Emotional and intellectual difficulties

Until the 1970’s it was often the practice, when young children went into hospital, to allow their parents to visit only for short specified periods of time. a) Describe, with reference to research, possible effects of short term separation on young children both when they are away from parents and when they are reunited (6) b) Some psychologists argue that children separated from their natural mothers experience long-term social, emotional and intellectual difficulties. Discuss evidence for and against such a claim. (14) a) We are all separated from our parents at some point; we cannot be with our main carers twenty-four hours a day.

Some children seem to be very distressed when left some pose a problem when they are reunited and some seem to not be affected at all. As every child is due to react differently in distress, it is hard to carry out a study on such things however. Bowlby showed that when children went into hospital and parents were only allowed to visit for short periods of time the children grew very distressed, this becoming a problem when the child will already be under distress through the illness. His theories soon expanded and he came up with to stages of distress protest and despair.

A study was carried out investigating a small child named John. John spent nine days in residential care while his mother had a baby. John was incredibly distraught on her departure he cried and had to be consoled. Over the nine days John became withdrawn and spent time on his own playing rather than with other children or the staff. He often went seeking comfort on his own with a teddy bear rather than going to the carers who worked at the residential nursery. When his mother returned he was very hostile and angry towards her and he initially refused to go to her and ran back to the nurse.

This shows that although John, at a glance seemed quite content when he began to play with the toys in the nursery in actual fact he was quite distressed. This supported Bowlby’s theory and this along with other studies, which were concerned with looking at hospital care and parent involvement, contributed to care for children being revolutionised so that minimal distress is caused and it was made that parents could stay with their child however long they required. b) Bowlby had many theories on attachment and separation. One of these theories was maternal deprivation.

He believed that there is a critical period in which in the formation of attachment and if no attachment is made or an attachment is broken within this period it has serious consequences, both long and short term, to the child. This theory arose from research findings Bowlby had looked at around the time. One of these studies was carried out by Goldfarb; this study was concerned with children who had been raised in institutions from six months to three-and-a-half years compared with children who had straight from their mothers to foster homes.

The children were matched so that they were of similar backgrounds to each other lowering the chance of individual discrepancies. He looked at the children’s general development at age three and then again between the ages of ten and fourteen. He found that the children who had been in the institution were under developed compared to those who had gone straight to foster homes. Some of the things these children were behind on were: social skills, rule following, and intelligence.

These findings can both support and criticise Bowlby’s theory as the children had obviously been deprived after being in the institution rather than with their parents however the ones who went into foster care still did not suffer and were perfectly fine away from their natural parents. This would support the cupboard love theory that as long as adequate care is provided for the child and they are given enough gratification on a one to one basis the child would develop normally like the children who had been fostered.

In an institution there would have been carers who worked shifts and the number of children would most probably have been greater than the number of staff meaning that less care was given on a one to one basis. The point can be raised that this study only looked at thirty children and the results cannot be generalised for everyone. Also the reason for the children being separated form their parents may have been an underlying cause of under development.

The children in the institution may have been in the institution because they had these problems to start off with and foster parents chose the more developed kids and the under developed ones were left to go to institutions. Another case which may provide insights into the separation of a mother is the case of Genie. Although Genie’s mother was living in the same house Genie was denied the opportunity of forming any bond with her mother or anyone else as she was kept in a room for fourteen years with little stimulation and virtually no care or interaction with humans and was also abused.

When Genie was found at the age of fourteen she was severely under deprived and was mentally retarded however it is not clear whether the brain damage that caused her mental retardation was due to the deprivation or whether in fact she had this brain damage from birth. This has to be criticised as it is one girl and cannot be generalised and also Genie was deprived of all human relationships not just that of her mother.

Even fairly brief separation from a primary care giver has severe emotional effects on the child. Robertson and Bowlby (1952) studied young children who were separated from their mother for a period of time, often before she has gone into …

Attachment is a strong, reciprocal, emotional bond between an infant and their caregiver that is characterised by the desire to maintain proximity. Attachments take different forms, such as secure or insecure. Infants display attachment through the degree of separation distress …

A similar case study was done on two Czechoslovakian twins who underwent similar experiences to Genie, being locked in a cellar for five-and-a-half years. Unlike Genie once they had received special treatment for their under development they developed normally and …

It has been established that human social development depends in a fundamental way on the early formation of lasting bonds with other people. The processes involved in the formation of bonds are known as attachment. The word ‘attachment’ has been …

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