Attachment and EarlyDevelopment&The Importance of EarlyAttachment KimberlyHopeProfessorDharniDevelopmentalPsychologyResearchPaperAttachment and Early LanguageDevelopment The theory of attachment wasestablished through the works of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth (Ainsworth& Bowlby, 1991). Bowlby formed the basic views and ideology of the developmenttheory. Bowlby concluded that for children to develop mentally stable andhealthy, “the infant and young child should experience a warm, intimate, andcontinuous relationship with his mother (or permanent mother substitute) inwhich both find satisfaction and enjoyment” (Bowlby, 1951). Bowlby also statedthat the relationship between the mother and infant has survival meaning andcontributes to the infant’s exploration into the world, “these interactionslead to a secure attachment” (Bowlby, 1969, 1988). Ainsworth tested Bowlby’sideas and expanded on the theory. Ainsworthstated that attachment is the base for an infant’s development as well as thematernal role and instincts of the mother and the impact it has on theinfant-mother attachment (Bretherton, 1985).
Ainsworth research has shown thedifference in outcomes and thought patterns of secure and unsecure attachmentbetween caregiver and child. There are three types of attachment-secure attachment, insecure avoidant and insecure ambivalent. With secureattachment infants are usually associated with sensitive, responsive and tentativecaregivers. Secure children are associated with having high levels of socialcapability, and empathy (McLeod, 2008). Insecure avoidant infants for the mostpart is considered unresponsive to their caregiver in a lot of ways and independent(physically and emotionally) (McLeod, 2008). The third attachment is insecureambivalent (also called insecure resistant). The ambivalent behavior displayedtowards the attachment figure is inconsistent along with the caregiver’sresponse to the child (the child’s needs taken care of or ignored).
The child canbe clingy and dependent, and when in distress these infants are difficult tosoothe and are not easily comforted. Early attachment sets the tone foremotional and cognitive development, their social and non-socialdevelopment, language development, and their level of sense-of-self. As it hasbeen seen with these study’s that children must engage with their caregivers todevelop communications and language acquisition. The fundamental basis ofattachment theory is that children can learn to interact and communicatethrough interpersonal skills and communication. A child’s development isinfluenced by the style and amount of interaction with their primarycaregivers, so when they are not provided with communication and interaction,it has been found that the children become socially incapable, affectinglanguage development (Hart and Risley’s,1995). According to Hart and Risley,the amount of language and vocabulary displayed by a child is related to theamount of language and vocabulary exposed to. With language being linked toattachment and their primary caregivers, the child’s environment plays a majorrole. Developmental achievements of language and communication is a result ofsocial engagement, mostly influential within the first four years of life.
Basedon the attachment theory and language development ideology, infants communicatetheir physiological and emotional states through facial expression,vocalization, body posture, and through signals. Communication is a gradualprocess, it starts with sensorimotor, then moving to symbolic communication,and then leading to words. With the increase of communication by routine and repetitionbetween infant or child and the caregiver, it gives the children more confidenceand anticipation of the daily activities.Thisall leads to a secure attachment. Of course, by the age of two a child’s communicationand language abilities develops much more rapidly.
The more they learn to communicatethe better they learn to conversate about different topics. The first five yearsof a child’s life is also known as the critical period, due to the development oflanguage. The importance of a parent-child relationship is linked to thedeveloping structure and function of the brain (Siegel, 1999).Now that there is an understanding ofattachment and some the benefits it has, lets discuss the importance ofmother-infant attachment. According to Freud the experiences that occurr in thefirst five years of a child’s life is the most critical period for thedevelopment of personality, which as stated before it begins with the attachmentand bond between the caregiver and the infant. That bond between the caregiver andthe infant does not begin once an infant is born it begins during pregnancy, andaccording to Ainsworth, attachment is form with that bond (Ainsworth, 1987). Thequality 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 inchildhood aggression (Lyons-Ruth, Easterbrooks, Cibelli, 1997). One study used toshow this importance was the kangaroo care studies. Which is the attachmentthrough skin to skin care that aids the survival of premature infants(Eidelman, Feldman, Sirota, Weller, 2003). Researchers also suggest that thetype of attachment exhibited at infancy can have a long-term effect on lateradult relationships as Horney demonstrates with her theory on anxiety and hostility.The importance of mother-infant attachment cannot be overstated.
The infantfeels wanted, worthy and safe from harm when there is a healthy attachmentbetween the primary caregiver and the infant. The infant recognizes how toconverse with sounds, gestures, smiles, and body movements. This unwavering,nurturing parental relationship spirits the development of a healthy circuitboard in their evolving brain. It affects their learning, language skills, socialand emotional development (Curley, 2011).
The stresses of modern life andculture are placing new demands on parent’s abilities to nurture and to beresponsive to their infants. One example is the need for mothers to go back towork right away after the birth of their infant for financial reasons. Anotherexample of a solution of modern life stresses is the convenience of formulaversus nursing.
Breast feeding is a bonding ritual just as it is aphysiological feeding mechanism. The mother-infant bond is extremely importantto the present and future emotional health of a child. From birth throughchildhood there are numerous strides that prime a strong bond or attachment tothe mother and infant. John Bowlby a psychoanalyst that thought that if themother-infant attachment was disrupted during the critical first years therecould be long term cognitive, social, and emotional difficulties for thatinfant. Bowlby’s belief in this disrupted theory brought about the 44 JuvenileThieves Study (Bowlby, 1944). John Bowlby believed that the connection betweenthe infant and its mother during the first five years of life was mostfundamental to socialization. He alleged that trouble with this primaryrelationship could create a greater occurrence of juvenile delinquency,emotional problems and antisocial behavior. Bowlby’s aim was to investigate theeffects of maternal deprivation which means the loss of a mother’s time, hernot being around and how juveniles were affected by this.
It is believed thatBowlby’s study had experimenter bias because of how he stated his hypothesis.Also he did the correlation between only two variables and may not haveincluded external variables like diet and poverty. One person’s aim can causemore research questions. It just shows that research spreads more research andwhy it is so important to have more research on a subject of interest. MaryAinsworth, a student of Bowlby’s, further extended and tested his ideas. Sheplayed the primary role in suggesting that several attachment styles existed.Children between 6 and about 30 months are very likely to form emotionalattachments to familiar caregivers, especially if the adults are sensitive andresponsive to child communications. There are so many studies on attachmentlike the “Strange Situation” by Ainsworth (1978) which was observing infants’responses to being in a new place and being separated from the mother for ashort time while a stranger comes in.
Without these kinds of studies ideas fornew studies couldn’t move forward. The method of Ainsworth proved to be a richsource of data about attachment patterns and has been used to measure amultitude of infants. The bond that develops between the caregiver and theinfant is vital to the infant’s developmental stage. Researchers recognize thefact that infants actively participate in the development of the attachmentbond. For instance the study we saw in class when the child was in thehighchair and the mother was told to be emotionless. After not being able tomake a connection with the mother through facial expressions the child begin tobecome agitated and begin provoking behaviors, such as crying to get herattention. It is so important to continue research in the field ofmother-infant attachment. The majority of research emphasizes that the absenceof the mother-infant attachment shows effects of failure in many areas rangingfrom mild to severe.
Decades of research show that infants thrive mentally,socially and emotionally in direct relation to a parent’s responsiveness andsensitivity.The emotional attachments of young children tend to seek proximityto a familiar adult in times of distress. This is why the child’s ability touse the primary caregiver as a secure base from which they explore theenvironment.
Ego resiliency or flexible, adaptive behavior is a clear outcomeof a secure attachment. If levels of parental sensitivity are low, infants willdisplay distress and are linked to insecurity and aggression in school-agechildren. Long-range studies suggest those aggressive tendencies can impactsocial functioning, academic achievement, and relationships with teachers andfriends.
Research has point out that the assessments of infants can providesignificant prediction of internalizing and externalizing problems at age 7 ina high-risk sample (Lyons-Ruth, Easterbrooks, Cibeli, 1997). It is substantialto continue studying the importance of attachment and how it affects infantsall the way through childhood. This is why more research is needed. REFERENCESAinsworth,M. D.
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