In recent years especially, attachment has come to be considered crucial to a child’s development;
both essential for the welfare of the child and defining for the life of the adult. Bowlby, the founder
of attachment theory, spoke of attachment ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Each developmental
phase, including adulthood, requires attachment.
Attachment involves a long-term, loving relationship in which the other is unique and irreplaceable
(Ainsworth, 1967). It is an enduring and uninterrupted bond. Attachment also implies reciprocity: an
interpersonal aspect. From the very first stages of life, there is reciprocity in the interaction between
the child and the caretaker; for example, in the way in which a baby will mimic his/her father or
mother. The experienced interactions between the child and his/her parents form the internal
working model of the child. This working model can be examined in order to offer a clear indication
of the interactions a child has experienced and the resulting manner of attachment of the child.
From the beginning, the child seeks the closeness of an adult. There is a willingness to attach. This
is necessary for the child’s survival. It is remarkable, however, that a child will not become attached
to the person who gives him food and drink, but will instead attach to the person with whom social
interaction occurs (Bowlby, 1984).
Recent studies (see literature) show that secure attachment has positive effects on social
relationships, on the mood, on being accepted and on the independence of (pre-) primary school
children. Secure attachment thereby results in a positive sense of self-esteem, both among children
and teenagers. Among teenagers, a relationship has also been found between secure attachment
and social relationships, friendships and the development of intimate relationships.