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Attachment Theory Essay

This essay describe the importance and results of parents impact on their children’s social development, which involves children learning values, knowledge and skills enabling them to relate to others effectively. Furthermore, describing the role of parents, what influences that role, parents as role models and how parents implement different parenting styles and their impact?

As well as focusing on children’s first relationships, attachments and how they relate to others as they develop towards adulthood. The role of a parent is to care for a child’s biological needs, provide safe environment, to protect and manage discipline however reality is these are not always met. The parent role is partially based on own experiences of childhood, relationship with their parents, own thoughts/ feelings about being a parent, their child rearing ability and understanding.

But while part of the role is individual, other aspects are external, like legal requirements, in socially welldeveloped countries, regarding children’s protection and welfare. Parents from different cultures and religious backgrounds also hold different perception about the meaning of their parenting beliefs and behaviors. Sharon story ‘growing up in a Kibbutz commune discussed by McKeogh (FarringtonFlint 2014 p102) highlights this different perception. Children learn to behave by copying their parents, whether positive or negative.

This is supported by the results of Bandura “Bobo doll” experiment 1961 (openlearn, open university). Children witnessed adults playing with a doll, adults behaved aggressively or peacefully towards it, the hypothesis was the children would play with the doll in the same manner seen and is exactly what was found. Parent role models not only become influential by direct interaction but though attitudes and values, socially and culturally, impacting on children’s self-esteem, self orth and emotional well-being. Many learning theorists such as Skinner and Watson (Farrington-Flint 2014 p),emphasize reinforcement and punishment in shaping personality and behaviour through conditioning. Infants when born, form their first relationship with caregivers, more often than not their parents, becoming their sole means of survival and interaction with the world initially.

Mothers are primarily the main caregiver, however this could be due to the conception of society’s creation of gender roles, constructed by social r and expectations, not only in parenting roles but also the way parents treat and expect their children to behaviour, In debunking gender stereotypes The Open University (2014) Lisa Eliot suggests ‘that despite there being biological sex differences that the sexes are not as different as people believe’ Locke believed that infants were born as ‘blank slates’ citied in …. Farrington-Flint 2014 p 53) whereas Grossmann, 2010 (Farrington-Flint 2014 p74) suggests infants are born recognizing their mother’s voice, preferring to look at their mother rather than any other. Locke theory fuels the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate, whereby Grossmann with nature. Mothers tend to show a strong yielding to interact with their infants, reacting to their infant’s behaviour. In studying mother-infant interactions The Open University (2014)suggests that early, quality interactions is crucial between infant and mother to secure attachments .

The `Still face experiment’ by Tronick 1980 (Farrington-Flint 2014 p) is used to study infants and mothers interaction. Ainsworth 1978 (Farrington-Flint 2014 p) influenced our understanding of attachment theory by looking at types of attachment behaviours occurring across infancy/childhood in cross-cultural study of early attachment formations. Ainsworth observations, `the strange situation procedure highlight emotional bond that connects mother/ infant, she believed, much like Bowlby 1969(Farrington-Flint 2014 p 77) that responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s requirement, such behaviour appears universal across ultures.

Attachment theory provides an explanation of how the parent/child relationship materializes and influences development, this is supported by Psychologist Bowlby, Harlow, Lorenz theories of attachments. Bowlby also suggested a child forms one primary attachment initially, acting as a model for all future social relationships towards others, peers and personal relationships so disrupting it can have consequences. Whereas John Watson (Farrington-Flint 2014 p 133) proposed through the process of conditioning, explaining aspects of attachments though patterns of stimulus and reaction.

The nature via nurture debate continues, and appears that a mixture of both enhances attachments. However the question remains can attachments if delayed be rebuilt over time of which it can but with some consequences as seen in The Open University (2014) ‘Feral children’ which focus on nature/nurture factors in cases such as feral children, Romanian orphans, highlighting extreme deprivation which illustrate the importance of positive social experiences during key periods of development and how deprivation can be overcome given the right environment and support.

This would also account for Mothers with postnatal depression. Murray, 1992 cities in Farrington-Flint (2014 Page 80). Research focused on effects of maternal postnatal depression on children’s early attachments and emotional relationship with the mothers. Baumrind, 1966 (Farrington-Flint 2014 p106) identified three styles of parenting, authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Maccoby/Martin 1983 (Farrington-Flint 2014 p106) expanded Baumrind’s work adding uninvolved/neglectful style.

Baumrinds findings found authoritarian parent predictable to rules and consequences, imposing strict control, high level demandingness/high level responsiveness, children learn quickly to what is expected of them. Unfortunately, research suggests children have difficulty making choices on their own, lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem. However extreme authoritarian parenting, as described by Amy Chua, 2011, (Farrington-Flint 2014 p109) “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother`, views strict parenting practices designed to understand the high expectations many Chinese/American parents have of their children.

Authoritative parenting matches high responsiveness with high demandingness, involves child-centred approach, holding high expectations. Parents give children the resources, support and resilience needed to succeed. Consistent rules and discipline allow children to know what is expect of them, with praise and reinforcing good behaviour. Parents show good emotional understanding and control, children learn to manage emotions, understand others, with reasoning. Children encouraged to discuss options, fostering strong self-esteem, self-confidence and better social skills.

The authoritative parenting style was identified as the most effective. Permissive parents offer little discipline, leniency, few rules and demands, and may take on a friend role than a parent role model. Although permissive parents tend to be loving and affectionate their children find it hard solving problem which could help them learn to make sound decisions. Children are less likely to strive to become better as parents don’t encourage them to challenge themselves and may have a higher risk of mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

Children may behave more aggressive, not appreciating authority and rules, struggle academically since not being taught to deal with emotions effectively. They often have low self-esteem and may report sadness. Uninvolved parents tend to be neglectful, often do not meet their children’s basic needs and may expect children to raise themselves due to lack of knowledge about parenting . Children receive little nurturing or guidance and they lack the parental support and attention, consequently display behaviour problems and may perform poorly academically, also low in happiness.

Why don’t all parents utilize an authoritative parenting style? `As this style is said to be most likely to produce happy, confident, capable, socially equipped child. Various reasons why parenting styles may vary may be due to differences in cultures, Childs’ personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level, and religion. Mothers/fathers may display different styles causing conflict and confusion to the child. .Parenting styles sometimes change due to the child attitude or behaviour especially progressing through different stages of development.

It is not always the case that expected outcomes from parenting styles materialize and parents with authoritative styles may have children whom lack self-esteem or engage in delinquer behaviour. These are not set in stone, as other external factors such as peers, schooling, social media, Parent’s mental health, or other life problems influence a child’s perception to socially integrate. Consequently parents have an enormous impact on children’s social development due to social learning theories, attachment theories and parenting styles.

Parents influence a child’s personality, identity, moral reasoning and judgment skills, through role models, shaping values and beliefs culturally and socially. Parents play different roles in the lives of their children, teacher, playmate, disciplinarian, and caregiver and attachment figure. Of these roles, an attachment figure is one of the most important in predicting the child’s later social and emotional outcome, positive influencing peer and romantic relationships, how they relate to others as they mature towards adulthood.

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