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Sensitive Mothering Is Essential To The Social And Emotional Development Of The Child. Discuss This Statement In The Context Of Relevant Developmental Theory

2203 words - 9 pages

This essay will cover the impact Sensitive Mothering (Ainsworth in Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003) has on child development, and its relevance in building a positive connection between mother and child. I will examine Bowlby’s attachment theory (Bowlby, 1988), Ainsworth’s research, Erikson’s psychological stages of personality development (Erikson in Stevens, 1983) and other relevant research to understand the role of sensitive mothering in developing essential emotional and social skills of three to five year olds and adults.

Sensitive mothering (Ainsworth in Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003) refers to the quality of the interactions between a mother/primary carer and a child. A sensitive mother ...view middle of the document...

A mother’s early responsiveness and sensitivity (Ainsworth in Sylva & Lunt, 1989) to the needs of the infant lay the foundations for the child’s later social and emotional development. Thus, babies who are not deprived of care and affection, physical contact and timely responses to their needs, develop a stronger emotional bond (Ainsworth in Sylva & Lunt, 1989) to their mothers.
Bowlby (1988), argued that “The need for attachment was an instinctive biological need and that mother-love in infancy and childhood was as important for mental health as are vitamins and protein for physical health” (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008, p.99). The attachment theory (Bowlby 1988), espouses the importance of a tie that the mother or the caregiver establishes with the child. According to this theory, the child needs to have bonding with the primary caregiver. According to Bowlby (1988), many aspects of our personality are formed during our infant and adult years. Bowlby (1988), through observation studied the behavior, feelings and reactions of children in different situations, and discovered that one of the things the young adolescent boys had in common was deprivation of maternal care, which he linked to their affectionless nature (Bowlby, 1988). Bowlby (1988), also studied hospitalized children, bringing attention to the suffering of young children separated from their primary caregivers. Separated children exhibit a sequence of responses such as protest, despair, denial and detachment, lacking responsiveness when united with the parents and keeping and unconcerned appearance (Bowlby in Barnes, 1995). He concluded that the love and care of mothers in infancy was vital for healthy social and emotional development (Bowlby in Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008).
Bowlby thought Lorenz’s study could shed light on an infant’s tie to the mother. Lorenz’s study showed that there was a sensitive period (Lorenz Sylva & Lunt, 1989), during which the animals fix on a figure, known as imprinting (Lorenz Sylva & Lunt, 1989). Through Harlow’s studies on infant rhesus monkey, Bowlby (1988) observed that infant rhesus monkeys showed a marked preference for a soft dummy mother who doesn’t produce food to a hard one that provides food (Harlow et all in Sylva & Lunt, 1989). Bowlby (1988) suggested that babies have a sensitive period, from six months to three years, during which the mother to infant bond determines the attachment behavior (Bowlby, 1988) of the child, which is “any form of behavior that results in a person attaining or maintaining proximity to some other clearly identified individual” (Bowlby, 1988, pp. 29). Therefore, a child who receives sensitive and responsive caregiving develops a sense of security and a positive attachment with the mother/caregivers. Bowlby (in Smith, Cowie & Blades), described four phases in the development of attachment. The first phase is the child’s Indiscriminate Responsiveness (Bowlby in Smith, Cowie & Blades) to different people. In...

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