The role of attachment in the behavior of children...

The role of attachment in the behavior of children and adults

A study was conducted in which three-year-olds were asked to complete the story, based on a given situation regarding attachment (for example, about a child who fell and bruised a knee while walking with his family). It turned out that reliably attached children most often depicted parents in their endings of history as being sympathetic and ready to come to the rescue (for example, they said that the parent would put a bandage on the child's knee).

It is also important to note that securely attached children (because they have a primary positive, trust-based experience of communicating with people and expect other people to have similar positive communication) tend to have friendly relations with their peers, while unreliable or ambivalently attached children demonstrate negative attitudes in preschool institutions.

It is necessary to emphasize once again that securely attached children are not dependent children. On the contrary, they use the adult as a firm support, which allows them to realize themselves in one or another activity. As the studies of American psychologists have shown, in preschool institutions such children are the most competent in communicating with peers and are most independent (they use the teacher only as a guide in the course of their own activity). At the same time, unreliably attached children, on the contrary, try to stay close to the teacher, they "stick" to him. Such a child does not even try to solve problems independently, but immediately appeals for help from an adult. It is clear that such behavior leads to low socialization of the child, because he simply does not have the opportunity to communicate with his peers. When going to school education, such children experience great difficulties, as they need not only to learn new material, but also to follow the accepted norms. As the role of objective evaluation of their abilities increases in school, they often fail because of their passivity and dependence on external factors. These children have reduced cognitive activity, they are less able to absorb new material and eventually cause discontent with their parents. Thus, the situation acquires the property of cyclicity: the failure of the child leads to deterioration of relations with parents, which, in turn, further suppresses the activity of the child.

The teacher's task is to support such children in the group. It is advisable not to tell parents about the negative qualities of children. However, noting the positive qualities of children, you need to be moderate in their evaluation and offer parents productive ways of interacting with their children.

Attachment is an important factor affecting the cognitive development of the child. Thus, in one study, children of three and a half years of age were shown pictures on which the mother and the child were being communicated. At the same time, the experimenter recorded the time during which the child viewed the images. Then the children were told stories about the relationship between the child and the parent. After a while the child was asked to reproduce these stories. It turned out that unreliably attached children are less than securely attached, look at such images and are less likely to remember information related to child-parent relations.

Adults also have certain thoughts and feelings about attachment, and their attitudes, no doubt, affect how they treat their children. M. Maine asked mothers and fathers questions about their own early memories. It turned out that the storytellers, who talked about their own early experiences as something positive, the children had a reliable attachment. At the same time, if the parents positively expressed their relationship with their parents only in general terms, and switched to negative emotions when considering specific situations from the past, their children, as a rule, had avoiding affection. It is important to emphasize that such tendencies were not observed in parents who openly showed discontent or even anger over former relationships with their own parents. This clearly confirms the hypothesis of J. Bowlby, according to which one of the sources of the conflict between parents and children is the presence in the adult of two polar, incompatible models of attachment in the demonstration (awareness) of only an idealized model. Also, we can say that the child, when communicating with an adult, is oriented, on the one hand, to the guardian's model of attachment, and on the other hand, the adult himself relies on his existing working model in his behavior.

According to J. Bowlby and M. Einsworth, parents should be attentive to their baby and follow their parents' instincts, and not be afraid to spoil it. Attachment will be more reliable if they respond sensitively and quickly to the signals of their children. Such children understand that they can get attention if necessary, so they do not worry about their safety. Spoiledness occurs when the parent does not follow the child, but takes the whole initiative and pours out his love, regardless of whether the baby wants it or not. Therefore, the application of various early stimulation - developing pictures, computers - in an attempt to accelerate the development of the child's intellect M. Einsworth considered unhealthy, because all this takes away the initiative of the child.


As already noted, J. Bowlby relied on Freud's psychoanalysis in his approach, therefore, his theory (as well as the theory of A. Adler and E. Erikson) we refer to the theories of the first order, since they only complicate the original concept, but retain all of its main features. However, he shifted the focus from the sexual aspect of development to social: from the earliest childhood the child has special mechanisms that allow him to interact with an adult. Therefore, the attachment system as a behavioral control system has its own biologically determined motivation (different from systems regulating sexual or food behavior). However, J. Bowlby did not deny sexuality and aggression, but looked at them from the point of view of attachment theory. For example, anger or protest (aggression) serves, in his opinion, to preserve attachment ("the wrath of hope", about which J. Bowlby wrote). In fact, for J. Bowlby, attachment acts as the basic principle of explaining the child's behavior. If in animals the instinctive behavior of attachment does not belong to both partners, since the cub simply obeys the logic of instinct, then in relation to the child, attachment presupposes the presence of dyadic interaction, which is the prerequisite for child development in society. In addition, it should be noted that from the point of view of the attachment theory, individual differences in development are explained: the formation of a working model sets the type of relationship with the world.

Despite the fact that there is a cognitive aspect in the J. Bowlby theory (the concept of "working model"), as well as questions of psychometry (the study of certain personality traits), one can say that the problems he developed are in the framework of the psychoanalytic approach, since the behavior of the subject remains deterministic early childish experiences. In this sense, development is also determined by external circumstances - the relationship with a close adult.

Key Concepts

Imprinting - behavior that is intermediate between instinctual and individually acquired.

Instinct is an innate behavior that occurs without special training and is found in all members of this species.

Working attachment model - a general idea of ​​the child about the possibility to enter emotional contact with a close adult.

Attachment types - variants of the attachment model (reliable, avoiding, ambivalent).

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