Relational theory is a concept that proposes that one of the key things that people need is the establishment of proper and reciprocated connection in a relationship. This theory is important in grasp the role relationships play in the shaping of daily experiences as nicely as patterns of thought and feelings in the direction of those in a relationship. The basis of this principle is the idea that healthy and satisfying relationships with other individuals can assist people maintain emotional well-being.
Attachment Theory is one such theory. It tries to explain both attachment behavior, which seems and disappears intermittently, and the enduring attachment that children and adults make to others. It especially emphasizes the significance of a secure and trusting mother-infant bond on development and well-being, as in, when distressed infants seek proximity to their mothers, and their mothers respond by providing comfort and reassurance, thereby helping babies regulate negative affect and regain felt security.
Attachment is an enduring mental connection with a significant person that causes pleasure while interacting and calms in stressful circumstances. The quality of attachment has a significant effect on development and links to various aspects of positive functioning, such as psychological well-being (Bowlby, John). I am a legal adult now, but I developed my mental well-being from my relationship with my mother; going through some stages to develop a secure sense of self and project this in my relationships as well.
The first stage of the attachment theory is the asocial stage. This step takes place between the times the child is born till it reaches six weeks. The newborn knows to act in such a way that attracts adults, such as crying, cooing and making eye contact. Although they are yet to be attached to their mothers’ presence, they are soothed by the presence of others (Davey, K.).
The second stage is the attachment-in-making stage. It happens between six weeks and six to eight months. The infant begins to develop a sense of trust in their mother, in that they depend on her in times of need. They are soothed more quickly by the mother and smile more often next to her (Davey, K.).
The third stage is the clear-cut attachment stage. This stage is the period between six to eight months and eighteen months to two years of age. Attachment is established. The infant prefers the mother over anyone else and experiences separation anxiety when she leaves. The babies’ temperament influences the intensity of parting and the way in which caregivers respond and soothe the infant (Davey, K.).
The final stage is the formation of a reciprocal relationship. The baby is now eighteen months old and growing older. As language develops, separation anxiety declines. The baby can now understand when its mother is leaving and when she will be back. Also, a sense of security has developed, in that even if its mother is not physically there; the child knows that she will always be there for him or her (Davey, K.). Such kind of security forms the basis for other important attachment figures throughout the child’s life.
To successfully undergo these stages, I had to have gone through one of the many attachment styles. The sense of security developed over these four steps are influenced by an internal working model which inform the attachment style. These attachment styles show the kind of relationship a child has with its mother, and vary as shown below.
Children who have developed secure attachment feel safe and happy, and are eager to explore their surroundings. They know they can trust their mother to be there for them. They may be distressed at their mother’s absence for a time, are assured they will return (Davey, K.). For example, if the baby is left with a stranger, they are easily comforted and calmed, suggesting a history of warmth and responsiveness from the mother, if she is the principal caregiver (Ainsworth, et al.). The mother’s behavior is compatible and sensitive to the need of her child.
Children who have an anxious, avoidant insecure attachment with their mothers do not trust them to fulfill their needs. They act indifferent to their mothers’ presence or absence but are anxious inside (Davey, K.). They are not explorative, and emotionally distant. The mother’s behavior is also disengaged from the child and is emotionally distant. An instance is where the child is left in strange place and with strange people: they avoid contact and resist the mother when she comes back, showing a pattern of a distant and neglectful mother who typically rejects their child’s demand for attention (Ainsworth, et al.).
When a child shows signs of having an anxious-resistant ambivalent attachment, it is likely formed from a mixture of anger and helplessness towards their mother. The children act passively and feel insecure (Davey, K.). Anxious-ambivalent children are difficult to comfort, liable to protest and show approach-avoidance behavior (crying, clinging and pushing away) (Ainsworth, et al.). Experience has taught them that they cannot rely on their mother to always be there, as her behavior is inconsistent. At times she is responsive, and at times, she neglects her child.
Attachment theory posits that a mother’s support increases a child’s chances of survival in the world. My mother’s confidence in my abilities gives me the confidence to face every day because I know that even if I fall, she will pick me up, dust me and set me back on the path to living life to the fullest.
Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. New York, Basic Books, 2006.
Ainsworth, Mary D. Salter et al. Patterns of Attachment: A Psychological Study of the Strange Situation. Psychology Press, 2015.
Davey, K. “Attachment Theory (Bowlby) – Learning Theories”. Learning Theories, 2016, https://www.learning-theories.com/attachment-theory-bowlby.html.