The Importance of Attachment
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 showed this through findings and research.
Simply meeting a child’s physical and care needs is not enough for healthy growth and development. Children need to have a main attachment in their early lives that will give them constant support. He also identified that children show distress when they are separated from their main carer and this is often referred to as “separation anxiety” he linked this with the fact adults that had been separated from their mothers in infancy would then go on to not be able to form deep and lasting relationships. This was known as “Maternal deprivation. ” Another theory was researched by a pair called Robertson&Robertson.
In the 1940’s they looked at the short-term effects of deprivation when parents were not allowed to visit their children in hospital as they were told that it would be too upsetting for the child. This meant long term periods in hospital formed a kind of deprivation for the child. The pair looked at how children coped with being separated from their mothers and carried out observations and filmed the reactions of the children. Children showed extreme distress when the mothers left with a great deal of crying. The children were unhappy and would not take part in normal play activities.
Finally the children would begin to play again but when their mothers returned thy either ignored them or rejected their attention. Robertson and Robertson came up with the idea that during the separation the children were very distressed and when they returned home they were less attached, less happy and less affectionate as they had been prior to hospital deprivation. This study had a big effect on hospital visiting hours which are now extended meaning parents can even stay in hospital with the children. The children are also prepared for hospital beforehand.
Many young children attend nurseries and day centres as part of their daily routine and there is now many studies into whether or not this is harmful to young children. Some studies show that good quality childcare is not damaging to the child if they have a close relationship with their main carers when at home. Michael Rutter was another psychologist that researched privation and the effects on children in care and adopted children. In the 1990’s many Romanian orphanages were understaffed and overcrowded, this lead many western families to adopt the children.
Rutter went on to look at the progress of some of these children that were adopted by British families. He compared these orphans with British children who had been adopted to compare the effects of maternal deprivation with privation from neglect. He discovered that initially the Romanian orphans had delayed development and were very underweight whereas the British Children were not. After four years the Romanian and British children’s development was the same. He concluded that children who have had early privation then receive good quality care will have better chance or healthy development.
However not all the Romanian children caught up in their development and the effects were more severe for the children who had spent longer time in care. Development of Attachment: Research into attachment has been a big focus to the media and a source of stress. This particularly to mothers who return to work after having a baby. It is very important that the carer and infant develop a strong attachment initially during feeding time and through the physical contact this brings to them both. This will also form when the child is being cuddled, changed and washed.
The bond will also depend on how sensitive and responsive the carer is. It has been shown that carers that respond sensitively to the children’s needs in different situations such as crying feeding and play. This will then allow the attachment to be secure. There are many practical ways attachments can be helped in forming. Feeding: This moment when the baby is being fed is special as the baby is relaxed, secure and comforted into the adult. It is very important that during this time the adult focuses on the baby. In some settings they ensure good practice by using the same adult to feed the baby.
This will help an attachment to be made. Many parents may talk softly, stroke their baby’s cheeks or head and make eye contact. These behaviours should be copied in early year’s settings. Sensitivity and Responsiveness: The way a parent or Key worker responds to a child seems to be one of the strongest indicators of a strong attachment bond. The adult is tuned into what the baby wants and this means that they can recognise the different types of cries easily and can quickly interpret what the baby wants and needs. Physical Contact: Attachments are also reinforced by the handling of the baby, by cuddling omforting and rocking the baby these are obvious ways parents and key workers can respond to the baby. A lack of physical contact can be damaging for babies so it is considered as good practice for those working in early years settings to spend time responding physically to young children. Time and care-giving: Parents and carers are recognised by babies but they still need to spend time with them to build and attachment. Research has shown that responding to the child’s physical needs only does not necessarily guarantee attachment.
This could happen simply by passing a toy to a child who is pointing towards it and other things such as bathing and washing. There are four indicators that will present that a child has made a secure attachment, either with carers or in early years settings, here are the four indicators: *The baby will be actively seeking to be near the other person *Crying or showing visible distress when that person leaves or is no longer visible *Showing joy or relief when that person appears or returns. * Awareness of that person’s presence for example looking up at them, responding to their voices and following their movements.
Factors affecting children’s behaviour: Transitions: This means a change from one situation into another for example going from year 6 at primary school into a much larger school as a year 7. A child may feel scared, worried excited angry or uncomfortable whilst going through this change and this will affect their behaviour. The child may behave in a way that’d unlike them normally. They may be distant from the rest of the family showing signs in their behaviour such as not leaving their room, not sitting with the family at meal times etc.
A child struggling with this change may also not want to go to school; they may complain of illness or may even bunk off school without parents knowing. Being Bullied: Many children will experience this and it can affect children in different ways, some more extreme than others such as taking their own lives and self harm can be results of bullying. In some less extreme situations children may act differently. They may not want to attend school or may fall behind in class as a lack of concentration or from being upset.
Bullying happens at different ages and children will react differently. Children may go through bullying of different types such as younger children could be verbal and being left out and older children may begin to go through cyber bullying. The children may feel alone during this time and will not reach out to anyone as they are embarrassed. It is important parents can recognise this sometimes it may be difficult than others but the sooner you can react the better. Children should be monitored when using the computers i. e. ocial networking as this is a big place for younger children that will become venerable to bullying. Living in a reconstituted family: It is very popular in today’s society for families to be made up of different parents such as step parents half brothers and sisters and even grandparents living in family homes. Reconstituted means a family has been broken up and put back together in a different way to make a new family or this could even be two different families. In these families there is at least one child who is not the birth child of both adults.
Parents may separate or divorce and they may meet another partner and create a new family. Many children now live with step siblings and parents and half siblings. This can majorly affect a child’s behaviour. The child may feel left out and even replaced. Some parents may not see their birth children as much as the step children they live with. The children could become jealous and try everything to prevent the parents being together. Younger children may react worse such as biting and kicking their step siblings as they may not understand as much as older children.
They may feel as if their house has been taken over and will not want to share or spend time with the other children. Older children may argue with the other children and use louder voices and aggressive behaviour towards the siblings or parents. Puberty: Puberty is when the body is beginning to go through a change and this happens at different ages, children as young as 9 can go through this. Children will begin to grow, they will grow hair in places that they are not comfortable with. They will also grow taller and girls will begin to grow breasts.
Boys will have deeper voices this will happen to children at different ages. Some children will not experience this until they are older and may feel left out or “not normal” if other children are going through it. The child’s hormones will be unbalanced and this can cause mood swings. The children may want to be left alone during this time but it is important you explain that you are there for them if need be. Girls may begin their menstrual cycle and this can be a very confusing and embarrassing time.
This may affect younger children in a negative way as they may not understand what is happening to them, older children will have the understanding as they will be learning at school and parents may be talking to them getting them familiar with puberty. The children may behave aggressively towards parents if they haven’t received the support they needed during this time. Having a communication difficulty: Children may have difficulties communicating this could be through different ways such as; Hearing difficulties, speech and language and even sight difficulties.
The child may struggle during this period of time if the need is not recognisable. The child may feel ignored and will easily become frustrated. The child will not feel comfortable and will be upset if their needs are not met. Children may not achieve academically if they are not supported with their needs. Younger children may not be able to express how they feel so will refuse any support for a while whereas older children may act aggressively towards the help. Over critical parents: Some children may live in families where the parents are very hard to please and will criticise whatever the child does.
The child will be seen as not good enough for the parents. Children thrive on praise and recognition and research has shown the more of this apparent in children’s lives the more likely they are to do well and have top paid jobs and good education. The children that have little of this will feel upset that their parents are ashamed of them. Whatever they do is not good enough so will not put effort into doing good things and may turn this into negativity and rebel against the parents.
Older children may Sercombe to peer pressure such as drugs and alcohol and shop lifting. This may be their way of receiving attention from their parents. Although the attention is negative it is still need by the child who will continue doing these bad things. Many parents will be strict with the children and push them into doing things they do not want to do but the parents will thrive off of this. Children may not be congratulated for exam and test results so will feel as if they are not important and will eventually not do their best in them.