CECW Information Sheet #37E. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work.
From infancy, children attach themselves emotionally and psychologically to a primary care provider. This attachment is a basic human need. A positive attachment—one of trust and security—results from the primary care provider’s consistent and satisfactory responses to the child’s physical and emotional needs. A harmonious sequence of responses between the child and the care provider establishes the basis of an individual’s internal working models for forming and sustaining relationships with other people.
Research has demonstrated that secure and selective attachment is associated with good outcomes in child development. Conversely, depriving the child of opportunities to develop a secure and selective attachment is associated with adverse effects in cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development. Several attachment styles have been identified along a continuum from secure attachment, through insecure and ambivalent attachment, to disorganized attachment.