Four basic attachment styles have been identified through observing the reactions of young children. Although the child’s style can change due to new experiences and psychological development, they usually provide the general framework for relationships throughout the child’s life.
1. The Secure Attachment Style. These children view themselves as worthy of love and feel competent to obtain love when they need it. They view others as reliable, accessible and willing to respond to their needs. They seek out an attachment figure when they feel insecure and will act in ways that effectively meet their emotional needs.
2. The Avoidant Attachment Style. These children view themselves as worthy of love and competent to obtain it, but view others as either unwilling, unavailable or untrustworthy of providing for their emotional needs. They tend to withdraw into themselves, discount their emotions and rely on themselves for nurturing. Many times, they will value accomplishing things over developing relationships.
3. The Ambivalent Attachment Style. These children view themselves as unworthy of love or incompetent to get the caregivers attention, but view the attachment figure as capable of comfort and protection. They tend to throw tantrums or act out in order to receive nurturing but have difficulty receiving it when the caregiver attempts to help them and, sometimes, become angry at the caregiver. They tend to perform for others in order to please them in the hope that if they do well enough their needs will be met.
4. The Disorganized Attachment Style. These children view themselves as unworthy of love or incompetent to obtain it; and they view others as unwilling, unavailable or untrustworthy to give it. Because they exhibit both negative viewpoints and because this style is many times the result of abusive behavior, these children are confused in their attachment attempts. Sometimes they will even run to a stranger for safety. This is because, at times, they have experienced the attachment figure meeting their needs; and at other times, they have experienced rejection or abuse from the same attachment figure. They tend to be overly emotional and cycle between wanting to be close and avoiding closeness. (Clinton and Sibcy, pp 24-28)