A child’s attachment to a substantial caregiver is the single most influential event in the development of the child’s personality. It’s the source of the child’s sense of security, self-esteem, and self-control. However the impact of a first attachment goes far beyond emotions. It shapes how well the little one remembers, learns and gets alongside others. A protected attachment (or its weakness or absence) wires a child’s brain in a set pattern.
How can one aspect of early childhood hold so much power for the span of a very long time? And just how do child psychologists know very well what they learn about attachment? This informative article answers both questions.
John Bowlby (1907-1990) did his naturalistic observations of children greater than a half century ago, but subsequent research has only fortified adherence to his perspective among psychologists. Bowlby was a British physician and an educated psychoanalyst who accepted Freud’s central tenet of the importance of a person’s early childhood experiences in the synthesis of personality. To Freudianism, Bowlby added an in depth analysis of the particular interactions that creates a safe versus insecure early attachment between a mother and her child. And he drew on ethology to make evolution the organizing principle to kw attached take into account how these interactions spring from the survival instincts of both mother and child.
Just how can anyone resist such a face? A baby’s smile and kewpie pie cheeks are indeed irresistible to the majority of adults. Bowlby stated how this visual charm operates as an excellent adaptation (not unlike baby cubs, kittens, or birds), nearly guaranteeing essential affection, comfort, and food should come a baby’s way. Meanwhile, a mother’s innate drives to succor and protect her newborn usually are enough to create her play her part in this highly reciprocal relationship.
In what Bowlby called the “human attachment system,” babies have a large repertoire of highly effective signals to ensure they receive what they have to survive and thrive. When they’re not smiling, they cry and fuss, or they coo and grab at their mother’s face, hair, and breasts. They also track her every move at home being a duckling follows its mother through tall grass.
Babies are sociable by age 3 months, but they often save their biggest smiles for the significant caregiver inside their lives; adults who mirror these smiles right back. By calling these behaviors adaptive, Bowlby made the point that they’re inborn. The baby’s purpose, he explained, is to stay physically near to the most important supply of his independent survival.