Attachment Styles

We have learned that attachment occurs due to safety needs, but what if these needs were not met? In this discussion, you will consider attachment styles and potential outcomes when conditions are not ideal for attachment, as well as the interaction between attachment styles and temperament.

Sadie is a 10-year-old girl who has lived with a foster family for one month. She has been in foster care most of her life, having been removed from her biological parents’ care before she turned one year old. Sadie’s parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol and she spent most of her infancy in her crib or playpen, alone in her room. Sadie was exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero, although there are no known physical effects. It is unknown whether, in addition to neglect, she was abused sexually or physically. These are possibilities given her parents’ addictions and presence of multiple adults in her house at any given time.

Since Sadie’s arrival, her foster parents have noted several behaviors that seem odd. Despite her sweet personality, Sadie becomes angry easily. She hugs people indiscriminately, while at the same time pushing others away. At times, Sadie avoids her foster mother or seems unconcerned with her not being in the room. At other times, she becomes very distraught and cries frantically when her foster mother leaves the room. She has a difficult time interacting socially with the other children at school and has only a few friends. At the same time, she clings to her teacher, constantly hugging her, and even trying to kiss her. Although she has been provided with toys, books, and games, Sadie collects odd things such as used staples or the rubber pieces left over from pencils.

Tasks:    Based on your analysis of the scenario, in the Discussion Area respond to the following:

  • Describe the attachment styles identified based on the work of Bowlby and Ainsworth. Remember to use your book.
  • Explain why it is important to understand attachment styles.
  • Describe at least two developmental concepts involved in attachment that Sadie might have missed, given her behaviors. Include an understanding of concepts such as social reciprocity, imitation, and exploration.
  • Given her early isolation and multiple caregivers, describe important social development stages that Sadie may have missed.
  • Explain the concept of temperament. How might her temperament be described? How is temperament different than temper?
  • What protective factors might help her?
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