Just think of the situation where you trap with those people who tortured you. How will you express your feeling at that time? It will be horrible for anyone. Similarly, Disorganized attachment is a situation where a child is dependent on the person who is also the source of his fears and distress.
Disorganized attachment is also known as disoriented attachment. This type of attachment style is generally found in those people who have experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from their caretakers or babysitter in their childhood.
Let us understand this term with some examples, a child will not want to stay alone at night, but his parent responds to him by ignoring his cries. Sometimes they respond to him by mocking his fear.
In one more example, a child might be afraid of his new caretaker, but instead of providing support, parents use some threats to get them to stop crying. In some cases, parent reassures their child but avoid physical touch and real connection.
Disorganized attachment is also a form of intergenerational parenting pattern. This means parents follow the same pattern as their parents followed when they were children.
Form of attachment in early childhood
When a baby is born, he makes his bonding with his caretaker, generally his parent. Initially, the baby is dependent on his parent. The child’s caretaker is responsible for fulfilling all his needs, including food, clothes, shelter, and emotional needs.
If they provide a sensitive response towards the child, the child ultimately builds a secure attachment and feels safe and secure in their presence.
After creating the first close bonding with his caretaker, the child learns to trust other people. A stable attachment is formed then. But in some cases, the child’s needs are not fulfilled, nor even emotional traits developed when the child needs their support and attention or response. So, the child is not able to form a secure bond.
After having such experiences, the feeling of insecurity developed, which often comes again even at growing age. So early attachment experiences do shape and create attachment styles. Hence the first social bonding with the caretaker will decide the way and behavior in the future.
Types of insecure attachment
- Anxious or preoccupied
- Avoidant or dismissive
- Disorganized or fearful-avoidant
Reasons behind the insecure attachment styles develop in early childhood
It is the response to mistuned parenting. Let us understand each type of insecure attachment.
● Anxious Attachment Style
If a child considers the parents as neglecting behaviour, he becomes over-reactive and wants to get more attention towards himself. This behaviour does not stop till his childhood, but later in his life, he needs more attention, even in his adult and teenage years.
Such children develop low moral and self-esteem and need assurance from their parents. This type of insecure attachment is an anxious attachment style filled with a strong fear of rejection.
● Avoidant Attachment Style
In this type, if the child thinks that his parent is not enough for his emotional need or is always rejected by his parents, the child has no more feelings for his parents. Now the child learns that he will no longer express himself in front of them, and at the same time, he will not entertain his parent.
In their teenage, these children are self-sufficient and independent. They haven’t any concern with others feelings.
● Disorganized Attachment style
In this type of attachment, the child can be identified by his behaviour. Especially social behaviour. This is the most difficult style in all the three attachments, according to a specialist who treats this problem.
Cause of disorganized attachment style
The disorganized attachment style is the result of childhood trauma or abuse. A child’s fear is the main reason which impacts the child’s overall development. The child’s survival depends on the caretaker, and because of this, the problem arises when safety becomes the source of fear.
If the caretaker behaved unpleasantly with the child, then the child can start fearing for their safety. In this type of attachment, the child does not understand what to expect. The child is in a state of confusion.
One more reason for fear is the bad experiences of children. For example, if a babysitter abuses the child in any terms verbally, physically, or sexually or the child witnesses such types of things.
So, the child no longer trusts anyone, especially the babysitter.
Activities of a disorganized attachment child
Parents can easily diagnose their child with such type of problem. Children who suffer from this problem may react differently. They constantly crave the attention of their surroundings, especially their parents.
If parents are attentive toward their child, they notice that their child responds with tears, some fearful activities, and avoidance. These children never leave their parents. They keep all tantrums to keep themselves with their parents.
Several theories and experiments have been done by some attachment experts to know more about children’s behavior.
The child with an organized attachment to his parent became upset and cried when his parent left him. But calms too when his parent soothes him or come back. Sometimes the child continued to cry and stick to his parent or even tightly hug them. To keep such a type of child is a challenging task.
The child is distressed whenever his parent leaves him and when they return. The child feared leaving his parent even for a few minutes.
Sometimes parents are responsible for increasing the problem in their children. Instead of keeping their calm and soothing temperament, they reacted angrily and in some threatening way. A few such activities are the followings:
- Yelling at child
- Laughing at his fears
- Sometimes respond and most of the time ignored
- Mocking the child in distress
- Briefly soothing and, at another moment, lose patience.
Treatment for the disorganized attachment
If you want to deal with the disorganized attachment problem between you and your child, you must seek help. Because such attachment may impact your child lifelong if not addressed promptly.
So, if you observe any activities and behavior of disorganized attachment in your child, you should contact a therapist; they can help you solve your parenting style, which leads to such problems.
They help you by introducing some tools which will help you to create strong and positive bonding in your family between you and your children.
Sometimes parents have no idea that they also suffered from many of the same problems in their childhood, leading to the same in their children. So, while consulting, only the therapists can solve and judge your past and present issues. The therapist will work individually with you and your children. They’ll help the parent and caretaker handle how they relate to the child.
Sometimes the therapist, parents, and babysitter worked together to handle the situation. This sort of child-parent therapy involves guidance and instructions from the therapist. Through this, the child himself keeps calm and soothing in distress situations.
The therapist will guide you on how much love and affection you need to treat your child. What is the appropriate response to keep your child out of distress? Individual therapy will work to develop such responses. Sometimes you need support from your relatives, friends, and partners. Let us know how we can prevent disorganized attachment.
How can we prevent disorganized attachment?
Prevention is better than cure; we all know this, so it’s better to keep preventing such issues in your children. It is sometimes difficult to treat, so it is better to prevent your child and keep him mentally fit. Parents should work with counsellors and take a few sessions about how to start their parenthood journey, either at the early stage of parenting.
There are various ways to preparing for fatherhood or motherhood before start a new journey of life
Developing healthy and positive parenting is an important part of preventing disorganized attachment. It depends on parents whether they want to take this as an easy task or whether they want to tangle their children in disorganized attachment.
It is unnecessary to pass on that behavior that parents got from their parents. So be sincere while parenting, and create an attachment with your children. No one can help you if your children suffer from disorganized attachment.
Q1. How to heal disorganized attachment?
Ans. Disorganized attachment is a style that comes in the child’s behavior when they feel insecure and unsafe by their babysitter. So, if any child is suffering from the same attachment style, it is necessary to consult the therapist. Parents should also take a few consultancies as you have a vital role in raising your children.
Q2. What are the signs of a disorganized attachment style?
Ans. Numerous signs indicate that your child is suffering from a disorganized attachment style. They react to gain more attention and focus from their parents. Whenever their parents left, they cried a lot and didn’t want to leave them.
Disorganized attachment is one of the insecure attachment styles. This reflects the specific way of relationships. This problem generally arises at the early stage of children but can impact for whole life.
This problem is the result of abuse and trauma in childhood. This can include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from a babysitter or caretaker. This style can be solved or healed with the help of an attachment therapist.