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Theories of Childhood - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Theories of Childhood: Attachment Theory Attachment emulates an emotional bond to someone else. John Bowlby, a psychologist, initiated the attachment theory, describing it as a lasting connectedness between humans (Simpson 18)…
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Theories of Childhood
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Theories of Childhood

Attachment theory’s central theme is that responsiveness and availability of mothers to the needs of infants establishes a security sense in the infants. The child recognizes that they have a dependable caregiver, creating a sense of security for the child to live (Simpson 18). Mary Ainsworth conducted further research into the theory in the 60s and 70s by introducing the secure base concept and developed theories of various attachment patterns: avoidant attachment, secure attachment, disorganized attachment, and anxious attachment. Characteristics of Attachment John Bowlby contended that there were four characteristics distinguishing attachment. The first was proximity maintenance that is the desire to be close to people that we are attached to (Holmes 51). The safe haven involves a return to the figure of attachment for safety and comfort where faced by threat or fear. The third characteristic is the secure base where the figure of attachment serves as a security base from which children are able to explore the environment around them. Finally, we have the separation distress, which is the anxiety that comes in when there is no attachment figure. Mary Ainsworth with her Strange Situation assessment expounded upon these characteristics. Ainsworth's "Strange Situation" Assessment Psychologist Mary Ainsworth, in the 70s, expounded further on the groundbreaking work by Bowlby in the Strange Situation study. This study involved the observation of children aged between twelve and eighteen months when responding to situations when they were left alone for a brief time and then brought back together with their mothers (Holmes 53). Ainsworth, with this observation as her basis, concluded that children showed three major attachment styles; avoidant-insecure, ambivalent-insecure, and secure attachment. A fourth attachment style is referred to as disorganized-insecure attachment. Many studies are in support of the conclusions made by Ainsworth with additional research revealing that the early styles of attachment can aid in the prediction of behaviors later on in life (Holmes 53). Characteristics of Attachment Attachment through Life Before anyone begins to blame the problems in their relationship with parents, it is essential for one to note that styles of attachment from infancy are not identical to the ones demonstrated when one goes through adult romantic-attachment (Holmes 60). A long time elapses from childhood to adulthood, therefore, intervening experiences have a large role in attachment styles in adulthood. Infants described as avoidant or ambivalent can become adults who are securely attached, while those who are securely attached in infancy can turn to insecurely attached adults. However, research in this area is indicative of established patterns in infancy that have an essential impact of relationships later on. While infant attachment styles are similar to romantic attachment in adulthood, research has indicated that early styles of attachment can aid in the prediction of behavioral patterns, in adulthood (Holmes 61). Secure Attachment Securely attached children become more upset when caregivers go away and are happy on their return. The children, when frightened, often seek comfort from their caregiver. When a parent initiates contact, parents are readily acceptable by children who are securely attached and they view the caregivers return positively (Holmes 62). While other people can comfort the children to some extent when the caregiver is absent, they prefer ... Read More
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