Why a baby’s con­nec­tion with a par­ent mat­ters

Tehran Times - - LIFE & SOCIETY - (Source: ny­times.com)

In pe­di­atrics, at­tach­ment is the emo­tional con­nec­tion that de­vel­ops be­tween a young child and a par­ent or other care­giver.

At­tach­ment the­ory was de­vel­oped in the mid-20th century by a Bri­tish psy­chi­a­trist, John Bowlby, whose own up­per-class Bri­tish up­bring­ing in­cluded the loss of a beloved nanny, and an early trip to board­ing school.

Mary Ainsworth, his stu­dent and later col­lab­o­ra­tor, de­vised what is known as the strange sit­u­a­tion pro­ce­dure, in which a 1-year-old is briefly separated from the par­ent or care­giver, and then re­united, and the be­hav­ior dur­ing re­unions is closely ob­served.

Th­ese ex­per­i­ments, which stressed the child briefly, but then im­me­di­ately ended the stress, were cor­re­lated with in-home ob­ser­va­tions of par­ent-child relationships, and re­searchers built a kind of tax­on­omy of at­tach­ment, read­ing chil­dren’s be­hav­ior in the strange sit­u­a­tion as an in­dex to the qual­ity of the bond with the par­ent.

“The rea­son the strange sit­u­a­tion is so im­por­tant is be­cause early re­search and re­peated stud­ies showed that what par­ents did at home or in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions pre­dicted how chil­dren be­haved in the strange sit­u­a­tion,” said Vir­ginia M. Shiller, an as­sis­tant clin­i­cal professor at Yale Univer­sity Child Study Cen­ter and au­thor of the “The At­tach­ment Bond: Af­fec­tional Ties Across the Life­span.”

A child who has the gen­eral sense that the par­ent is likely to be re­spon­sive, she said, is go­ing to ask for at­ten­tion when the par­ent comes back in. The child may be up­set, but calms down quickly, com­forted by the par­ent, and thereby demon­strates what is called “se­cure at­tach­ment.”

At­tach­ment, said Su­san Berger, a de­vel­op­men­tal psy­chol­o­gist who is associate professor of pe­di­atrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of Chicago, is about “be­ing sen­si­tive to your child in times of stress so they know if they’re up­set, hurt, both­ered, some­body will come make them feel bet­ter so they can move away and be back in their world again.”

On the other hand, chil­dren who have not learned to ex­pect com­fort and re­as­sur­ance when they are dis­tressed will demon­strate what is con­sid­ered in­se­cure at­tach­ment.

“When mom or dad come back in they ac­tu­ally turn away, they might crawl away, they might barely look at mom or dad,” Dr. Shiller said. But that’s not be­cause they’re calm. Stud­ies have shown that th­ese chil­dren are also feel­ing the stress of sep­a­ra­tion, with high heart rates and el­e­vated lev­els of stress hor­mone. In other words, she said, “while one might say, ‘well, that’s just an in­de­pen­dent child,’ we have other in­for­ma­tion that this child is stressed and say­ing, ‘I’m go­ing to some­how man­age this on my own.’”

As they grow up, chil­dren need to ex­plore the world in a widen­ing cir­cle of strange sit­u­a­tions, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what is new and by def­i­ni­tion some­what stress­ful. They need to move grad­u­ally fur­ther and fur­ther away from their par­ents, but they need to know they can come back for re­as­sur­ance and com­fort.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.