The Importance of Attachment

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Unit 14
Early Relationships play an important role in the development of children’s behaviours. Building relationships as early as possible is very important. One way of doing this is bonding. This happens in very early infancy and is critical to growth and development. Parents need to be aware of the importance of interacting and communicating with their baby from the earliest days. Bonding early shapes how the brain develops, this will later determine their health and wellbeing. This bonding will help them to be able to adapt to their surrounding and this will also impact on their ability to form positive relationships. For some children that are in care or from difficult families, their attachments may not be formed as easily as those who do not have the same circumstances. There are many theories that have evidence supporting bonding and attachment.

Mary Ainsworth and her colleagues were interested in studying the reactions of babies when the parents/carers left and returned to rooms. They came up with three different theories :

Anxious avoidant- The baby ignores parents and shows little sign of distress when the parent leaves, they continue to play. The baby ignores the parent when they return. The baby doesn’t like being alone but can be comforted by a stranger. These children do not show a preference between their main carer and a complete stranger. Research suggests that this may be a result of care that is abusive or neglectful. Children will not seek help and support from their carer if they have experienced punishment for doing so before.

Securely Attached- Baby plays while parents are present but shows visible distress when parents leave and they no longer play. The baby is easily comforted when parent returns and will continue playing. Baby will cry when alone because the parents aren’t there but can be partly comforted by strangers. These children are able to show independence and will react positively when their parents return. These children are confident that their parents will return and are also confident that their parents will provide comfort when they are in need of it and will approach their parents for reassurance.

Anxious – resistant- Baby is wary and explores the room less that other behaviour types but is very distressed when parents leave and will resist strangers attempt to comfort. They want immediate contact with parents on return but baby will show frustration and anger alongside clinginess for example wanting to be picked up and held but then immediately struggling to get down. These children are very distressed when left with strangers and are not easily comforted when parents return. This attachment style is fairly uncommon and research suggests that it is the result of the carer not being available to the child when needed.

Further research then when on to show that children who presented the secure attachment then went on to develop better intellectually and socially that the others. Ainsworth believed like Bowlby that the quality of the attachment the child forms depends on the quality of care from the main carer and how sensitive the parents and carers are to the child’s needs.

Another theory behind attachment and bonding is John Bowlby’s theory of attachment. Bowlby believed in something called “Monotropy” This is the theory that babies need to form one main attachment and that this relationship would be special and of more importance to the child than any other. Bowlby suggested that in most cases this relationship would be formed with the mother, but that it could be formed with the father or another person. This worked alongside his other theory known as the “Critical period”, he believed that babies needed to have developed their main attachment by the age of one year and that during the child’s first four years prolonged separation from this main carer would cause long term psychological damage. Bowlby believed that children “need parenting” and he...
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