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Is there such a thing as being too attached to a parent, or can a child never be too attached?

(13 Posts)
mylittlemonsters Sat 09-Aug-08 20:08:21

I ask this from a psycology basis as I know that children who are attached are said to grow up with greater levels of confidence and self esteem.

When I look at my nct group the kids have varying levels of attachment - they are all 3 now.

One screams and tantrums if mum tries to leave the house to go out for anything e.g. trip to the shops, gym or a social night out. This includes hanging onto legs and sobbing uncontrollably. Also if child hurts self by falling over no one else can touch them to comfort them.

Then the other extreme is child not unhappy if parents leave. Happy to go to others for spontaneous cuddles etc.

Any views?

Anyone with a psycology background who can explain differing views.

How do you get a successful attachement to/from your children?

thisisyesterday Sat 09-Aug-08 20:14:09

I think it totally depends on the child.
I have parented both my boys in exactly the same way. I have always gone to them when they needed it. I wouldn't say I was a true AP style parent, but I guess I lean towards it in a lot of ways.

ds1 is totally independent. never a backwards glance if I left the room. happy to be left with anyone.

ds2 is clingy. super-clingy. there are times when I can't even leave him with dh.

So, I don't think that there is a specific way of getting an attachment to/from your child. I let my kids know that whenever they need me, I am there. they do what they will with that knowledge. ds2 obviously needs me more than ds1 did at the same age, which is fine

HonoriaGlossop Sat 09-Aug-08 20:35:12

I think what you're talking about with the playgroup example is not attachment.

the child who is not unhappy if the parents leave, is no doubt as attached as the child who is clingy. What this is, is children's behaviour you're looking at and it doesn't tell you anything about attachment IMO.

mylittlemonsters Sun 10-Aug-08 01:53:14

Okay so what does tell you about attachment then?

Desiderata Sun 10-Aug-08 02:03:39

A child who displays 'attachment' behaviour so early, is not necessarily attached to the parent.

In other words, in later life, it will bear no significant relevance. A clingy child will fear change, and will always fear change throughout adult life.

It has nothing to do with overwhelming love, but but overwhelming fear.

mylittlemonsters Sun 10-Aug-08 02:07:02


I remember on the program 'Child of out Time' they did a test for attachment and it was the main carer going out of the room and whether or not the child got upset when they realised.

Isn't this the same as the child not wanting thier parent to leave?

Desiderata Sun 10-Aug-08 02:15:53

Well, if you want to parent via BBC1, then draw your own conclusions.

From a lifetime of studying children in a non-academic way, I can honestly say that the attachment problem does not significantly colour the grown child.

All children have their quirks. But I think it's important to remember that the task of a parent is to raise a child who is happy to leave them.

If you have a clingy child desite your efforts, than that's just nature.

If you have a clingy child because of your efforts, then it's nurture. And one should question that.

mylittlemonsters Sun 10-Aug-08 02:26:02

No don't parent using BBC1 although do find the program very interesting.

I posted this question because I was searching for a book on amazon and stumbled across Bowlby who is apparently the guru on attachment theory.

The synopsis of the books doesn't tell you anything useful. But it got me thinking about the differences in parenting styles and the implications of attachment on parenting styles.

Clearly I don't know what Bowlby said but would be interested.

Your views on the child who is fearful of parent leaving is interesting. It could be nuture becuase the behaviour is reinforced - the parent stays, but what would happen if the parent didn't stay?

mamiguay Sun 10-Aug-08 07:23:27

I only remember the outline of what I learnt studying psychology but iirc you have

Secure attachment - the child is happy and content with mother in room, feels confident to explore including approaching other adults, returning to mother as base for reassurance. If mother leaves room child may be upset but allows him/herself to be comforted by mother on her return.

Insecure attachment - Avoidant - child avoids efforts of mother to comfort him, moving away etc this child tends to show less distress when left by his mother, less bothered when she returns

Insecure attachment - Resistant - child resists efforts of mother to comfort him, tries to climb out of arms etc - this child tends to be very distressed when left

Insecure attachment - Disorganised - jumps from one kind of behaviour to another, doesn´t know how to act

mamiguay Sun 10-Aug-08 07:26:30

and if you follow attachment theory then yes, the form of attachment a child has with it´s primary caregivers is extremely important in a child´s growth.

That is not to say a clingy child is insecurely attached, I don´t think. Children obviously have their own individual temperaments, it is more about their relationship with their parents, how they use them as a source of reassurance and comfort and how they allow themselves to be consoled when they need it.

kitbit Sun 10-Aug-08 08:05:53

Even the most attached child can experience separation anxiety, which muddies the waters a bit. ds has always been very attached, but confident and happy to go to others. However he has periods when he gets distressed if I'm not around (I'm talking a couple of hours, not if I'm just in the loo or something). We work from home so he's always with one of us while the other is in the office, so if he gets clingy for me we swap and he settles. Likewise for dh who he is equally attached to.

AbbeyA Sun 10-Aug-08 08:22:22

A lot of it is down to personality. My middle DS always found it difficult to go away from home or start new things. I never made a big deal out of it-just collected him- and now he is fine. I think it is good to be able to leave them with other people like grandparents so that they feel comfortable; like a second home.If you don't allow them to be looked after by anyone else then there might be real problems if you are suddenly taken ill and carted off to hospital etc.

kayjayel Sun 10-Aug-08 08:55:46

Attachment from a psychology point of view (i.e. Bowlby) is not really what you see at the point of separation, but at the point of reunion - the avoidant, reactive categories relate to child's behaviour towards the parent when parent returns. So the level of clinginess probably relates to some other factors as well.

Also age is a factor - the categories are based around behaviour of 1 yr olds.

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