Princeton University study: Four in ten infants lack strong parental attachments

31 Mar

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

1) Spoiling kids
2) Inadequate discipline
3) Failing to get involved at school
4) Praising mediocrity
5) Not giving kids enough responsibility
6) Not being a good spouse
7) Setting unreal expectations
8) Not teaching kids to fend for themselves
9) Pushing trends on kids
10) Not following through http://living.msn.com/family-parenting/10-big-mistakes-parents-make

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents. Adult behavior begins in childhood.

HelpGuide.org has some excellent resources about Attachment & Reactive Attachment Disorders:

Understanding attachment problems and disorders
VIDEO Creating Secure Infant Attachment http://www.helpguide.org/video/attachment_sd.htm
Children with attachment disorders or other attachment problems have difficulty connecting to others and managing their own emotions. This results in a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger, and a need to be in control. A child with an attachment disorder feels unsafe and alone…
What causes reactive attachment disorder and other attachment problems?
Reactive attachment disorder and other attachment problems occur when children have been unable to consistently connect with a parent or primary caregiver. This can happen for many reasons:
• A baby cries and no one responds or offers comfort.
• A baby is hungry or wet, and they aren’t attended to for hours.
• No one looks at, talks to, or smiles at the baby, so the baby feels alone.
• A young child gets attention only by acting out or displaying other extreme behaviors.
• A young child or baby is mistreated or abused.
• Sometimes the child’s needs are met and sometimes they aren’t. The child never knows what to expect.
• The infant or young child is hospitalized or separated from his or her parents.
• A baby or young child is moved from one caregiver to another (can be the result of adoption, foster care, or the loss of a parent).
• The parent is emotionally unavailable because of depression, an illness, or a substance abuse problem.
As the examples show, sometimes the circumstances that cause the attachment problems are unavoidable, but the child is too young to understand what has happened and why. To a young child, it just feels like no one cares and they lose trust in others and the world becomes an unsafe place…
Signs and symptoms of insecure attachment in infants:
• Avoids eye contact
• Doesn’t smile
• Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
• Rejects your efforts to calm, soothe, and connect
• Doesn’t seem to notice or care when you leave them alone
• Cries inconsolably
• Doesn’t coo or make sounds
• Doesn’t follow you with his or her eyes
• Isn’t interested in playing interactive games or playing with toys
• Spend a lot of time rocking or comforting themselves
• Avoids eye contact
• Doesn’t smile
• Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
• Rejects your efforts to calm, soothe, and connect
• Doesn’t seem to notice or care when you leave them alone
• Cries inconsolably
• Doesn’t coo or make sounds
• Doesn’t follow you with his or her eyes
• Isn’t interested in playing interactive games or playing with toys
• Spend a lot of time rocking or comforting themselves
It’s important to note that the early symptoms of insecure attachment are similar to the early symptoms of other issues such as ADHD and autism. If you spot any of these warning signs, make an appointment with your pediatrician for a professional diagnosis of the problem….
Common signs and symptoms of reactive attachment disorder
• An aversion to touch and physical affection. Children with reactive attachment disorder often flinch, laugh, or even say “Ouch” when touched. Rather than producing positive feelings, touch and affection are perceived as a threat.
• Control issues. Most children with reactive attachment disorder go to great lengths to remain in control and avoid feeling helpless. They are often disobedient, defiant, and argumentative.
• Anger problems. Anger may be expressed directly, in tantrums or acting out, or through manipulative, passive-aggressive behavior. Children with reactive attachment disorder may hide their anger in socially acceptable actions, like giving a high five that hurts or hugging someone too hard.
• Difficulty showing genuine care and affection. For example, children with reactive attachment disorder may act inappropriately affectionate with strangers while displaying little or no affection towards their parents.
• An underdeveloped conscience. Children with reactive attachment disorder may act like they don’t have a conscience and fail to show guilt, regret, or remorse after behaving badly…. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/parenting_bonding_reactive_attachment_disorder.htm

See, Reactive attachment disorder http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20032126 and Reactive Attachment Disorder http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-reactive-attachment-disorder

Science Daily reported in the article, Four in 10 infants lack strong parental attachments:

In a study of 14,000 U.S. children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds — what psychologists call “secure attachment” — with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems. In a report published by Sutton Trust, a London-based institute that has published more than 140 research papers on education and social mobility, researchers from Princeton University, Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Bristol found that infants under the age of three who do not form strong bonds with their mothers or fathers are more likely to be aggressive, defiant and hyperactive as adults. These bonds, or secure attachments, are formed through early parental care, such as picking up a child when he or she cries or holding and reassuring a child.
“When parents tune in to and respond to their children’s needs and are a dependable source of comfort, those children learn how to manage their own feeling and behaviors,” said Sophie Moullin, a joint doctoral candidate studying at Princeton’s Department of Sociology and the Office of Population Research, which is based at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “These secure attachments to their mothers and fathers provide these children with a base from which they can thrive.”
Written by Moullin, Jane Waldfogel from Columbia University and the London School of Economics and Political Science and Elizabeth Washbrook from the University of Bristol, the report uses data collected by the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative U.S. study of 14,000 children born in 2001. The researchers also reviewed more than 100 academic studies.
Their analysis shows that about 60 percent of children develop strong attachments to their parents, which are formed through simple actions, such as holding a baby lovingly and responding to the baby’s needs. Such actions support children’s social and emotional development, which, in turn, strengthens their cognitive development, the researchers write. These children are more likely to be resilient to poverty, family instability, parental stress and depression. Additionally, if boys growing up in poverty have strong parental attachments, they are two and a half times less likely to display behavior problems at school.
The approximately 40 percent who lack secure attachments, on the other hand, are more likely to have poorer language and behavior before entering school. This effect continues throughout the children’s lives, and such children are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training, the researchers write. Among children growing up in poverty, poor parental care and insecure attachment before age four strongly predicted a failure to complete school. Of the 40 percent who lack secure attachments, 25 percent avoid their parents when they are upset (because their parents are ignoring their needs), and 15 percent resist their parents because their parents cause them distress.
“This report clearly identifies the fundamental role secure attachment could have in narrowing that school readiness gap and improving children’s life chances. More support from health visitors, children’s centers and local authorities in helping parents improve how they bond with young children could play a role in narrowing the education gap,” said Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust.
Susan Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who studies social and emotional development in young children and infants, said insecure attachments emerge when primary caregivers are not “tuned in” to their infant’s social signals, especially their cries of distress during infancy.
“When helpless infants learn early that their cries will be responded to, they also learn that their needs will be met, and they are likely to form a secure attachment to their parents,” Campbell said. “However, when caregivers are overwhelmed because of their own difficulties, infants are more likely to learn that the world is not a safe place — leading them to become needy, frustrated, withdrawn or disorganized.”
The researchers argue that many parents — including middle-class parents — need more support to provide proper parenting, including family leave, home visits and income supports….
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327123540.htm

Citation:

Four in 10 infants lack strong parent attachment
Date: March 27, 2014
Source: Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Summary:
In a study of 14,000 US children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds — what psychologists call ‘secure attachment’ — with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems.

Here is the press release from Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs:

Four in 10 Infants Lack Strong Parental Attachments
Mar 27, 2014
By: B. Rose Huber
Source: Woodrow Wilson School
Tags:
• Children, Demography, Education, Family, Gender, Psychology
PRINCETON, N.J.—In a study of 14,000 U.S. children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds — what psychologists call “secure attachment” — with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems.
In a report published by Sutton Trust, a London-based institute that has published more than 140 research papers on education and social mobility, researchers from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Bristol found that infants under the age of three who do not form strong bonds with their mothers or fathers are more likely to be aggressive, defiant and hyperactive as adults. These bonds, or secure attachments, are formed through early parental care, such as picking up a child when he or she cries or holding and reassuring a child.

In a study of 14,000 U.S. children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds — what psychologists call “secure attachment” — with their parents that are crucial to success later in life.
“When parents tune in to and respond to their children’s needs and are a dependable source of comfort, those children learn how to manage their own feeling and behaviors,” said Sophie Moullin, a joint doctoral candidate studying at Princeton’s Department of Sociology and the Office of Population Research, which is based at the Woodrow Wilson School. “These secure attachments to their mothers and fathers provide these children with a base from which they can thrive.”
Written by Moullin, Jane Waldfogel from Columbia University and the London School of Economics and Political Science and Elizabeth Washbrook from the University of Bristol, the report uses data collected by the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative U.S. study of 14,000 children born in 2001. The researchers also reviewed more than 100 academic studies.
Their analysis shows that about 60 percent of children develop strong attachments to their parents, which are formed through simple actions, such as holding a baby lovingly and responding to the baby’s needs. Such actions support children’s social and emotional development, which, in turn, strengthens their cognitive development, the researchers write. These children are more likely to be resilient to poverty, family instability, parental stress and depression. Additionally, if boys growing up in poverty have strong parental attachments, they are two and a half times less likely to display behavior problems at school.
The approximately 40 percent who lack secure attachments, on the other hand, are more likely to have poorer language and behavior before entering school. This effect continues throughout the children’s lives, and such children are more likely to leave school without further education, employment or training, the researchers write. Among children growing up in poverty, poor parental care and insecure attachment before age four strongly predicted a failure to complete school. Of the 40 percent who lack secure attachments, 25 percent avoid their parents when they are upset (because their parents are ignoring their needs), and 15 percent resist their parents because their parents cause them distress.
“This report clearly identifies the fundamental role secure attachment could have in narrowing that school readiness gap and improving children’s life chances. More support from health visitors, children’s centers and local authorities in helping parents improve how they bond with young children could play a role in narrowing the education gap,” said Conor Ryan, director of research at the Sutton Trust.
Susan Campbell, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh who studies social and emotional development in young children and infants, said insecure attachments emerge when primary caregivers are not “tuned in” to their infant’s social signals, especially their cries of distress during infancy.
“When helpless infants learn early that their cries will be responded to, they also learn that their needs will be met, and they are likely to form a secure attachment to their parents,” Campbell said. “However, when caregivers are overwhelmed because of their own difficulties, infants are more likely to learn that the world is not a safe place — leading them to become needy, frustrated, withdrawn or disorganized.”
The researchers argue that many parents — including middle-class parents — need more support to provide proper parenting, including family leave, home visits and income supports.
“Targeted interventions can also be highly effective in helping parents develop the behaviors that foster secure attachment. Supporting families who are at risk for poor parenting ideally starts early — at birth or even before,” said Waldfogel, a co-author of the report and a professor of social work and public affairs at Columbia.
The report, “Baby Bonds: Parenting, attachment and a secure base for children,” was published March 21 by the Sutton Trust.

Roy H Lubit, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD write in the Medscape article, Attachment Disorders Treatment & Management about treatment options.

According to Lubit and Pataki, the treat approach is:

An appropriate treatment program for a child with multiple challenges requires the participation of several specialists.
Most of the treatment for reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) is provided by primary caregivers (eg, parents or substitute parents) in their everyday interactions with the child. Ideally, these caregivers can rely on the expertise and advice of a mental health professional who is aware of the emotional needs of children, the phenomenology of attachment disruptions, and the need to repair and recreate the sense of security in the child. Referral to a mental health professional may be critical.
Pharmacologic treatment may be helpful for ancillary problems but not for the attachment disorders themselves. No specific diet is indicated; however, many children who have experienced disruptions and early neglect also have feeding disorders and may require treatment. Also, some children may have excessive appetite and thirst…. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/915447-treatment

Those with attachment disorders must be treated by competent professionals.

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