Infant-Mother Attachment: Factors Related to Its Development and Changes Over Time

Child Development (Impact Factor: 4.72). 07/1984; 55(3):753-71. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1984.tb03813.x
Source: PubMed


As part of a large longitudinal study, assessments of attachment relationships in high-risk mother-infant pairs were conducted at 12 and 18 months. With data collected prenatally and during the infant's first 2 years of life, this study attempted to discriminate among 3 major attachment classifications and to account for qualitative changes in attachment relationships. The data included maternal and infant characteristics, mother-infant interactions, life-stress events, and family living arrangements. Several patterns seemed to emerge. Mothers of securely attached infants were consistently more cooperative and sensitive with their infants as observed in a feeding and play situation than mothers of anxiously attached infants. Anxious/resistant infants tended to lag behind their counterparts developmentally and were less likely to solicit responsive caretaking. Anxious/avoidant infants, although robust, tended to have mothers who had negative feelings about motherhood, were tense and irritable, and treated their infants in a perfunctory manner. Male babies were somewhat more vulnerable to qualitative differences in caretaking, while, for girls, maternal personality showed a stronger relationship to security of attachment. Changes from secure to anxious attachments were characterized by initially adequate caretaking skills but prolonged interaction with an aggressive and suspicious mother. Changes toward secure attachments tend to reflect growth and increasing competence among young mothers.

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    • "Parental sensitivity seems to be crucial in forming attachment representations. Insensitivity and unresponsiveness in the mother–child interaction were linked to insecure attachment (Egeland and Farber 1984). In addition, psychological control can also lead to an insecure attachment . "
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    ABSTRACT: The relation between maternal depressive symptoms and children’s mental health problems has been well established. However, prior studies have predominantly focused on maternal reports of children’s mental health problems and on parenting behavior, as a broad and unilateral concept. This cross-sectional study examined specific observed mother–child interaction behaviors through which maternal depressive symptoms are assumed to affect children’s mental health problems. We expected higher rates of maternal depressive symptoms to predict higher rates of children’s mental health problems, and we expected this relation to be mediated by low maternal warmth and high maternal psychological control. The sample consisted of 111 mother–child dyads referred for treatment. The mother–child interaction behaviors were coded according to the observed mother–child interaction tasks. Children’s mental health problems were assessed using both maternal reports and children’s self-reports. As expected, the results showed that maternal depressive symptoms were strongly related to maternal reports of children’s internalizing and externalizing mental health problems. Surprisingly, maternal depressive symptoms were unrelated to children’s self-reported depressive symptoms. Furthermore, mother–child interactions did not mediate the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and child mental health problems. Maternal depressive symptoms were associated with high maternal warmth, and high psychological control was associated with high levels of mother-reported externalizing mental health problems in children. These results partially replicate previous findings but add to these by using observational methods and multi-informant data. The importance of using a multi-informant and multi-method approach in assessing children’s mental health problems in clinical practice and research are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Child and Family Studies
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    • "These classifications categorize the quality and organization of the child's strategy for engaging a specific caregiver when distressed, and are thought to reflect healthy (i.e., secure) or worrisome (i.e., resistant/ambivalent, avoidant, disorganized) modes of achieving a sense of safety and security. Validating Bowlby's original hypothesis, research has demonstrated that consistently responsive and sensitive parents are more likely to yield children with a secure attachment, while less consistent and/or responsive parents are more likely to have children with insecure attachments (Egeland & Farber, 1984; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network, 1997). Children of maltreating caregivers are those most likely to show disorganized attachments to those caregivers (Cicchetti, Rogosch, & Toth, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Children with histories of child abuse and neglect, particularly children residing in foster or adoptive homes, are commonly considered by many professionals to need “attachment therapy” in order to address emotional and behavioral needs. However, evidence-based treatments rarely utilize an attachment-based justification outside of the infancy through preschooler age range. In actuality, many evidence-based treatments can be understood through the lens of attachment theory. This paper reviews the tenets of an attachment-based approach to treatment and describes howone evidence-based treatment, Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), conforms to all expectations and requirements prescribed by attachment theory and research. Next, pilot data froman open trial of PCIT with a sample of adopted children and their adoptive caregivers (n = 85) are provided. Results demonstrate significant improvements in positive parenting techniques, reductions in parenting stress, and reductions in externalizing and internalizing concerns among the children. These results are discussed in the context of improving the quality of care for children often described as in need of “attachment therapy.”
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Children and Youth Services Review
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    • "First, only a few of the existing attachment stability studies tested the effect of parenting on the developmental course of attachment . Parenting was related to changes in attachment behaviors in infancy (Egeland & Farber, 1984) as well as in toddlerhood (Huang, O'Brien Caughy, Lee, Miller, & Genevro, 2009). However Weinfield et al. (2004) could not replicate these results across two developmental periods from infancy to adulthood. "
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    ABSTRACT: This research explores the stability of attachment representations, assessed by the Attachment Story Completion Task, within early childhood. Hypotheses were also formed about the influence of parenting, externalizing behavior and intelligence quotient (IQ) on the developmental course of children's attachment representations. Data were collected from 358 French-speaking Belgian children. Security and disorganization showed a linear improvement with age. The effect of time on the two growth curves was influenced by the child's externalizing behavior. When language abilities were controlled for in a subsample of referred children for externalizing behavior, the growth in security was found to be influenced by reasoning IQ, but the effects for disorganization were unchanged. The implications of the results for both research and clinical purposes are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
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