What is the Significance of Attachment on Socio-emotional Development of Children?
Attachment, an emotional bond that connects individuals together, is evolutionarily and developmentally most researched topic. It has fascinated several academicians, psychologists, especially developmental and cultural psychologists since ages due to its dynamic nature of forming foundation for a person’s personality and core of their interaction pattern with the external world.
Several influential psychologists namely John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Donald Woods Winnicott, etc. have researched on the aspect of attachment between primary care giver and the infant and has formulated various theories that speak about the pattern of attachment, styles of attachment, parenting styles, etc. These theories to a larger extent account for the pattern of attachment or relationship shared between parents and children. Mary Ainsworth has delineated few styles of attachment, where the secure attachment pattern is considered to be the most optimal and healthy attachment that enables healthy development of an individual. However, depending upon the response pattern of the parents, the attachment pattern differs leading to insecure and unhealthy development of the child
The attachment between the parent and the child is the core of any other interpersonal or intrapersonal relationships formed by an individual. It is often transactional in nature and there has to be goodness of fit, in order to foster a healthy relationship and development of a child. From the birth, an individual is constantly in state of flux of development of his self, personality, etc. Various theorists have formulated many theories, concepts and paradigms that explain the conflicts, crisis and other developmental aspects attributing to person’s healthy development. However, even though theories provide different explanations, an individual simultaneously experiences several conflicts, crisis and development at the same time which are differently tapped by each of the theories. Considering the implications of the constant flux, it is important that the core of an individual’s personality is healthy which is dependent on the presence and response of significant others in the individual’s life from their infancy. In most of the scenario, the primary care givers are often parents and the first point of contact of the infant to the external world is through the primary caregiver. Child’s learning that begins from birth is shaped by the parents initially. Hence, it is very important that the parent-child relationship is secure. Failure of which, leads to unhealthy development of an individual. It starts with the transactional nature of relationship, which becomes reciprocal with the growth of the child. Bowlby’s stages of attachment delineates the attachment pattern that is formed from infancy. Ainsworth’s pattern of attachment and parenting styles provides incredible insight on how response received from the primary care giver shapes child’s attachment pattern and their believes on the way their needs would be met and how they tend to explore the external world having them as the secure base. Based on the foundations of the attachment pattern and parenting style, the further development of the child occurs. In adolescence, where the child is already experiencing several crisis of his identity development, the attachment pattern and the pattern of interaction between the parent and adolescent becomes extremely crucial as it defines the way, the adolescent would resolve the crisis or conflicts. Authoritative parenting style is considered to the most optimal and secure type of parenting style which helps an individual grow optimally and in a healthy manner. However, cultural factors, the quality of care-giving, the family circumstances, the temperament of the child, the goodness of fit, etc. influences this majorly. Nevertheless, it is important that parents are made aware of their parenting styles and its consequences on the development of their children as it would make a huge difference in helping an adolescent resolve conflicts related to his identity, develop a secure sense of self in the encouraging and the cordial environment.
Current Trend and Model:
Unfortunately, the current reality is that most of the parents lack awareness about the attachment patterns, parenting styles, etc. which impacts a child’s development largely. Theories of identity, attachment, parenting styles, etc. delineates the important aspects, but not all are aware of these concepts. Mental health has been overlooked in Indian settings for a very long time and it is remarkable that slowly, it is gaining recognition where people are able to gain insight on several aspects of development. However, not everyone are privileged enough to gain equal access to this and is still ignorant about most of these concepts. Considering the demands of the contemporary times, where there is lot of diversities in terms of culture, perspectives, approaches to lives, etc. it is important that parents at-least try to understand the present generation and their needs and provide support and encouragement rather than forcing them to abide to their own views and beliefs. It is well-established fact that parents influence their children’s beliefs and concepts majorly, hence it is important that the parents are encouraging and providing a cordial environment for their development and not just enforce their beliefs. A child’s identity is developed through peer interaction, and the others in the external world with whom they interact besides their parents. Hence, it is important that parents employ authoritative style of parenting and establish a secure attachment pattern that would help the child explore the world and develop his identity with the autonomy and by choice and not by force or stereotyped views of the society.
Understanding the current needs and demands of the generation, a model that would explain healthy development of the child is where the parenting style is Authoritative, providing an encouraging and cordial environment for the development of the child. Also, the kind of attachment pattern where there is less avoidance and less anxiety leading to a secure attachment pattern where the child is free to explore the external world and is able to develop a sense of security about self and others, helping the child develop a sense of identity where the adolescent is encouraged to explore more possibilities rather than abiding to the one forced by parents or stereotyped career choices. This will help children develop a positive approach. This model is more aligned with the current demands of the contemporary generation and lead to healthy socio-economic development of individuals.