From the time we are infants, we develop attachments to our parents, siblings, grandparents, and other children and adults. For most children, attachment behaviours develop normally where they feel safe and secure in their relationships. As a result, they are not afraid to form new friendships, express emotions, and build meaningful connections with others.
For other children, they have a much more difficult time developing such relationships due to attachment disorders. There are several different classifications and types of attachment disorders, largely based upon early childhood development and their initial relationships with their parents, brothers and sisters, and other close family members.
Children with these disorders find it difficult to express their emotions and connect with others. They develop a lack of trust in others, which leads to self-doubt and insecurities. They could exhibit anger or behave in such a manner where they are dictating control – regardless of whether the parents give in or not. In many cases, the children with attachment problems feel alone and isolated, and believe no one can be depended upon.
One of the more common types is called reactive attachment disorder. There can be several different underlying triggers, such as:
- Moving from one foster home to another.
- Being bounced around from one parent or relative to the next.
- Experiencing emotional or physical abuse.
Some of the typical early warning symptoms and signs to watch for in children that develop reactive attachment disorder includes:
- Developmental Issues – The level of their development is behind other children their own age.
- Anger Issues – From throwing temper tantrums when they do not get their own way to acting in passive-aggressive manners, anger can be expressed both directly and indirectly.
- Avoids Being Touched – Touch and feelings associated with physical forms of affection, like hugs, are perceived by the child as a threat. They will pull away, flinch, say they feel pain, or even laugh when touched affectionately.
- Underdeveloped Conscience – The child with reactive attachment disorder may not display signs of remorse, guilt, or regret after being disciplined for bad behaviour.
- Control Problems – The child feels they must remain in control and will behave in such manners to maintain this control. For instance, they might have a tantrum to sway their parents to do what they want. They can also act out and become defiant, argumentative, and disobedient.
- Problems Showing Affection – Children with this disorder find it difficult to show true affection towards others. In some cases, they may display few acts of affection towards those closest to them, while conversely, show inappropriate forms of affection towards complete strangers.
As the child ages, the symptoms will continue to become more pronounced and evident. In addition, if not treated with help from an experienced family and child counsellor, other patterns of either disinhibited or inhibited symptoms often develop.
To learn more about childhood attachment disorders or to book an appointment; please contact Bayridge Counselling Centre at 905-319-1488 today! We are here to help and have counsellors with expertise in assisting children, teens and families.