Evaluation of the quality of child-parent attachment
Why is attachment so important?
Babies are born with the instinct to attach to their caretakers. It is a powerful need such as that for food or sleep. So strong that a baby can become attached to figures who are not affectionate or reject them.
The main function of attachment in human development is to serve as a source of security in front of stressful situations that can elicit fear or anxiety.
Attachment also has other important goals:
- To provide a sense of security that promotes exploration (learning, sociability…) obtaining equilibrium between the attachment and the exploration.
- To promote moving from co-regulation to self-regulation of emotions.
- To offer strategies when they are faced with stressful situations.
Life changes that affect parental functioning, such as a divorce, a mental illness, or a change in financial circumstances, can have a repercussion in the emotional attachment. In the case of a couple separation, the breakup implies that they stop their couple’s relationship but keep their coparental relationship. The parental discord can be a factor of unprotection and have an impact on the child attachment and development.
The attachment evaluation
The main objective of the evaluation is to evaluate the emotional attachment of the child with each of his or her parents, and how each parent meets their attachment and exploration needs. Furthermore, the attachment measures are significantly correlated to the development of the infant or child.
Traditional child custody evaluations tend to use tests with unknown scientific reliability or validation to measure attachment, and the observations of the parent-child relationship are made informally, that is, have not been standardized.
Further, the research in the attachment field has brought information and valid evaluation instruments to understand the bond between children-parents.
The attachment exploration is based on:
- Recording of an activity between child and parent, and proceed to observation and systematized microanalysis of the interaction of the child with each parent.
- Administration of narrative tests that evaluate the mental representation of the attachment which has been interiorized by the child
- Administration of questionnaires to adults, adolescents, or infants
In addition to evaluating the attachment, these tools allow, when needed, to do a therapeutic work to improve the relationship of the infant, child, or adolescent with his/her parents. This work will have a favorable repercussion in the wellbeing of children and parents.