is very close to the authoritative one however instead of being supportive of the child, the parent becomes extremely strict and enforces harsh punishments on the child when they fail to meet expectations or misbehave. This causes the child to become very intimidated by authority figures causing them to be more introverted hindering their development because of the lack of exploring the world that they need to be more understanding of the world. Authoritarian parents do not communicate with the child about the rules and why they are in place, therefore if the child were to ask about it the parent would respond with “because I said so” making the child become more closed off and much easier to be peer pressured into activities they do not wish to do (Cherry 2016).

Authoritarian parents put too much pressure on the child to follow the rules and structure of the household and do not show care to the child when they accidentally make a mistake. This is hard on the child as they feel they are constantly being criticized for every little step they make and are unsure why they are in trouble in the first place. When the parent punishes the child they are more likely to use physical or verbal insults at the child continuing to hinder their self-esteem or even possibly abuse them. This shows how this parenting style very much negatively affects the child’s development and growth into adulthood (Greenwood).

The four parenting styles show the many ways a child’s development is affected by the parenting technique of the caregiver. This shows developmental psychologists how strongly correlated the two of these are with how a child matures into adulthood.


McLeod, Saul. (2009). Attachment Theory. retrieved from

Kail, Robert. V. (2015). Children and Their Development. Purdue University: Pearson Education.

Hughes, Emily. (December 10, 2013). Types of Parenting Styles and How to Identify Yours.
retrieved from parenting-styles-and-how-to-identify-yours/

Psychologist World. Attachment Theory retrieved from

Cherry, Kendra. (September 5, 2016) Parenting Styles: What They Are and Why They Matter retrieved from

Greenwood, Beth. The Baumrind Theory of Parenting Styles retrieved from

Hosier, David. (January 17, 2014) Childhood Trauma: The Possible Effects of Uninvolved Parents. Retrieved from trauma-the-possible-effects-of-uninvolved-parents/


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Attachment Theory Concept

Attachment Theory Concept

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