The relationship between quality of child-caregiver attachment, self-evaluation and cognitive development in a group of preschool South African children
Van Deventer, Marichelle
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Attachment theory is a fast growing field which contribute considerably to the understanding of the quality of the child-caregiver relationship and its influence in the shaping of the child. The attachment system utilizes cognitive components (Internal Working Models (IWM's)) of the attachment figure, the self and the environment, during the child's interaction with the primary caregiver. These models permit successful navigation of a child's environment, influence the way children construe their experiences and therefore their behaviour, their success in other relationships and constructing perceptions of themselves. Internal Working Models of infant attachment have shown to have developmental continuity. After infancy one have to take into account the rapidly expanding cognitive and affective processes of the developing child and how these interlock with the environmental changes in the child's life to really understand child-caregiver attachment. The quality of the child-caregiver attachment relationship can be influenced by a number of factors contributed by the number of systems at play in this relationship. The quality of this relationship has been found to predict adjustment in many domains, including social, psychological, behavioural, and cognitive domains. Establishing a secure attachment relationship with the primary caregiver has an effect on how children evaluate themselves, implicate concurrent and later social functioning and improve development of different skills. In light of what is already known the aim of this study was to explore correlations amongst three variables; namely the quality of the child-caregiver attachment relationship (AQ), self-evaluation (SE), and cognitive development (CD) of pre-school children between the ages 5 years and 0 months and 5 years and 11 months. Keeping in mind the above statements this descriptive, quantitative study proposes that children with more secure attachment will score higher on global self-worth; more secure attachment will be positively associated with age appropriate cognitive development; and more positive self-evaluation will be positively associated with age appropriate cognitive development in this group of participants. Ten Afrikaans speaking mother-child dyads from white, two parent, first marriage families participated. Participants were assessed with the Pictorial Self-Evaluation Scale (PSES), The Observed Attachment Behaviour Q-set (AQS), and The Griffiths Mental Development Scales - Extended Revised (GMDS-ER) in a single study in a South African context. Data analysis comprised of the computation of Spearman's rank-order coefficient, to calculate correlations between AQ, SE, and CD, through the use of the statistical package, SPSS. Results indicate that a positive, medium to high practical significant correlations do exist between the reliabilities. The small sample size may have been a factor in the nature of only obtaining practical significance and further investigation with a larger group of participants could be of grave importance to this field of study, especially in South Africa.
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