What is Attachment Security?

People develop and learn best when they feel safe, supported and seen. Attachment theory is the belief which argues that children and people who develop strong attachments and feel safe and supported by those around them (family, friends, peers, and school communities), will achieve better in all aspects of their lives.

Attachment is shaped from very early childhood. It is represented by the link between children’s survival instincts to live and their proper emotional development to the proximity of their caregivers. All children must feel safe and secure in order to explore. Close and trusting relationships are necessary for us to function independently.

There are various types of attachment, based on the way our relationships shape our development and well-being: secure, anxious and avoidant. Emerging research indicates that “attachment is dynamic and individuals have the potential for a range of attachment strategies. This means that an individual’s attachment pattern can change in response to particular relational contexts and that it can be intentionally cultivated towards security…” (5)

Science has shown that when we move or have people move away from us, the same areas in our brain are lit up as when we experience actual physical pain. Alarm bells go off when we experience unpleasant emotions. Our brain responds to this threat by sending glucose to our prefrontal cortex, which is the regulatory system for managing our feelings. When this happens, we are unable to learn. Our body is so busy bringing energy to calm down the system, that it doesn’t have energy left to learn or develop well.

Attachment security is restored (and the threat eliminated) when positive transitions-care actions create a safe environment for people in transition to:

  • Share their story

  • Feel supported through the challenges of mobility

  • Connect meaningfully across cultures and within a new culture

  • Continue building their story coherently while facing mobility challenges

The tellers and the listeners (Arrivers/Leavers/Stayers) are equally important in this and should be involved to the same degree.

(5) Siegel, D. (2023). Mindsight Institute Newsletter, Feb 8, 2023

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