How Caregivers Impact Attachment Styles

Mother and baby

Last week I shared the four attachment styles. In that post, I promised to share more about how a person’s attachment style develops. So, here we go.

dad and baby


Secure attachment is the gold standard attachment style. As mentioned last week, a securely attached person can

  • trust and be trusted,
  • love and accept love, and
  • get close to others with relative ease.

According to some experts, there are five necessary conditions for raising a child with secure attachment. These conditions are

  1. The child feels safe
  2. The child feels seen and known
  3. The child feels comfort, soothing, and reassurance
  4. The child feels valued
  5. The child feels supported to explore

mom and baby


Caregivers who “flip flop” create people with an avoidant attachment style. Specifically, a caregiver who “flip flops” may be nurturing one minute and unavailable or insensitive the next. To be clear, this does not mean that the caregiver’s inconsistency is intentional. Nevertheless, such inconsistency has been shown to lead to an avoidant attachment style.

dad and baby


Caregivers who “flip flop” also create people with an anxious attachment style. Again, a “flip-flopper” may be nurturing one minute and unavailable or insensitive the next.

unhappy mom and baby


This attachment style is often seen in children that have experienced trauma or abuse. Specifically, fearful avoidant attachment styles develop when a caregiver acts aggressively, chaotically, or bizarrely. It is important to note that this attachment style is seen in about 7% of the population. This is significant in my mind because it supports the idea that certain circumstances do not always create a specific attachment style. It also supports the idea that adult relationships can impact and influence attachment styles.

My key takeaways from all that I have read about attachment styles:

  • The first 18 months of a baby’s life are crucial in the development of attachment styles.
  • The more positive the caregiver is in responding to an infant’s emotional stress, the more secure the child feels.
  • If you cannot be at home full time, selecting a responsive caregiver is crucial.
  • If you are intentional and willing to work at it, you can change an insecure attachment style to a secure attachment style.
  • Our relationships with others can damage a secure attachment style.

Wondering what attachment style you have? Click here to take a short quiz. If you are anything like me, you want a second opinion. Click here if you want a second opinion.

Much Love,


Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

One thought on “How Caregivers Impact Attachment Styles

  1. Very interesting, I received secure attachment style as my result. I definitely always knew you supported me no matter what. I am also very physically affectionate, which I am sure comes from being very close with you as a little one. Great post!

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