Attachment to soothe and are not easily comforted. Early

 

 

 

Attachment and Early
Development

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The Importance of Early
Attachment

 

 

 

 

 

Kimberly
Hope

Professor
Dharni

Developmental
Psychology

Research
Paper

Attachment and Early Language
Development

 

The theory of attachment was
established through the works of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth
& Bowlby, 1991). Bowlby formed the basic views and ideology of the development
theory. Bowlby concluded that for children to develop mentally stable and
healthy, “the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, and
continuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) in
which both find satisfaction and enjoyment” (Bowlby, 1951). Bowlby also stated
that the relationship between the mother and infant has survival meaning and
contributes to the infant’s exploration into the world, “these interactions
lead to a secure attachment” (Bowlby, 1969, 1988). Ainsworth tested Bowlby’s
ideas and expanded on the theory.  Ainsworth
stated that attachment is the base for an infant’s development as well as the
maternal role and instincts of the mother and the impact it has on the
infant-mother attachment (Bretherton, 1985). Ainsworth research has shown the
difference in outcomes and thought patterns of secure and unsecure attachment
between caregiver and child.

There are three types of attachment-
secure attachment, insecure avoidant and insecure ambivalent. With secure
attachment infants are usually associated with sensitive, responsive and tentative
caregivers. Secure children are associated with having high levels of social
capability, and empathy (McLeod, 2008). Insecure avoidant infants for the most
part is considered unresponsive to their caregiver in a lot of ways and independent
(physically and emotionally) (McLeod, 2008). The third attachment is insecure
ambivalent (also called insecure resistant). The ambivalent behavior displayed
towards the attachment figure is inconsistent along with the caregiver’s
response to the child (the child’s needs taken care of or ignored). The child can
be clingy and dependent, and when in distress these infants are difficult to
soothe and are not easily comforted.

Early attachment sets the tone for
emotional and cognitive development, their social and

non-social
development, language development, and their level of sense-of-self. As it has
been seen with these study’s that children must engage with their caregivers to
develop communications and language acquisition. The fundamental basis of
attachment theory is that children can learn to interact and communicate
through interpersonal skills and communication. A child’s development is
influenced by the style and amount of interaction with their primary
caregivers, so when they are not provided with communication and interaction,
it has been found that the children become socially incapable, affecting
language development (Hart and Risley’s,1995). According to Hart and Risley,
the amount of language and vocabulary displayed by a child is related to the
amount of language and vocabulary exposed to. With language being linked to
attachment and their primary caregivers, the child’s environment plays a major
role. Developmental achievements of language and communication is a result of
social engagement, mostly influential within the first four years of life. Based
on the attachment theory and language development ideology, infants communicate
their physiological and emotional states through facial expression,
vocalization, body posture, and through signals. Communication is a gradual
process, it starts with sensorimotor, then moving to symbolic communication,
and then leading to words. With the increase of communication by routine and repetition
between infant or child and the caregiver, it gives the children more confidence
and anticipation of the daily activities.

This
all leads to a secure attachment. Of course, by the age of two a child’s communication
and language abilities develops much more rapidly. The more they learn to communicate
the better they learn to conversate about different topics. The first five years
of a child’s life is also known as the critical period, due to the development of
language. The importance of a parent-child relationship is linked to the
developing structure and function of the brain (Siegel, 1999).

Now that there is an understanding of
attachment and some the benefits it has, lets discuss the importance of
mother-infant attachment. According to Freud the experiences that occurr in the
first five years of a child’s life is the most critical period for the
development of personality, which as stated before it begins with the attachment
and bond between the caregiver and the infant. That bond between the caregiver and
the infant does not begin once an infant is born it begins during pregnancy, and
according to Ainsworth, attachment is form with that bond (Ainsworth, 1987). The
quality of a mother-infant bond is very vital in the development of a child’s personality,
social, emotional, mentality. There is long-term significance of attachment in
childhood aggression (Lyons-Ruth, Easterbrooks, Cibelli, 1997). One study used to
show this importance was the kangaroo care studies. Which is the attachment
through skin to skin care that aids the survival of premature infants
(Eidelman, Feldman, Sirota, Weller, 2003). Researchers also suggest that the
type of attachment exhibited at infancy can have a long-term effect on later
adult relationships as Horney demonstrates with her theory on anxiety and hostility.
The importance of mother-infant attachment cannot be overstated. The infant
feels wanted, worthy and safe from harm when there is a healthy attachment
between the primary caregiver and the infant. The infant recognizes how to
converse with sounds, gestures, smiles, and body movements. This unwavering,
nurturing parental relationship spirits the development of a healthy circuit
board in their evolving brain. It affects their learning, language skills, social
and emotional development (Curley, 2011). The stresses of modern life and
culture are placing new demands on parent’s abilities to nurture and to be
responsive to their infants. One example is the need for mothers to go back to
work right away after the birth of their infant for financial reasons. Another
example of a solution of modern life stresses is the convenience of formula
versus nursing. Breast feeding is a bonding ritual just as it is a
physiological feeding mechanism. The mother-infant bond is extremely important
to the present and future emotional health of a child. From birth through
childhood there are numerous strides that prime a strong bond or attachment to
the mother and infant. John Bowlby a psychoanalyst that thought that if the
mother-infant attachment was disrupted during the critical first years there
could be long term cognitive, social, and emotional difficulties for that
infant. Bowlby’s belief in this disrupted theory brought about the 44 Juvenile
Thieves Study (Bowlby, 1944). John Bowlby believed that the connection between
the infant and its mother during the first five years of life was most
fundamental to socialization. He alleged that trouble with this primary
relationship could create a greater occurrence of juvenile delinquency,
emotional problems and antisocial behavior. Bowlby’s aim was to investigate the
effects of maternal deprivation which means the loss of a mother’s time, her
not being around and how juveniles were affected by this. It is believed that
Bowlby’s study had experimenter bias because of how he stated his hypothesis.
Also he did the correlation between only two variables and may not have
included external variables like diet and poverty. One person’s aim can cause
more research questions. It just shows that research spreads more research and
why it is so important to have more research on a subject of interest. Mary
Ainsworth, a student of Bowlby’s, further extended and tested his ideas. She
played the primary role in suggesting that several attachment styles existed.
Children between 6 and about 30 months are very likely to form emotional
attachments to familiar caregivers, especially if the adults are sensitive and
responsive to child communications. There are so many studies on attachment
like the “Strange Situation” by Ainsworth (1978) which was observing infants’
responses to being in a new place and being separated from the mother for a
short time while a stranger comes in. Without these kinds of studies ideas for
new studies couldn’t move forward. The method of Ainsworth proved to be a rich
source of data about attachment patterns and has been used to measure a
multitude of infants. The bond that develops between the caregiver and the
infant is vital to the infant’s developmental stage. Researchers recognize the
fact that infants actively participate in the development of the attachment
bond. For instance the study we saw in class when the child was in the
highchair and the mother was told to be emotionless. After not being able to
make a connection with the mother through facial expressions the child begin to
become agitated and begin provoking behaviors, such as crying to get her
attention. It is so important to continue research in the field of
mother-infant attachment. The majority of research emphasizes that the absence
of the mother-infant attachment shows effects of failure in many areas ranging
from mild to severe. Decades of research show that infants thrive mentally,
socially and emotionally in direct relation to a parent’s responsiveness and
sensitivity.The emotional attachments of young children tend to seek proximity
to a familiar adult in times of distress. This is why the child’s ability to
use the primary caregiver as a secure base from which they explore the
environment. Ego resiliency or flexible, adaptive behavior is a clear outcome
of a secure attachment. If levels of parental sensitivity are low, infants will
display distress and are linked to insecurity and aggression in school-age
children. Long-range studies suggest those aggressive tendencies can impact
social functioning, academic achievement, and relationships with teachers and
friends. Research has point out that the assessments of infants can provide
significant prediction of internalizing and externalizing problems at age 7 in
a high-risk sample (Lyons-Ruth, Easterbrooks, Cibeli, 1997). It is substantial
to continue studying the importance of attachment and how it affects infants
all the way through childhood. This is why more research is needed.

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Ainsworth,
M. D. S., & Bell, S. M. (1970). Attachment, exploration, and

separation:
Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange

situation.
Child Development, 41, 49-67.

Ainsworth,
M. D. S., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to

personality
development. American Psychologist, 46, 331-341.

Bowlby,
J. (1951). Maternal care and mental health. World Health Organization

Monograph
(Serial No. 2).

Bowlby,
J. (1969). Attachment and loss, Vol. I: Attachment. New York:

Basic
Books.

Bowlby,
J. (1988). A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy

human
development. New York: Basic Books.

Bretherton,
I. (1985). Attachment theory. Retrospect and prospect. In

I.
Bretherton & E. Waters (Eds.), Growing points of attachment

theory
and research, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child

Development,
50(1-2, Serial No. 209), 3-35.

Dale,
P. S., & Goodman, J. C. (2005). Commonality and individual differences in
vocabulary growth. In M. Tomasello & D. I. Slobin (Eds.). Beyond Nature-
Nurture: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Bates. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates.

Hart,
B., & Risley, R. T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday
experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Huttenlocher,
J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & Lyons, T. (1991). Early vocabulary
growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27(2),
236-248.

Mahoney,G.
(1991). Responsive parenting: A relationship model for early intervention.
Paper presented at the Gulf States Conference in Early Intervention, Point
Clear, AL.

McLeod,
S. A. (2008). Mary Ainsworth | Attachment Styles.Retrieved from
http://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

Siegel,
D. (1999). The Developing Mind: Toward a Neurobiology of Interpersonal
Experience. New York, Guilford Publications

Wetherby,
A. M., Prizant, B.M., & Schuler, A.L. (1997). Enhancing language and
communication: Theoretical foundations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works
Cited

 

Ainsworth,
M. D. S. (1985), Attachments across the life span. Bulletin of the New York
Academy of Medicine, 61(9): 792-812.

Ainsworth,
M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of
attachment: A study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Bowlby,
J. (1944). Forty-four juvenile thieves: their characters and home life.
International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 25: 1-57 and 207-228; republished as a
monograph by Bailliere, Tindall & Cox, London, 1946.

Curley,
James P. (2011). The mu-opioid receptor and the evolution of mother-infant
attachment: Theoretical comment on Higham et al. (2011). Behavioral
Neuroscience, 125, 273-278. doi:10.1037/a0022939

Feldman,
Ruth, Weller, Aron, Sirota, Lea & Eidelman, Arthur I. (2003). Testing a
family intervention hypothesis: The contribution of mother-infant skin-to-skin
contact (kangaroo care) to family interaction, proximity, and touch. Journal of
Family Psychology, 17, 94-107. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.17.1.94

Feldman,
Ruth, Weller, Aron, Sirota, Lea & Eidelman, Arthur I. (2002). Skin-to-skin
contact (kangaroo care) promotes self-regulation in premature infants:
Sleep-wake cyclicity, arousal modulation, and sustained exploration.
Developmental Psychology, 38, 194-207. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.38.2.194

Lyons-Ruth,
Karlen, Easterbrooks, M. Ann & Cibelli, Cherilyn Davidson. (1997). Infant
attachment strategies, infant mental lag, and maternal depressive symptoms:
Predictors of internalizing and externalizing problems at age 7. Developmental
Psychology, 33, 681-692. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.33.4.681

 

 

 

 

 

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