Attachment and Its Role in Child Development


Children are born into a new world that presents many unique challenges. The only way they cope with the situation is through attachment to their caregivers and parents, which is a crucial indicator of their late childhood development. The way a baby interacts with the mother or father is critical as it determines how they will perceive the new environment. Attachment is the emotional closeness between the parent and the child (Hong & Park, 2012). Rapid brain development occurs during the first three years of life, and a child’s attachment to the caregiver or parent significantly affects this domain.

Moreover, the equality of attachment during infancy determines the child’s emotional, behavioral, physical, and developmental well-being (Newman et al., 2015). During times of distress, illness, or tiredness, children tend to seek contact and proximity to a particular caregiver to whom they are attached. Infants develop various types of attachment based on their interaction with the social environment. This paper will consist of a research summary, the significant points discussed in the three articles to be used, and a conclusion summarizing the ideas discussed and the recommendations for early childhood education (ECE). The first article by Hong and Park (2012) discusses how attachment affects child development generally. The second by Leblanc et al. (2017) discusses a specific type of attachment security. The third article by Newman et al. (2015) will address the relationship between attachment and early brain development. The research question is, “How can attachment affect a child’s development?”

Research Summary

Article 1: Impact of Attachment, Temperament, and Parenting on Human Development by Hong and Park (2012)

Attachment is a basic need for an intimate relationship between the parent and an infant. Hong and Park (2012) conducted a review to study how parenting practices affect attachment in child development and their interplay with the concepts of attachment theory. Children become more securely attached to contingent and responsive parents. Such children are always curious, self-reliant, and independent, and they grow into more competent and resilient adults.

Conversely, kids that do not experience an emotional bond with their parents or caregivers usually have a problem interacting with others and are always under-confident. According to Hong and Park (2012), the available longitudinal data suggests that one of the leading factors of psychopathology is attachment security in childhood. Even in benign circumstances, a child who was insecurely attached to the parent or caregiver may frequently become anxious, have lower levels of communication skills, and develop fewer social skills (Hong & Park, 2012). These increase their possibility of developing anxiety disorders in childhood and even adulthood. Children who frequently experience anger and boredom, are left to cry or are rarely spoken to are more likely to fail to develop their potential and stable personalities (Hong & Park, 2012). Therefore, the best way to ensure children’s excellent social and emotional intelligence is for caregivers and parents to be responsive and sensitive for optimal growth and development.

Article 2: Attachment security in infancy: A preliminary study of prospective links to brain Morphometry in late childhood by Leblanc et al. (2017)

Early attachment plays a critical role in children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. The brain development of kids is also affected by parent-child attachment relationships. Leblanc et al. (2017) aimed to study the link between brain morphology and parent-infant attachment during childhood. The quality of the connection between a mother and an infant significantly affects the volume and thickness of the brain’s gray matter (GM) in late childhood (Leblanc et al., 2017). Their findings indicated that children who experienced secure attachment to their primary caregivers during infancy had a larger volume of GM. Leblanc et al. (2017) described secure attachment relationships using competent exploration and dyadic emotion. Thus, a healthy attachment significantly affects brain development, specifically emotional, cognitive, and social functioning. Most maltreated children exhibit structural abnormalities because of their poor parental attachment in their infancy and early childhood (Leblanc et al., 2017). Therefore, to ensure appropriate brain morphology, the caregivers need to create an environment of adequate external regulation, particularly when the child experiences extremely challenging circumstances during their stage of exploration.

Additionally, social cognition and perception also play a role in the development of attachment relationships. Children adapt their attachment behaviors to effectively attain a caregiver’s proximity (Leblanc et al., 2017). This attachment behavior is described by the infant’s ability to recognize the caregiver’s face (Leblanc et al., 2017). Thus, better emotion recognition skills are closely related to higher attachment security levels during childhood, which affects brain development in the cognitive, emotional, and social domains.

Article 3: Attachment and early brain development – neuroprotective interventions in infant-caregiver therapy by Newman et al. (2015)

The neurological underpinnings of relational, psychosocial, and affective functioning are established during infancy. Newman et al. (2015) discuss the significance of early relationships and how they affect brain development, and the research integrates evidence from attachment theories. Rapid and significant brain development occurs between 0 and 3 years, and it is the period when core neurodevelopmental capacities are established, which later determine a child’s psychosocial well-being (Newman et al., 2015). The nature and quality of the interaction with the early primary caregiver shape the structural and functional networks because an infant’s brain develops in an interpersonal context. Late adulthood personality and cognitive development are determined by infancy experiences. According to Bowlby’s attachment theory, the infant’s relationship with the primary caregiver plays a critical role in their development (Newman et al., 2015). Therefore, there is a need to ensure secure attachment with the infant to facilitate emotional and psychosocial functioning.

An infant’s development and later socio-emotional functioning have been linked to the infant’s quality of early care. The way a child connects with the primary caregiver is a later relationship prototype (Newman et al., 2015). The mother provides a secure base for the infant to explore the world, significantly influencing inner working models, which affect cognition, perception, and relationships. This fact underscores the need to ensure secure attachment during childhood.

Conclusion and Application to Early Childhood Education

In summary, this research has presented the findings on how attachment affects a child’s development. During infancy, babies are closely attached to the primary caregiver, and they always look for attention or help during distress or illnesses in their exploration stage. When caregivers are responsive, contingent, and sensitive, infants become more securely attached to them. Such children always exhibit higher emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning. On the contrary, when there is an insecure attachment, the result is poor emotional, communication, and social skills. These children have a high risk of developing anxiety disorders because they were not given sufficient attention during infancy; thus, the quality of care determines the type of attachment and has diverse child development implications. Evidence has been presented relating brain development and the kind of attachment they had in their infancy. During the first three years, there is rapid brain development in cognitive, emotional, and social domains, and it is affected by parent-child attachment relationships.

From this research, it is essential to ensure secure attachment during infancy for positive child development outcomes. Thus, since attachment affects the child’s sense of self and others and how they relate even in later life, there is a need for primary caregivers to establish a solid mental foundation during infancy. Insecure attachment causes aggression and poor coping, problem-solving, and social skills. The implication of this research for early childhood education is that early action can mitigate long-term adverse outcomes due to insecure attachment. ECE educators need to understand how attachment affects child development in order to target their interventions to address the developmental problems they observe among kids.


Hong, Y. R., & Park, J. S. (2012). Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development. Korean Journal of Pediatrics, 55(12), 449–454. Web.

Leblanc, É., Dégeilh, F., Daneault, V., Beauchamp, M. H., & Bernier, A. (2017). Attachment security in infancy: A preliminary study of prospective links to brain Morphometry in late childhood. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1-13. Web.

Newman, L., Sivaratnam, C., & Komiti, A. (2015). Attachment and early brain development – neuroprotective interventions in infant-caregiver therapy. Translational Developmental Psychiatry, 3(1), 1-12. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Attachment and Its Role in Child Development." October 12, 2023.