attachment - Gordon State College

Attachment & Daycare
Modules 9-1 & 14-1
What Is Attachment?
– an emotional bond
between two people
 Attachment
When, how & why does Attachment
 By
6 months, infants show obvious signs
of attachment to their mothers (primary
 Freud
suggested that this is the foundation
for all later relationships.
 Psychoanalysts
& behaviorists thought
that feeding was the basis for attachment.
What is the basis for Attachment?
1950s-Harry Harlowe showed that contact
comfort rather than feeding was the basis
for attachment in monkeys
Baby monkeys preferred terrycloth to wire
“surrogate mothers”
Social Development
 Harlow’s
Mother Experiments
Monkeys preferred
contact with the
comfortable cloth
mother, even while
feeding from the
nourishing wire
Assessing attachment:
Ainsworth: The Strange Situation
1 Parent/baby in playroom
2 Parent seated, baby plays
3 Stranger enters
4 Parent leaves, stranger responds to baby
5 Parent returns, stranger leaves
6 Parent leaves
7 Stranger enters & offers comfort
8 Parent returns
Attachment Patterns
Secure – (65%) parent is a secure base; may cry at
separation; seek contact on return
Insecure Avoidant – (20%) unresponsive to parent; not
distressed when leaves; treat stranger like parent; slow to
greet on reunion
Insecure Resistant – (10-15%) seek closeness, cling, fail to
explore; cry at separation angry, resistive behavior on
return; not easily comforted
Disorganized/disoriented – (5-10%) confused, contradictory
Attachment & Later Development
Attachment provides inner feelings of
affection & security.
Securely attached preschoolers were high in
self-esteem, socially competent, cooperative
and popular.
Avoidantly attached agemates were isolated
and disconnected.
Resistantly attached agemates were
disruptive and difficult.
Attachment Styles
Mary Ainsworth (1979) identified three attachment styles
between infants and caregiver:
 Secure attachment style (70%) - caregiver is
responsive to infant’s needs; infant trusts caregiver
 Avoidant attachment style (20%) - caregiver is
distant or rejecting; infant suppresses desire to be
close to caregiver
 Ambivalent attachment style (10%) - caregiver is
inconsistently available and overbearing with
affection; infant clings anxiously to caregiver and then
fights against closeness by pushing away
Links Between Attachment in Childhood and
Close Relationships in Adulthood
Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver (1987) examined
continuity between childhood attachment and romantic
 Securely attached infants are more likely to have a
secure attachment to adult romantic partner
 Individuals with avoidant attachment style in
childhood find it difficult to develop intimate
relationship in adulthood
Individuals can revise attachment styles in adulthood
Long-term Effects
 Stroufe
& others, 2005
Longitudinal study (later childhood/teens)
Positive emotional health
Higher self-esteem
Social competence with peers, teachers,
counselors, romantic partners
Attachment & Later Development
Securely attached had better social skills and
relationships with peers.
Secure attachment leads to improved
cognition, better social and emotional
competence in later years.
Disorganized attachment is consistently related
to high hostility and aggression in school
Study of children age 11 at summer camp
Attachment & Later Development
 Continuity
of caregiving
 The picture can change over the years.
 The best predictor of adult function is
not secure attachment in infancy, but
whether the child experienced a family
Attachment in Adolescence
• Study using the AAI – Adult Attachment Interview
 Teenagers
securely attached to parents
have better:
Social competence
Self esteem
Emotional adjustment
Physical health
Behavior (fewer problem behaviors)
Types of Attachment in Adolescence
Secure autonomous
Dismissing avoidant
• Rejected by caregiver; deny importance of
attachment; related to violent behavior
Preoccupied ambivalent
• Attachment seeking; parent inconsistently
available; high conflict
Unresolved disorganized
• Had traumatic experience; disoriented, fearful
Adult Attachment Styles
 Secure
– good relationships
avoidant – difficulty establishing
relationships; quickly end relationships;
prone to one-night stands, depression
 Insecure
– less trusting, more jealous,
tend to anger and emotional intensity
 Ambivalent
Factors in Security of Attachment
I. Opportunity – orphans, working
2. Baby’s Characteristics - temperament
3. Family Context
4. Quality of Caregiving - Erikson
Factors – 1. Opportunity
Institutionalized babies often have
emotional difficulties because they are
prevented from establishing a bond.
Adoptions show the first bond can be
established as late as 4-6 years.
These children may have an
excessive desire for adult attention and
few friendships.
Factors – 2. Baby Characteristics
Prematurity, birth complications, newborn
Temperamentally difficult babies?
Factors – 3. Family Circumstances
Financial strain
Career demands/role conflicts
Parents’ childhood experiences
Factors – 4. Quality of Caregiving
Sensitive caregiving and interactional
synchrony related to secure attachment
across cultures
Overly stimulating, intrusive care associated
with avoidant attachment.
Inconsistent care associated with resistant
Child abuse and neglect associated with
disorganized attachment.
Children in Childcare
In U.S. Currently 2+ million children in childcare; 5+ million in
Parental Preferences
• Relative care
• Non-relative (unlicensed) care
• Child-care Center
Percentages of children shift from relative to
commercial as the children get older.
Quality of Childcare Factors
 Provider
 Adult to child ratio (<10; <20)
 Planned curriculum
 Rich Language Environment (conversation)
 Sensitive caregivers (when to intervene)
 Appropriate materials and activities
 Safety & Cleanliness
Unrealistic Comparisons
 Can
anybody afford daycare this good?
Example: Harvard Demonstration Project
Staff pediatrician
Non-teaching director
3:1 infant/teacher ratio
Teachers and aides trained to smile
Cognitive Development
 Rule
of Thumb
 Daycare
attendance slows the cognitive
development of middle-class children
 Daycare
speeds up the cognitive
development of disadvantaged children.
Childcare and Attachment
Childcare children at 15 months with unresponsive
mothers showed insecure attachment; not at 36
Vanelli (2004)
 Children in daycare <30 hours/week compared to
children in daycare >40 hours. More daycare
• More illness
• More behavior problems
• Less sensitive interaction with mother
Attachment & Daycare
Infants placed in full-time child care before 12
months of age are more likely to display
insecure attachment (Belsky, 1992).
Could be mom’s work stresses,
Could be healthy autonomy.
Could be quality of daycare.
Could be an interaction effect.
Attachment & Childcare
Study (longitudinal, 1300 children)
Regardless of quality of care, children 4.5 – 5
years old, children averaging 30 hours or
more per week of daycare were rated by
mothers, caregivers, and kindergarten
teachers as having more behavior problems,
especially defiance, disobedience, and
What is the purpose of daycare anyway?
Babysitting for working moms
Fear that your child will get behind
China – good academic start
Japan – experience as a group member
U.S. - To make children more independent
Start children on the road to good citizenship

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