2009 handout separation by Zl6fT5Vg


									                                        Disruption of attachment

We used to believe that as long as children received a good standard of physical care,
all was well.
But in 1952, Bowlby famously said: ‘Mother-love in infancy is as important for mental
health as are vitamins and proteins for physical health.’
Separation is:
       When a child spends time away from its primary caregiver.
       It can be for short or longer periods of time.

Short term effects of separation: The Protest – Despair – Detachment Model (PDD)
Stage 1: Protest:
       Child reacts to the caregiver leaving by crying, screaming and clinging.
       It is not easy for others to comfort it.
Stage 2: Despair:
       Appears calm, but emotions are suppressed.
       Can appear withdrawn and uninterested.
Stage 3: Detachment:
       If separation goes on for longer, the child may appear to cope on the outside, but
        inside experiences a lot of inner turmoil.
       The child is likely to reject the caregiver and even show anger towards them
        when they come back.

Long term effects of separation: Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety may continue long after the separation is over and can be seen in the
following ways:
       Extreme clinginess – even in anticipation of being left e.g. starts a while before a
        babysitter actually arrives, or before getting in the car to go to nursery. Child
        shows distress at being left in situations that they had been happy to be left in
        before (e.g. playgroup or nursery)
       Child appears to create a protective shell around itself by pretending not to care
        and refuse to give cuddles and hugs (detachment). Often a child will alternate
        between being very clingy and detached.
       Becoming more demanding of caregiver.

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Factors that affect a child’s response to separation (commentary points):
       Age of child. Before the age of 7 months, a child has not yet developed stranger
        or separation anxiety and is generally happy as long as they are well cared for.
        From about 7 months, the child showed increasing upset at being separated –
        worst for children age 12-18 months. Why? Probably because their language
        skills are not well developed, so they can’t express their fears and feelings, nor
        fully understand what is going on or understand that their caregiver will return.
       Type of attachment. A securely attached child copes better, as it is more likely to
        trust that their caregiver will return.
       Gender. For some reason, separation appears to be worse for boys.
       Quality of substitute care: Children older than 10 months have often formed
        multiple attachments. It’s therefore best for the child if it can be left with one of its
        other attachment figures e.g. grandparents.
       Past experience: Children who have more experience of being left e.g. at
        playgroup or with grandparents, cope better as they know their caregiver returns.

Supporting research
Robertson & Robertson (1968) conducted research which shocked the medical
profession, who had assumed that children were happy as long as their physical needs
were met. They followed a number of children:
       John (17 months old) – study supports PDD Model.
       Four children who were looked after by Joyce Robertson – supports importance
        of good substitute emotional care.

John – 17 months old toddler / Case study which supports PDD Model:
       Spent 9 days in a residential nursery while his mother was in hospital having a
        baby. His father visited him regularly at the nursery
       For the first two days, John behaved fairly normally, but as he couldn’t get the
        attention he sought, he started to use a big teddy for comfort.
       He formed no bonds with the nursery nurses – although they were friendly to him,
        they changed their shift regularly, and so he didn’t have a dedicated person
        caring for him.
       He became increasingly withdrawn, even when his father visited and would sit
        quietly not saying anything. He spent a lot of time lying down with his thumb in
        his mouth, and he gave up trying to get attention.

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       He was angry with his mother when she finally returned. Screamed and struggled
        to get away from her. These outbursts of anger towards his mother continued for
        many months afterwards.

Four children looked after by Joyce Robertson (foster home) / case studies which
support the importance of quality substitute care:
       Joyce Robertson became foster mother to four children when their mother went
        into hospital.
       She cared for them in her own home, where the father also came to visit.
       She made sure the children visited their mother in hospital.
       She encouraged the children to bring a few special items from home so that they
        could maintain their emotional bonds with home during the separation.
       The children managed well without their mother.
       They ate and slept well.
       They welcomed their mother back, when she came out of hospital.

So why did their experience of separation pass without any problems?
       Because the separation didn’t go on for too long
       Good substitute emotional care was given to them during the separation.

Other commentary points:
Real life application: Research into separation has caused big changes to the care of
children. In the 1950’s only 25% of hospitals allowed daily visiting and 12% allowed no
visiting at all as it was believed it only caused children distressed. They appeared to be
happier when left alone, and only became upset when seeing the parents. BUT no one
was aware of their inner angst and turmoil. Today, parents have unlimited access and
visiting is possible at all times.

Validity issues: Robertson’s research was carefully constructed. It was naturalistic
observations and great effort was made to avoid bias. They were very careful with their
recordings and asked others to check it.
But their research focused on only a small number of children (case studies). These may
have been unique individuals. (See textbook pg 43 for more points about case studies.)

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