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Attachment Issues

Attachment is a key element in healthy human development, beginning with the formation of social, nurturing relationships at birth and transcending through the lifespan. When a normal attachment is interrupted humans hurt as their basic needs for secure relationship and caring are unmet.

Facts about Attachment Issues

Childhood attachment issues may develop as a result of any breach in the process of human connection resulting from (but not limited to) child abuse or neglect, primary caregiver (generally parental) “abandonment” through death or separation, or having excessive caregivers with inconsistent care or through institutionalization. Attachment issues also impact adults, especially those with a childhood history of loss or abuse who experience loss in connection with a significant person. Attachment issues may present in a variety of ways including depressed-anxious mood, difficulty with self-soothing and emotional regulation, difficulty with distress tolerance and impaired social skills.

  • Despite being a life-long illness, it is very manageable.

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Possible Causes of Attachment Issues

According to Families by Design:

  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Pre-birth exposure to trauma, drugs or alcohol
  • Abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • Neglect (not answering the baby’s cries for help)
  • Separation from primary caregiver (i.e. illness or death of mother, or severe illness or hospitalization of the baby, or adoption)
  • On-going pain such as colic, hernia or many ear infections
  • Changing day cares or using providers who don’t do bonding
  • Moms with chronic depression
  • Several moves or placements (foster care, failed adoptions)
  • Caring for baby on a timed schedule or other self-centered parenting

Symptoms of Attachment Issues


  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t smile
  • Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
  • Rejects your efforts to calm, soothe, and connect
  • Doesn’t seem to notice or care when you leave them alone
  • Cries inconsolably
  • Doesn’t coo or make sounds
  • Doesn’t follow you with their eyes
  • Isn’t interested in playing interactive games or playing with toysSpends a lot of time rocking or comforting themselves
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