Student number: 21353279

Attachment and Emotional
Understanding in Preschool Children

The research
conducted by Deborah Liable and Ross Thompson (1998), focused on the importance
for attachment and emotional understand has on preschool aged children. It is
important for them to be able to recognise their emotions as well as the others
around them; such as their family members and peers. Preschool children reply on
the understanding of their emotions to be able to secure a positive attachment
relationship. It is cruel in fuelling a child’s understanding of emotions,
especially negative emotions. Attachment theorist have expressed the importance
of ‘parent-child attachment’. This is a key factor in the way in which a child
learns about themselves and others. A child may use the parent-child attachment
to then create a ‘Internal working models; when a child is influenced by how
they observe their parents treating them and other people. Creating a basic
principle for child to reflect on when wanting to know how they should treat
not only their peers but themselves.

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Their study focused
on trying to clarify the relationship between a child’s emotional attachment
and understanding. The researchers used forty children (21 boys and 20 girls) between the ages of 2.5
and 6 years and their mothers (aged between 23 and 41 years old) to participate
in the study. 95% of the participants were Caucasian. Liable and Thompson (1998)
started by giving the children’s mothers two tasks to complete. The mothers had
to complete a questionnaire where they had to predict how their children would
react or feel in certain situations. The mother’s responses were used to design
one of the tasks for the children. Additionally, they were given an attachment
Q-set. The children were also given two tasks to complete at their preschools
specifically designed to calculate their emotional understanding. For the first
task, the children were shown three felt puppets make twenty small
illustrations. Twelve of these illustrations were designed using the questions
completed by the mothers. After each story, the researcher used four different
possibilities to ask the boys how the male puppet felt and the girls how the
female puppet felt. For the second task, they were interviewed about every day
and random situations. The children’s emotions were recorded in basic
categories; mad, sad, afraid and happy. This is based on work from Fabes et al
(1988). These observations took place at the preschool for about four weeks
(for about one to three hours a day) until five interviews were taken with each
child. This had to include as a minimum one interview about a positive emotion
and one negative emotion.

 

On average
3.85 of the interviews per child responses with a positive emotion, compared to
2.23 of the interviews per child responses to a negative emotion.  Age and gender were important when looking at
all the contributing factors. Age was a very significant contributing factor as
the results suggested that the older children preformed significantly better
than the younger children. When looking at the positive emotions, age added a
significant amount of the variance, as the older children performed a little
better than the younger children in understanding positive emotions. Gender did
not have any impact on the increase in the variance. In comparison, the
negative emotions, age also added a significant amount of the variance. As
again the older children performed better than the younger children in the
understanding of negative emotions. However, the children with a higher
attachment security scores outperformed the children with lower security sores
on understanding negative emotions.

 

In
conclusion, this study wanted to clarify the relationship between attachment
and emotional understanding in preschool children aged 2.5 and 6 years old. The
study highlighted a few issues in the developmental understanding that
preschool children have when expressing and feeling emotions. Securely attached children were much
more likely to remember the positive events compared to insecure children were
more likely to remember the negative events. The correlation between security
and emotional understanding is not very clear, this is because it is very
complicated and many key factors such as gender and age have an impact on a
children’s emotional understanding. Children who have presented to have a
secure attachment, scored higher on the overall emotional understanding tests compared
to those who were presented to have an insecure attachment. Overall older
children preformed much higher then the younger children in both tasks and
highlighted the remarkable developments in emotional understanding throughout
the preschool years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Laible, D. J., & Thompson, R. A.
(1998). Attachment and emotional understanding in preschool children.
Developmental Psychology, 34, 1038-1045.

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