Attachment parenting

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Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears,[1] is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences.[2] Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well-being. Less sensitive and emotionally unavailable parenting or neglect of the child's needs may result in insecure forms of attachment style, which is a risk factor for many mental health problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and eating disorders).[3][4] In extreme and rare conditions, the child may not form an attachment at all and may suffer from reactive attachment disorder.[5] Principles of attachment parenting aim to increase development of a child's secure attachment and decrease insecure attachment.

When parents are taught to increase their sensitivity to an infant's needs and signals, this increases the development of the child's attachment security.[6] Sears' specific techniques of attachment parenting remain under study.

History[edit]

Attachment theory, originally proposed by John Bowlby, states that the infant has a tendency to seek closeness to another person and feel secure when that person is present. Bowlby had earlier proposed in his maternal deprivation hypothesis, published in 1951, that maternal deprivation would not only cause depression in children, but also acute conflict and hostility, decreasing their ability to form healthy relationships in adult life.[7][8]

Sigmund Freud proposed that attachment was a consequence of the need to satisfy various drives. According to attachment theory, children attach to parents because they are social beings for whom such relationship is natural and intrinsic, not only because they need other people to satisfy drives.[citation needed]

In the 1970s James Prescott carried out research into primate child–mother bonding and noted a clear link between disruption of the child–mother bonding process and the emergence of violence and fear-based behavior in the young primates. Unable to conduct the same research on human subjects, he then carried out a number of cross cultural studies of all known first contact observations of Aboriginal Societies. He found he could accurately predict the emergence of violence and hierarchical power in any given society, based on the treatment of mothers and children.[9]

Developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth devised a procedure, called The Strange Situation, to observe attachment relationships between a human caregiver and child. She observed disruptions to the parent/child attachment over a 20 minute period, and noted that this affected the child's exploration and behavior toward the mother. This operationalization of attachment has recently come under question, as it may not be a valid measure for infants that do not experience distress upon initial encounter with a stranger.[10]

In practice[edit]

The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears.,[11] sometimes referred to as the 'Bible of attachment parenting'[12] gives practical attachment parenting advice in the form of the following ‘seven baby B’s of attachment parenting’:

  1. Birth bonding: The first few hours after birth are regarded as very important to promote attachment.
  2. Belief in the signal value of your baby’s cries: Parents are encouraged to learn to understand their baby’s cries and respond quickly and appropriately to them.
  3. Breastfeeding: This is regarded to have physical and psychological advantages to both mother and child.
  4. Babywearing: The term was first used by Dr. Sears and it means carrying the baby in a sling or other carrier, close to the body of the caregiver.
  5. Bedding close to baby: Sleeping in the same room and preferably in the same bed as the baby is encouraged, as is frequent (breast)feeding at night.
  6. Balance and boundaries: Appropriate responsiveness (knowing when to say yes and when to say no) is needed to keep a healthy family live.
  7. Beware of baby trainers: Instead of taking advice about how to ‘train’ the baby to make it cry less and sleep for longer stretches, parents are encouraged to listen to their own instinct and intuition.

According to attachment parenting advocates this advice helps parents to respond quickly and sensitively to their baby’s needs, thus facilitating development of secure attachment.

Childcare[edit]

Attachment parenting proponents value secure attachment between children and a primary caregiver, preferably a parent or guardian. Secure primary or secondary attachments may also be formed with other caregiving adults and should be supported by the parents.

From the biological point of view, caregiver and infant have evolved a coordinated relationship in which the infant seeks to maintain proximity to the carer who responds to its overtures and signals of distress or fear and provides a secure base for exploration. The type of attachment formed by the infant and child is influential in the formation of the internal working model and thus the child's functioning throughout life. The secure attachment, formed when a carer is appropriately sensitive to the child's emotional and biological needs, is the norm.[13]

Even when engaging non-parental caregivers, attachment parents strive to maintain healthy, secure attachments with their children. AP-friendly childcare is a continuation of the nurturing care given by the parents and focuses on meeting the child's needs. Attachment parents typically work to make caregiving arrangements that are sensitive to the child while balancing their own needs as well.

While in childcare, children may suffer injuries or traumatic experiences, and this may affect their attachment to the parent. An 'attachment injury' may form if an AP is not present for a traumatic or severely physically painful event in the child's life, or the AP does not partake in the primary attachment recovery process (which takes place immediately after the injury until the child is no longer in pain). Although attachment injuries are hypothesized to increase the likelihood of an insecure and unstable attachment to the parent by proponents of attachment parenting, evidence of the existence of these injuries is scarce. In effect, even researchers that have noted some deleterious consequences of child care note that the most important source of influence on attachment relationships is the caregiver and that child care quality is an important factor to consider.[14]

Criticisms[edit]

Several criticisms of attachment parenting have been raised.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "API: FAQ - General Attachment Parenting". Attachment Parenting International. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  2. ^ Bretherton I (1992). "The Origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth". Developmental Psychology 28 (5): 759
  3. ^ Colin, V.L. (1996) “Human attachment” (published by McGraw-Hill). pp. 22-24
  4. ^ Mikulincer, M. and Ph.R. Shaver (2012) “An attachment perspective on psychopathology”. World Psychiatry 11(1): 11–15
  5. ^ Schechter D.S and E. Willheim (2009). "[Disturbances of attachment and parental psychopathology in early childhood". Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 18 (3): 665–86
  6. ^ Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian J.; Van Ijzendoorn, Marinus H.; Juffer, Femmie (2005). "Disorganized infant attachment and preventive interventions: A review and meta-analysis". Infant Mental Health Journal 26 (3): 191–216. doi:10.1002/imhj.20046. 
  7. ^ Crossman, Pat (2004), "The Etiology of a Social Epidemic". www.skepticreport.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  8. ^ Bowlby J (1951). Maternal Care and Mental Health. Geneva: World Health Organisation. ; 2nd edition 1952 - part 1 and part 2
  9. ^ Prescott, James W. (1975). "Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence". The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 31 (9): 10–20. 
  10. ^ Clarke-Stewart, K. Alison; Goossens, Frits A.; Allhusen, Virginia D. (2001). "Measuring Infant-Mother Attachment: Is the Strange Situation Enough?". Social Development 10 (2): 143–69. doi:10.1111/1467-9507.00156. 
  11. ^ Sears, William and Sears, Martha (1992, 2nd ed. 2003). The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two (ISBN 9780316778008), pp. 4-10
  12. ^ The Newest, Latest Parenting Trend, November 8, 2010
  13. ^ Cooper, M. Lynne; Shaver, Phillip R.; Collins, Nancy L. (1998). "Attachment styles, emotion regulation, and adjustment in adolescence". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (5): 1380–97. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.5.1380. PMID 9599450. 
  14. ^ Belsky, J. (2001). Emanuel Miller lecture developmental risks (still) associated with early child care. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42(7), 845-859.
  15. ^ Warner, Judith (2006). Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety (ISBN 1-59448-170-9)[page needed]
  16. ^ Hays, Sharon (1998) Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood (ISBN 0-300-07652-5)[page needed]
  17. ^ Hays found in another paper. Hays, Sharon (1998). "The Fallacious Assumptions and Unrealistic Prescriptions of Attachment Theory: A Comment on 'Parents' Socioemotional Investment in Children'". Journal of Marriage and Family 60 (3): 782–90. doi:10.2307/353546. JSTOR 353546. 
  18. ^ Van Zeijl, J., Mesman, J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Juffer, F., Stolk, M. N., ... & Alink, L. R. (2006). Attachment-based intervention for enhancing sensitive discipline in mothers of 1-to 3-year-old children at risk for externalizing behavior problems: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 74(6), 994.
  19. ^ Kemp, James S.; Unger, Benjamin; Wilkins, Davida; Psara, Rose M.; Ledbetter, Terrance L.; Graham, Michael A.; Case, Mary; Thach, Bradley T. (2000). "Unsafe Sleep Practices and an Analysis of Bedsharing Among Infants Dying Suddenly and Unexpectedly: Results of a Four-Year, Population-Based, Death-Scene Investigation Study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Related Deaths". Pediatrics 106 (3): e41. doi:10.1542/peds.106.3.e41. PMID 10969125. 
  20. ^ CPSC Warns Against Placing Babies in Adult Beds; Study finds 64 deaths each year from suffocation and strangulation, Consumer Product Safety Commission, September 29, 1999
  21. ^ "Attachment parenting international calls on government to delay campaign warning parents not to sleep with their babies". Attachment Parenting International. Archived from the original on 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  22. ^ "Developing emotional attachments in adopted children". Attachment Parenting International. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  23. ^ Prior V and Glaser D (2006). Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence and Practice. Child and Adolescent Mental Health Series. London: Jessica Kingsley. p. 186. ISBN 1-84310-245-5. OCLC 70663735. 
  24. ^ Chaffin, M.; Hanson, R; Saunders, BE; Nichols, T; Barnett, D; Zeanah, C; Berliner, L; Egeland, B; Newman, E; Lyon, T; Letourneau, E; Miller-Perrin, C (2006). "Report of the APSAC Task Force on Attachment Therapy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Attachment Problems". Child Maltreatment 11 (1): 76–89. doi:10.1177/1077559505283699. PMID 16382093. 
  25. ^ Curtner-Smith, M. E.; Middlemiss, W.; Green, K.; Murray, A. D.; Barone, M.; Stolzer, J.; Parker, L.; Nicholson, B. (2006). "An Elaboration on the Distinction Between Controversial Parenting and Therapeutic Practices Versus Developmentally Appropriate Attachment Parenting: A Comment on the APSAC Task Force Report". Child Maltreatment 11 (4): 373–4; author reply 381–6. doi:10.1177/1077559506292635. PMID 17043322. 
  26. ^ "Attachment.org: Nancy Thomas". Nancy Thomas. Retrieved 2008-11-07. [unreliable medical source?]
  27. ^ Federici, Dr. Ronald S.(1998). Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families (With Special Discussion for Assessing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child) (ISBN 096671010X)
  28. ^ Chaffin, M.; Hanson, R.; Saunders, B.E.; Nichols, T.; Barnett, D.; Zeanah, C.; Berliner, L.; Egeland, B.; Newman, E.; Lyon, T.; LeTourneau, E.; Miller-Perrin, C. (2006). "Report of the APSAC Task Force on Attachment Therapy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Attachment Problems Report". Child Maltreatment 11 (1): 76–89. doi:10.1177/1077559505283699. 

Additional reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Attachment Parenting on the Open Directory Project