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Parent-Infant Attachment Styles

In studying infant-caretaker interactions, behavioral researchers have classified attachment styles into three main categories:

(1) 65%  of infants fall into the secure category. These infants had caretakers who were sensitive and responsive to their needs.

(2) 21% of infants fall into the avoidant category. These infants had caretakers who were rejecting and did not respond quickly to infant distress, seemed uncomfortable with close body contact, and were somewhat rigid and minimally expressive.

(3) 14% of infants fall into the ambivalent or resistant category. These infants had caretakers who sometimes engaged with their babies and other times were ignoring and insensitive.

Fortunate are those who begin life in a secure environment. That doesn’t mean the ego is home free in its growth. Even in the best of settings, periods of parental fatigue and stress interfere with parent responsiveness. Nonetheless, it’s important to know how research shows that infants of the secure category have a much better chance of growing up into emotionally secure adults. And it’s also important to understand that infants who fall into the avoidant and ambivalent categories will be more challenged in achieving an emotionally secure adulthood.

Do you feel confident and secure in your interpersonal relationships? Or do rigid and minimally expressive behaviors characterize how you relate to people? Or do you sometimes engage with others while at other times you ignore and dismiss what others are trying to share with you?

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