Avoidant Attachment: What Does It Look Like, Its Types, & How To Prevent It
The first relationships a child ever forms are with their parents or caretakers. Those first few years of a child’s life can have a long-lasting impact on their future well-being.
Growing up with warm and loving parents, a child is more likely to form healthy and secure attachments with them, however, a child may form an unhealthy and insecure attachment if their parents are emotionally (or physically) unresponsive to their child’s basic needs.
With a secure attachment, a child can learn to better regulate their emotions, gain self-confidence, and learn empathy for others. On the other hand, in an insecure attachment, a child may not have access to such benefits and may face challenges in their future relationships.
In this blog, we’ll be exploring one of the four attachment styles, avoidant attachment, what causes avoidant attachment, its types, and how you can prevent this attachment style from developing.
What Is Avoidant Attachment?
Avoidant attachment is when parents/guardians are emotionally insensitive or unavailable to care for their child’s basic needs. Children have an innate need to be close to their parents/guardians and not getting the closeness they crave can make them suppress their emotions or avoid making any outward affections.
Children that grow up with avoidant attachment may learn to become independent quite early, both emotionally and physically, and might stop seeking affection from others.
What Causes Avoidant Attachment?
Parents usually feel overwhelmed and confused when it comes to fulfilling their child’s emotional needs. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, parents might close themselves off and avoid addressing their child’s needs. In many cases, a parent might even distance themselves from their child when the child comes seeking affection.
An avoidant attachment example can be; an avoidant parent might discourage their child to display emotions such as being outwardly cheery when the child is happy or crying when the child is feeling sad.
Some common causes of avoidant attachment can be:
- Parents refusing to acknowledge their child’s distress
- Parents actively repressing their child’s outward display of affection or emotions
- Parents becoming angry when their child expresses distress or fear
- Parents mocking their child’s emotions
- Parents lacking empathy or understanding of how to support their child
- Parents lacking a sense of commitment
- Parents with an attachment disorder
Signs Of Avoidant Attachment
When a child grows with an avoidant attachment style, they may display little to no signs of closeness, affection, or comfort with others. These children may want to be near their parents but would not actively interact with them and may reject any physical contact or affection with them.
A person with an avoidant attachment may show signs such as:
- Avoiding emotional connection in relationships
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Coping with distress on their own
- Repressing emotions
- Avoiding talking through and preferring to sulk
- Having a fear of rejection
- Being self-sufficient
- Having high self-esteem but a negative view of others
- Being focused on their needs more than those of others
Avoidant Attachment In Adults
People who grow up with avoidant attachment are extremely self-sufficient and independent. These individuals are often uncomfortable when it comes to intimacy and might be commitment-phobes.
Avoidant adults might frequently complain about feeling suffocated when others try to get close to them. They might also believe that others are trying to control them.
Adults with avoidant attachment have high self-esteem but have low emotional regulation. They avoid opening up to their friends or partners and may depend on themselves in times of distress.
In relationships, avoidant adults tend to remain in control and might always have an exit strategy ready.
Is This Attachment Style Preventable?
Yes, there are ways you can prevent avoidant attachment. To ensure your child forms a secure attachment, you need to make sure that you meet your child’s emotional needs, first and foremost.
This includes being affectionate with them, talking to them about their feelings and emotions, picking them up when they’re in distress, not mocking them if they cry, etc.
If you find yourself unable to foster a secure attachment style, you can always seek help from a therapist. A professional can help you understand positive parenting styles and how to form secure attachments with your child.
Insecure attachment styles or intergenerational attachment styles can be changed with the right support and effort.
Therapy can help resolve issues that parents face such as:
- Understanding their attachment styles and childhood narratives
- Understanding their emotional needs before addressing their childs’
- Learning to form better and secure bonds with others
Therapists, in these settings, often work alongside children and parents together.
Secure attachment styles can help form beautiful relationships but insecure attachment styles can prevent healthy and fruitful relationships from succeeding. A child learns to form relationships in their early years and parents play a huge role in that aspect.
With the right expression, actions, and behaviors a parent can shape their child’s attachment style.
It’s OK if you feel overwhelmed or anxious by your child’s needs and it’s OK to take a breather now and then but remember that distancing yourself from your child is not going to help, instead it’s going to create a challenging future for your child.
I hope this article on avoidant attachment helps you understand how this attachment style forms, what causes it, and how you can prevent it. For more information, you can always connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is avoidant attachment style the one you can relate to? Let us know in the comments below!