Attachment Theory On The Relationships Between Parents And Children And Primary Caregivers

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Attachment theory concentrates on the relationships between parents and children or parents and primary caregivers. According John Bowlby, the author of attachment theory, attachment is inborn and is as essential for survival as food, water, and air; it is an emotional, object specific relationship that develops towards a primary caregiver (Bowlby, 1969). Through series of experiments Bowlby explained the nature and the role of physical proximity of a child to a caregiver as a secure base for exploration of the world (Bowlby, 1969). He concluded that it is essential for a child’s healthy development to have at least one caregiver who takes on a role of that secure base, which Bowlby also referred to as secure haven (Bowlby, 1969). Bowlby identified three main stages of the development of an attachment. During each of the stages a child exhibits different types of proximity-seeking behaviors (Bowlby, 1969). In turn, a parent responds to those behaviors and the quality of those responses contribute into the development of internal working models in a child (Bowlby, 1969). As defined by Bowlby (1969), internal working model is a dynamic process that enables a child to predict parental responses in times of distress. The critical period for developing internal working models is between 6 months and 2 years of old (Bowlby, 1969). Bowlby proposed that if during this critical period a parent was responsive to the child’s needs and provided a secure base for a child, the child would
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