Intersections with Attachment

By Jacob L. Gewirtz; William M. Kurtines | Go to book overview

9
Attachment and Early Separations from Parents and Peers

Tiffany Field


ABSTRACT

Attachment has been studied primarily in the context of early separations. Separation stress in infants, toddlers, and preschool children was studied in four different contexts; separation from the mother during her hospitalization for the birth of another child, repeated separations from the mother during mother's conference trips; separation from peers following graduation to new classes and separations from peers due to transfers to new schools. As compared to baseline behavior, separations from the mother were characterized by agitation (increases in negative affect, activity level, night-wakings and crying) with some of these behaviors returning to baseline and others becoming depressed following the mother's return, suggesting that reunion behavior was affected by changes in the mother-child attachment/relationship. Increases in classroom cooperative play and interactions with other children during the separation period suggest that the children were immersing themselves in peer play as a potential way of coping with their separation stress.


EARLY SEPARATIONS FROM PARENTS AND PEERS

Attachment, or the primary tie between a child and his or her mother, is often studied in the context of early separations. Attachment has been defined by those behaviors that are directed to the person referred to as the "attachment figure" during an impending separation (such behaviors as crying and clinging) and following reunion (proximity seeking and greeting behaviors). Data reviewed by Bowlby ( 1969) and the Strange Situation studies by Ainsworth ( 1967) and her

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