Symptoms of Attachment Difficulties

  • Inordinate desire for control – whether in a defiant or more passive way
  • Inability to give/receive genuine affection or other positive attention
  • Avoidance of eye contact on adult terms
  • Inappropriately demanding or “clingy”
  • Inordinate anxiety upon separation from parent/caregiver
  • Hostility to parents or loved ones
  • Superficial charm or manipulation
  • Indiscriminate friendliness
  • Poor peer relationships
  • “Crazy” lying or stealing
  • Lack of cause-and-effect thinking
  • Lack of conscience or remorse
  • Mood swings
  • Intense fear, sadness, or rage
  • Persistent nonsense questions/chatter
  • Learning or speech problems
  • Abnormal eating patterns and/or hoarding
  • Sexual acting out
  • Destructive or dangerous behavior
  • Preoccupation with fire, gore, or blood
  • Cruelty to animals or other children
  • Inappropriate bathroom habits

* It should also be noted that many of the above behaviors can occur in children who have other types of mental health issues, despite a relatively healthy attachment to their caregivers. An assessment is often needed to determine how these symptoms may relate to past trauma or attachment issues, or other factors altogether.

Children with these behaviors are extremely challenging to parent, even for experienced and highly capable families. Traditional methods may seem ineffective and parents often feel hopeless. Families may labor in love for years to seek the best for their child, only to feel that their child will not accept their love or love them in return.

In addition, since the children may seem charming to outsiders, their families are often misunderstood by their community and can feel very alone in their struggles. An approach that balances essential parent support and child treatment is foundational to effective treatment and ultimately healing for the entire family.