Understanding the patterns and relationships: Wendy Kelly examines children’s attachment needs

Understanding the patterns and relationships: Wend…
01 Aug 2006

Social Work Now, Issue 34, pages 11-16

Attachment theory suggests that young children organise their behaviour around the way their caregiver treats them and that the forming of a close emotional bond between the child and caregiver functions to both protect the child and provide a secure base from which they can explore their world. Over 30 years ago, psychiatrist John Bowlby proposed that the way children are taken care of by their parents and caregivers, and the attachment relationships they develop with them, form the child’s internal working model of relationships. In other words, the early attachment relationship a child has with their parent or caregiver becomes a template or prototype of how to relate to others (Bowlby, 1982). Children are thought to then develop mental representations, or ideas of themselves and other people, through this internal working model. If a child is moved from their parent or caregiver they continue to view themselves, and relate to others, according to the template they have developed in the past and may find it hard to respond to a different kind of care – even if this is more available or more positive than they have received in the past.

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