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Sensitive Mothering

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In this essay I will attempt to discuss the concept of ‘sensitive mothering' as being vital to the social and emotional development of a child. In doing so I will discuss various developmental theories to a child's development and discuss the concepts of 'attachment theory' encompassing 'internal working model' and 'quality attachment' of John Bowlby. I shall also discuss the eight stages contemplated in Erikson's psychosocial development and the impact attachment has on the social and emotional development of an individual.

Ainsworth (1969) believed that ‘sensitive mothering’ is an important element in the development of a satisfactory mother-baby attachment (MCI Module, undated). The term ‘sensitive mothering’ refers to someone who is responsive emotionally and physically available for her child and is cooperative with her/him, someone who provides the child a ‘secure base’ (Ainsworth 1969) to explore the world. (MCI Module, undated). Mothers who were highly responsive and available to their children were more likely to have infants who developed more harmonious relationships with their mothers. Mothers who were sensitive, their children were more sympathetic, more compliant with adults and less likely to develop behavioural problems. Sensitive mothering in the first year of life is thought to predict the quality of the mother-infant attachment. On the other hand, mothers who were insensitive, rejecting, under involved were more likely to have infants who develop an insecure bond. The mother-infant relationship is thought to set the tone for all future relationships.

The most famous attachment theorist was John Bowlby. He argued, “The need for attachment was an instinctive biological need and that mother-love in infancy and childhood was as important for mental health as are vitamins and protein for physical health” (Macleod-Brudenell & Kay, 2008, p.99).…...

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