Four in ten babies do not have a secure attachment to their parents, says a new report.

Looking at 14,000 children in the U.S, the Sutton Trust study found that 40 per cent of infants lacked a strong bond with their mother and father. Of this group, 25 per cent were found to resist their parents when upset because their needs are ignored, and 15 per cent tended to avoid their parents because they were a cause of distress.

The report also found that children who did not form a strong attachment by the age of three were more likely to be aggressive, defiant or hyperactive as adults.

A strong parental attachment is gained through simple acts of parental care, such as picking up your child when he or she cries, or holding and reassuring your child lovingly when they are distressed.

“When helpless infants learn early that their cries will be responded to, they also learn that their needs will be met, and they are likely to form a secure attachment to their parents,” says Susan Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who studies children’s social and emotional development.

“However, when caregivers are overwhelmed because of their own difficulties, infants are more likely to learn that the world is not a safe place — leading them to become needy, frustrated, withdrawn or disorganised.”

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