Attachment theory has proved invaluable in understanding the relationship between early experiences and later development

Attachment theory has proved invaluable in understanding the relationship between early experiences and later development. It has led to huge improvements within nurseries and child care provisions helping practitioners understand and intervene in families at risk of passing on patterns of abuse and neglect through generations. The help and support practitioners provide to parents and families in the form of early intervention can help to ensure a positive future for children and young people. The evidence from Bowlby’s theory of attachment was influential because it led to the introduction of the ‘Key Worker’ system within establishments. Having consistent positive interactive experiences from interested, dedicated and affectionate people throughout this early period, children can expect to develop long lasting and secure attachments. As practitioners it is important that we take into account factors that may influence the relationships between parents and their children. Not all children will have secure attachments with their mother. Bowlby’s theory give great emphasise on the child’s mother however Rutter believed that it was a combination of dysfunctional family and environmental factors and not solely to do with maternal separation. Practitioners now recognise the challenging and changing situations around modern family living. From the inexperienced parents who require support and encouragement to help form a relationship with their new baby to the families possibly suffering domestic violence, unsteady relationships, poverty, adoption and discrimination.
Nursery practitioners play a vital role in supporting the development of children. Starting nursery can be a stressful time not only the child but also their families. It is important that they feel secure and safe when entering a new environment. Practitioners try to alleviate any concerns for both parent and child by making the transition as easy as possible. In order to build a link with home to form relationships with the child and family the practitioner may arrange a home visit. It gives them an opportunity to observe the child and see how they respond to new situations such as meeting new people and participating in activities. It enables them to see how they interact and learn how to tune into the signals, noises and expressions the child uses to communicate and express themselves. The practitioners need to get to know the child and their families well if they are to plan for and meet their individual needs. All children have different needs and preferences and it is therefore important that each child is treated as an individual. The parent may be asked about the child’s likes and dislikes, brief knowledge of their daily routine, any health related issue, cultural background and any dietary requirements. Practitioners will invite the parent and child to a settling in session where the parent should be encouraged to relax as the child will sense this and may become anxious. The primary attachment figure will be their ‘safe person’ but with encouragement and good practice will eventually form new social relationships with their key worker and peers. A good communication link with home is essential to maintain parental involvement during the child’s time within the nursery setting.
Prof Kramer believed that the relationship a child has with siblings was a fundamental part of their social and emotional development. She believed that siblings impacted both positively and negatively therefore it is essential for early year’s practitioners to establish an understanding of their sibling’s age, gender and relationship. It is important for practitioners to encourage positive learnt behaviours from siblings i.e. through frequent pretend play they may demonstrate a greater understanding of others’ emotions and thinking, have the ability to share and use strategies to manage conflict. The practitioners may also support families where there is frequent sibling conflict within the early years setting or at home. Early intervention may sometimes help to make conflicts less intense and lead to more constructive resolutions.
In conclusion a relationship with a key person at home and an Early Years Setting is essential for the continued well-being of children. Having a trusted, knowledgable,
actively involved and interested adult will enhance their learning experience. Children learn to be independent when they have someone who gives them decisions, choices and positive opportunities.