How Different Attachment Styles Can Affect Your Parenting
Presented by BetterHelp.
Attachment styles are the way we interact with the people closest to us— like our kids! Our own attachment styles can have a big impact on how we parent. Ultimately, knowing and understanding our own attachment styles can not only help us to better our own health but also improve our kids’ health and influence the attachment style our children carry! Learn more about each of the four attachment styles and how they can affect parenting:
There are two main components in assessing your attachment style: anxiety and avoidance. Anxious attachments refer to people who show anxious behaviors in relationships. For example, separation anxiety or clinginess. On the other hand, avoidance in attachment could display itself as being “cold” or “distant”. It’s possible to display anxiety or avoidance in your relationships, both, or neither. Here’s what each attachment style looks like, how it affects your parenting, and how you may see signs of your attachment style showing up in your own children:
A secure attachment style means someone is low in anxiety and avoidance. A parent with a secure attachment style is likely confident in their parenting and communicates effectively with their children. You may also notice your child fits this attachment style if they aren’t afraid to communicate their needs and wants, are fairly independent, and generally speak optimistically about their relationships with others.
An anxious-preoccupied attachment style is generally high anxiety but low avoidance. In parenting, this can result in a parent inventing or magnifying conflicts. In turn, this pessimistic or paranoid response from a parent can lead a child to lack a sense of security or create a need for constant reassurance. The anxious-preoccupied attachment style in children is known as “ambivalent-insecure.” One sign a child may have an ambivalent-insecure attachment style is if they are unhappy to separate from their parents but may also cry or get angry when reunited.
A dismissive-avoidant attachment style is generally low anxiety but high avoidance. As a parent, this may lead to distancing from kids and other loved ones out of fear. This type of attachment style may present itself as being incredibly busy with work or hobbies that don’t involve children. A dismissive-avoidant attachment style can lead to a child feeling unimportant or rejected. Children with dismissive-avoidant attachment styles are known to have an “avoidant-insecure” attachment. A child with this type of attachment may not show much love or affection and prefer to play alone.
A fearful-avoidant attachment style is high in both anxiety and avoidance. This can lead to a chaotic type of parenting, as a parent wavers between a desire for a close relationship with their child and a fear of that same closeness. A fearful-avoidant attachment style can make it hard to define healthy boundaries and can confuse a child. A fearful-avoidant attachment style in children is known as a “disorganized-insecure” attachment style. Often these children feel forced to take on the role of parenting themselves and don’t have consistent behavior around their parents.
Realizing you and your children may not have secure attachment styles is a big step in beginning to make the changes necessary for a healthy relationship. From there, it can be helpful to enlist the help of a therapist to identify strategies for change! Working towards a secure attachment style with an online therapist can be a fantastic way to help you succeed in your relationships and become closer with your kids. Learn more about the online therapy options through BetterHelp here.