Term Paper: Infant Child Care and Attachment

Pages: 11 (3006 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] The converse is equally applicable.

It is believed that stress and parent anxiety render the experience of separation and also adjustment to the foreign care environment a difficult one for the infant.

Conversely, the supplementary nature of a sound care-giving environment can act as a genuine support in the alleviation of family stresses and difficulties, improving the infant's chances of favorable socio-emotional development.

If we are to accept that it is a reality of modern family life that mothers will be joint if not sole breadwinners, are we not then to turn our attention toward the education of those mothers in the provision of such care that engenders positive and secure attachment emotions in their children? This is an important issue in the contemporary problematics of child care.

A problem with this suggestion lies in the difficulties experienced by working mothers in allocating substantial time to the business of care giving. It becomes important, then, to measure the relevance of time spent in daycare to the successful prediction of its impact, negative or positive on a child's social and emotional development. In a study entitles "Does Amount of Time Spent in Child Care Predict Socio-emotional Adjustment During Transition to Kindergarten?" conducted by the Early Child Care Research Network, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2003), it was asserted that "the more time children spent in any of a variety of non-maternal care arrangements across the first 4.5 years of life, the more externalizing problems and conflict with adults they manifested at 54 months of age and in Kindergarten, as reported by mothers, caregivers, and teachers. These effects remained, for the most part, even when quality, type and instability of child care were controlled, and when maternal sensitivity and other family background factors were taken into account

More time in care not only predicted problem behavior measured on a continuous scale in a dose-response pattern but also predicted at-risk levels of problem behavior as well as assertiveness, disobedience, and aggression."

This study establishes that time spent in daycare, regardless of the quality of that daycare, correlates directly with the predictable problem profile of projected child behaviorisms. How considerable, then, is the role of quality family care in the counteraction of this undesirable effect?

Many of the research studies examined in the construction of this paper conclude that a combination of home care and daycare factors determine the outcome for the child's development. "A few studies have attempted to compare the relative influences of family and child care on the development of infants in child care. These suggest that the combination of child care and family care influences best predicts the social development of the infant (Howes & Olenick, 1986; Howes and Stewart, 1987; Howes, 1988)"

If this combination theory is valid, it follows that the quality of care experienced on fronts, home and out-of-home, is similarly important in the joint responsibility scenario. Studies reveal that children who experience quality home care are more likely to be placed in out-of-home scenarios that are of a similar standard. "Despite constraints on parental choice of child care, several studies report that families who provide appropriate care in their homes tend to select good childcare. Parents who are stressed (Howes and Stewart, 1987), lead complex lives (Howes and Olenick, 1986), lack social supports (Howes and Stewart, 1987), and lack developmentally appropriate child rearing practices and values (Howes and Stewart 1987) are more likely to enroll their child in low quality than in high quality child care. Mothers whose infants are classified as insecurely attached enroll their infants in family day care homes that have a higher than average number of children per caregiver (Howes and others, 1988).

This corresponds with evidence expressed earlier in this paper and leads to the impression that much of the determination of the infant's experience of early out-of-home care has its roots in the essence of the family situation, both social and emotional.

The question arises as to whether it falls to the parents to achieve and sustain a balance between the effects of home and out-of-home care.

A paper entitled "Shared Care: Establishing a Balance Between Home and Child Care Settings" by Lieselotte Ahnert and Michael E. Lamb (2003) asserts that "Maladaptive behavior on the part of children who spend many hours in child care may reflect not the direct effects of non-parental care but the inability of parents to buffer the enhanced levels of stress experienced in child care. Successful adaptation demands careful equilibration of the contrasting limitations and benefits of the two environments, with parental care characterized by stress reduction and emotional regulation and providers' care characterized by emphasis on cognitive stimulation and behavioral regulation."

The concept of "shared care" as outlined above seems the most plausible framework for the successful navigation of the possible adverse effects of early infant care on attachment and indeed on the social and emotional development of the infant as individual. The division of roles between parent and alternative care-giver makes for the cohesive provision, emotionally and developmentally, for the child. This ideal scenario is, of course, less attainable in the stress-orientated cases outlined earlier in this paper: many parents are unable for a range of reasons to conceive of or achieve this careful equilibrium, resulting in some of the negative infant behavioral outcomes that form the basis of reservations around the concept of infant daycare. It seems, given the findings of the researchers and childcare specialists expressed in this paper, that the nature of a child's attachment as well as his socialization are the product of a complex blend of influences whose control can only be managed in familial situations that are reasonable free from inhibiting stresses. Freedom from these stresses allows the family as primary care-givers to seek out suitable out-of-home care options and also to engender secure attachments in their children. They are also able to achieve the equilibrium outlined above and favorably influence the development of their child. Thus, an assessment of the effects of early care on infants needs to be mitigated by an understanding of the shared care principle as well as the quality, extent and equilibration of the dual-environment experience.

In direct response to the questions cited at the beginning of this paper, it seems that it is rather the nature of a child's attachment to its parents that determines his experience of the daycare environment, rather than the converse. Support can be found for the negative impact of daycare on the security of that attachment, however, it is credible that parents are able to moderate those adverse effects through the establishment of a balance between home and out-of-home care. In terms of the effects of daycare on the socio-emotional development of the child, there is evidence to support that the quality, the extent and the context of the daycare are potent influences on the development of the infant.

References

Ahnert, Liesolette & Lamb, Michael E. (2003)

Shared Care: Establishing a Balance Between Home and Child Care Settings."

Child Development 74 (4), 1044-1049

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com

Ainslie, Ricardo.

The Child and the Day Care Setting: Qualitative Variations and Development.

New York: Praeger Press, 1984.

Belsky, Jay and Lawrence Steinberg.

The Effects of Day Care: A Critical Review"

Child Development 49 (1978): 929-949.

Bredekamp, Sue.

Developmentally Appropriate Practice.

Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1984.

Clarke-Stewart, Alison and Greta Fein.

Early Childhood Programs."

In M. Haith and J. Campos (Vol. Eds.),

Handbook of Child Psychology Vol. 2: Infancy and Developmental Psychobiology.

New York: Wiley, 1983.

Phillips, Deborah.

Quality in Child Care: What does Research Tell Us?

Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1987.

Roupp, Richard, J. Travers, F. Glantz and C. Coelen.

Children At The Centre: Final Results of The National Day Care Study.

Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates, 1979.

ED301362 88 Infant Day Care: The Critical Issues. ERIC Digest.

Authors: Griffin, Abbey; Fein, Greta

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/infant_day_care.html

Ainsworth, M.D., Belhar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S.

Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation.

Hillsdale,. NJ: Eribaum, 1978.

10. Belsky, J., Rovine, M., & Taylor, G.

The Pennsylvania Infant and Family Development Project III: The Origins of Individual Differences in Infant-Mother Attachment."

Child Development, 55 (1984), 718-728.

11. Clarke-Stewart, A.

The "Effects" Of Infant Day Care Reconsidered' Reconsidered."

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 3 (1988), 293-318.

12. Hofferth, S., and Phillips, D.A.

Child Care in the United States, 1970 to 1955"

Journal Of Marriage and Family, 49 (1987), 559-571.

13. Howes, C.

Relations Between Child Care and Schooling"

Developmental Psychology, 24 (1988), 53-57, M.

Family and Child Care Influences on Childrens' Compliance."

Child Development, 57 (1986), 202-216.

14. Howes, C. Rodningm C., Galluzzo, D.C., & Myers, L.

Attachment and Child Care: Relationships with Mother and Caregiver"

Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 3 (1988), 403-416.

15. Howes, C., & Stewart, P. "Child's Play With Adults Toys, and Peers: An Examination of Family and Child… [END OF PREVIEW]

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