Attachment Theory and ParentingPresentation Transcript
Internal working models
• Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond
that connects one person to another across time and
space (Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969).
• Attachment does not have to be reciprocal. One
person may have an attachment with an individual
which is not shared. Attachment is characterized by
specific behaviors in children, such as seeking
proximity with the attachment figure when upset or
threatened (Bowlby, 1969).
The theory of attachment postulates that children develop
strong emotional connection and bond to the person who cares
after the child during the first year of life
• Those ties/bond are of exclusive importance for
the normal child’s social and emotional
development and wellbeing. A child need to feel
proximity, warmth and constant bond to the
mother or another person who provides care in
order he/she to develop its functions. Mothers of
secure attached children show high score in
scales for sensitivity, acceptance, cooperation and
emotional availability. As a result the child
develops high autonomy, cognitive plasticity,
emotional sharing, problem solving skills and
Here is the ‘father’ of Attachment theory – John Bowlby. In a
series of papers in early 60s of last century he disproves the idea
of psychoanalysis that that only libidinal and physiological needs
of the child attach it to the mother.
• In 60s of the last century Mary Ainsworth observes and asses child’s
behavior elements to discover that responsive, acceptive mothers
represent ‘secure base’ for their children. Newborn needs to know that
the main figure that provides constant care is stable and reliable. Starting
from this feeling & knowledge child is able to discover the external
environment in an open and free manner. The lack of the constant figure
of caregiver makes him/her instable and there is not desire for discovering
behavior at all. Ainswort h defines the attachment as secure and insecure
and classifies 3 types of attachment:
• - Secure attachment style
• - Anxious – Avoidant style
• - Ambivalent style
• Further research by Mary Main and colleagues at the University of
California, Berkeleyidentified a fourth attachment pattern, called
disorganized/disoriented attachment. The name reflects these children's
lack of a coherent coping strategy
Mary Ainsworth, developmental
• Merry Ainsworth manages to define styles of attachment by creating a
method for observation of toddlers in a laboratory setting – Strange
situation that asses 4 main elements of child’s behavior:
• - Anxiety of separation – anxiety that a child shows normally when the
mother leaves the room.
• - Readiness to explore close environment - freedom to explore.
• - Anxiety towards strangers – child’s behavior when a child is in presence
of stranger and his attitude toward the stranger.
• - Reunion – the way that the child greets the mother upon her return.
• It is about a procedure of „directed“ short-time separations of a child and
the mother and allows identification of individual differences with
toddlers . It shows different strategies to cope with the stress of the
Attachment and adults
• After Mary Ainsworth developed a method by
which to measure the style of attachment in
infancy, research increased significantly. A model
of attachment in adulthood has been developed,
according to which again we have 4 styles
(Bartholomew and Horowitz, 1991). Today , most
researchers measure individual differences in
adult attachment dimensionally by two lines that
apply: avoidance - anxiety brought from
Ainsworth, and in terms of styles, retaining the
classification of Bartholomew and Horowitz .
Parenthood and attachement
Parenthood has key influence to the attachment style. According to the researches up
to date mothers of securely attached children are responsive to the needs of the
children and its signals. Mothers of insecurely attached children show contradictory
behavior towards the needs of the child and often refuse child’s signals. Thus creating
feeling of insecurity.
In any case some type of attachment is formed but there arer cases when there is
total lack of parental care.
When there is event which diminish emotional availability of the parent to the child,
the attachment style could be transformed from secure to insecure because the
parenthood and its context change significantly over the time.
Parental warmth and responsiveness are not the only determinant of secure
attachment style but significantly increase it as possibility.
Mother of securely attached children show high scores
in scales sensitiveness, acceptance, cooperation and
As a result a child develops autonomy, emotional sharing,
cognitive plasticity , problem resolving skills and continuity
“If you want your children to be intelligent, read
them fairy tales. If you want them to be more
intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ~Albert
• Parenting has a key influence on the attachment.
According to existing studies mothers of securely
attached children are responsive to the needs
and signals of the child, and mothers of children
with insecure attachment contradictory behavior
in response to the needs of the child and reject
its signals. Thus building a sense of security or
insecurity. With the exception of cases where the
person has a total lack of parental care, it is
formed certain affection and attachment.
Researchers in the field of developmental psychology displayed four basic
parenting styles. Authoritarian, authoritative, uninvolved and permissive.
Each of these styles has its characteristics in different ways of influence on
the formation and construction of each individual child! Which styles do you
think have the most favorable influence?
Authoritarian parents tend to control, monitor and evaluate the behavior of their
children; they have high demands for maturity of the child, they do not tolerate
inappropriate behavior and insist on completing obedience. A tribute is passive
behaviors such as obedience and discipline and tend to limit autonomy of the child.
Parents often use threats and punishments. To a small extent they are responsive and
do not explain the reasons for imposing specific rules and requirements. Children
raised by authoritarian parents often exhibit unwanted and problematic behavior in
different social situations.
Children become conformal, executive
their independence and initiative are missing;
Children have low self-esteem, are insecure,
difficult, they are afraid to take responsibility,
lack of decisions making skills, cooperation and
show low social competence, i.e. have
problems in adaptability and assertiveness.
Allowing parents are less controlled and highly responsive and dedicated. Often do not control
the behavior of the child and leave him/her alone to regulate his/her own actions. Avoid the use
of punishment and see themselves as a resource the child to survive, not as responsible for the
formation and change of the child's behavior. Allowing style is described by high levels of care
and clarity in communication and low levels of control and maturity requirements. Children of
allowing parents face difficulties in communicating and adaptation, have low self-control and
lack of confidence in themselves. They are more impulsive than children of authoritative and
authoritarian parents and are more likely to display deviant behavior, as well as alcohol and
drugs dependency. These children have never learnt to control their own behavior and always
expect what they say and they want .
• Are emotionally not interested and separated from the child and have no
expectations of him/her. They take care of what the vital and urgent needs are of
the child, but do not commit to anything more. When communicating with the
child parents often show little concern and are not interested in the problems.
Typical patterns are coldness, disapproval and rejection.
• A parent does not show feelings of love, concern, interest, often suppresses child,
evokes feelings of detachment, emotional coldness and rejection, indifference to
the child. This behavior provokes with the child low self-esteem and self-control,
high aggression, behavior inconsistent, contradictory behavior.
• Later on when children grow up become uncommunicative and reclusive, difficult
to socialize and fit in society.
• Authoritative parenting style is a happy midline between the two extremes -
authoritarianism and permissiveness. Authoritative parents encourage children's
development in a rational and purposeful way. When communicating with the
child always explain the reasons for certain actions and imposed rules.
Authoritative style is characterized by high levels of supervision and care by
parents , clarity communication and mature requirements. These parents are both
demanding and responsive, encourage dialogue and communicate freely with the
child. Children of authoritative parents are significantly more competent, more
oriented towards success and adaptable in school settings than other children.
Children demonstrate skills in the implementation of social interactions, are
independent and are independent in solving problems, show emotional well-being
and psychological adjustment and low risk of delinquency.
The separation is the main topic of
• Children living deprived of parental care have
insecure attachment style. In the next sessions
we will talk how to cope with difficult children
with insecure attachment.
• Thank you!
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."