Table of Contents
Attachment disorder can be related to mean mood, poor social relationships or behavior disorders. This disorder arises as a consequence of lack of healthy attachment to caregivers in early childhood and results in problematic behaviors and social expectations for the rest of life (Cohn, 1990). Failures may result from unusual early neglecting, abuse and abrupt separation from potential caregivers after six months and before three years of life. They might also be caused by rapid changes in caregivers’ lives and lack of attention to child’s communication efforts. Similarly, a social relationship’s history of sad experiences at the age of three may cause distress to a child but cannot cause attachment disorder.
Attachment disorder can also be used to describe behavioral and emotional problems faced by young children. However, the attachment is also applied to children within school age as well as to adults. The implication of difficulty is dependent on the individual’s age, and resulting behaviors in infants might be different, comparing to those of a familiar adult.
The first years of life are the years of needs and basic trust development. The child has some primary needs such as breathing, physical well-being, nourishment and shelter; caregivers are supposed to meet all of them. Infants express their needs through crying, which attracts the attention of the caregiver. The children learn about the safety of the world through interactions with the caregiver, which happens on everyday basis. These interactions are the sources for a trust and a sense of belonging developments. Emotional connections existing between the child and caregiver make the child feel empowered as he/she explores the environment (Siegel, 1999). Emotional connections assure the establishment of a secure baseline that generates child’s confidence and effectiveness while exploring the world. Logically, attachment is reciprocal, in that both the caregiver and the child create that deep and nurturing connection between them. Child can not develop the trust and secure attachment feelings by himself; these can only occur when two or more people are involved in child’s development. Attachment is vital for the development of the brain and emotional well-being. Its impacts could be felt emotionally, psychologically, cognitively and in terms of socialization.
Lack of primary attachments needed during the infancy makes children find it hard to form and sustain loving and intimate relationships in the future. Children should develop a partial ability to believe that the world could be a safer place and that they would receive care as well as protection from others. Lack of trust makes children grow believing that they have to be regressive as far as their safety is concerned. Consequently, their perception about safety makes them reject any form of care or love expressed by other people. They also develop senses of demanding and controlling as a method of managing fear. Moreover, they develop a feeling of suffering if they do not monitor the world..
Children, who lacked proper care during their first years of life, possess high levels of stress hormones, which greatly affect the way for important brain and body aspects development. Development of conscience is dependent on the development of the brain and tends to follow the development of attachment feelings. As a result, these children become deficient of social values and morality as they demonstrate disruption, aggression and antisocial characteristics.
Theories of attachment
From 19th century to date, psychiatrists and psychologists have came up with theories intended to explain the existence and relationships nature. One of them is the Freudian theory, which has little to argue concerning a child’s relationship with the mother (Turner, 1996). The theory states that the love object between the two is mother’s breasts. The theory presents children attempts to be near the person, they are familiar with, and the role of social relationship in development. Another theory of attachment was named a dependency theory. It states that children are dependent on caregivers, but tend to overgrow it as they progress age wise. Attachment behavior in this case would be perceived as regressive. The theory also underlines that older children and adults tend to hold their attachment behaviors and display them during stressful situations.
In terms of diagnosis, there are two theories of attachment disorder. One of them is a scientific enquiry, and is described as a reactive attachment disorder, inhibited and disinhibited attachment disorder. A comparison of both inhibited and disinhibited attachment types is referred to as reactive attachment disorder. The second one relates to pseudoscience, which makes claims that are controversial in relation to the basis of attachment theory.
As demonstrated earlier in this discussion lack of attachment causes disorders in children. This is applied for the ages between six months to three years. Disruption of connection development can be caused by various factors. One of the factors is premature birth, which happens after pregnancy period is cut short. Children born before their time usually have health issues and are subjected to special treatment. This treatment is intended to enable successful growth of the remaining body systems, thereby facilitate normal growth of the child in the long run. This period provides for a child, trying to fight for life, in terms of health; thereby having no chance to focus on development of social interactions. The age when children get attached to their caregivers is spent for a recovery of body system underdevelopments. Therefore, attachment is considerably impossible.
The second factor causing attachment disorder is separation from the birth mother. This happens sometimes, and the child is left with a third party. Sometimes child is left for a person with no blood connections. People tend to be reluctant when child they take care of is not their own. This is because there is limited motivation on the inner level: a feeling that the child is not important. When this happens, children tend to lack full attention from their caregivers and hence personal attachment is disrupted. Psychological, behavioral and emotional developments are hindered if the child is left to form his/her own life perception. Such children become antisocial, and they tend to have hard times experiencing attachment feelings, such as love. Therefore, they grow up being independent as they from effective defense mechanisms such as introverted attitudes. They fight hard to secure a place in the social setups since they develop alienated feelings of care.
Another factor that leads to attachment disorder is depression that occurs after mothers’ postpartum. The process of giving birth might sometimes be complicated depending on the kind of pregnancy. Some mothers experience various obstacles as they go through the process of giving birth. Clinical depression usually occurs after childbirth and can even affect men at some point. The rate at which women risk to have a clinical depression ranges between 5% and 25%; while men suffer of it at the range between 1.2% and 25.5%. This depression takes place after women have carried a child. Symptoms may include sadness, reduced libido, fatigue, changes in patterns of sleeping, anxiety, crying episodes and irritability. However, causes of postpartum depression have not been fully discovered. Support groups and counseling are treatments used to recover patients. Parents who suffer from this depression have less time to spend with their newly born children (Urban, Carlson, Egeland & Sroufe, 1991). This means that the initial attachment between the child and the caregiver is lacking. Thus children find it hard to learn some behaviors and other emotional orientations from their mothers since she is not available full-time. Mothers suffering from this depression spend most of their time being nursed by counselors. Therefore, it is hard for them to balance between their therapy and child care.
Another factor causing attachment impairment is a presence of multiple caregivers. A child can experience multiple cares from distinguished people. These caretakers are not the same in terms of behaviors and character. In this case, children find themselves in a dilemma of choosing a role model to imitate that leads to severe confusion. The attachment that is supposed to develop between the infant and the caretaker is hindered by this confusion. Likewise, a child has multiple immature connections with either side, which are not strong as required. Hence, the attachment obtained by such children is impaired. Other factors that might also lead to this attachment include hospitalizations, unresolved pain, painful medical procedures, insensitive parenting, unwanted pregnancy and abuse in the first years of life. These factors jeopardize the existing natural relationship between the infant and its mother and, therefore, attachment becomes difficult. Abused children suffer from trauma and depression, which affects their social life. Their interactions with caregivers are hindered making it difficult for them to adopt healthy psychological, emotional and behavioral characteristics.
Environment is another contributor to the attachment disorder. Children brought up in poverty, violence, and high stress stricken areas are prone to this disorder. Poverty commits the parents or caregivers to economic activities aimed at stabilizing their financial status. This is still part of care giving as children have numerous financial requirements. Violence turns some children into orphans while parents are left sick or injured. Therefore, if cases of poverty or violence are present in child’s external environment, the personal connection between the child and the caregiver can be severely damaged. As a result there will be no strong attachment developed and hence behavior adoption will be restrained.
The disorder is known to affect almost all children’s functioning. Children may display a number of symptoms such as:
- Behavior-aspects include being destructive, defiant and oppositional, steal and lie, abusive and aggressive, hyperactive, irresponsible, cruel to animals and dangerous with fire setting.
- Emotional factors include sadness, intense anger and temper, being moody, hopeless and depressed, etc.
- Negative thoughts and beliefs concerning life and relationships.
- Being manipulative in all kind of relationships, lacking trust, love and intimacy, etc.
- Physical aspects include tactile defense, poor hygiene, accident-prone and high pain tolerance.
- Moral/spiritual symptoms: lack of companionship, faith, remorse and identification social values with evil.
These symptoms are characterized by individuality and self-satisfaction factors, which leave a child independent. When any of these symptoms are detected within child’s behavior, there is great urgency to visit a doctor for therapy, because these behaviors cannot be allowed as it may only worsen a child’s overall psychological state. In case the disorder is not suppressed and left to proceed till adulthood, symptoms also develop to more complicated stages. Therefore, it is vital to seek therapy as soon as attachment disorder is detected.
Treatment of attachment disorder is very eclectic, multidimensional and involves various mechanisms. One of the mechanisms used to treat this disorder is psychological counseling. Parents may seek for a psychology counselor to guide a child trough the treatment of the disorder. Psychology counselor can provide a decent support for both parents and their child suffering from the disorder (Weinfield, Sroufe, Egeland & Carlson, 1999). It is noticeable that the existence of this disorder in a child is very stressing for other family members. As such, a psychology counselor should first offer his services to family members to help them deal with stress that comes with this disorder. This involves teaching the parents about all aspects of disorder and what to expect from it. When the child is being counseled, parents should be encouraged to be present during sessions. Their presence helps them gain some skills that may be useful when the counselor is absent. The inclusion of parents into counseling sessions for the kids is based on the rationale that parents are in contact with the infant almost all the time, and, thus, effective treatment of the disorder relies on how parents help to treat it.
Parents should be taught parenting skills as a one way of treating their kids. This is because current parenting skills possessed by the parents may not be able to help coping with the problems caused by this disorder. These skills include effective, healthy communications with the kid affected, empathy, sensitivity and ability to manage kids’ emotional state. Moreover, they are taught to ensure that children are responsible, accountable for their actions and reciprocal in their actions in response to others. Using these support techniques parents are able to guide their children through coping with a disorder period and consequently improving its condition.
Signs and symptoms of this disorder that include stress, hyperactivity, anxiety and depression are usually corrected through medication by health care providers. This medical treatment is very important as it bases the foundation upon which other methods of treatment, such as counseling, are based.
Identification of an attachment disorder is crucial for the proper treatment to be sought and implemented before the condition is too severe. An evaluation, therefore, is needed to determine the existence of the disorder. This disorder can be determined by establishing around the fact that child has signs of inappropriate relationships with society, which are connected to development at an early age before the fifth birthday (Wanner, Grossmann, Bombik & Suess, 1994). However, this sign must be precisely evaluated to ensure that they are not caused by the development delay. Secondly, signs such as being extremely friendly with strangers and not being in a position to initiate social interactions can be used as indicators of existence of attachment disorders. The third criterion in evaluating attachment disorder in children is determining whether parents or caregivers are able to provide affection and comfort. Moreover, the nature of the disorder should be evaluated on the basis of analyzing any particular time when parents of caregivers had failed in their duty to meet physical needs of their child. Children who do not find comfort in caretakers may develop a coping mechanism of maintaining a distance from people. Frequent changes in caregivers who initially made contact with the child can be a cause for an attachment disorder and should be evaluated to ascertain whether it is a primary cause of the disorder.
Attachment disorder and class concentration
A student diagnosed with attachment disorder is antisocial and practices independence. This means that the child will do his/her things alone without seeking help since he has distorted feeling of care. Children with depression and trauma caused by attachment disorders might also suffer from attention deficit disorder: they will have their minds out of the classroom while their body is still inside. Some of them become regressive and, therefore, it’s hard for them to follow instructions in class. Similarly, students diagnosed with this disorder tend to disobey established rules in class. They are resentful and annoying with their intentions. Therefore, they are not likely to relate well with other students as well as teachers. Such students will not participate actively in learning activities, e.g. group discussions, teamwork, etc. Generally, students with attachment disorder will have difficulties coping up with others in a class setting and therefore, they will have problems acquiring learning processes.