Attachment in Children and Adolescents

Jean Mercer

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Attachment in Children and Adolescents

Show Summary Details


The term “attachment” is used to describe aspects of intense, intimate emotional relationships, with particular emphasis on parent-child interactions and the emotions children feel toward adult caregivers. Attachment is often defined as an emotional tie or a bond between two people, but these terms are metaphors that can cause misunderstanding, because in fact the relationship partners have differing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors toward each other. Attachment is more accurately considered as an attitude or readiness to behave in certain ways toward one or more specific people. The term as applied to children may refer to attachment behaviors, including the child’s preferring certain familiar people, approaching them when threatened, and using them as secure bases by returning to them while exploring an unfamiliar place, as well as showing intense and lasting distress upon sudden and long-term separation. All these develop between around eight and thirty months of age and are shaped by experiences with consistent, sensitive, socially responsive caregiving. Attachment may also refer to an internal emotional and cognitive state, the internal working model of social relationships, that reflects care experiences and underlies attachment behavior. Attachment behavior and internal working models change with age, but attachment behavior in early life is thought to be a predictor of attitudes and behavior in later relationships.

Article.  10672 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.