What is the difference between secure and insecure attachment?

Early experiences with caregivers - both positive and negative, gradually give rise to a system of thoughts, memories, beliefs, expectations, emotions, and behaviours which are internalised and come to influence subsequent relationships.

A baby who experiences secure attachment learns to trust that the world is a predictable and safe place. During the attachment phase, if the infant experiences warm, close and consistent care, he becomes ‘securely attached’ and begins to use the caregiver as a safe base from which to explore. Between 30 and 36 months securely attached children should be able to tolerate longer periods of separation with minimal stress.

If the caregivers are inconsistent, various, absent or neglectful then the child’s attachment is likely to be ‘insecure’. Subsequently, the infant is often more clingy at 30-36 months, reluctant to move away from the attachment figure and explore his environment.