Attachment and its’ Role in Relation to Children’s Development.

“At twelve months she fell ill with bronchitis and was in the hospital for nine months …During this time she never saw her parents, who were only permitted to visit her when she was asleep …When examined at the Clinic [at seven years of age] she was found …to be a withdrawn, detached, and unemotional child (Bowlby 1940, pp. 159-160).”
In 1940s, children were hospitalised dying for lack of nutrition and infection in the New York Bellevue Hospital. Unfortunately, all interventions which were taken did not decrease the death rate. Why these children were dying? Although, they were given medicines? The reasons were very different from the suggestions. Bakwin (1942 cited in Van der Horst, 2008) stated that maternal deprivation and sterile hospital conditions to protect them from infections caused by the death of many children. The regulations in the hospital were replaced with more careful behaviour for children’s psychological needs such as cuddling and loving given by nurses. Finally, although their chronic or serious illness was still going on, the death rate diminished (Van der Horst, 2008). From this point of view, hospitalised children took the attention of their psychological difficulties. As an example of their difficulties, the institutionalised children in the USA and Europe were introverted, shy and alone comparing with other siblings. Later in life, there were some cases recorded relating with the illegal activities of those children hospitalized (Bowlby, 1953 cited in Jackson and Fasig, 2010).
The concept of attachment was aroused when children were seriously sick after they had been institutionalised or hospitalised (Bretherton, 1985). The term attachment was defined positive emotional relations and mutual aid between infants and their guardians or families (Onur, 2004). Apparently, this definition is widely accepted by many professionals. For example, according to the well-known introduction to psychology book for newcomers to psychology science, the concept of attachment was defined as an emotional bond, developed just in the first year of baby’s life with their caregivers (Ayvasık and Sayıl, 2002). Although the concept of the attachment is not that simple, according to Bowlby who was the pioneer of attachment theory, suggested that attachment is not only a mother – child interaction, but it is also a social bond. Moreover, attachment is known to have its important effects during childhood and throughout the entire life span (Bretherton, 1985; Ainsworth, 1984). Attachment behaviours are more common when stressful life events emerge or serious illnesses arises (Bowlby, 1977 cited in Ainsworth, 1984).

The origins of the term of attachment comes from some observations and studies which have been done previously. For instance, Lorenz (1935) focused on the imprinting behaviours on birds which mean primitive attachment behaviours when some animal specious follow the first object or an animal which is moving (Ayvasık and Sayıl, 2002; Bretherton, 1985). Whereas his explanation was not enough to understand the nature of attachment because of the difference between progression of attachment in human and birds, he explained filial attachment in jackdaws which would lead to understand baby’s attachment process (Bretherton, 1985).

Rene Spitz who was interested in psychoanalytic perspective did another important experiment with the institutionalised children’s psychological and physiological reactions and he critically discussed its limitations (Spitz, 1945 cited in Van Der Horst, 2008). Spitz observed babies who were one years old in both institution and in the kindergarten with on-going process (Van Der Horst, 2008). He concluded that the children or babies who did not have enough emotional and social care were not healthy enough both physically and psychologically (Jackson and Fasig, 2010). As mentioned before, this research has its own limitations (Pinneau, 1955 cited in Van Der Horst, 2008). First of all, Spitz did not mention the date and the location of the study. Moreover, although this experiment was proposed as a longitudinal study, there were no certain numbers of children in the observation. In this study Spitz also ignored cultural diversity and socio-economic conditions of the sample which should be the foundation of the study and finally he was suspicious of their scale which was used to test the hypothesis. In addition to these limitations, there are some ethical problems about video-typing the children who were nude (see website: Whereas there are some problems, that leads to many scientific studies for attachment between mother and infant. Furthermore, important theories and investigations were affected by Spitz by Bowlby and Harlow (Van Der Horst, 2008).
To note another important figure, Harlow who was under the influence of Spitz made experiment with Rhesus monkeys in this respect (Van Der Horst, 2008). The well-known study took the monkeys when they were born and put them in an isolated place (Jackson and Fasig, 2010). He compared these monkeys with the other monkeys who were living with their mothers, just after birth. The monkeys who lived separately from their mother displayed behavioural problems such as aggression and rocking after they were sent to the side of other monkeys. Harlow took a step forward to his research by sending out monkeys by the side of two different cages. One of the cages involved a wire mother and the other one was a terrycloth mother. While the wire covered mother monkey provided food and water, the terrycloth monkey was surrounded by the only comfortable blanket or soft materials, but food was not supplied. The baby monkeys who were sent to stay two different cages chose to stay a long time with terrycloth monkey than with the wire mother monkey which supplied food and water. The findings showed that the newborn monkeys preferred attachment rather than their vital needs such as food (Jackson and Fasig, 2010).
Harlow and Bowlby stated that the attachment between mother and infant does not only depend on need of the food but also the need of love and Bowlby created the theory of maternal deprivation which is his famous study. Bowlby’s this new theory about human attachment and development refused psychoanalytic and learning theories (Van Der Horst and Veer, 2008), he only used some important viewpoints from earlier theories (Waters et al, 2002). Bowlby’s main opinion in opposition for the Psychodynamic theory put its emphasis on the circumstances which occur in individual’s psyche rather than the real life (Waters et al, 2002). Furthermore, Freud thought that the babies are reliant to their mother because of their needs and use mothers to decrease their urges although Bowlby suggested infants as skilful and enthusiastic to the environment (Waters et al, 2002). Bowlby believed the evolutionary aspects of attachment behaviours which puts attachment into a significant place for survival and whenever attachment shows itself in the form of crying, approaching and smiling, mother- infant relationship becomes more cordial (1982 cited in Rothbaum et al, 2000). At this point, the main ideas of him which can be explained briefly in two aspects are of great note. First of all, the attachment system regulates the behaviours which are related to the provision of the proximity with the attached person. As an example of this, babies want their mother to be close to them to feel safer. If they feel insecure, then children look for an attachment figure. If infant is attached securely, his psychological development will be healthier (Sayar and Tüzün, 2006).
Bowlby claimed that when the attachment is interrupted, it may cause personality and cognitive problems later in life (Sayar and Tüzün, 2006).  
Secondly, the differences in terms of different people’s behaviours depend on the internal working model of self or other changes. Internal working model explains the concept of the world or belief system developed during infancy, at the same time the traits can change during the childhood. The cognitive function which helps us to understand the world better improves with the attachment figures (Bretherton, 1985). Internal working model seems very similar to Piaget’s theory about representation, but, he is not influenced by Piaget instead Craik (1943)’s idea helped him to find his way of theory (Bretherton, 1985). One of the shortcomings which should be noticed; is his lack of perspective about mentioning adulthood attachment because of his attachment model that focused merely on early childhood (Waters et al, 2002).
Mary Ainsworth worked with John Bowlby, but Ainsworth improved her studies beyond Bowlby’s attachment theory (Sayar and Tüzün, 2006). She believed that mothers are always alert and sensitive to their baby’s gestures because it shows secure attached mother-infant relations. However, some researchers do agree that her findings that are not strong enough to prove what she has said (Rothbaum et al, 2000). She conducted many researches about attachment between mother and the effect on rest of the life on children (Bretherton, 1985).

Ainsworth observed a mother- infant relationship and mother’s behaviours as a response to the baby’s motion or attitudes in house conditions called as the Baltimore study. In order to prove what she concludes from her observations, she made several laboratory experiments with a child, her mother and a stranger respectively. The experiment known as “Strange Situation” had eight episodes with tripartite relationship mainly to know the child’s response to an environment without her/ his mother, whereas, reunion process with mother also attracts the attention (Bretherton, 1985; Cross, 2007).

In strange situation, a child was taken to a new room where she has not been ever with many toys. Her behaviours firstly monitored when she was only with her mother and then in the absence of mother, existence of stranger and at the same time interaction with her. But at the same time she had a chance to play with toys in the room (Bretherton, 1985). Essentially, this experiment involved a number of children to asses their behaviours. She concluded that there are three different attachment categories which were observed during the experimental process (Cross, 2007). These are: the first group is avoidant (group A), the second group is Secure (Group B) and the third group is Resistant (Group C) (Bretherton, 1985). As an example of different attachment types of behaviour is, the group A, the baby who was in the reunion process displayed tantrum to her mother house (Main and Weston, 1982 cited in Bretherton, 1985). Moreover, unsurprisingly avoidant children’s mothers were defined the similar way with their children as being aggressive to their infants and having difficulties to explain their emotions (Bretherton, 1985).

Strange situation is very well-known investigation to identify the differences between guardian/parent and child relationship (Sagi et al, 1991). According to Rothbaum’s (2000) opinion, researches lack in the cross-cultural perspective in terms of various cultures. Only limited numbers of cross-cultural studies with attachment can be found in the studies of Sagi et al’s (1999) and Cassidy et al (1999). For instance, Sagi et al (2001) conducted a research with many countries including Germany, Holland, Israel, Japan Sweden and USA by using strange situation at seven laboratories for each country. In this research, they compared countries’ classification of attachment and children’s reaction of pre-seperation process. While being in an unfamiliar room and person can make children stressful because in some cultures they are not used to meet unfamiliar person who can make them scared. Lastly, this study ended up with no significant difference across different countries in terms of infant primary appraisal of Strange Situation (Sagi et al, 2001).
Although the theorists of attachment evaluate universal perspectives by taking into account the cultural varieties, attachment has been found problematic in terms of cultural differences because the relationship style is characterised diverse in western and eastern cultures. In other words, it should be mentioned that in this study, there is a strong emphasis as to the western theorists. For example, Ainsworth’s Uganda study is relatively more successful to evaluate cultural diversities (Rothbaum et al, 2001). According to Rothbaum (2000), Japanese way of responsiveness and the understanding of secure base are quiet distinct in comparison with the western way. However, he mentioned of the Japanese as not only a culture should be considered in their perception of attachment.
Infant’s attachment is affected by several factors such as caregiver’s response to infant, infant’s behaviours or temperament, father’s role in the attachment process, cultural perspective to attachment of infancy, important attachment figures or bonds with the others and social transmission. The current research explains these factors in relation to the children’s development and also influences attachment throughout their entire life.
First of all, caregiver’s responsive behaviours are very significant for infant’s attachment, but, caregiver’s response to her baby is highly affected by her experience from the past as well as cultural influence of her behaviours to infant. For this reason, it can be said that there are two main influences on primary caregivers’ response to their infants; Intergenerational effect and Cross-Cultural effects (Bretherton, 1985).
According to Bretherton (1985) many studies display that the caregivers’ internal working model of their own childhood roots from their attitude towards infants. For example, Ricks (1982, 1983 cited in Bretherton) investigated mothers’ and infants’ attachment style. His findings showed that caregivers whose babies were defined as secure attached, had pleasant history with their own parents, friends comparing with caregivers who were measured as a high level of anxiety. Similarly, Main et al (1988 cited in Bretherton) suggested that there is a positive correlation between parent’s early experiences regarding with attachment and children’s categories of attachment. Moreover, Main and Goldwyn (1984 taken from Bretherton, 1985) found that mothers who have avoidant children in the reunion period of the strange situation talked about their parents in general and whenever they mentioned some experiences about their parents. Furthermore, they displayed refusing behaviours and they develop way of speech resistant.

Turning back to the other important effects of caregivers’ behaviour under the influence of cultural background, rearing style and caregivers’ responsiveness can be diverse across several societies (Bretherton, 1985). Culture determines the categories of attachment between infants such as secure, avoidant and resistant.
In this point, I would like to explain some important reasons why parenting behaviours are different in terms of the culture. Reminding Bowlby’s attachment theory focuses on the attachment between the mother and the infant. There is a parental sensitivity and responsiveness to both infant’s need and to explore the world while by getting support from their mother (Ainsworth et al, 1969; 1978 cited in Yaman et al, 2010). When children are supported enough, they will show a positive development, but, when the love and other emotional needs are not met, they will have negative development. At this point, Bowbly’s style of looking after infants differs from the Asian perspective of rearing a child.

For example, Asian, African, Latin, rural areas are supposed to known as Collectivistic Culture, whereas, western cultures and the USA are known as Individualistic Cultures (Harwood, Schoelmerich, Schulze, & Gonzalez, 1999; Hofstede, 1980; Kohn, 1969; Lieber, Yang, & Lin, 2000; Triandis, 1995, 2000 cited in Catherine et al, 2007). To describe, by collectivism and individualism, we mean belief, value, attitude systems which represent those various cultures (Catherine et al, 2007). Now, we shall return to the parenting style between two cultures. Collectivistic cultures teach their children how to co-operate with their siblings and others whereas, Individualistic Culture support their children’s independency and teach them how to survive all alone (Catherine, 2007).

As an example of the connection with attachment, according to American caregivers, Japanese mothers are not competent in rearing a child because they can not form the bond with their infants. Americans believe that Japanese mothers do not allow their children to be independent in their attempt to explore the world (Rothbaum et al, 2000).
Other important study is, In the North Germany group A is more dominant between infants because German culture teaches german mothers how to make their children autonomous (Grossmann et al, ??? cited in Bretherton, 1985). For group C, because of the exposure to the strangers as an unusual events of children’s’ life, children develop a high stress level (Miyake et al, ???? ; Sagi et al, ??? cited in Bretherton, 1985). Different variables were also measured between parent and child relationship. For instance, Li-Repac (1982) found that the American-Chinese infants who were uninterested in their physiological and psychological needs such as kissing or hugging demonstrated resistant type of attachment. While the infants were encouraged to be independent under the mutual aid conditions, they became less resistant to a stranger in Strange Situation experiment (Bretherton, 1985).

One of the other significant factors which influence the attachment process between mother and infant is infants’ temperament. As we stated earlier, when the bonds of attachment are not formed safely, infants’ development should either stop or happen very slowly. Not just Infants unbalanced behaviours put distance between mother and infant, but also baby’s physical disabilities or neurobiological problems interrupt attachment (Onur, 2004).
Fathers tend to be ignored when they are involved in to the attachment process. Although attachment theory suggests that parents have significant role on children’s development, Bowlby did not emphasize father’s role much since he underlined infant- mother relationship for attachment. Bowlby thought that fathers are playmates and they are given prominence but we can still accept them as an attachment figure (Bowlby, 1982 cited in Grossmann et al, 2002). According to Lamb (1976), father and mother have different functions in children’s development (Ainsworth, 1985). Likewise Bowlby, Lamb (1982) thought that father is playmate with his child rather than caregiver (Ainsworth, 1985) whereas, Parke (1976, 1979 cited in Ainsworth, 1985) found that fathers are skilful in careful babysit and they are responsible to infant’s needs.

Schaffer and Emerson (1964) proposed social attachment theory is not only concentrating on mother- infant’s attachment but also infants can attach to father, grandparents and friends (cited in Bretherton, 1992). Primary attachment figure is a person who fulfils an infant’s needs. For this reason, this can be mother or anybody else. If the conditions differ with death of mother, the attachment figure may change (Ainsworth, 1985). In this point, attachment figure can be anyone else around infant but the important point is the quality of attachment and caregiver’s interest to have a secure attached child (Bretherton, 1992).

Later in life people can continue to form their affectional bond with other adults. Although once attachment is formed, it does not change, since the loss of parents or need for attachment figure in life the affectional bond. For example, siblings, a partner, the father and even the mother can be that affectional bond. The relationship with partner can be reciprocal in the form of creating the feeling of reassurance the feeling of being secure and giving care to others, those similar in nature with the attachment behaviours (Ainsworth, 1985). In some marriages, attachment component exists. As an example of this, one side becomes the caregiver who gives love and provides comfort for other and other partner is like a child who expects others to meet her needs. This assumption is familiarly an important theory of Eric Berne (1964) known Transactional Analysis and it explains adult’s different ego states in daily life such as being adult, parent and child (Kayalar, 2002).

As mentioned before, the attachment style between parent and infant affects his development whether he will be healthy psychologically or not. When children develop secure relationships with parents improve their bonds later in childhood (Bowlby, 1969 cited in Jackson and Fasig, 2010). Attachment is shaped gradually rather than the result of the short-term interaction. The good quality of attachment helps children to gain self-awareness, social competence, emotional and cognitive development, consciousness, independency (Goldsmith et al, 2004 cited in Jackson and Fasig, 2010). In order to have these skills and to further development, they should have consistent parent attitudes and they should establish stable families (Lehman v. lycoming Country Children’s Servs., 1982 taken from Jackson and Fasig, 2010). Furthermore, Children’s secure attachment facilitates and fosters their interaction with unfamiliar people, empathy skills, forming filial friendship (Thompson, 1998; Laible & Thompson, 1998; Kochanska, 1997 taken from Jackson and Fasig, 2010). Moreover, early attachment bond with parent is essential to the fundamental model for social relations with other people later in life. Although most of the researches emphasis the importance of the infancy and childhood for this kind of attachment, adulthood is also under the effect of another attachment figures such as partner in the romantic relationships (Scharf et al, 2004 cited in Jackson and Fasig, 2010). Not only their social relations relate this kind of attachment but also their academic success depends on the nature of the attachment in the childhood at school (Larose et al, 2005 cited in Jackson and Fasig, 2010).

According to Ainsworth and Bell (1970, cited in Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004), there are three types of attachment. Secure attached infants want their mother closer to explore the environment in depth (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). Anxious-ambivalent (Resistant) infants do not even want their mother when they explore the world. Moreover, they get even angry or reject their mother in reunion period. The last one category involves anxious- avoidant infants who do not use their mother as a shelter or safe place, instead they develop avoidant reaction for reunion process (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). Novel researchers added one more attachment type which is disorganised-disoriented which emposes certain types of behaviours in their early relationship with mothers during early childhood (Main & Solomon, 1990 cited in Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004).
Children who have different types of attachments are expected to behave or think in different way. For example, the children who develop insecure type of attached have a tendency to internalize and externalize their behaviours mostly in low socio economic status, inconsistent parental attitude (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). Children who can not form against secure attachment because of negative environmental conditions such as neglect, inconsistent or permissive parent, back in high cognitive functions, but at the same time, they can have high capabilities in specific fields (Hewitt, 2008). In more detail, children neglected, abused or had trauma are found to behave violent and tend to withdraw from society (Hewitt, 2008). For this reason, they have emotional, cognitive disorientation and also dissociative problems (Hewitt, 2008). Not surprisingly, these children also were in low SES (Hewitt, 2008). In neuroscientific aspect, attachment quality has an important influence on children’s brain development. For example, children neglected who have trauma tend to be less developed or so they have impaired brain function (Schore, 2003 cited in Hewitt, 2008). However, children feeling insecure will have psychological problems later on (Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004).

Gradually going through the second types of attachment which is known as secure attached children are supposed to have positive internal representation such as perceive others as helpful, co-operative and respectful (Jacopsen & Hofmann, 1997 taken from Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). Children who attached securely will have good relationship with their siblings, family and they will have higher mental capabilities and they play more complex games (Howes, Matheson & Hamilton, 1994 cited in Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004).  Moreover, these children also show more relax and well-adapted behaviour in the society (Cassidy, 1994 cited in Kennedy and Kennedy, 2004). Furthermore, Belsky et al (1996 cited in Kockanska, 2001) investigated with the children of three years of age old children’s experience and also with their parent. Researchers found that security attachment is associated with positive or negative life history with parent. For adolescent period, they display positive development of interpersonal interaction, high self- esteem level, better coping strategies and friendship which is based on trust to eachother (Larose & Bernier, 2001; Mikulincer & Nachshon, 1991 cited in Kennedy et al, 2004).

The avoidant children display some negative emotions in low level such as upsetting, fear and anger (Cassidy, 1994; Lutkenhaus, Grossmann, 1985 taken from Kockanska, 2001). However, resistant children are thought to demonstrate higher levels of negative emotions (Cassidy, 1994 citen in Kockanska, 2001). Besides, avoidant children do not try to get help and less dependent to others. When stressful life events are exposed to, they may not cope with it easily (Kobak et al cited in Kockanska, 2001). Since these children do not have insight to their own feeling and emotions (Kockanska, 2001). Their behaviours are more externalising, aggressive and anti-social (Rengen et al, 1989 taken from Kockanska, 2001).
Finally resistant children demonstrate their emotions and feelings dramatically by exaggerating their emotions. They can get easily hopeless and have lower self-esteem. In addition to these, they may have anxiety disorder, dysthymic traits, externalising problems comparing children who have secure and insecure attached (Warren et al, 1997; Cassidy, 1994; Rosenstein & Horowitz, 1996 cited in Kennedy et al, 2004). Additional category of attachment which is disorganized- disoriented is attached children who have difficulties in the separation period from their parents (Main &Hesse, 1990 cited in Kennedy et al, 2004). Research evidence proves that there is a higher risk of developing pre-school and school problems with disorganized-disoriented children (Lyons et al, 1993 taken from Kennedy et al, 2004).

Although there are many uncovered researches and evidences to demonstrate, the effect of attachment in children’s rest of life and early childhood period, the development of attachment is defined from both prospective and retrospective perspectives. As we mentioned before, attachment has crucial influence on children’s behaviour, but, it should not be perceived as a destiny because not all children in different attachment style will be in the criteria that we stated for each of them (Clarke and Clarke, 1998). We can give the example of children who escape and those who have a regular life style were the case of twins who are dwarfed. When they were separated from their family, twins had been taken by health care services. These children have several difficulties in certain areas such as understanding of what is described in the pictures such as having the impairment of speech and being mental and psychical handicapped. After a while, they attend to the private schools for learning disabilities and well-adopted with peers and school. Later in life, they learn how to cope with many difficulties in the light of the past experiences and they start to live without problems. Moreover, they can easily find jobs and they form a cordial relationship with their friends (Clarke and Clarke, 1998). Whereas some children get over serious problems, children should have mother to whom they will be securely attached and they have to learn stable relationships in order to be independent, empathic and well-adjusted (Jackson and Fasig, 2010).


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