What Are Attachment Difficulties?

Attachment is the interaction or bond that forms between carer and infant. The type or style of attachment may differ from one person to another. Attachment forms a blueprint for future relationships that informs emotional and cognitive development. Childhood trauma or neglect can lead to the development of insecure attachments.

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Possible Signs of Attachment Difficulties:


  • Indifference to uncertainty – withdrawn/quiet
  • Denial re: Need for help
  • Rejection of help
  • Need for independance – self reliant
  • Hostility
  • Underachievement in school
  • Limited use of language
  • Limited interactions with peers


  • High level of anxiety to uncertainty
  • need for attention
  • High dependency
  • Hostility when not given attention
  • Poor concentration (preoccupied with gaining adult attention)
  • Language skills may be disproportionately more developed then other skills eg Literacy and Numeracy
  • Poor understanding of cause and effect – difficulty following rules and learning from consequences

Disorganised (Attachment Disorder)

  • Highly anxious – often masked by anger
  • Very sensitive to any form of ‘disrespect’ eg criticism or humiliation
  • Insensitive to others – lack of empathy
  • Difficulty in enjoying anything – poor sense of humour
  • Difficulty showing genuine care
  • Possible aversion to touch or affection
  • Highly reactive to disruption/distraction
  • Disproportionate reaction to triggers
  • Aggressive/disruptive behaviour
  • Poor concentration – hyper vigilant
  • Lack of trust in adults
  • May manipulate relationships
  • May display compulsive behaviours eg self harm or alcohol/drug misuse
  • Place importance on material objects
  • May want to try and control everything


  • Good concentration
  • Positive affect/mood (generally)
  • Trusting of others
  • Coping mechanisms and resilience
  • Social empathy



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