How we approach relationships as adults has much to do with what our childhood relationships looked like with parents, or primary caregivers. According to the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby, there are four attachment styles: secure, avoidant, anxious, and anxious-avoidant with the secure attachment style being the healthiest and, typically, most successful.
Signs of a secure attachment style in childhood include:
-Demonstrating distress when separated from parent/caregiver but can be calmed down.
-Showing relief or joy when reunited with parent/caregiver
-Allowing the caregiver to console them when under distress
-Exploring their environment and taking risks, feeling comforted by knowing their caregiver will be there to support them.
Signs of a secure attachment style in adults include:
-Being able to self-regulate emotions
-Being able to cope with feeling or being alone
-Communicating and expressing when support is needed or emotional connection is
-Working through challenging times in a relationship proactively
-Knowing when to end a relationship or set boundaries when people they care about are emotionally unavailable
How to foster a secure attachment style in childhood and adulthood:
-Set routines and help child experience predictability
-Healthily express a range of emotions and illustrate the importance of feelings
-Encourage child to talk about emotions and feelings
-Set obtainable expectations to help build self-esteem
-Keep their word and follow through with what they say they will do
-Self-regulate their own emotions
-Actively work on relationship with yourself
-Purge toxic or counterproductive relationships
-Build your self-esteem
-Healthily express your emotions
-Work on healing past negative experiences in therapy