Secure vs. Insecure Attachment

Through repeated positive experiences with a caregiver, infants develop a secure attachment to that person. Infants who are securely attached have learned to trust that other people will take care of them.

Infants whose experiences with a caregiver are negative or unpredictable are more likely to develop an insecure attachment. Children who are insecurely attached have learned that adults are not reliable, and do not trust easily.

Children who are securely attached tend to:

  • have less extreme reactions to stress
  • be more willing to try new things and to explore independently
  • be better problem solvers
  • form better relationships with others

Children who are insecurely attached may:

  • refuse to interact with others
  • avoid other people
  • exaggerate distress
  • show anger, anxiety or fear

It is important to remember that attachment security is not the only factor that affects children’s relationships with other people. A variety of other influences — including individual personality differences and cultural norms — also affect a child’s process for relating to others, responding to stress and solving problems, and managing emotions.