Attachment disorder: Early disruption can lead to lasting difficulty

Did your child experience:

  • repeated change in caregivers in his or her early years? or
  • caregiving that failed to meet his or her most basic emotional or physical needs?

Does your child show:

  • severe difficulties in his response or relationship to his caregivers now?
  • a lack of attachment or even basic regard for his caregivers?
  • more affection and warmth with strangers than with his or her parents?
  • guardedness or watchfulness even after years of good care?
  • positive emotional responses unpredictably combined with resistance to closeness and connection?

Your child may have an attachment disorder.

A child’s sense that he or she can rely on a caregiver to feel safe is so fundamental that when it is disrupted, the consequences can be severe and lasting. Even when the child is settled with caregivers who could provide this sense of safety, often the child cannot accept it fully. Many other difficulties can be present along with the attachment problem, including problems with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity and other problems with self-control, mood problems, and anxiety. Learning difficulties are common. Because these troubles are so apparent, the fundamental attachment problem is often missed.

You have come to the right place for help with your child’s attachment problems. We have decades of experience working with children with early disruptions, including published research on early attachment.


Kids with attachment disorders are complex. Unfortunately, some professionals may orient themselves to the most obvious symptoms of difficult behavior and miss more subtle signs of attachment failure. We have seen many kids with attachment disorders who have been misdiagnosed with ADHD or other behavior problems. This is a tragedy, because treatment for ADHD is very different from what is needed to address the attachment problem, and can even make things worse. At the NeuroDevelopment Center, you will have our long experience with attachment disorders to help you understand your child’s struggles. Learn more.


There are many ways you can help your child. With our attachment-focused family therapy, you can learn how to strengthen your child’s attachment and enduring connection to you, while maintaining clear and reasonable limits on difficult behavior. Depending on your child’s age, some individual therapy for your child may also help. Through school consultation, our team may be able to assist your child’s teachers.  Research and our experience with many kids has shown neurofeedback to be very helpful to individuals with attachment disorders. Learn more.

Parenting a child with an attachment disorder

mother and sonIt’s not easy to raise children with attachment problems. Children develop expectations of how caregivers will respond based on their early experience. These expectations or models can be very hard to change, even with new caregivers or change in caregivers’ responses.  So kids with problems in their early attachment relationships may have trouble connecting with caregivers, even when the caregivers are able to provide sensitive and responsive care.

Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers need close and comforting relationships with caregivers in order to learn to handle their emotions. They cannot do this on their own, but in connection with a caregiver. Over time, children learn to handle their emotions more on their own. Because of their difficult early experiences, kids with attachment disorders never developed their ability to handle or regulate their emotions on their own. Because of lingering distrust in caregivers, they are also unable to rely on them for comfort and support. So kids with attachment problems are subject to intense emotional storms and feel helpless and alone with them. They can be aggressive and oppositional with frequent tantrums, rages, or loss of self control. They may hoard food and be secretive and suspicious.

We can help. We will work together with you in attachment focused family therapy so that you can use the many opportunities in your daily life with your child to help him learn to connect with you and others, become more flexible, and to stay calm and cope with life.  We will also help you to better manage the stress of parenting and to maintain a strong partnership and supportive social network.  Learn more.

Learn more about attachment disorder

Get started now:

You can schedule your first visit with one of our psychologists to begin on your path forward. Contact us to provide some basic information so that we can select the right professional to address your specific concerns.
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Contact us now to assist you in finding the solution that is right for you.