Relationship between infant temperament and attachment

Hello Academia!: Infant Temperament and Attachment Theory

relationship between infant temperament and attachment

Psychologists have argued for several years over the concepts' of nature v nurture, and which is seen more crucial in determining or c. Mothers completed personality and infant temperament questionnaires. the relations between observational measures of temperament and attachment. An Examination of the Relationship Between Infant Temperament and Attachment. PS's picture. Submitted by PS on Fri, 12/19/

The emotionally charged connection between caregiver and child ensures that the two will remain in physical proximity, especially when the child is between 8 and 18 months of age. When the infant becomes more mobile, he will rely on the caregiver less often for proximity maintenance, although he does not abandon it altogether. Once the child experiences the security of this physical closeness, he will develop the courage to explore away from the caregiver.

This fascinating paradox, the conversion from pursuing closeness to moving away from dependence, is the core of attachment theory.

Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development

In other words, when a child is securely attached to his mother and the feeling of closeness is restored, the seeking of proximity and closeness recedes and the child turns to other interests, comfortably using the caregiver as a base of operations from which to explore.

Ainsworth's research model for testing attachment quality Mary Ainsworth, a developmental psychologist who studied with Bowlby, developed a controlled laboratory situation called the "strange situation," so named because it is a novel experience for the child 2.

Ainsworth had mother and month-old infant pairs play in a room with toys and observed the infant's reactions to several situations, including separation, for 20 minutes. First, would the infants use the mother as a secure base to explore the room and the new toys when the mother sits in the playroom, or would they cling to their mother and refuse to explore? Second, what would happen if the mother was told to leave the room briefly and a stranger entered?

Would the child be distressed but then comforted, or would they remain distressed for the entire period the mother was gone? Third, what happened when the mother returned?

relationship between infant temperament and attachment

Would the child be relieved, would they be indifferent, or would they be distressed? From the children's responses to these situations, Ainsworth found that most infants had secure attachments.

They played and explored comfortably when their mothers were present, became visibly upset when they left, and calmed quickly upon their return.

Temperament and attachment: one construct or two?

Some infants, however, sought little contact with their mothers and were not distressed when they left.

Ainsworth labeled these patterns avoidant attachment. Finally, some infants showed anxiety even when their mothers were near. Although they protested excessively when their mothers left, they were not particularly comforted when they returned, a pattern Ainsworth labeled ambivalent anxious-ambivalent, resistant attachment.

These three patterns are described according to the caregiver's style Fig. Now that we have some idea where these traits come from, it is logical to wonder how malleable they are. How much influence do our genes have on the person we become? How much control do we have over our behavior?

But traits that reflect the underlying talents and temperaments —how proficient with language a person is, how religious, how liberal or conservative— are partially heritable. While you may be more likely to be interested in something, or exhibit a specific kind of behavior because of your genes, the actual path your life takes depends a lot on the environment and what options are available to you 1.

While it is true that our environment does play a large role in creating our personality, our underlying temperament is always a part of us. A study by Lahey et al. They found that maternal rating of infant fussiness, activity level, predictability, and positive affect each predicted conduct problems during ages years.

relationship between infant temperament and attachment

The more difficult the child was in infancy, the more difficult the child was at ages 4. However, mothers who were rated as responsive to their child in the first year of life by the interviewer conducting the survey reported fewer conduct problems later in life.

This study shows that basic temperament may be malleable, with the influence of responsive care giving during a time when the brain is still developing 4. There is support for this theory from the standpoint of molecular geneticists, who believe that it is a mistake to view genetic factors as unchangeable.

relationship between infant temperament and attachment

Genes are dynamic in nature, and change over time in the quantity and quality of their effects. As much as it may go against mainstream belief, genes can change and develop over time.

Developing a strong, beneficial relationship with your child

We do not know how consistent or inconsistent genetic traits are, and whether environmental influence could be the cause of this change 3. The study by Lahey et al. Unfortunately, parenting can also influence children in the opposite way.

relationship between infant temperament and attachment

If children are born with a temperament that shows no risk for precarious behavior, neglectful parents who create an insecure attachment may be responsible for that child developing atypical behavior such as a conduct disorder later in life 5. Attachment theory provides a framework for understanding emotional reactions in infants by linking infant and caregiver in a paired set of complementary control systems.

  • An Examination of the Relationship Between Infant Temperament and Attachment
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  • Impact of attachment, temperament and parenting on human development

Attachment is an instinctual need to connect with other human beings. If the theories about temperament discussed in this paper are true, attachment may function as a regulator between infant temperament and outside environmental influences. Attachment is a property of the dyadic relationship between infant and caregiver, which means that attachment security is not a reflection of the caregivers parenting skills or whether the child has an easygoing temperament.

For example, a cautious infant who takes time to warm up to people could pose a challenge to caregivers who need immediate feedback in order to feel successful in their interaction with their baby 6.