Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of
Attachment Predicts College Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Skills for Working with Infants, Toddlers, and Families
Date of this Version
Published in Early Education and Development, vol. 27, no. 2 (2016), pp 275–302.
Research Findings:Adults’ attitudes about attachment relationships are central to how they perceive and respond to children. However, little is known about how attachment styles are related to teachers’ attitudes toward and interactions with infants and toddlers. From a survey of 207 students taking early childhood (EC) courses at 4 U.S. universities, we report relations among students’ attachment styles and their (a) career goals, (b) attitudes about caring for and educating infants and young children, and (c) interaction skills for responding in developmentally supportive ways. Overall, attachment security was positively associated with career goals focused on working with younger children, knowledge about infant/toddler development, attitudes that acknowledge the importance of adult support in children’s development, and developmentally supportive interaction skills. Students who scored high on attachment fearfulness minimized the importance of adults in children’s lives, minimized the importance of the early
years for later learning, and endorsed strict and controlling forms of child guidance.
Practice or Policy: A conceptual mediation model linking a path from attachment to caregiving skill through knowledge and attitudes is articulated. We propose a person-centered pedagogy for infant/toddler professional preparation that provides opportunities for reflection on one’s own attachment and its effects on work with young children
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