Attachment security and parenting quality predict children's problem-solving, attributions, and loneliness with peers

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Cornell University Library]On: 13 November 2014, At: 16:43Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Attachment &amp; Human DevelopmentPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rahd20</p><p>Attachment security and parentingquality predict children's problem-solving, attributions, and lonelinesswith peersH. Abigail Raikes a &amp; Ross A. Thompson ba Bill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation , Seattle, WA, USAb University of California , Davis, USAPublished online: 26 Sep 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: H. Abigail Raikes &amp; Ross A. Thompson (2008) Attachment security andparenting quality predict children's problem-solving, attributions, and loneliness with peers,Attachment &amp; Human Development, 10:3, 319-344, DOI: 10.1080/14616730802113620</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616730802113620</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. 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Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rahd20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/14616730802113620http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616730802113620http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Attachment security and parenting quality predict childrens problem-solving,attributions, and loneliness with peers</p><p>H. Abigail Raikesa* and Ross A. Thompsonb</p><p>aBill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA, USA; bUniversity of California, Davis, USA</p><p>The influence of early relational experience on later social understanding has evokedrich theoretical discussion but relatively little empirical inquiry. Enlisting data from theNICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, measures of the securityof attachment in infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood, together with measures ofparenting quality (maternal sensitivity and depressive symptoms) gathered long-itudinally throughout infancy and early childhood, were used to predict differences inchildrens thoughts and feelings about peers (i.e., social problem solving, negativeattributional biases, aggressive solutions to ambiguous social situations, and self-reported loneliness) when children were 54 months and in first grade. Relationalexperiences, especially before 36 months, were significantly predictive of later peer-related representations. Attachment security at 24 and 36 months was associated withenhanced social problem-solving skills and less loneliness, but security of attachment at15 months was nonpredictive. Early maternal sensitivity was positively associated withlater social problem-solving and negatively with aggressive responses, and earlymaternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with childrens negativeattributions. Concurrent parenting quality was also associated with childrens thoughtsand feelings about peers, but less consistently. These findings shed new light on howearly relational experiences may contribute to social information processing with peersat the end of the preschool years, and that the timing of relational influences may becrucial.</p><p>Keywords: attachment; social problem-solving; hostile attributions; loneliness</p><p>Introduction</p><p>How important are early relationships for childrens later thinking about the social world?This longstanding question of developmental science has, for the past 30 years, beenstudied most intensively within the context of attachment theory. According to this view,infants create mental representations of people and relationships based on the earlysecurity of parentchild relationships which, in turn, influence later functioning (Bowlby,1973). These mental representations, or internal working models, are believed toconstitute interpretive filters on social perception, expectations, and memory that causeyoung children to approach new social partners in a biased manner based on the securityof attachment (Bretherton &amp; Munholland, 1999). This theoretical view has receivedgeneral support from a large literature documenting the association between earlier</p><p>*Corresponding author. Email: abbie.raikes@gatesfoundation.org</p><p>Attachment &amp; Human Development</p><p>Vol. 10, No. 3, September 2008, 319344</p><p>ISSN 1461-6734 print/ISSN 1469-2988 online</p><p> 2008 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/14616730802113620</p><p>http://www.informaworld.com</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cor</p><p>nell </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:43</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>measures of attachment security and the quality of later relationships, personality, andbehavior regulation. More recently, however, attachment researchers have also confirmedhypothesized associations between early security and later measures of self-concept,emotional understanding, conscience, and other variables that enlist more directlychildrens working models of self and relationships (see reviews by Thompson, 2006, inpress).</p><p>Despite these accomplishments, the interpretation of these findings has beendebated in at least two ways. First, are these behavioral and representational outcomesattributable to the security of early relationships, or rather to continuity in the parentalpractices that initially led to a secure or insecure attachment? This question wasoriginally posed by Lamb, Thompson, Gardner, and Charnov (1985) and has remainedan important consideration, as associations between early attachment security and lateroutcomes have often been reported without intervening assessments of parentalsensitivity (e.g., Lewis, 1997). Second, are relational influences most important early inlife (when personality is initially organizing) or later, when more enduring dispositions,beliefs, and attributions may be emerging? Attachment researchers, like many otherdevelopmentalists, initially focused on parental influences in infancy when personalityprocesses (and internal working models) are most malleable, but some have arguedthat the impact of security may be most influential at the time that importantbehavioral and social-cognitive outcomes are emerging, not before (e.g., Thompson,2000). The latter view is consistent with the expectation (confirmed by the empiricalliterature) that attachment has its strongest associations with social-developmentaloutcomes when each are assessed contemporaneously or close in time (Thompson).Importantly, each question may be answered differently depending on whetherchildrens social behaviors or childrens representations of social interactions are theoutcome of interest.</p><p>This study was designed to provide further insight into these issues concerningrelational influences on social development. Using data from the NICHD Study of EarlyChild Care and Youth Development, we sought to predict childrens peer-related thoughtsand feelings at the end of the preschool years using multiple measures of early attachmentand measures of parenting behavior obtained longitudinally throughout infancy and earlychildhood. The measures selected for this study are central to the hypothesizedconsequences of secure or insecure working models derived from attachment relationships,and include childrens negative attributions when interpreting social behavior, socialproblem-solving skills, and self-reported feelings of loneliness. These measures areimportant not only as reflections of internal working models, but also because theypredict childrens positive and negative social behavior (e.g., Orobio de Castro, Veerman,Koops, Bosch, &amp; Monshouwer, 2002; Runions &amp; Keating, 2007). Social problem-solvingskills are important to capable social interaction while negative social attributionsundermine it (Lemerise &amp; Arsenio, 2000). Loneliness is based on perceptions of socialinclusion that are influenced by childrens self-regard as well as the social context(Parkhurst &amp; Hopmeyer, 1999). As such, it is likely to be influenced by the security ofattachment and its influence on self-concept (Berlin, Cassidy, &amp; Belsky, 1995). We used thebest-validated assessments of attachment security at three ages (infancy, toddlerhood, andearly childhood) to compare their strength of prediction to these hypothesized outcomes.We were also interested in comparing the influence of early attachment history and earlyparenting behaviors with later measures of parenting that were concurrent with theoutcome measures to determine the extent to which early or later relational influences aremost significant.</p><p>320 H.A. Raikes and R.A. Thompson</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cor</p><p>nell </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:43</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Early and later parenting, attachment, and childrens representations of the social world</p><p>Although early theoretical debates tended to dichotomize the effects of early attachmentsecurity and later parenting quality on developmental outcomes, virtually allattachment researchers today agree that outcomes are a function of both developmentalhistory and current experience (e.g., Sroufe, Egeland, Carlson, &amp; Collins, 2005;Thompson, 2006). The empirical research is consistent with this view. Severallongitudinal studies have reported that preschool social competence, behavior problems,and other outcomes were predicted both by infant attachment security and bysubsequent measures of parentchild relationship quality (Easterbrooks &amp; Goldberg,1990; Egeland, Kalkoske, Gottesman, &amp; Erickson, 1990; Erickson, Sroufe, &amp; Egeland,1985; Sroufe, Egeland, &amp; Kreutzer, 1990). In an earlier report from the NICHD Studyof Early Child Care and Youth Development, the association between attachmentsecurity in infancy and preschool social competence and behavior problems wasmediated by the quality of parenting subsequent to the attachment assessment (NICHDEarly Child Care Research Network, 2006). Belsky and Fearon (2002) further reportedfrom this study that 3-year-olds social competence, problem behavior, language, andschool readiness were predicted by an interaction of attachment and subsequentmaternal sensitivity.</p><p>Although these studies confirm the importance of both early attachment and laterparenting, they leave unanswered the question of whether later parenting is uniquelyimportant or whether it reflects the continuing influence of earlier parenting practices(which may have initially contributed to attachment security). When researchers comparethe developmental outcomes of children who were securely attached but later experiencedinsensitive parenting with those who were secure and had subsequent sensitive care, forexample, we are still not able to fully untangle the relative contributions of parenting andattachment, because this approach uses secure attachment as a proxy for early parentalsensitivity despite the modest association between them (de Wolff &amp; van IJzendoorn,1997). A better alternative is to determine whether measures of later parenting remainsignificantly predictive of childrens developmental outcomes after including thecontributions of comparable measures of parenting practices at earlier ages, as well asattachment security. This is the approach of this investigation. If later parenting qualitydoes not predict developmental outcomes beyond the effects of comparable measures ofearly parenting, it suggests that the important differences in parenting characteristics arethose that arise early in a childs life. If later parenting measures remain significantlypredictive, it may be due to their unique contributions to these developmental outcomes,as well as their temporal proximity to them.</p><p>Parenting practices in early childhood might be especially influential for thedevelopment of childrens representations of the social world. Many studies documentthe importance of parenting practices to childrens social understanding. McDowell,Parke, and Spitzer (2002) found, for example, that parents responses to hypotheticalsocial problem solving situations were predictive of their 5-year-old childrens responses tosimilar situations, while children of mothers who produced deviant responses to socialproblems were less able to generate competent responses themselves (Pettit, Dodge, &amp;Brown, 1988). It seems likely that these influences would begin to emerge during earlychildhood, when young children are developing the conceptual sophistication to envisionalternative approaches to social dilemmas based on their greater understanding of peoplesintentions and motives (Heyman &amp; Gelman, 1999, 2000). This is one way that parentinginfluences after infancy and toddlerhood are likely to make unique contributions to some</p><p>Attachment &amp; Human Development 321</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cor</p><p>nell </p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ry] </p><p>at 1</p><p>6:43</p><p> 13 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>of the cognitively-based correlates of the internal working models associated with a secureor insecure attachment.</p><p>On the other hand, parenting influences early in life may also have a significantinfluence on the development of later social cognition, especially as they influence infantsaffective experiences of themselves and others that subsequently color young childrensdeveloping social attributions and self-concept. This is one way of understanding how, forexample, preverbal behavior in the still-face procedure is associated with externalizing andinternalizing behavior problems years later (see review by Adamson &amp; Frick, 2003) or howmaternal mind-mindedness in infancy predicts later theory of mind (Meins et al., 2003). Ineach case, preverbal experience provides a foundation for later, more sophisticated, formsof social understanding.</p><p>In this study, therefore, we examined the extent to which later parenting measuressignificantly predicted individual differences in childrens thoughts and feelings about thesocial world with comparable measures of earlier parenting controlled. We examined theinfluence of two central features of parenting: maternal sensiti...</p></li></ul>