Attachment Theory Essay.

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Discuss the contribution of Attachment Theory to the Social and Emotional development of young children.

Child development is the changes which occur from birth untill puberty, in a biological, emotion and psychological sense. The events throughout this period plays a vital role in the behaviour and emotion of the child, therefore it is essential that the parents or parental figure acts appropriately around the child. Attachment can be defined as the affectional tie that a person or an animal forms between itself and another. Attachment is one of the key factors in correct emotional, biological and psychological development, and an incorrect application of attachment would result in various problems in later life for the child. It’s responsible for shaping our future relationships, shaping or possibly damaging our abilities to focus and relax and also shapes our ability to recover from misfortune. This has been proved by people such as John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and Jean Piaget among many others. In this essay, I will discuss the various experiments, ideas and opinions which have led to our understanding of the attachment theory and it’s relevant to our understanding of child development.

From the first day of a babies life, it starts to form relationships. It’s from the early months (approx 0-6) that a child will start to develop a relationship and begin to recognise faces, although the child will not begin to feel distressed if he or she is given attention from someone who isn’t the primary caregiver. The attachment begins to develop properly from the age of 7 months. This is when the baby will feel uneasy when put into the care of someone who isn’t the caregiver, even something as little as being held by a stranger. As the child develops, some may begin to direct attachment behavoir to more than one caregiver. These attachment figures are then arranged in a hierartical sense, with the primary caregiver placed at the top, followed by other caregivers such as relations, family friends and other familiar faces.

John Bowlby
Theorist John Bowlby was the pioneer for child devlopment in relation to the attachment theory. In his books, he described his outlook on the way children develop attachments to people from a young age. In his attachment theory, he stated that children become attached to people who show sensitivity and responsiveness to the child and anyone who interacts with the child on a regular basis. His arguement was that a child’s relationship with his or her primary caregiver, who traditionally is the mother, is like no other relationship and it is vital to develop a secure relationship or it will have massive negative impacts on the child’s behaviour and emotion. He introduced the idea of a child having an ‘attachment figure’, ie a person in which the child has a longlasting relationship with and is uniquely important to the child. He believed that a child should have direct and continous contact with his primary caregiver, usually a mother, for at least 5 years of its life.

He felt that an insecure basis of attachment between a child and its caregiver would massivly effect the child in the future. Repeated seperation from the attachment figure will intefere with the child’s willingness to enter into relationships in the future, therefore having an impact on social skills, job performance trust in a person(s). In extreme cases, children who do not feel like they have any form of solid relationship will adopt a ‘don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel’ mindset in which they become almost mutant in their outlook on relationships.

Bowlby examined the stages which a child goes through during seperation and came up with the following stages; • Protest- When the seperation first happens. The child will cry and scream in order to get attention from mother or caregiver. • Despair- The child becomes apathetic and quiet. The child is now used to the fact that the mother...
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