Theory of Attachment


Theory of Attachment

Emotional Development

Identifies how a person begins to feel about and value themselves and other people. This becomes emotional literacy and empathy.

Emotional development begins with attachments which an infant forms to their main care-giver. A child that forms strong-attachments to their main care-giver can in turn have a positive self image and a good self esteem.

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Theory of Attachment

Key Terms

Emotional Literacy: The ability to recognise, understand and appropriately express emotions. It is essential for forming positive social relationships.

Empathy: The abilty to identify with or understand another's situation or feelings.

Attachment: A strong emotional connection between a child and caregiver. It is argued that these attachments form our first stages of emotional and social development.

Self Image: The way an individual sees themselves, their mental image of themselves.

Self-Concept: How we see and feel about ourselves, seeing ourselves as a unique individual.

Self-esteem: How a person feels about themselves, self-worth or pride.

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Theory of Attachment

John Bowlby

  • John Bowlby is noticeable for his interest in child development and for his pioneering work in attachment theory.
  • Referred to attachment as a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects the child to their primary care giver.
  • In the 1930's Bowlby whilst working with emotionally disturbed children, looked at their relationship with the mother. Bowlby linked the importance of social, emotional and cognitive development to the relationship that the child had with their mother.
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Theory of Attachment

John Bowlby

  • Infants fiorm attachments because it is biologically programmed to do so
  • Infants display social releasers such as smiling and crying, which increase their chances of receiving care
  • Babies therefore have an 'attachment gene'
  • Infants have a need to seek close proximity especially when under stress or threat
  • Infants stay close to their care givers for food, protection and love making them feel safe 
  • Separation at an early age from the primary care giver leads to separation anxiety
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Theory of Attachment

John Bowlby - Critics

  • Rutter states that Bowlby oversimplified the theory of attachment and argued that maternal deprivationin itself may not lead to long-term issues.
  • Rutter suggests that privation is more damaging. Privation happens when children do not have the opportunity to form attachments or have poor attatchments caused by a lack of social or intellectual stimulation.
  • Bowlby believed attachment is a natural biological process, whilst others suggest that it is learned behaviour influenced by external factors such as environment, culture or the baby's temperament.
  • Shaffer and Emerson (1964) suggested that babies are more likely to form sound attachments to care givers who respond effectively (positively) to their signals.
  • This is not necessarily the person they spend the most time with (sensitive responsiveness)
  • Therefore, playing and communicating with the child is the single most important factor in attachment.
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Theory of Attachment

Benefits of Attrachment:

Attachment to main caregiver mean that the child will feel securely loved and have a sense of belonging.

Care givers should ensure that children have the physical, mental and emotional encouragement to develop healthy.

Secure attachments in childhood can lead to happier and healthier attachments with others in the future.

How could a lack of attachments impact development?

  • If there is a lack of healthy attachment, then mistrust of caregivers of adults with authority. Develop insecure attachments leading to behavioural issues and inability to develop secure attachments throughout their lifespan.
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The Stages of Play in Infancy and Early Childhood

Solo (solitary) Play: When infants play independently is known as solo play.

  • This starts in infancy and provides a variety of  learning opporunities for infants, allowing them to explore the environment at their own pace.
  • This allows infants/children to learn by their own mistakes and increase their self-esteem.

Parallel Play: Between the ages of 2-3yrs infants move on from solo play to playing alongside others.

  • They do not yet share and take turns.
  • The child is engrosed in their own world/independent activity.
  • They have no interest in others around them.

Co-operative Play: Between 3-8yrs children develop a wider social network and form relationships with their peers and other adults.

  • They become more co-operative in their play, helped by their language development.
  • By the age of 7, most children have established a number of important friendships and refer 'best friend'.
  • Play is essential for communication skills, negotiating roles and understanding others feelings.
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Social Development

Social Development - Involves learning how to interact socially with other individuals in both family and society in general.

Social development means different things across the lifespan, there are also cultural considerations, as to the way individuals engage in social relationships through lifespan.

- Cultural considerations attitudes, value beliefs and behaviours shared by a group of people.

This can impact social development by:

  • Race and racial stereotypes
  • Parenting styles
  • Ways of living 

Social development gives the opportunities and skills to enable people to develop relationships.

(Piaget discussed the importance of play for learning and development)

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Family and Social Groups

A family is a social group of people, often related genetically, by marriage or by living together as a group.

Being part of a family group can help you to develop in the following ways:

  • Forming emotional relationships and attachments
  • First experiences of social interaction
  • Influencing your social behaviour
  • Meeting physical needs for protection, food, shelter and warmth
  • Supporting each other emotionally 
  • Protecting family memebers from stress
  • Helping each other financially or practically, for example families may support older relatives
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Social Factors that affect Development

Family Dysfunction - a family that is not providing all of the support and benefits associated with being in a family.

Parental Divorce and Separation - known to have consequences on a child's growth and development.

Sibling Rivalry - In his Social Learning Theory, Bandura explored the impact of role modelling and imitating behaviour.

Exposure to high levels of conflict could lead a child becoming aggresive and displaying bullying to other children and family. - Rosenthal and Doherty stated that children who are in rivalry with siblings or are bullies are quite often bullied by their parents.

Parenting Styles -  The different strategies/ways parents use to bring up their children. Diana Baumrind idetified three different parenting styles that she thought could contribute to overall development of children: Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive.Development can also be impacted by no parental involvement, where parents make a few demands and responses. Some parents are unaware of the power they hold over their children e.g lack of education, substance abuse etc.

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