Tag Archives: secure attachment

UK Study on Orphaned Chimpanzees Could Benefit Human Orphans

From API’s Publications Team

ChimpanzeeA study published in the Development Pyschobiology journal involving the care of orphaned chimpanzees could help change the way human orphans are cared for.

According to an article in the European Union’s CORDIS News, “Chimp Study Highlights Importance of Emotional Care in Childhood,” orphaned chimps that were mothered by humans fared better emotionally than chimps raised in a more institutional setting.

The study, which was conducted at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center’s Great Ape Nursery in Atlanta, Georgia USA, was funded by the FEELIX GROWING project. In the study, the chimps that received emotionally responsive care — which included time with human caregivers doing grooming, playing, and other interactions — were happier, smarter, and more emotionally adjusted than chimps given standard care, which focused solely on meeting physical needs.

The mothered chimps were less easily stressed, less often attached to comfort items such as blankets, had healthier relationships with their caregivers, and were more cognitively advanced.

The insitutionalized chimps were more likely to display disorganzied attachment behaviors such as rocking or clutching a comfort item when distressed instead of turning to the caregiver. Because similar behaviors have been noticed in human orphanages and with neglected and abused children, the study’s authors believe  theproposed strategies of increasing emotionally sensitive caregiving to orphaned chimps can be translated to orphaned humans.

“The attachment system of infant chimpanzees appears surprisingly similar to that found in human infants,” said Professor Kim Bard of the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. “Early experiences, either of warm, responsive caregiving or of extreme deprivation, have a dramatic impact on emotional and cognitive outcomes in both chimpanzees and humans. Parental sensitivity is an important factor in human infant development, and it would seem the same is true for great apes, as well.”

To read the entire article, go to http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=30417.

Every Parent-Child Interaction Shapes the Brain

By Amber Lewis, staff writer for The Attached Family

Pathways in the brain created by neurons
Pathways in the brain created by neurons

Humans all begin the exact same way. We start our life out as a zygote, the fertilized egg in our mother’s uterus, 46 chromosomes that will determine everything from eye color to height and that help to influence our intelligence and who we are individually. By the fourth week of pregnancy, the zygote has turned into an embryo and will begin developing what will become its brain.

The brain begins as the ectoderm, which is the top layer of the now three-layered embryo, and will develop into the neural tube which will close by week six. At ten weeks gestation, the new brain will begin forming neurons at the rate of 250,000 per minute, according to the article “Fetal Development: What Happens During the First Trimester?” on Mayoclinic.com. At the 16th week, the fetus’ eyes are becoming sensitive to light, and at week 18, the fetus can hear. By the 28th week, the fetus’ eyes open.

Parenting Begins In Utero

Why does this matter? Many mothers believe that their interactions with their unborn child can have an impact. Some parents even go so far as to parent in utero — reading and talking to their unborn child, already loving their baby deeply before even meeting him face to face. Research now shows what these parents already knew; parents influence their child’s psychological development from very early on. Continue reading Every Parent-Child Interaction Shapes the Brain

Length of Postpartum Depression Determines Mother-Baby Attachment Difficulties

From API’s Publications Team

depressionAccording to an article on Guadian.co.uk, “Postnatal Depression and Your Baby,” the length of a new mother’s postpartum depression has a strong tie with the difficulties she’ll experience in establishing a close attachment with her baby.

Women who recover from their depression by the time their baby is six months old relate better to the baby than women whose depression lasts longer, according to a study published in a 1995 issue of Developmental Psychology, “Depression in First-Time Mothers: Mother-Infant Interaction and Depression Chronicity.” Treatment of postpartum depression is essential for the mother-infant relationship, as well as the infant’s development.

According to “Postpartum Depression Beyond the Early Postpartum Period,” a study published in a 2004 issue of Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, children of mothers with long-time or recurrent depression tend to have behavioral problems, such as crying a lot and being excessively demanding or withdrawn.

Mothers with postpartum depression encourage these infant behaviors through certain behaviors, including:

  • Stopping breastfeeding before the baby is ready;
  • Not interacting socially with the baby, such as playing and showing books or toys;
  • Not following care routines.

Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: A Quick Reminder

From API’s Publications Team

Mother and ChildA January 6 article in the United Kingdom’s Nursery World magazine, “A Unique Child: Attachment – Practice in Pictures – A Sense of Security,” illustrates the difference between a securely and insecurely attached child.

Secure attachment, according to the article’s author Anne O’Connor, creates empathy between the parent and child, so that the child “begins to appreciate that their caregivers can have feelings and needs of their own.” In addition, as conflicts arise, secure attachment allows the child and parent to develop a partnership in resolving the situation.

According to O’Connor, secure attachment occurs when a child has a safe, affectionate, and predictable emotional bond with his attachment figures, whether primary or secondary, with these main features:

  • Sensitivity;
  • Affection; and
  • Responsiveness.

“Secure attachments provide a safe base for a child, reducing fearfulness and stress while building confidence and self-esteem,” O’Connor writes. In essense, the child learns through countless positive experiences that her attachment figure can be relied upon to meet her needs.

Also, secure attachment helps the child to develop self regulation toward stress, which helps in conflict resolution such as preventing potential tantrums.

Children with insecure attachments, on the other hand, tend to over-react to minor stressors, unable to self-regulate their stress levels. In addition, these children – because they cannot trust their attachment figures to provide consistent, reliable emotional care – have difficulty in empathizing with their caregivers. By not connecting in this way, the child has less chance of getting emotionally hurt.

To read the entire article, go to www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/871318/Unique-Child-Attachment—Practice-pictures—sense-security/.

In Search of Support: My Experience as a Single AP Mom

By Christy Farr Ferrelli, former executive director of API

**Originally published in the Fall 2006 Divorce & Single Parenting issue of The Journal of API

The Many Faces of Single ParentingMy experience as a single attachment parent started when my son was 19 months old and I was seven and one-half months pregnant with my daughter.

The Attachment Parenting (AP) practices that I chose before my divorce, such as breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and babywearing, become more like survival tactics for me as a single parent.

In my experience, the primary obstacle to AP single parenting is a monumental lack of resources. Continue reading In Search of Support: My Experience as a Single AP Mom

Duty Calls: An AP Single Parent’s Slice of Life

By Hazel Larkin

**Originally published in the Fall 2006 Divorce & Single Parenting issue of The Journal of API

Slice of LifeAs the lone parent of two little girls four years old and two years old, one of the hardest things I find about doing it on my own is the fact that I am constantly “on duty.”

I knew an AP couple when I lived in Singapore, and I remember watching, with more than a tinge of jealousy, as they ping-ponged responsibility for their child between them. It was their daughter’s first birthday, and they were hosting a poolside party at their apartment complex. AS one parent moved away to tend to a guest, bring food, or tend to something else, he would call out the other parent that she was now “on.” For example, the mother would simply call out to her husband, “Peter, you’re on!” and he knew that he needed to keep an eye on their daughter. It was a system that worked beautifully for them, and one that I wished I could emulate.

Being attentive and attached to your children is draining, and when you never have a day off, it can be very tempting to just dump them in front of the television and make phone calls for an hour. As an attached parent, however, this course of action simply isn’t an option. I get through my bad days by reminding myself that I am in the privileged position of raising the next generation, and this is my golden opportunity to make a real difference.

The Secondary Attachment: A Look at Bowlby’s Theory

By Sir Richard Bowlby, Bt, member of API’s Advisory Council

**Originally published in the Summer 2007 Secondary Attachments issue of The Journal of API

Father and BabyI remember my father saying to me in 1968, “You know this business about the instinct for a small child to stay close to its mother, and the intimate bond they form? Well, I believe that it’s the same instinct to form close bonds that stays with us all our lives, and we, as adults, suffer the same feelings of loss when a loved one dies, as a child feels who’s lost its mother.”

My father focused mostly on the primary attachment relationship between an infant and the person raising him because the limited data he had at the time pointed toward its greater significance to the long-term mental health outcome of the child than to any other relationship.

But what about other relationships? For instance, what’s the difference between adults who are close friends and adults who have a secondary attachment bond to each other, such as siblings or close relatives? There are several differences, but one is that friends usually share a particular activity or interest that maintains their friendship (work or pleasure), whereas simply being in the company of a secondary attachment figure is usually sufficient in itself for both people to feel content. Continue reading The Secondary Attachment: A Look at Bowlby’s Theory

Is Primary Attachment Better than Secondary Attachment?

From API’s Publications Team

**Originally published in the Summer 2007 Secondary Attachments issue of The Journal of API

FatherThe term “secondary attachment” can be interpreted erroneously to mean “less important,” but Attachment Parenting International refutes this definition.

Primary vs. Secondary

According to the API Research Group, the term “secondary attachment” is used to describe those outside the primary figure with whom a person has formed an attachment. This differentiates them from others who are close friends but with whom there is no attachment bond.

The primary attachment bond is formed with the person most involved in rapidly responding to a baby’s cries and who initiates social play during the first seven months of his life. Regular rituals, especially those associated with nighttime parenting, also seem important when establishing the primary attachment bonds. Continue reading Is Primary Attachment Better than Secondary Attachment?

Crying and Comforting

By Pam Stone, co-leader of API of Merrimack Valley, New Hampshire

**Originally published in the Summer 2008 AP in a Non-AP World issue of The Journal of API

Comforting the CryingAll babies cry. And all parents are continually striving to find the best way to respond to those cries.

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misguided information about how to best respond to a crying baby; sometimes friends, family members, and even health practitioners may push advice upon parents that has not been well-researched.

Babies are born with brains that are only 25 percent of their full-grown size. Ninety percent of post-birth brain growth occurs in the first five years of life, influenced greatly by each interaction between the child and his caregivers. Brain connections are formed based on life experiences, particularly emotional experiences. If a child is not consistently comforted when in distress, his brain will not form the vital pathways that will help him learn to manage his own emotions and impulses. This can have a lasting impact into adulthood. Continue reading Crying and Comforting

Sibling Spacing: Two Years Apart and Getting Easier with Age

By Melissa Hincha-Ownby, API Resource Leader of Arizona, API’s Technology Coodinator, and API’s Forum Administrator

**Originally published in the Spring 2008 New Baby issue of The Journal of API

Melissa's son and daughter
Melissa’s son and daughter

One of the most common questions that parents ask themselves when they are considering expanding their family is, “What is the ideal spacing between children?” There is no right answer to this question, as what is ideal to one family may make no sense to another.

The answer for our family was two years. My sister and I are three and a half years apart, and while we are the best of friends now, the age difference left us both alone in high school. Based on my personal experience with my sister, I knew that I didn’t want my children quite so far apart.

Although two years was on the maximum end of what my husband and I were hoping for, fate stepped in and had other ideas. Ultimately, my daughter was born when my son was two years and three months old. In hindsight, the 27-month difference has turned out to be great. However, in the early years, at times, things were definitely tough. Continue reading Sibling Spacing: Two Years Apart and Getting Easier with Age