The development and infant-mother attachment

Apr 6 20:25 2007 Max Weber Print This Article

Throughout the life most of people happen to be involved into a number of interpersonal relations. The first and the most important relationships are settled between an infant and a mother or someone who takes care of the infant.

Bonds that connect them become stronger by the time the infant is 8-9 months. These first relations are called attachment. Attachment implies relations that are characterized by  interdependency,Guest Posting intensive mutual feelings and vitally important emotional bonds.

Attachment is a search and establishment of emotional intimacy with another person. Infant attachment to his mother is initial attachment. It is the innate need of being in direct intimacy with a person. Child development is realized on its basis for the first years of child’s life. An infant can realize active research activities in unknown situations. He won’t react with panic when strange person approaches him, only in case of adequate formation of attachment because he always can appeal to his mother as to a reliable defense. If there is no possibility of establishing attachment, some reactions of passiveness can be formed and some mental  problems can immerge.

Attachment implies chosen infant’s attitude to his mother, who assures him reliable security and emotional support. 

It was proved that mother and infant’s interaction of the first hours after birth had impact on their future contacts. It was demonstrated that emotional relations became stronger because of their interaction during the first hours of infant’s life, meanwhile mother and infant’s separation can cause negative effects.

The first infant’s attachment in its formation passes several phases that are the basis of his future development. A child passes this process from vague realization of the world to establishing trustworthy relations with a person taking care of him. The process is a certain succession of events. The first reactions to attachment form the basis for future relations with people of the same age, relatives, another adults, beloved.

Infants pass several phases of emotional and social growth, and as a result the fist strong relations are settled. Infant’s emotions include only distress and weak interest, but soon  the infant starts demonstrating a wide range of emotions, such as sorrow, anger, disgust and pleasure. They are stirred up during infant’s interactions with the surroundings. Then, mostly during the second year of life, social emotions start appearing: proud, shame, confusion, guilty and sympathy.

There are a lot of theories of attachment. For instance, English psychiatrist J.Bowlby thinks that attachment to mother, father or somebody else isn’t innate feeling, but is a result of early learning. As he considers  only certain forms of infant’s behavior are innate, they are capable to make the surroundings to be near an infant, to take care of him. These forms are infant’s babble, smile and crawling. These forms have adaptation character, because they provide an infant with care necessary for his survival.  

J.Bowlby supposes that the main result of the mother and infant’s interaction is an appearance infant’s emotional attachment, which makes an infant desire mother’s presence, her caresses, especially if he is worried or frightened. The first 6 months infant attachments have changeable character, but after it attachment to certain people becomes apparent, usually mother is the first object of attachment.

The formation of attachment is  vitally necessary for infant’s development. It gives him feeling of security, contributes to development of  image of himself and socialization. The choice of the object, strength and quality of attachment mostly depend on  parents’ behavior  with respect to their infant.      

Infant attachment to his mother starts developing very early. The first phase of attachment covers the first 8-12 weeks of infant’s life. An infant gives signals that are not addressed to the concrete person.

The second phase is called a phase of attachment formation. It falls on the first six months. An infant can already make out familiar and unknown people, preferring familiar ones.

After six months a phase of formed attachment begins. An infant is able to undertake active actions for achieving desired intimacy with a person taking care of him. An infant creates image of this person, and starts suffering when is separated with him. Infant’s behavior becomes more purposeful.

Approximately at the third year of life, on the phase of purpose partnership, an  infant learns to conform to plans and ideas of the person taking care of him.

All phases of attachment replace each other depending not only on development of infant’s social functions, but also on broadening of his mental and psychomotor abilities. The repertory of his actions broadens. So, on the first phase they are only mimicry, smile, crying, vocalization and concrete actions. On the second a coordinated reaching some objects appears, on the third –

crawling and climbing. Little by little an infant becomes able to  purposeful behavior. The image of “constant person”  forms and an infant becomes capable of understanding and taking into account feelings and intentions of others.       

There are a lot of investigations concerning the question of attachment. The results of one of them allowed to define and appraise four forms of infant attachment. 

1.  Secure  attachment (66%). Infants  can easily be without their mother.  Infants feel sure in unknown situation, they are calm among strangers, they investigate surroundings actively.  They are glad to see their mother, to get into  contact with her, to play actively. There are kind and tender relations between infant and mother. In future such children become inquisitive, independent and competent. 

2.  Avoidant attachment (20%). Infants do not feel sorry when their mother leaves them, or there is a very small demonstration of infant’ grief. They pay attention to surroundings, but can avoid contact with mother, someone just ignore her.  Very often infants feel anger when their mother returns to them.  

3.  Insecure  attachment with resistance (12%). Infants display anxiety in mother’s presence. They feel upset when their mother leaves, on her returning they demonstrate desire to get  into contact with her, but they resist her approaching and interaction.

4.  Insecure attachment with disorganization. These infants demonstrate conflicting, abnormal behavior. For example, some stereotyped forms of behavior (pulling himself by the hair, grimaces, etc), reactive behavior.  In this case usually mother does not know how to cope with the situation.

As we can see, on the early stages of development infant attachment has influence on all aspects of his psychic development and on success of his socialization.There are some behavioral components of attachment, that first of all assure intimacy with a person, to whom an infant is attached. They include signaling behavior (crying, smile, vocal signals),locomotion, that is caused by another person’s behavior ( approaching, moving), and active actions, which are directed to achieving physical contact ( clambering, gripping, clutching). All these forms mean attachment only if they are directed to those people who take care of infants, but not to the surroundings in general. These forms of behavior are criteria of attachment, because without them relations of attachment are settled with difficulty. That’s why attachment can be formed only if the infant displays activity. The development of attachment is a certain system of interaction. Infant’s behavior induces adults to undertake some actions, and in their turn adults’ behavior stirs up some infant’s reactions.A lot of scientists suppose that the feeling of attachment to adults immerges because they satisfy children’s primary needs. Children learn to connect intimacy with satisfaction of their physical needs.In Freud’s theory it considers that infant’s emotional bonds are conditioned by the fact that his mother satisfy all his needs. As a result of this process the infant forms  a constant, positive image of his mother, on which he relies during their short separations. Attachment between the mother and the infant forms a basis of infant’s emotional reactions. These reactions are: establishing interactive  connection;  stranger anxiety and separation anxiety; reactions on separation with relatives.

The scientists lay emphasis on importance of bilateral emotional communication  between parents and a child, as only in this case an infant can reach his interactive aims.

Stranger anxiety and separation anxiety is one of the most important factors of attachment. It is a feeling of anxiety, that is  caused by appearance of unknown people and by the possibility to be left alone, without parents.

A lot of psychologists consider this separation anxiety and  fear of strangers to be a sign of infant’s intellectual development. Because at this age (7 months) infants start distinguishing familiar and unknown people, start realizing the absence of  the  person taking care of him, and when they discover any departure from familiar and usual they feel anxiety. In this case anxiety is explained by appearance of more difficult infant’s waitings, by his cognitive development.

There should be pointed out the difference between children with normal development of attachment and children with broken one. It concerns those who are brought up in children’s house, or in hospitals, or by various  people, who  often change each other. Of course, there is no possibility  of developing proper relations of attachment for such children. There are some results of absence of attachment, such as absence of social interaction, appearance of deep apathy, the oppression of various child’s functions, development of inadequate personality and others.

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Max Weber
Max Weber

Max is a freelance writer at custom essay writing service

 

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