Child’s Development and Learning: Attachment Theory and Development of Secure Relationships

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Assignment on Child’s Development

D1: Provide a clear explanation of the process of attachment and the role of the key person to show understanding of: attachment theory and the development of secure relationships, the importance of attachment in relation to children’s emotional well-being and the role of the key person to work in partnership and develop relationships with children.

The attachment theory was introduced in 1958 by a theorist called John Bowlby, he suggested that a child would initially form only one primary attachment (monotropy) and that the attachment figure acted as a secure base for exploring the world. A secure base is important for children as they are given the right amount of care and attention so they don’t crave attention from their primary caregiver. There are 4 stages that Bowlby identified in relation to the attachment theory. These are: Pre-Attachment Phase (birth to 6 weeks), Attachment in Making Phase (6 weeks to 6-8 months), Clear Cut Attachment Phase (6-8 months to 18 months-2 years) and the Formation of Reciprocal Relationship (18 months-2 years +). In the Pre-Attachment Phase the baby recognises their mothers face, voice and smell but haven’t yet formed a secure enough relationship to the point where they are scared to be left with unfamiliar adults. In the Attachment in Making Phase the baby begins to respond differently to their primary caregivers then they do to strangers. In the Clear Cut Attachment Phase the baby begins to show separation anxiety when separated from their primary caregiver. In the Formation of Reciprocal Relationship Phase the child begins to negotiate with their caregiver to change the child’s goals by persuasion and tend to depend less on their caregiver as they grow older.

The importance of attachment in relation to children’s emotional well-being is hugely important. When a child has a secure attachment with someone they will have the familiarity of the feeling of loving and care, allowing the child to be happy and content with their primary attachment. The child will also receive support from their primary caregiver once a secure attachment has been formed on how to express their feelings in a socially acceptable way and will be shown the importance of understanding and acknowledging others feelings and taking them into consideration. In the case of a secure attachment not being formed, a child will not know or understand the importance of others feelings and taking them into consideration.

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A key person is: a named member of staff who has more contact than others with the child, someone to build relationships with the child and parents, someone who helps the child become familiar with the provision, someone who meets the child’s individual needs and care needs (for example, toileting, dressing etc.), someone who responds sensitively to the child’s feelings, ideas, behaviour and the person who acts as a point of contact with parents. It is important for the key person to form consistent and positive relationships with the child who is in their care. They must always act in the child’s best interests and make the best decisions based on the child’s individual needs – these can be found out when the key person or another practitioner observes the child in their play to find out their developmental needs, emotional needs and play preferences to help them make tailored play opportunities for the child in the future. In relation to working in partnership with parents/carers/other professionals the key person should : “Show empathy, welcome parents and make time for them, help parents to separate from their baby, explain how you will be caring for the baby, be aware of your particular situation and your responsibilities, show that you enjoy being with the child and keep parents and other staff members informed.”

D2:Provide a discussion of the potential effects of a range of transitions which must include the identification of: planned and unplanned transitions, significant events a child may experience and the potential effects of transitions and significant events on a child’s life.

A transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. There are a number of transitions a child is anticipated to experience or go through at least once in their childhood, for example being weaned onto solid foods, having the ability to be cared for by others, progressing from crawling to walking etc. There are a number of transitions a child is not anticipated to go through in their childhood, for example their parents divorcing, the birth of a new sibling, having a new step-parent etc.

The effects on a child from being weaned onto solid foods are that the child can start to receive more nutrients and begin to figure out their likes and dislikes around food and find out which foods the child prefers so the mother can start to plan meals for the child that the child will like. The effects on a child from having the ability to be cared for by others are huge, this means the child can receive the same loving and care from someone else when the primary caregiver can’t be with the child i.e when at work. The effects on a child when progressing from crawling to walking are that the child can now walk around and start to exercise and build up their muscles, fine and large motor skills.

When a child’s parents divorce this has a negative impact on their life as they would have to move between houses to see the other parent and may have to move houses altogether depending on who gets custody, this would mean having to move schools causing disruptions to the child’s play and learning. The birth of a new sibling can also cause major disruptions to a child’s development if not reversements, this is due to the fact the child may copy the baby to receive the same attention from their primary caregiver and may also act out if they feel as though the new baby is getting more attention than them. The child may also return to bed wetting as a result of the attention not being on them. A child having a new step-parent could also cause problems for their learning and development as they are being introduced to a new caregiver and may not feel comfortable causing their development to be stunted or stopped until they feel comfortable around the new caregiver.

C3:Describe a range of different factors within the early years environment which may impact on the health and well-being of children to include: welcoming environment, working in partnership, promoting children’s confidence, self-esteem, resilience, meeting children’s individual needs and recognising children’s preferences and interests.

A welcoming environment is hugely important and beneficial towards a child’s health and well-being. A welcoming environment could include activities and boards that are encouraging to the child and are inviting and warm toned. It could also include toys and play and learning devices that are beneficial to the child’s development and learning.

Practitioners and parents working in partnership is so important and beneficial to the child’s learning and development. If practitioners and parents weren’t working in partnership the child wouldn’t receive the utmost level of care whilst at the setting. This is due to the parents not passing on information detailing the child’s development at home and the practitioner not passing on information about the child’s development whilst at the setting. Due to this both the parents and practitioner could both feel like the child isn’t making any progress as they aren’t being told they are.

Promoting a child’s confidence, self-esteem and resilience is a way of letting the child know they have a voice and have rights. If a practitioner were to not promote a child’s confidence, self-esteem and resilience the child may feel vulnerable and anxious when attending the setting and this may cause disruptions to the child’s development and learning.

Meeting a child’s individual needs is hugely important and majorly beneficial to a child’s learning and development. If a practitioner didn’t meet a child’s individual needs the child wouldn’t receive the care and learning needed to reach their milestones typically against a child of the same age and ability. This could cause the child to either not learn at all or learn at a very slow pace and not receive the utmost care they were promised when joining the setting.

A practitioner must recognise a child’s play preferences and interests as this could help the practitioner plan tailored play activities to ensure the child receives the very most care they can whilst at the setting and develop typically and in the correct way for a child of their age and ability.

C4:Provide an explanation of the role of the practitioner in preparing for and supporting children during transitions to show understanding of: meeting children’s individual needs in relation to transitions and significant events, the role of the key person in supporting children and families, appropriate sharing of information and working in partnership with other professionals.

The practitioners role in relation to meeting a child’s individual needs in relation to transitions and significant events is to be there for the child as a safe base and a point of security when the child is going through a transition that could cause disruption to their learning and development. A child needs to know that when going through a transition, for example a new baby sibling or a death of a loved one, they have other people to turn to other than their primary caregivers if they need help or support going through that transition.

The role of the key person in supporting children and families is to keep the parents in the loop on the child’s learning and development either whilst going through the transition or the aftermath of the transition. The key person could also act as a safe base for the child to go to if the child needed support due to the transition.

The importance of appropriate sharing of information is vital as it ensures everybody’s safety. Appropriate sharing of information is where information is only shared on a need to know basis and anyone who doesn’t need to know doesn’t get told. This is important as the information being shared could be about a child’s home life or a personal issue which if someone were to find this out could use this to cause harm to the child.

A practitioner or key person or anyone involved with a child’s education must work in partnership with other professionals to ensure the child’s care and development are a top priority and that the child is receiving the utmost level of care within the setting. Without this, a child will not be able to develop typically and will most likely have disruptions in their learning and education. This could also mean the child will not be receiving the best level of care available to them as information isn’t being passed on about the child’s health and well-being and development stages.

A1:Analysis must examine the impact of secure relationships on children’s well-being in relation to: the impact of attachment, benefits of effective relationships with the key person for children’s emotional health and well-being and the potential implications for the child if secure relationships are not experienced in the early years.

Secure relationships are vital and beneficial to a child’s development and well-being. This is because these secure relationships help the child connect with others and communicate with them either during play or learning. Without these secure relationships a child will not get to experience the emotions and learning curves that come along with them. Secure relationships act as a role model to a child for when they start to make friends, they show them how to approach people and communicate with them in a socially acceptable way.

The impact of attachment on a child’s well-being is that the child has someone to go to if they ever need help with something they don’t feel safe telling their primary caregiver(s), for example if the child discloses abuse that involves a primary caregiver to a practitioner or key person they may not feel safe bringing it up with the primary caregiver due to them either not wanting it to happen to them or them not wanting it to happen to them again. Without a secure attachment with a key person or practitioner a child will not have this and could end up coming to serious harm due to the fact them not being able to tell anyone about the abuse or anything else that may worry them. Or, a child might not like the way a practitioner/key person treats them and may want to tell another practitioner in case the practitioner that doesn’t treat them nicely begins to use their vulnerability and fear of them to their advantage and intentionally abuse or cause the child to feel unsafe whilst at the setting. This could cause disruptions to the child’s learning and development as the child may want to stop attending the setting due to the maltreatment they receive. This also means the child’s health and well-being comes into question as the practitioner’s actions could cause the child to develop an eating disorder due to the repeated bullying and unjust treatment from the practitioner.

The benefits of effective relationships with their key person on a child’s emotional health and well-being are endless. These could include:

  • Helping the child feel secure in their new environment
  • Helps develop trusting relationships with others if one is already formed with key person
  • Helps the children explore and interact with others


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