To what extent do infants and parents actively contribute to the infant’s attachment organisation (security vs insecurity)

Caregivers, ordinarily the mother, provide protection and comfort when the child is vulnerable, attachment, secure or insecure; ambivalent, avoidant or disorganised (Bowlby 1988). Caregivers (usually parents) actively contribute to attachment mostly through sensitivity to the child. Children actively contribute to attachment through their temperament, a regulation of their emotional response, (Pryor & Glaser 2006). The aim of the essay is to assess the role of parents or the child in attachment, still considering contextual elements as a clear view will benefit children for forming later life relationships.

Parents innately know to respond to their child when they seek attention, crying, this helps to build foundations of attachment. Responsiveness transmits to sensitivity and how well parents suppress this plea for attention and whether the child feels safer in the arms of the caregiver, (Howe 2011). Meta analysis of attachment studies over time depicts sensitive care-givers are more likely to form secure attachment in a child, Van IJzendoorn and Bakermans-Kranenburg (2004). Reinforcing this, 83% of children with soft baby carriers were secure, in contrast to 38% of children with plastic carriers, Anisfeld, Caser, Nozyce & Cunningham 1990). Sensitivity of the mother can actively changes a child’s attachment regardless of child factors. Conversely as children mature, child factors start to develop and be more influential upon attachment orientation, (Bretherton & Munholland 1999).

Although caregivers are More Knowledgeable Others shaping child’s attachment, a child’s personality gradually develops. (Van Den Boom & Hoeksma, 1994) extend this by showing a child can become secure at 18 months if a mother’s sensitivity changes successfully, but not at 2 years, (Lieberman, Weston & Pawl 1991). Van Den Boom and Hoeksma 1994 further explain temperament as early developmental changes forming individuality overpowering effects of mother’s sensitivity. Extending this, heart rate monitors show increase in heart rate for all children on separation from mother, (Sroufe & Waters 1977). Differences were portrayed through temperament responses to the separation, such as crying or not caring. In critique, temperament is easily perceived as environmental factors; an open child may be the product of a loving sensitive mother over their biological make-up, temperament, (Howe 2011).

Reciprocal research into sensitivity and temperament opens questions into their interaction in developing attachment. Research depicts a mother’s sensitivity as most influential in ensuring whether a child is securely attached. Conversely, other research signifies importance of children’s temperament determining attachment as ambivalent, avoidant or disorganised, (Crittendon 2000). Maternal influences have been the forefront of research however, considering modern day family life research into childminders and fathers may be more beneficial to understand all factors, Holmes (1993).

To conclude, based upon the literature presented here sensitivity or temperament are not seen to solely influence attachment. Taking a reciprocal view, maternal sensitivity seems to be more influential in younger children scoping their development. Later on in life, temperament and personality factors are more influential with experiences shaping attachment for later life. Research must explore other care-giving and child traits to explore importance, still considering contextual factors that interact; childcare.

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