Bonding and Attachment

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1. Define the following terms:
* Bonding – the basic link of trust between infant and caretaker. It develops from repeated completions: infant need> crying> rage reaction> parental action to meet need> satisfaction> relaxation. Successful bonding results in an infant acquiring a basic trust in others as responsive, in the world as a benign place, and in self as able to communicate needs.

* Attachment – is defined as a person-specific relationship that is dominated by affectionate interchanges. Attachment initially grows out of many instances of a young infant experiencing her parent as reflecting her emotional state. As a child grows, other mutually satisfying interactions add to the parent-child attachment.

2. Why is the quality of an infant's initial attachment important?
The quality of an infant’s initial attachment is enormously important for it influences all subsequent development. Attachment has been identified as playing a vital role in all of the following: maintaining the bonds of trust, attaining full intellectual potential, acquiring a conscience, developing relationships with others, identity and self-esteem, learning to regulate feelings, language development, and brain structures and organization of the nervous system.

3. Describe Attachment at the following stages of development: * First month of life – Experiences the surrounding environment. The basic developmental task is to achieve a physiological balance and rhythm.

* 2 – 6 months – Feels "one" with the parent. They start smiling, making eye contact, recognizing the parent’s face and making happy noises. By the sixth month, an attaching infant is showing the full range of emotions, is responsive to parental wooing and initiates wooing exchanges.

* 6 or 7 months – Develops stranger anxiety. Stranger anxiety testifies to the strength of an infant’s attachment to her parent. Behaviorally, this anxiety manifests as distress in the presence of strangers and a checking back in with the parent for reassurance.

* 9 – 10 months – Separation anxiety usually begins

* 10 – 18 months – The fundamental developmental task is exploring the world while refining blossoming motor skills. A child will go to the edge of her comfort zone and return to check in with her parent before venturing out farther.

* 15 – 24 months – Gives rise to wooing and coercion as well as shadowing and darting. Wooing is solicitous behavior designed to draw mother’s attention. * 24 – 36 months – Self-constancy is the child’s experience that she is the same person across different emotional states and situations. Object constancy is the child’s experience of others as predictable and available. Much of object constancy comes from a child’s mental images of others. Self and object constancy serve to quiet separation anxiety as well as strengthen a child’s ability to delay gratification and accept discipline.

4. What is Separation Anxiety? Describe the range of behavioral reactions to separation anxiety.
Separation Anxiety usually begins at 9 to 10 months, peaks between 12 and 15 months, and can last until somewhere between 24 and 36 months. Separation anxiety emerges from the infant’s growing awareness of separateness from her parent. It is yet further testimony to the strength of the infant’s attachment.

5. What can happen when the foundations for bonding and attachment are not laid by 36 months?
Not all children successfully negotiate these steps. The results can range from mild developmental delays to a diagnosable attachment disorder. The good news is that what work has been missed by a child can sometimes be "made up" later.

Bonding and Attachment -- When it Goes Awry
1. What are some of the risk factors identified as increasing the probability of attachment difficulties?
A number of risk factors have been identified as increasing the probability of...
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