From the minute we begin to develop within the womb, we form attachments. Therefore, to me, this is a vital aspect of our learning. It has since been found that for a sound upbringing a child needs to have some sort of attachment so surely this is a great aspect in a child’s holistic development?
We have studied the Attachment Theory which conveyed that normally a child develops a clear attachment to their mother (who is also the primary caregiver). Long ago, people believed that this was due to the mother providing food. However, there is growing evidence that contact and comfort have a greater importance… demonstrated through ‘Harlow’s Monkeys 1980’.
John Bowlby discovered that children have the innate ability to form attachments and it was the evolutionary attachment that promoted survival, care and nurture. Bowlby was influenced by Konrad Lorenz who carried out numerous studies on attachment. One of his studies, ’44 Thieves’ concluded that 70% of the thieves had experienced some level of maternal deprivation therefore had the inability to experience guilt through theft.
However, like many I disagree with some of Bowlby’s statements regarding attachments in children. For example, Bowlby concluded that a consequence of maternal deprivation is the development of delinquent personality. I disregard this statement as I have since found otherwise through numerous case studies, including the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’.
‘The Lost Boys of Sudan’ was a study concluded on a group of children that were separated from their parents through the Civil War in Sudan. The study focussed on their coping mechanisms to their ambiguous loss, as many did not know the fate of their parents/siblings. One of the coping mechanisms adopted by the children was distraction. This included doing homework which resulted in many taking an interest in education and strengthening themselves as a result. Completely contradicting Bowlby’s statement.
Mary Ainsworth developed the theory of attachment further through her Strange Situation Test. This was a test in which a baby and mother entered the room full of toys and played, a stranger then entered the room and the mother left whilst the babies reaction was recorded. This was to record the strength of attachment within babies. The results were that 50-70% were securely attached to their mothers again portraying that attachments form in the very beginning of a baby’s development.
Within the test 15-20% displayed insecure attachment. Being insecurely attached brings many consequences both short or long term;
Short term – Children are less likely to interact with others, less likely to show an interest in what is going on, less likely to be seen developing and are less likely to settle into early years education
Long term – has an impact on social relationships later in life and greater incidences of serious health problems e.g – mental health ill
Ainsworth also found that those who are securely attached have more intimate friendships, higher self esteem and perform better at school. Also, parents who were securely attached are more likely to have securely attached children.
So is there a link between parenting styles and attachments? I believe that there is. There is numerous studies all concluding the same; the more parents play, communicate and interact with their children the more happier, healthier and well developed they will be in the future.
Surely this is something that must be highlighted to all parents.