The British psychologist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby (1907–1990) believed that parental attachment to children and vice versa plays a key role, especially during early childhood. Why? Well, because if this attachment is complete, the child can grow up happily and lead a full social and emotional life as an adult. From their explanations, it would emerge Bowlby's attachment theory.
Bowlby's extensive experience and knowledge on this subject have led many families, pedagogues and teachers to put it into practice and to speak of attachment as another pillar of the lives of children. Let's see, then, in more detail, what it is like, what it says and how we can put it into practice with our little ones day to day the Bowlby theory of attachment.
If we look up the word 'attachment' in the dictionary, we see the following definition: 'appreciation or special inclination for something or someone'. If we look for what the theory developed by John Bowlby says, we see this another: 'What for convenience I call attachment theory is a way of conceptualizing the tendency of human beings to create strong emotional ties with certain people in particularr and an attempt to explain the wide variety of forms of emotional pain and personality disorders, such as anxiety, anger, depression and emotional withdrawal, that occur as a result of unwanted separation and affective loss. '
And how do we translate this into early childhood? Well, we will do it by thinking about an emotional bond that is established between the baby and its parents (called affective figure) from the moment the news is known that they will be one more in the family.
It is this emotional bond that gives the child the feeling of security and the feeling of love that, according to Bowlby, becomes essential for the development of the child's personality.
If we go a little deeper into the theory of the psychologist John Bowlby, we see that he differentiated three types of attachment according to the situation of the minor and the behavior of the adult.
1. Secure attachment
In secure attachment, the little one feels safe and comforted thanks to the signs of protection that he receives from his parents and that he knows will never end. The affection and full availability that emanates from the figure of affection (their parents) is what gives rise to a positive concept. In turn, stable and lasting relationships are created between them.
2. Anxious attachment
Parents offer attachment, physical and emotional availability but not continuously. In other words, the figure of affection is not always available. Situations like this create fear and anxiety in the child. Poorly developed emotional skills give way to a constant state of insecurity.
3. Disoriented attachment
As Bowlby theory explains, in disoriented attachment the affect figure offers non-specific responses to the child's needs. In the most extreme cases, dissociative processes can occur. The behavior of the parents is unclear and diffuse for the child, which causes states of insecurity, stress and anxiety.
We can then affirm, based on Bowlby's legacy, that attachment is basic and necessary throughout life, but that takes on special importance in childhood because it is at this stage that boys and girls need to feel safe and loved.
It has always been said that there are times when children are fed more by a ray of sun in winter than a good plate of food, and it has also been said on hundreds of occasions that so that a child can grow up happy and develop their self-esteem He must correctly have the affection of his parents since he is in the womb. Children must grow up in a family environment in which affective bonds are created with their relatives. In this way you can feel protected, safe and cared for. And if we say it in the words of John Bowlby we would say that: 'A child who knows that his attachment figure is accessible and sensitive to its demands gives them a strong and penetrating feeling of security, and nourishes him to value and continue the relationship.'
Shelling a little more into this theory we see that we can make a classification of the different affection needs that babies have from birth:
- The innate attachment with which the baby is born
Here we would be talking about that basic need that the newborn has to be welcomed by his mother as soon as he arrives in this world. This is known as skin-to-skin contact, that is, the fact of placing the baby on its mother's breast after delivery so that she can feel its warmth.
- The affective bond that is established during the first year of life
It is during the first year of the child's life that the need for affection that we have seen in the previous point begins to lose strength to give way to an attachment of physical and emotional security. The child has to see that he is supported by his parents and that he receives the unconditional love that will make him develop as a healthy person with strong self-esteem.
- The attachment between the child and the figure of affection during childhood
When the little one begins to stop being a baby to be a child, the attachment between him and his parents begins to be part of his personality, in turn influencing his understanding of the world and the interactions he will have in the future with others. According to this theory, this figure of affection acts as an example to follow in the face of future relationships that will also serve as a guide in social and emotional behavior in the short medium term.
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