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First of all, you should know that, although much of the literature refers to mother-child attachment, maternal sensitivity and maternal responsiveness these findings apply to fathers, grandparents and other caregivers as well, including early childhood personnel.Maternal (caregiver) sensitivity and responsiveness
Second, sensitivity and responsiveness are related concepts. Sensitivity refers to how well a caregiver reads the infant's cues, while responsiveness refers to how well one reacts to these cues. Parents who are high in sensitivity have an accurate perception of their infants' likes and dislikes and ways of comforting them
I have a question? Could you give an example of sensitivity & responsivity?
Why, yes, I am glad you asked that question!
Infants' behavior gives cues to their emotional states. Their facial expressions, body language, and vocalizations all combine to give information on what it is they want at the moment. For example,
A caregiver high in responsiveness would consistently and appropriately respond to the infant's expressions of distress, interest and happiness. Infants differ in temperament, in likes and dislikes, and a caregiver who is responsive not only recognizes what a particular infant needs or wants but also is effective at providing it. For example, Julia is a very active, alert baby. She wants a variety of stimulation most of the day (all of the time except for when she is tired and wants to sleep). She likes to crawl around on the floor and play with her toys. If she has to be carried around or confined all day, she really gets cranky (which she shows by first babbling in a cranky tone of voice, and if that doesn't get any results, by crying). On the other hand, if she has been crawling around a lot, she wants to be picked up and carried around. Oddly enough, she likes background noise, particularly when she is tired. One thing that is almost certain to get her to go to sleep is taking her for a walk down the busy street which is on the next block. In any given day, I, her father, and sisters will vary our behavior many, many times to keep Julia comfortable, amused and happy. One fact that her father has noted is that I often have an idea what would work to soothe her when no one else does. One reason for this (in addition to the fact that I have raised three other children) is that I spend more time with her than anyone else - she has not been away from me more than two hours at a time since she was born, and probably no more than twelve hours total in her entire almost seven months of life. Having had more opportunities to read her cues, to try a variety of her responses, it is not surprising that I often had more of an idea what might be the best thing to do at any given time.
Given the apparent relationship sensitivity and responsiveness have to time spent with an infant, should we not be concerned about the high turnover in many daycare centers, where a child can easily go through three or more caregivers in a year?
Margaret Mead, one of the most accomplished women and probably best-known anthropologist of our time, said that, yes, at one point she had argued that quality of time was more important than quantity of team but "that doesn't mean women should be having children to put them in day care twelve hours a day, either."RESEARCH ON SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This is one area where a lot of research has been done, particularly on the development of attachment and its relationship to many, many other factors such as parent characteristics, child adjustment, etc. Personally, I find this to be a fascinating area and could spend hours reading about it. Since you may not totally agree with me (although I can't imagine why not), I have included two abstracts below.
Internet field trip # 2
Read all instructions first.
1. Go to the ERIC search web page
here to go to the ERIC (Educational Research and Information Clearinghouse)
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