Attachment in the early years
Attachment in the early years

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Attachment in the early years

2.3 ‘Good-enough’ mothering

Bowlby was much influenced by the work of Donald Winnicott, who, in his work with mothers and infants, came to see how important it is for a mother to be emotionally available to her infant, and for a ‘system’ of two-way communication to be built up. At the same time, he did a great deal to challenge the idea of a ‘perfect mother’. He strongly believed that an important part of a mother’s role is to allow her infant to experience tolerable frustrations. He coined the term ‘good-enough mother’ to describe a mother who allows just the right amount of delay in meeting an infant’s needs to encourage both tolerance of waiting and confidence in ultimate satisfaction (Winnicott, 1964). This then leads, according to Winnicott, to a healthy development of independence and sense of self (Winnicott, 1965). He did not believe that a mother was doing the best for her child if her aim was to alleviate all distress, discomfort and frustration at the earliest possible opportunity.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371