Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing
Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing

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

Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing

3 The effects of attachment relationships on young children’s mental health and wellbeing

In relation to attachment theory, the quality of the relationship between the caregiver and young child can influence how perceptions and ideas are built up over time by the child. These ideas then form the basis of how to respond in future social relationships. If they have experienced positive, warm and loving early care, they are more likely to feel secure and worthy of love and attention from others – and be able to give others love and attention. However, experiences of being perceived to be unloved and/or rejected could lead to a child avoiding contact with both adults and other children. Excessive anger and confusion in early childhood could create a greater resistance in the child as they may become increasingly anxious and unclear about what adults and others expect of them, or whether other people can even be trusted or not.

Activity 3 What can influence the development of secure attachments?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Jot down at least three different influences on early childcare that might have a negative impact on a child developing a secure attachment relationship.

Then think of three influences that might lessen these negative impacts.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

In terms of negative influences, you may have considered the poor mental or physical health of the carer. For example, depression or chronic illness could mean that carers may struggle to be emotionally available and responsive to the child. Parenting styles are also thought to be very important, whereby neglectful (characterised by uninvolved and disinterested parenting) and authoritarian (parenting with limited affection and harsh punishments) styles of parenting are associated with insecure attachments

However, if the carer has a good support network, caring for the child can be shared with other members, allowing more opportunity for the child to develop a wider variety of positive ‘internal working models’ around how relationships work. That is because a child can have multiple attachment figures, and an attachment figure that adopts an authoritative style (i.e. care that is responsive to the child’s emotional needs and also sets high standards for the child) for a child means that they are still likely to develop a secure attachment.

You will explore adverse childhood experiences in more detail later in this session.

CMH_1

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