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Infancy Attachment and Social Functioning Correlation

Attachment between mother and child can be defined as emotional bond which exist between mother and child. There are two elements which are involved in this type of emotional bond between mother and child. The first element, the child usually tries to find an attachment figure: which is the mother, in situations when the child is under stress and secondly, the child will have confidence to venture into activities that will help him/her to develop. “Attachment between mother and her small child is important, attachment usually helps the small child to develop emotional and socially” (Erickson & Pianta 1989).

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A child will completely depend on the mother for her survival in the early years, she spend with the mother, satisfactory relationship between mother and child is created, when the child’s needs are adequately and appropriately satisfied by the mother. During the interaction between mother and child, the child will produce a stable pattern in behavior, the way she expects the mother to react to her cries or when she is under stress.

“Several studies have shown that interaction between mother and child has a connection in well being of the child” (Fraiberg & Shapiro 1975).The expectation of the mother will have a long term effect on child’s development, particularly in the infancy stage of the child. The behavior of the child is usually affected, when other people are around the child. When there is adequate interaction between mother and child, it will increase the child mental and social development, and this is what we refer to as “secure attachment” in child. If, on the other hand, there is no adequate interaction between mother and child, “in first few months after birth of the child, for example, the mother don’t spend adequate time with the newborn baby, then the child is likely to be insecurely attached”(Turner 1990).

If there is interaction between the mother and child in the first few months after the child birth, the child will develop security, and the child will retain the security throughout his entire life, in term of how he approaches other people who are around him, and how he will react to different kinds of stress he may experience in life. A study was conducted in 1999, and its findings was that, a securely attached child between the age of two and three years is found to be social, more alert, and he finds it easier to interact with other children of his age,” while insecurely attached child, finds it hard to interacts with his peer friends, and when exposed to stress, the risk of the child getting mental illness will is high” (Zeanah 1995).

How a young child interacts and form attachment with their parent is usually studied in “standardized situation”, this experiment was conducted by Ainsworth, in 1978. In the experiment, first the mother and child are in a company of a stranger they do not know in a room. The mother is then asked to leave the child to the stranger. A securely attached child will reacts differently when she is left with the stranger in the room, she will be sad. The reason for this, the child will search for the mother, but she will allow herself to be comforted by the stranger in the room, if the child is not sad, she will react by showing a recognition and happiness toward the person, by looking in the eye contact with the stranger. When the mother returns to the room, an insecure child will react, even if she was left alone with the person in the room or with the mother, the securely child will not have any problems. But an insecurely attached child is inconsolable when they are left with a stranger.

A study was conducted in Sweden, showed that 62 per cent of the children in that country under observation were securely attached to their mothers, while 38 per cent of the children observed, were insecurely attached at 15 months old. These findings in Sweden are similar to the United States, Germany, UK, and Japan. In the United States insecurely attached children consist of 35 per cent, in Germany: 43 per cent, in UK: 26 per cent and Japan: 32 per cent. There is no culture difference in the number of children affected by insecurely attachment, this represent 65 per cent, but the number of children affected by insecure attachment will significant vary from one culture to another.

In the hypothesis, evidence is there to suggest that securely attached children are more popular and social within there peer group. This will only apply to a child, who is less than 5 years of age; this is consistent with the previous research conducted by Ainsworth-standardized situation, in 1978. This means, as a result of early interaction between the child and parent, and subsequent states of mind regarding attachment, which will help the child to develop the skills that best suite the child in social interactions. According to Bowlby (1969/1982), when a mother response to a child needs i.e. help an protection in times of distress, the baby usually develop emotional templates, which is called “internal working model”. In this model the child will develop her expectation to herself and at the same time to the people who around her. When a mother respond to the baby’s cries or problems at an early age, the child usually sees herself to be worth of attention and help from her mother. The child will try to reflect the same to people around her, the baby will anticipate, each time he cries or in distress, other people in his life will respond positively to her needs. In this state, the child develop a sense of “efficacy and agency”, this state is whereby the child always believe things will work out fine every time she is under stress or problems, and people around her are there to help her. On the other hand, if a mother is not responding to cries or distress of child, the child usually develop a mentality that she is unworthy, and people around her are unresponsive or, perhaps, as dangerous.

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The internal working model is usually formed when the child is still young i.e. early months when the child is born, and this will form the base for many relationships the child will have with his peers or people around him. Securely attached children in pre-school stages, have confidence and are usually less dependent to their tutors in school, as we compare them to insecurely attached children; at the same time securely children are usually competent in playing with there peers, as we compare them to insecurely attached children, they are not competence in playing with there peers. It is believed, the competence in a securely attached child will extended into later childhood.

In another research, it has been found that a one year old child who has good relationship with the mother is able to enthusiastically play with her peers, and at the same time she will be in a position to explore in things which are around her. Through the early months child spent with the mother, the child learn to trust the mother, and she will believe the mother is there to meet her needs. These good habits in child will be carried forward in future life of the child. The securely attached child will grow up to be a competent preschooler. There are a number of studies which have been conducted to support this, a securely attached child at three years old, are more compliant and persistent in solving problems both at school and at home, than an insecurely attached child. “When a securely attached child reaches the age of five years, she is confident and social to with her peers” (Siegel 1999). An insecurely attached child will usually have various patterns of behavior; most of these children will not trust their mothers, when the mother wants to respond to the child needs. This behavior will be seen when the child is old, she will find it difficult to interact with her peers.

The child, during interaction with mother, she develops a mutual bond with the mother, and the child will try to learn everything from the mother, this is the reason why the baby will rely on the mother to explore the environment which is around her. “The child will use the mother security as a base to explore and learn new things around her, and at the same time, the child usually learn necessary skills of self protection that will help her to interact best with people around him” (Schore 1994).

The occurrence of various pattern of attachment- secure, avoidant and ambivalent- in adults is similar to the occurrence in children, the patterns which will occur in a child, can be used to describe the child when she is old. Study have shown, adults who are securely attached when they were young, their relationship in marriage is happy, and they trust their partners. Their marriages usually last longer than those adults who were insecurely attached. Avoidant adults have been known to be having difficult building and enjoying intimate relationships, these kind people will have few close friends, and their relationships are usually tinged with jealousy. They tend to love their parents more, and they are usually obsessed with work. Ambivalent adults, have been reported to have extreme sexual attraction, these kind of people are usually extreme jealous, they have self doubt about themselves, and most of times they feel misunderstood and underappreciated. These people in relationship usually get higher grade in loneliness because they are not social, and at work they don’t perform well. “For example, avoidant adult will not approach his work seriously, while adults who are ambivalent are usually preoccupied with unmet attachment needs, they usually, allow other people to interfere with their work” (Pekarslry 1981).

Attachment between mother and child is important in the development of the child. Secure attachment in a child can be derailed because of many factors, and these factors can be either economic or social factors, but other factors such as mental illness of the mother, “substance abuse and vulnerabilities of the child, all these can place difficulties in relationship between mother and child. However, an insecurely child can be healed and the child can return to a hopeful development path” (Lieberman 1993).

Reference List

Erickson, M. F., & Pianta, R. C. (1989, July). New lunchbox, old feelings: What kids b ring to school. Early Education and Development, 1 (1), 35-49.

Fraiberg, S. &, Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery: A psychoanalytic approach to the problem of impaired infant, mother relationships. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14, 387-422.

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Lieberman, A. F. (1993). The Emotional Life of the Toddler. New York: The Free Press.

Pekarslry, J. H. (1981). Treatment sad outcome in an infant psychiatry program: Part Q. Journal of Preventive Psychiatry, 1, 143-167.

Schore, A. N. (1994). Affect regulation and tire origin of the self.’ The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience. New York: The Guildford Press.

Turner, P. (1990). Relations between attachment, gender, and behavior with peers in the preschool. Child Development, 62, 1475-1488.

Zeanah, C. H. (1995). Disorders of attachment in infancy. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America, 4, 571-587.

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