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ERIC Number: ED439832
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 29
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Fragile Early Years: Assessing the Mental Health of Infants and Toddlers. A Summary of Proceedings of the Symposium Held at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 30, 1999).
Wattenberg, Esther, Ed.
This paper summarizes the proceedings of a 1999 symposium on mental health in infants and toddlers, particularly the role of attachment, held at the University of Minnesota. Presentations by Kathryn Barnard of the University of Washington and Anne Gearity of the University of Minnesota are included. Following an introduction and conference overview, the paper presents Barnard's comments, "High Risk Families: The Emotionally Unavailable Parent and the Child," which assert the central importance to the infant of a secure attachment with the primary caregiver, and discusses a list of indicators to use in assessing emotional connection between primary caregiver and child. This paper also reports figures from the literature and from Barnard's own research that indicate that significant numbers of parents, especially among low-income families, have a history themselves of such insecure attachments that they cannot establish the critical emotional connection with their own children or with other helping adults. The paper discusses the attachment interview used to assess adult attachment and discusses interventions that may help caregivers, and thus protect their children's development. Gearity's presentation, "Response: Observations from the Field," discusses the importance of the attachment function in helping people tame traumatic experiences so that the trauma does not interfere with learning. This paper explains that unless there is a reparative process that helps insecurely attached parents to process old traumas, they will not be available for their child to form a secure attachment with them. This new learning must be provided with an affective component rather than purely cognitively. The paper also offers comments on child protection's role in this process. The proceedings also include a question/answer session, a panel commentary, closing comments, and conclusions. (EV)
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, 330 HHH Center, 301 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55455. Tel: 612-625-1551; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Proceedings
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.; Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Center for Early Education and Development.; Minnesota State Dept. of Human Services, St. Paul.