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How does early childhood attachment affect child development

Info: 1124 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in Psychology

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2- Describe three important contributions Freud made to the field of human development. How does early childhood attachment affect child development? Describe the relationship between temperament and ‘best fit’ parenting.

Freud suggested that the development occurs through a series of psychosexual stages:

Oral stage (first 18 months of life):

Infant’s main source of interaction occurs through the mouth.

Infant receives pleasure from oral stimulation through sucking.

The infant also builds a sense of trust and comfort through this oral stimulation.

Anal stage (ages 1.5 to 3.5): Child’s pleasure centers around anus and elimination.

Phallic stage (ages 3 to 6):

Child discovers the differences between males and females.

Child’s pleasure centers on genitals.

Child begins to identify the same-sex parent.

Latency stage (ages 6 to puberty):

Child enters the school and has other interests like hobbies and friends.

Sexual energy is directed into other areas such as social and academic areas.

Genital stage (from puberty onward):

Individual has sexual interest in the opposite sex.

Freud believed in the importance of the unconscious mind and childhood experiences. He divided the mind into two parts:

Conscious mind: includes all the things we are aware of.

Unconscious mind: includes feelings, ideas, and memories that we are not aware of. Most of the unconscious contents are undesirable, such as feelings of pain and fear. Freud suggested that the unconscious mind continues to influence our behavior, even though we are unaware of these influences.

According to Freud, the human personality is composed of the following three elements:

Id: the only element of personality that is present from birth. This component of personality is totally unconscious. The id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality.

Ego: is the component of personality that deals with reality. The ego develops from early childhood experiences. The ego operates in both the conscious and unconscious mind. The ego functions to fulfill the Id’s desires in the appropriate time and place.

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Superego: is the component of personality that senses the right and wrong. The superego offer rules for making judgments and functions to improve our behavior, it inhibits all unacceptable desires of the id and exert effort to make the ego act idealistically rather than realistically.

Attachment is an emotional bond between infant and caregiver. Attachment is to seek contact to another person, to feel safe when that person is there and to feel uneasy when that person is missing. The important aspects of attachment are trust and comfort, in contrast feeding is not an important aspect. Children develop different styles of attachment based on interactions with their caregivers. Four attachment styles have been recognized in children:

Secure child: walks around freely when the mother is present, engages with strangers, will be disturbed when the mother leaves, and happy to see the mother return. The caregiver of a secure child is sensitive to the child’s needs.

Insecure-resistant child: resists closeness, don’t explore or engage with strangers even when the mother is there. When the mother leaves, the child is extremely upset. When the mother returns, the child will push away if the mother offers comfort. The caregiver of an insecure-resistant child is not always available to the child.

Insecure-avoidant child: pay no attention to the mother, showing little emotion when the mother leaves or returns. The child will not explore much. Strangers are treated in the same way as the mother. The caregiver of an insecure-avoidant child is rejecting.

Insecure- disorganized child: shows insecurity by being disorganized and frightened. With new experiences the child may be afraid and confused. The caregiver of an insecure- disorganized child usually abuses the child.

As a conclusion for improving the child’s development, caregivers should be sensitive and always available to meet the child’s needs.

Temperament is an individual’s behavioral manner and the way he reacts to emotions. Temperament influences the baby’s initial response to his environment. The ways in which the family responds to a baby are inclined by that baby’s temperament. The three basic styles of temperament according to Thomas and Chess (1977; 1991) are:

Easy babies (40 %). Positive temper, happy, launches regular routines in infancy, adaptable to new experiences, and curious,

Slow-to-warm-up babies (15 %). Inactive to the environment, has low adaptation and withdraw from new situations.

Difficult babies (10%). negative temper, fearful of strangers, slow to accept new situations, easily displeased and launches irregular routines in infancy.

It is the mix between parent and child that concern. This mix is known as “Goodness of fit” which refers to the balance between a child’s temperament and the environmental stress the child must deal with. The interaction between parents and the child will certainly affect the child’s development.

The following table shows the different parenting styles:

Parent style


Authoritarian (very strict)

Extremely controllable, stress obedience, refuses discussions.

Authoritative (moderate)

Allow children to learn from their own mistakes, firm, kind, allow discussion, and give confidence to their children.

Permissive (kind)

Exert little control, don’t set rules and don’t demand high levels of behavior.


Demand very little and react minimally.

Parents have to consider the child’s temperament and respond correctly to it, in order to improve the child’s behavior. Parents should imply the following to achieve the ‘best fit parenting’:

Be sensitive to the child’s characteristics.

Be flexible in responding to the child’s characteristics.

Avoid labeling the child negatively.

Allow discussions, and listen to the child’s point of view.

Encourage the child to find solutions to problems.

Respect the child’s opinion but also be firm in your decisions.

Set your expectations and limits to help the child develop self control.

There are differences among children, don’t compare children and respect the strong points of each child.


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