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Influence Of Parent-Infant Attachment On Optimal Development

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This essay will discuss the influence of parent-infant attachment on the optimal development of a child and particularly how poor parenting techniques can affect and influence a child's growth to optimal development. This paper will specifically focus on journal articles research into psychosocial and emotional stages of children and will correlate poor parent-infant attachment to lack of achievement of milestones of development in children across subsequent developmental ages. This paper will also address strategies for parents to ensure good parent-infant attachment is achievable for all caregivers. The subject of parent-infant attachment has been well studied since the original theory was first put forward by John Bowlby in 1951 (Bowlby, cited in Owusu-Bempah and Howitt, 1997) and there has been much research and study into parent-infant attachment during the subsequent years. Theiss and Travers (2006) point out that the development of attachment relationships in children and human beings appears to be innately programmed and this programming is called attachment theory. Owusu-Bempah and Howitt (1997) discuss attachment theory and explore this concept through discussion suggesting that children who fail to have positive and intimate relationships in early childhood may exhibit behaviours leading them to emotional struggles and difficulties in achieving optimal development. Optimal development is achieved by successful completion of all milestones across the ages of childhood through to adulthood. Theis and Travers (2006) assert that attachment behaviours are instinctual and children seek contact from birth with their caretaker and Berk (1997) points out that attachment behaviours are reassuring and are exhibited throughout life, giving one example of an adult phoning a significant other at a moment of difficulty, isolation or stress to assist to restabilise their view of self and the world. ...read more.


completed a study based on a key variable identified as reciprocal responsiveness. The key finding of this study was that secure attachment behaviours in infants was found to be noticeably more when parents interactions were sensitive, accepting, cooperative and accessible. Meins et.al (2001) gathered observations of infant attachment based on infant vocalisations, infant gaze and change in direction. These authors achieved their aim of testing if more sensitive mothers are more likely too establish secure attachment relationships in their children. They also found that parents with predictive abilities to pre-empt their childs needs were more likely to have securely attached children. This research moves to address the reasons why sensitive responsiveness of parents assists in the development of self and relationship through out childhood development. Owusu-Bempah and Howitt (1997) explore socio-genealogical connectedness and the attachment theory. Socio-genealogical connectedness is the extent to which a child identifies with biological parents. These authors put forward the notion that humans have a psychological urge to be connected to their biological roots and that inadequate knowledge destabilises children's emotional security and self-concept, leading to identity crisis in adolescence as defined by Erikson's stage of Identity verses Indentity confusion. Children in adolescence are trying to find out who they are and put importance on their role in the world while their self esteem is developing. Owusu-Bempah and Howitt (1997) acknowledge that a child's sense of continuity can be built by the whole community and that the felling of self-knowledge is partly culturally determined. ...read more.


(Green & Goldwyn, 1999, p.840) Green and Goldwyn (1999) suggest techniques of parent management aiming to improve sensitivity to the child and consistency of parenting skills as beneficial to the child by means of instilling self confidence and self esteem in the parent belief patterns of self. Howe (2006, Iss. 2) confirms this belief by suggesting co-ordinated services, reliable social support and good family harmony are instrumental in ensuring parents are able to instil good parent-infant attachment and subsequent assist their child to optimal development. In summary, good parent-infant attachment has been shown to be instrumental in the development of psycho-social and emotional skills, and is an important milestone of achieving optimal development across the ages for growing children. Poor parent-infant attachment has been linked by many researchers to poor caregiving skills of the carer. It is directly through parents or caregivers interactions that a child learns to trust its environment. Sensitivity and provision for the needs of the child by the parent builds trust in the child and this is shown through behaviours of appropriate interactions with the environment and the childs main caregiver. A child with well formed parent-infant attachment behaviours continues to successfully develop and achieve milestones of growth across all developmental area. A child of a parent who is unable to meet the needs of their infant or provide synchronicity of meeting needs in an appropriate time frame, will have difficulty trusting the environment and may develop social and emotional deficits through childhood, adolescence and adult life. By providing parental support in many and varied ways, the health system can assist caregivers in their role of successfully assisting a child to optimal development. ...read more.

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