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Attachment Theory - Raising Children

Does the attachment theory provide a sound basis for advice on how to bring up children? To answer this question for advice to parents I will explore some of the details of the attachment theory showing, 1) earlier studies and more up to date criticisms, 2) how it proposes family members and day care can affect a child’s upbringing.

Attachment is the bond that develops between caregiver and infant when it is about eight or nine months old, providing the child with emotional security. Meshing commences from when the child is being fed, onto taking part in pseudo-dialogue and then following on to the child taking part in a more active role of proto dialogue, illustrated by Kaye (1982), other concepts such as scaffolding and inter-subjectivity have also been explored by psychologists. As the infant grows older the attention escalates towards the direction of the caregiver.

John Bowlby(1958, 1969, 1973, 1980) pioneer of the attachment theory was involved in research regarding the emotional connection between the adult and infant and he believed that the early relationships determined the behaviour and emotional development of a child. In an early Bowlby (1944) study he discovered children who had an unsettling upbringing where more likely to become juvenile delinquents. His work is constantly open to criticism and has been revisited with further research. Subsequent research has based measuring security and insecurity in a child from an early age using the Strange Situation Test. Other research has shown certain trends of difficult behaviour and how the child interacts with the caregiver actively.

Bowlby’s theory was based on ideas from ethology and previous work, psychodynamic theory by Sigmund Freud, it was appropriate for the 1950’s after the 2nd World War when women were returning to household duties and motherhood as men returned to their employment after the war. He believed that a child should have interaction with one caregiver ‘monotropism’ and that separation from this person would trigger the ‘proximity promoting behaviours’ in the attachment structure.
The caregiver arriving would cause the behaviours of, clinging, making noises and crying to discontinue. The protected foundations of the affectionate bonds occurring between parent and infant representation becomes part of the internal working model. Those become the foundations and the heart of all close relationships during the continuing life of the child through to adulthood. The disruption of the relationship between mother and child through parting, lack of...

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