Program

Jan 16, 2013

OVERVIEW

This home
visiting program for Spanish-speaking, immigrant mothers, and their 12-month old
infant children, with anxious attachment aims to alter attachment between the
mother and her young child from anxious to secure. Anxious attachment can arise
when a mother is unresponsive to her infant’s specific characteristics and
needs. The insensitivity eventually creates negative expectations in the child,
which may exacerbate the mother’s own negative emotions. Positive impacts after
a year of psychotherapy were found for mother’s responsiveness to the child and
her involvement with the child, and the child showed less angry behavior, less
avoidance, and more eagerness to see his or her mother. However, no significant
impacts were found for security of attachment, holding back emotion, or child
rearing attitudes.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target
population:

Mothers
with anxious attachment to their 12-month old children.

Visitors
trained in psychology or social work (and holding a Master’s degree) come to the
mother’s home once a week for about an hour and a half. In addition, they call
the mothers once a month. Visits are unstructured, but the home visitor gives
information in response to the mother-child interaction. They provide
developmental information as the pair interacts. Furthermore, the visitors aim
to instill a positive feeling in the mother toward the child by helping the
mother reconcile negative feelings that may arise. The mothers may discuss any
ambivalent or angry emotions they had toward those around them, especially their
child, and the kinds of intentions they believe the child has. For example, a
mother may feel that her baby threw his or her toy on the ground on purpose to
frustrate her. This kind of thinking can engender resentment and anger towards
the child. To interrupt this cycle, the home visitor teaches the mother more
developmentally appropriate expectations, which help her to identify needs and
thus to respond to the baby. Aside from learning how to recognize her child’s
needs, the mother learns to recognize her own needs, such as safety and
protection. The program also provides material goods as well as access to
services. The program lasts one year, ending soon after the child turns 24
months.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

Lieberman,
A. F., Weston, D. R., & Pawl, J. H. (1991). Preventive intervention and outcome
with anxiously attached dyads. Child Development, 62, 199-209.

Evaluated
population:

One
hundred Chicana and Latina mothers were evaluated with their one-year-old
children. The mothers’ ages ranged from 21 to 39 years of age and they had all
been in the United States for fewer than five years. All mothers had five or
fewer children. Forty-four percent of the children were male and 52 percent were
the firstborn. Eighty percent of the fathers lived at home. Forty-four percent
of the fathers and eight percent of mothers worked full-time.Three out
of every four families shared living space with other people.

Approach:
Baseline
measures were assessed through a home visit, then a separate visit soon after
where the mother and child participate in a videotaped session. The mother
filled out several survey instruments as well. Using the videotaped and
self-report survey data, the researchers placed mothers into secure attachment,
anxious attachment, or other attachment categories. Fifty-nine mothers with
anxious attachments were randomly assigned to either the experimental or the
control group.

At
post-test, the mothers and their children participated in a taped, 1.75 hour
session. Ten minutes of taping were an introduction to the procedures. The
mother and child then played for about 20 minutes. Then a female stranger played
with the child in the mother’s presence (20 minutes). Then the child was asked
to entertain him- or herself while the mother and stranger talked (20 minutes).
For ten minutes, the child was separated from his or her mother with the
stranger still in the room. Then a five-minute “reunion” took place when the
mother returned and the stranger left. The mother, child, and observer then took
about ten or fifteen minutes and ate snacks together.

At
post-test the video and survey instruments were used to measure maternal
responsiveness, involvement, and maternal child-rearing attitudes (encouragement
of reciprocity, control of aggression, and awareness of complexity in
child-rearing). Measures for the child were restriction of affect, angry
behavior, behavior on reunion, avoidance and resistance, security of attachment
as measured by a Q-sort, and maternal child-rearing attitudes.

Results:
Positive,
significant impacts with mothers were found for empathic responsiveness and
involvement.

Positive,
significant impacts with children were found for angry behavior scores (scores
decreased), eagerness and reciprocity in mother and child to be together at the
reunion phase of the videotaped session, and avoidance during the reunion
(avoidance decreased).

No
significant differences were found for restriction of affect, security of
attachment, or maternal child-rearing attitudes.

SOURCES
FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Lieberman,
A. F., Weston, D. R., & Pawl, J. H. (1991). Preventive intervention and outcome
with anxiously attached dyads. Child Development, 62, 199-209.

KEYWORDS: Toddlers (12-36 months), Males and Females (co-ed), Hispanic/Latino,
Home-based, Home Visitation, Parent Training/Education, Parent/Family Component,
Other Behavioral Problems, Other Social/Emotional Health.

Last
Updated on 9/20/10