We all have an attachment style. Attachment theory suggests that we form our respective styles in childhood. Our early relationships with our caregivers during childhood form how we build relationships as adults. Our caregivers (parents) are our first examples of social interactions and inform our styles. When a child perceives that their basic and emotional needs are being met, they develop a secure attachment style. If you are among the lucky few to have a secure attachment style, congratulations, you won the lottery. It seems so simple, but it is much harder to achieve. Parents are not perfect, and mistakes on their part lead to us developing our different attachment styles.
5 Conditions For Secure Attachment Style
There are 5 conditions for a child to develop a secure attachment style. The first is that a child needs to feel safe. A parent should be protective but not overbearing, intrusive, or neglectful. As a kid, when something scary happens, your parents should be the safe space you can run to without hesitation. They are your rock. If your parents never felt like a safe place, then you probably developed a different secure attachment style.
Seen, Heard, and Known
When a baby cries, a parent will feed them. If a baby is upset, a parent will soothe the distress. Children need to feel seen and known. It’s a pillar to raising them to have a secure attachment style. It’s about reliability. If a child needs something, signals for it, and a parent consistently responds to that need, then the child will feel secure.
As kids, we experience a lot of firsts. Those firsts can be overwhelming, terrifying, exciting, and all the other emotions we experience, so it can go a long way when a parent responds accordingly. When a parent helps a child manage their frustrations and distress, they will develop an internal model of comforting and soothed. Validating their feelings teaches kids it’s okay to feel and how to manage big emotions, which translates into their adult lives.
High self-esteem is such a pivotal thing to have as an adult, but cultivating it starts when we are kids. Did your parents express pride and joy in who you were as a kid or what you did? If you only ever felt loved and valued when you did something instead of just being, then it’s hard to kick start your high self-esteem at an earlier age. It’s not bad to be proud of your kid for getting all A’s, but if that’s the only time it’s expressed, then your kid might develop a self-esteem where they feel like they are only good when they do something noteworthy.
Let Them Explore
Kids are curious little things. If your kid feels safe enough to explore, you are probably doing something right. It helps build independence and autonomy in the kid. Let your kid figure out their limitations. Letting your kid fail with a safety net is the best thing you can do for them. My mom was secretly happy when I failed at things as a kid because it was a great learning moment to overcome obstacles and manage big emotions while frustrated.
Secure Attachment Style in an Adult Relationship
Secure attachment style can look like different things in different people, but there are a few things you can keep an eye out for when going on dates. People with a secure attachment style can regulate their emotions in a relationship. They can communicate their needs effectively. They are goal-oriented and independent. Secure Attachment is all about having self-awareness, effective communication, and independence while alone but capable of being present in a relationship.
You’re Not Stuck
Just because you have one attachment style doesn’t mean you can’t develop a secure attachment style in adulthood. You can thank your parents if you don’t have a secure attachment style. (Or make a joke in therapy that your therapist will laugh at or chastise you for.) But you’re not stuck with the attachment style that you have. A therapist is a great way for you to reach out for help. And even that seems too much to start; there are so many great books on attachment styles. Whatever path you take, consistency and effort are the keys to your success. It’s like going to the gym. You don’t need to go hard 100% of the time. Rather, you should put in whatever effort you have that day and show up for yourself consistently. 30% effort every day is better than 100% effort once a week.
And if you don’t know your attachment style, there are a billion quizzes you can take online. Here is one of that billion. And if you want a small breakdown of each attachment style, I wrote a article on them.