“The message that the world is unsafe has a profound impact” - Psychotherapist on the danger of attachment disorders
Signs include extreme clinginess, poor eye contact, lack of affection and intense burst of anger.
Psychotherapist Helen Spiers has warned parents about the damage attachment disorders can have on children's future.
What exactly is an attachment disorder?
Spiers explained that many children develop attachment disorders because their parents or caregivers cannot meet their needs.
“Attachment disorder is when the insecure attachment is very severe, so we often see it in children who are in the care system or those who went through early abuse.
“It’s diagnosed when a child shows significant symptoms of having a poor attachment," she told The Sun.
The expert explained that developing an insecure attachment at such a young age can impact us as adults because it halts brain development. She shared: "The stress of not having our needs met requires so much energy that the brain can’t develop normally. The brain is too exhausted to create the neural pathways for ‘higher-level thinking’, so things like humour, empathy and self-awareness can all be lost."
“If a person has an attachment disorder, the message that the world is unsafe has had a profound impact on them."
She explained that people with attachment issues may struggle with understanding social cues, lack empathy, be too trusting and are even at a higher risk of mental health issues like depression.
But what can parents and caregivers do if their child has developed an attachment disorder? Spiers shared the warning signs you should take note of.
Signs to look out for
Signs include extreme clinginess, poor eye contact, lack of affection and intense burst of anger. They may also struggle to smile and can often bully or mistreat others.
Experts said children with attachment disorders often avoid people and refuse to engage with others. They can be withdrawn, listless and may have self-destructive behaviours.
These children are unable to bond with their caregivers and struggle to develop a personal attachment with them. Luckily, the disorder is treatable, but experts have stressed that early prevention is key.
According to verwellmind, "Most children with attachment disorders have experienced serious neglect, and often they have experienced trauma or frequent changes in caregivers."
Family therapy, social skills training and psychotherapy are all recommended treatments, but living in a stable, loving home is key too.
Introducing the children to positive experiences that they may not have experienced before can also be a huge help.
Spiers shared: "Children will not learn how to modify their behaviour through being lectured or told what not to do. By experiencing the success of doing something well and having it noticed, they’ll seek to do it more often."
Giving out or sending them to their room or naughty step won't help either. Spiers recommends talking to them calmly and encouraging them to spend time with our kids as this will help them develop social skills.