Rethinking Attachment for Early Childhood Practice: Promoting Security, Autonomy and Resilience in Young Children

By Sharne A. Rolfe | Go to book overview

7
From one to three years:
Becoming autonomous

If the period of infancy, with its high level of dependency, can be seen as the perfect opportunity to learn about security and trust, then the period between one and three years of age presents the ideal circumstances for children to begin to learn confidence in their own independent and autonomous strivings. Increasing mobility and burgeoning cognitive and language skills drive the child towards exploration and interactions beyond the immediate attachment dyad. However, these developments place the child into inevitable conflict with the caregiver who, realising the pitfalls and dangers inherent in such independent pursuits, somehow has to manage them while respecting and supporting the child's needs for initiative and autonomy. How attachment figures handle this will have important implications for whether the child moves into the preschool period with confidence in their own fledgling independence, or with pervasive feelings of doubt and shame (Erikson, 1963). In addition, providing the young child with reassuring support and comfort as her or his journey into the wider world begins reinforces feelings of trust engendered during the infancy period.

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