How the mary ainsworth child attachment theory has influenced today s practices

By Saul McLeodupdated Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space Ainsworth; Bowlby Attachment does not have to be reciprocal. One person may have an attachment to an individual which is not shared. Attachment is characterized by specific behaviors in children, such as seeking proximity to the attachment figure when upset or threatened Bowlby,

How the mary ainsworth child attachment theory has influenced today s practices

Attachment parenting which I will refer to as AP has a solid theoretical basis in one of the most widely-accepted theories of personality -social development in all of psychology- namely, the attachment theory of Mary Salter Ainsworth and her colleagues.

Couples therapy based on attachment theory, for example, is shown to be a highly effective way to help people repair damaged close relationships. Attachment theory emphasizes the nature of the relationship between children and their caregivers usually the parents.


It has its roots in observations made by psychiatrists in World War II who noted the impaired physical, psychological, and social development of infants in hospitals and orphanages who were separated from their parents.

After recognizing that these children needed not just food but physical contact, the caregivers noticed vast improvements in their development. These observations led them to propose different attachment "styles. The securely attached children regarded their mothers as a safe haven from which they could explore their environment.

The insecurely attached, in contrast, either ignored the returning mother, cried inconsolably the whole time she was gone, or showed some combination of these distraught patterns of behavior.

The securely attached went on to become well-balanced teens and young adults; the insecurely attached had a much rockier road through life. At the same time that Ainsworth was discovering the predictive power of attachment style, Berkeley psychology Diana Baumrind identified variations in parenting styles that also contributed to child mental health outcomes.

These parenting styles vary in degree of control and demandingess, on one dimension, and support and responsiveness on the other: Finally, neglectful parents are low in both dimensions. This means, for instance, that they show their children they care about them, but they also expect them to follow their advice and guidance- if for no other reason than to keep them safe.

The parodies of AP either over-emphasize the permissiveness dimension or regard these parents as over-involved from birth on up. Neither would argue that parents would treat their year-old children the same way they would treat their newborns or even toddlers.

In the decades since these theories were developed and tested, researchers have examined the strengths and weaknesses of each to predict outcomes in children and adults. This research, along with studies of specific facets of AP, became the basis for a comprehensive review conducted back in by Harvard Medical School researchers Patrice Marie Miller and Michael Lamport Commons in the Behavioral Development Bulletin.

How the mary ainsworth child attachment theory has influenced today s practices

Fortunately, you can read the article in its entirety, because it is available to the public for no charge. Several additional studies conducted since that time have examined specific aspects of AP, such as co- sleeping and stress in infants and children e.

This quote from the opening to this article is important to include here because I think it summarizes nicely the correct view of AP: That is not a correct view, however. Sears and Sears argue instead that parents might work or bottle feed and still be using AP, if their own parenting behavior is still as child centered as possible.

These authors also argue that any parenting behavior, including holding, feeding and co-sleeping could be applied in a way that is not responsive to cues from the infant.

These are its 4 key components in the care of infants: Co-sleeping- either in the same room as parents or with appropriate safety precautions in the same bed. Feeding on demand- allowing the child to set the timing of feeding whether breast- or bottle-fedalong with self-weaning.

Holding and touching- keeping the child physically near, whether through cuddling and cradling, or by wearing on a front- or backpack arrangement.

You can see why each of these areas of AP would have strong advocates and equally strong critics. How about the stress on mom?

Attachment Theory | Simply Psychology

The evidence based on studies of AP in infants shows a wide range of psychological and physical benefits to each of the 4 components of AP. For example, AP-raised infants have lower stress levels, cry less often, and feel more connected to other people as they get older, even showing higher levels of empathy.

AP with older infants and children, as I indicated earlier, adapts to the developmental level of the child which is another reason the Time cover was so misleading.

As the infant turns into a toddler, some mothers will still be breast-feeding though not as frequently as with very young infants. Instead, they need to find the balance between encouraging independence and autonomy while still allowing their child to feel safe and secure.

As an example, consider how parents respond to the development of fear in their young children such as fear of a barking dog. These strategies are part of the larger picture of helping children learn to regulate their emotions. Children with attachment parenting may be less likely as adults to show road rage.

You may still be wondering how mom and dad are faring through all of this. Parenthood is never easy, but attachment parenting seems to hold some advantages for alleviating stress in parents.

We do know from extensive research on adult attachment style that securely attached adults have happier and less conflict-ridden lives. Before you write off AP as lax parenting that spoils children, I hope you will take a look at the evidence to help inform your own choices in whatever role you play in the lives of the young.

Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph. Solitary sleeping in young infants is associated with heightened cortisol reactivity to a bathing session but not to a vaccination. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37 2Attachment theory has been generating creative and impactful research for almost half a century.

Attachment Theory | Simply Psychology

In this article we focus on the documented antecedents and consequences of individual differences in infant attachment patterns, suggesting topics for further theoretical clarification, research, clinical interventions, and policy applications.

Apr 07,  · Dr. Ainsworth's research contributed significantly to attachment theory, which emphasizes the importance of intimate human relationships, or attachments, in shaping children's .

Mary Ainsworth is a pivotal figure in psychology. She invented one of the most widely used assessment tools for discovering a child's attachment style.

Attachment theory is focused on the relationships and bonds between people, particularly long-term relationships, including those between a parent and child and between romantic partners.

Attachment and parenting style theories provide the foundation for attachment parenting as it's practiced today.

The parodies of AP either over-emphasize the permissiveness dimension or regard. These categories of relationship were developed by Mary Ainsworth — a student of the father of attachment theory John Bowlby — after watching these children in what became known as the “Strange Situation.”.

Attachment theory - Wikipedia