Parenting attachment

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Parenting attachment in the AIFS library catalogue

Improving early child development: WHO guideline

World Health Organization
Geneva : World Health Organization, 2020.
This document presents guidelines by the World Health Organization on improving early childhood development provides. It provides global, evidence-informed recommendations on interventions and feasible approaches that are effective in improving developmental outcomes in children, and has been written for a wide audience, including policy-makers, agencies, health managers, and health workers. In order to improve early childhood development, WHO recommends: responsive caregiving, promoting early learning, integrating caregiving and nutrition interventions, and supporting maternal mental health. These guidelines will be updated when more evidence becomes available.

Parents' use of mobile computing devices, caregiving, and the social and emotional development of children: a systematic review and exploratory study of expert opinion

Beamish N
There is growing interest in how the growing use of mobile devices is impacting upon families. This thesis investigates one aspect: parents' use of mobile computing devices while with their infants and young children. Two studies were conducted: first, a review of the literature; second, qualitative interviews with 17 experts in the fields of infant mental health, early childhood, or the interface between human behaviour and information technology. The review revealed a small but emerging body of research, which indicated that there was an association between parents' increased mobile device use and behavioural problems in children, that parents' attention to devices may be affecting the quality of the caregiving relationship, and that device use may interrupt parents during child-focused activities. Though the interviews showed divergent opinions related to the risk for infants and infant-parent relationships, the experts largely agreed on the widespread use of mobile devices by parents with young children and its centrality to family life. The experts discussed the benefits and disadvantages for parental caregiving; the use of devices for managing day-to-day life, self-soothing and social connection; the interaction between parents' device use and attention and distraction, as well as modelling of socially defined behaviours; potentially harmful doses of parents' screen use; and infants' capacity to compete.

Minding the Baby home-visiting programme for vulnerable young mothers: results of a randomised controlled trial in the UK

Longhi E
London : NSPCC, 2019.
Minding the Baby is a preventative home-visiting parenting programme for first-time mothers between the ages of 14 and 25. Following on from promising findings in the United States, this report evaluates the programme in the United Kingdom. A randomised controlled trial was undertaken with 148 young mothers from Glasgow, Sheffield and York, with participants assessed from pregnancy to two years after birth. The programme aims to promote parental reflective functioning and combines practice elements from models of nurse home-visiting and mother-child psychotherapy. A pair of social workers and nurse practitioners work together with each young mother to promote sensitive caregiving and secure mother-child attachment, as well as maternal and child health and wellbeing. The study found that the programme did not improve maternal sensitivity, though some evidence was found for positive impacts on other outcomes.

Attachment security, early childhood intervention and the National Disability Insurance Scheme : a risk and rights analysis.

Alexander S, Frederico M and Long M
Children Australia v. 44 no. 4 Dec 2019: 187-193
This article argues that attachment security should be the central focus of early childhood intervention services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It highlights the evidence on the importance of attachment security for child development and explains why it should be a key consideration in the design and implementation of the NDIS early intervention services. It also considers barriers to addressing attachment security within the NDIS model and suggests how these could be addressed.

Supporting vulnerable babies and young children : interventions for working with trauma, mental health, illness and other complex challenges

Bunston W and Jones S
London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019, c2020.
This book is written for health professionals, social workers and child protection practitioners working with babies and young children facing a range of complex issues. Authors from Australia and overseas discuss good practice and highlight the importance of this developmental period. Chapters include: introducing the infant: and how to support vulnerable babies and young children; reflective supervision's essential place in thoughtful practice; restoring ruptured bonds: the young child and complex trauma in families; developing an intervention for infants and young children in foster care; keeping the child in mind when thinking about violence in families; 'murder in their family': making space for the experience of the infant impacted by familial murder; homelessness in infancy: finding 'home' for babies in crisis accommodation after family violence; self-determining support for Indigenous children in Australia: the Bubup Wilam case study; the 'international infant': examining the experiences and clinical needs of separated and reunited transnational infant-parent dyads; 'invisible children': how attachment theory and evidenced-based procedures can bring to light the hidden experience of children at risk from their parents; infants and young children living within high-conflict parental disputes: 'keep me safe and organise my emotional world'; playing behind the barbed-wire fence: asylum-seeking infants and their parents; infants with cancer: the oncology unit as their second home; high-risk infant mental health outreach: creating a professional community of caregivers using a collaborative mental health and nursing approach; and the art of finding authentic discourses for parents about and with their donor-conceived children.

Family Foundations outcome evaluation

Trew S, Stewart J, Thorpe R, Tewson A and Higgins D
Watson, A.C.T. : Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, 2019.
'Family Foundations' is an early intervention therapeutic parenting program in the Australian Capital Territory. It was developed in 2016 by Belconnen Community Services and targets families with young children who are dealing with complex parenting needs and difficulties but who are not in crisis or involved with child protection services. This report assesses the impact of the program, and follows on from a process evaluation of the program published in 2018. This report evaluates the extent to which Family Foundations achieved its intended outcomes of improving parents' self-confidence, emotional regulation, help seeking, and parenting knowledge and skills, as well as improvements in children's emotional regulation and behaviour. It also investigated unintended consequences and whether the program attracted its target audience. The report describes the program and the evaluation methodology and discusses the quantitative and qualitative findings. The evaluation found that the program enhanced parenting capacity and the quality of the parent-child attachment and contributed to improved outcomes for children, with parents with the greatest need seeing the greatest benefits.

Parent distraction with phones, reasons for use, and impacts on parenting and child outcomes : a review of the emerging research.

McDaniel B
Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies v. 1 no. 2 Apr 2019: 72-80
Phones and mobile devices are now a ubiquitous part of life, even during parenting time. This article reviews the new and growing evidence on what is known about parents and their phone use, and whether this is affecting their ability to parent and their children's outcomes. It investigates why parents use phones while with children, how this use impacts upon parents and parenting quality, why phone use affects parenting quality, and how parent phone use impacts upon children. Most of the emerging research is from the United States but some studies have been conducted in Australia and other countries. The findings show that parent distraction with phones has become common, impacting upon children's attachment, behaviour and learning. Further longitudinal research is needed into these effects.

World Health Organization recommendations on caregiving interventions to support early child development in the first three years of life: report of the systematic review of evidence

Jeong J, Franchett E and Yousafzai A
Geneva : World Health Organization, 2018.
This report summarises the evidence on interventions to improve early child development by improving responsive caregiving and support for early learning and development. It is aimed at health managers, workers and policy makers working in the area of maternal and child health. The report presents a systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness of responsive caregiving on early child development, the effectiveness of caregiving interventions that promote early learning on early child development, the effectiveness of interventions that combine both approaches, and the effects of combined caregiving and nutrition programs on early child development and child growth outcomes. Outcomes assessed include early child development, attachment, child behaviour, child growth, child health and nutrition, caregiving knowledge, caregiving practices, caregiver-child interactions and caregivers' mental health - focusing on the first three years of life - from conception to two years of age.

Safe with dad

Toone E
Richmond, Vic. : Berry Street Victoria, 2018.
Though infants and young children are negatively impacted by family violence, they are receptive to interventions aimed at repairing the parent-child relationship. However, the research on relationship repair so far has focussed on the child's relationship with their mother and there is a dearth of Australian practice parameters for guiding safe clinical practice. To help address this gap, this paper looks at four local and overseas programs that have found a way to work safely with very young children and their fathers who have used violence. It reviews the Dads on Board program from Australia, the Alternative to Violence program from Norway, and the Fathers for Change and Child-Parent Psychotherapy programs from the United States, then considers the implications for practice in Australia. The paper also briefly outlines the research on the impact of family violence upon children and their relationships and their need for relational repair with both non-offending and offending caregivers.

Early origins of mental disorder - risk factors in the perinatal and infant period.

Newman L, Judd F, Olsson C, Castle D, Bousman C, Sheehan P, Pantelis C, Craig J, Komiti A and Everall I
BMC Psychiatry v. 16 2016: Article 270
This article presents a model of the factors in early life that are risk factors for later mental disorder. It briefly discusses what is known about maternal anxiety during pregnancy, the role of the placenta, neurodevelopmental mechanisms, the gene-environment, epigenetic modifications in the intra-uterine environment, the impact of parenting and attachment on infant brain development, trauma in infancy, and how parent's own early history of attachment and trauma influence parenting capacity.

Foundations for life: what works to support parent child interaction in the early years

Asmussen K, Feinstein L, Martin J and Chowdry H
London : Early Intervention Foundation, 2016.
This review provides advice for policy makers and commissioners in Great Britain about how to help support parent-child interaction in families with a child between conception and age 5. It assesses the evidence behind 75 programmes locally available, in terms of their impact on child outcomes and cost effectiveness. The programmes address such outcomes as improved attachment security, behavioural self-regulation and parent management, and cognitive and language development. It is hoped the findings will inform the commissioning of early years services and improve evaluation and monitoring.

Children's attachment needs in the context of out-of-home care.

McLean S
16 November 2016
This webinar will discuss attachment theory with special emphasis on its strengths and limitations for informing practice in out-of-home care. Attachment theory has been influential in the field of child development and it is frequently cited in discussions about a child's needs; however its capacity to inform placement decision-making is limited in important ways. This webinar will describe what we know, and what needs to be better understood, about children's attachment needs in the context of out-of-home care. The webinar will be particularly relevant to child protection practitioners and other professionals involved in decision-making in the child's best interest. A practice guide on this topic will also be published to coincide with the webinar.

Children's attachment needs in the context of out-of-home care

McLean S
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2016.
Written for practitioners, this paper provides an overview about children's attachment needs in the context of out-of-home care. Sections include: What is attachment?; The origins of attachment classifications in young children; Why is it important to understand a child's attachment experience?; Why is disorganised attachment significant?; What causes disorganised attachment?; Practice implications; Cultural and other considerations; Can disorganised attachment 'improve' over time?; and How useful is attachment theory in child protection practice?

Using 'expressive therapies' to treat developmental trauma and attachment problems in preschool-aged children.

Southwell J
Children Australia v. 41 no. 2 Jun 2016: 114-125
Yourtown's Expressive Therapies Intervention (YETI) is a trauma and attachment informed creative arts and play therapy intervention developed for young children with emotional and behavioural problems stemming from traumatic exposure. YETI aims to improve participants' emotional and social wellbeing; behavioural adjustment; quality of attachment relationships and self-concept. The intervention is integrated within holistic family support programmes, chiefly a domestic and family violence refuge and a young parents programme. This paper describes YETI's therapeutic model and presents findings of a two-year outcome evaluation. The findings suggest that the intervention can achieve significant positive outcomes for preschool-aged children associated with healing from developmental trauma and attachment difficulties. Analysis of pre/post assessments of participants' social, emotional and behavioural functioning using the Child Behaviour Checklist revealed significant improvements from intake to exit in children's internalising, externalising and total problems. There were also marked decreases in the proportion of children with symptoms in the clinical or borderline clinical ranges. Thematic analyses of parent/carer surveys and therapists' end-of-therapy reports similarly indicate widespread improvements in social, emotional and behavioural functioning as well as improvements in children's self-confidence and self-esteem, and in the quality of the parent-child attachment relationship.

Infants and overnight care - post separation and divorce: background paper

Australian Association for Infant Mental Health
Doublebay, NSW : Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, 2015.
The Australian Association for Infant Mental Health has released guidance on parenting arrangements for infants and toddlers in separated families. This background paper provides the foundation for that guidance, by reviewing the current available research in relation to overnight care arrangement of children aged three years and under in families where the parents do not live together, due to family separation or because the parents have never lived together. Eight studies are reviewed, noting issues of parent conflict, attachment, child outcomes, and gender. As the research is minimal and inconsistent, the Association is of the view that a cautious approach to overnight care is required.

Clever Connections : a pilot whole-family programme exploring opportunities to enhance carer-child attunement.

Batha K
Children Australia v. 40 no. 3 Sep 2015: 221-231
Quality of carer-child attunement is recognised as a significant factor in child development, yet few parenting programmes appear to provide opportunities for whole families to engage in activities exploring sound attunement. Clever Connections was developed by a psychologist-clinician in private practice as an attunement-focused pilot programme to explore a collaborative approach for families with primary-school-aged children. Concepts from critical theories, applied linguistics, sensorimotor therapies, mindfulness, narrative practice and communal practice informed the theoretical positioning which guided the programme's development. The programme, run over four sessions, was trialled with a group of four families. The first session was a three-hour block for the adults only, during which the participants' positionings and preferences were used to structure the programme. The following whole-family sessions involved a series of cooperative games, creative activities and linguistic tasks focusing on enhancing attunement. Feedback was gathered immediately following the programme regarding content and structure of the programme. Follow-up at six months indicated that sensorimotor and self-regulatory strategies explored in the programme continued to be of benefit to some of the families who participated. The outcomes suggest that further experimentation with this style of family programme is worthy of consideration.

Let's meet your baby as a person : from research to preventive perinatal practice and back again, with the newborn behavioral observations.

Nicolson S
Zero to three Sep 2015
This article describes efforts of an Australian tertiary maternity hospital to translate infant mental health research into preventive perinatal and early parenting practice. Clinical practice confirms what is known in the literature: For expectant parents, there can be myriad obstacles to adapting successfully to parenthood and forming a relationship with the baby that best supports development. Research showing that even very brief interventions may make a difference prompted a search for something evidence-based, feasible, and potentially useful in hospital or community settings that warranted further research and led to the Newborn Behavioral Observations system (NBO). The hospital trained staff in its use and instigated a national training and research program via 'NBO Australia at The Women's.' The authors discuss the successes and challenges to date, effects for professionals and families, further research, and the interest generated around the country. (Publisher abstract)

Evaluation of Boystown's expressive therapies intervention 2012-2014

Southwell J
Boystown, 2015
The Boystown expressive therapy intervention program was developed to provide a holistic program to children and their families who presented with multiple and complex needs. The program uses creative arts and play therapy to improve children's emotional and social wellbeing, behaviour, attachment relationships and self esteem. The evaluation showed that there were a range of positive impacts on children who undertook the therapeutic program.

Early intervention to protect the mother-infant relationship following postnatal depression : study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.

Milgrom J and Holt C
Trials v. 15 no. 1 2014: Article 385
This article presents the proposed study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of the 'HUGS: Happiness, Understanding, Giving and Sharing' intervention to improve the mother-infant relationship following postnatal depression. The trial intends to recruit 100 women in Victoria. Participants with a clinical diagnosis of current depressive disorder will be assigned to receive either the HUGS intervention or a placebo playgroup, following a 12-session postnatal depression group treatment programme.

Healing complex trauma through therapeutic residential care : The Lighthouse Foundation Therapeutic Family Model of Care.

McLoughlin P and Gonzalez R
Children Australia v. 39 no. 3 Sep 2014: 169-176
Therapeutic Residential Care (TRC) has attracted increasing interest in Australia, as a specialised out-of-home care option for children with complex needs. Extending beyond the limitations of traditional residential programmes, TRC aims to address the impact of trauma and promote positive development and wellbeing. The Lighthouse Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation based in Melbourne, providing a long-term programme of TRC to young people aged 15 to 22 at intake. The organisation has developed an attachment and trauma-informed therapeutic community approach, embodied in the Therapeutic Family Model of Care. This discussion paper explores how the therapeutic community approach taken by Lighthouse provides a different experience of the cultural 'sites' in which early traumatic experiences occur - including the home environment, experiences of family, and the wider community. In doing so, we propose that an important dimension of TRC is the capacity to challenge traumatic relational blueprints of abuse and neglect. This, in turn, supports children to form and sustain positive and reciprocal relationships, and to live inter-dependently in the community.

The body keeps the score : brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma

Van der Kolk B
New York : Viking Books, 2014.
"This [book offers a] new understanding of the causes and consequences of trauma ... [the author] shows that the terror and isolation at the core of trauma literally reshape both brain and body. New insights into our survival instincts explain why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety and numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma affects their capacity to concentrate, to remember, to form trusting relationships, and even to feel at home in their own bodies. Having lost the sense of control of themselves and frustrated by failed therapies, they often fear that they are damaged beyond repair. [This book is the] story of how a group of therapists and scientists - together with their courageous and memorable patients - has struggled to integrate recent advances in brain science, attachment research, and body awareness into treatments that can free trauma survivors from the tyranny of the past. These new paths to recovery activate the brain's natural neuroplasticity to rewire disturbed functioning and rebuild step by step the ability to "know what you know and feel what you feel."

Baby bonds: parenting, attachment and a secure base for children

Moullin S, Waldfogel J and Washbrook E
London : Sutton Trust, 2014.
This report reviews the international research on parent-child attachment. It examines how attachment develops, the importance of attachment for child development and outcomes, and the risk factors for insecure attachment. It also investigates how policy can promote secure attachments and presents recommendations for family services.

Parental conflict : outcomes and interventions for children and families

Reynolds J
Bristol, UK : Policy Press, 2014.
"There is increasing government recognition of the importance of early family experiences on individuals in the long term and of how inter-parental conflict influences children's development. Recognition of the role of such factors early in life is key to helping both policy makers and practitioners promote positive outcomes for children. This ... book reviews recent research showing how children who experience high levels of inter-parental conflict are at serious risk not only in terms of their own wellbeing, but also in relation to the perpetuation of these behaviours later in life. It examines the differences between destructive and constructive conflict and how they affect children, explores why some children are more adversely affected than others, and features the latest evidence on how conflict affects child physiology. Of particular note is the book's focus on the growing evidence-based literature on conflict interventions within the last decade."

Attachment theory : from concept to supporting children in out-of-home care

McLean S
Arney, Fiona, ed. Scott, Dorothy, ed. Working with vulnerable families : a partnership approach. 2nd ed. Port Melbourne, Vic. : Cambridge University Press, 2013 9781107610668: 194-212
Written for both students and practitioners, this book provides an introduction to family-centred practice in Australia. This chapter provides an overview of attachment theory, which heavily influences current child protection work despite varying interpretations. Sections include: what is attachment theory?; early experimental studies of attachment; overview of attachment theory and child development; the importance of theory and evidence in child protection practice; limitations to our knowledge about the role of attachment for children in out-of-home care; what examples of conceptual blurring are there in child protection practice?; attachment can be misunderstood in practice; practice examples; and enhancing practice in out-of-home care. Though attachment and trauma theories can help support vulnerable children, this chapter highlights the need for careful interpretation and the significant gaps in what is known about its application with specific populations.

Decision-making within a child's timeframe: an overview of current research evidence for family justice professionals concerning child development and the impact of maltreatment

Brown R and Ward H
London : Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, Institute of Education, 2013.
"This overview of research evidence has been commissioned in response to the Family Justice Review recommendation for consistent training and development for family justice professionals. It aims to bring together research evidence to facilitate understanding among professionals working in the family justice system in areas relating to: neuroscience: perspectives on children's cognitive, social and emotional development; the implications of maltreatment on childhood and adult wellbeing; evidence concerning the outcomes of interventions by the courts and children's social care; timeframes for intervening and why they don't match those for children. This evidence paper is intended to assist decision-making by family justice professionals and facilitate a greater understanding of individual children's needs and appropriate timeframes."

Effectiveness of nurse home-visiting for disadvantaged families : results of a natural experiment.

Sawyer M, Frost L, Bowering K and Lynch J
BMJ Open v. 3 no. 4 2013: e002720
This article investigates the effects of a postnatal home-visiting programme delivered by community nurses to at-risk families in South Australia. The South Australian Family Home-Visiting (SA-FHV) programme aims to improve the quality of mother-infant relationships, provide anticipatory guidance about infant health, safety and development, and better connect families to local community supports. Eligible families are identified through a state-wide universal screening system, and invited to join the programme. This evaluation study takes advantage of a natural experiment created by the differing geographic coverage of the programme, which is yet to be implemented in regional towns. Participants in the intervention and control groups were assessed at the initial screening, prior to programme enrolment, and again when the children were aged 9, 18 and 24 months old.

'What about the fathers?' Bringing 'Dads on Board' with their infants and toddlers following violence.

Bunston W
Journal of Family Studies v. 19 no. 1 Apr 2013: 70-79
This paper examines a group work intervention developed for fathers who had successfully participated in a men's behavior change program and who wished to undertake further work to strengthen and improve the bond between themselves and their infant/toddler (up to age 4). It focuses on two groups run in 2010-11, uses material directly taken from each program and explores in detail how this intervention was developed, how the program was structured, the profile of the fathers involved and the subsequent inclusion of their partners within both groups. It also includes a small evaluation. Pivotal to this intervention was been the implementation of an 'infant led' approach.

Challenging behaviour in out-of-home care : use of attachment ideas in practice.

McLean S, Riggs D, Kettler L and Delfabbro P
Child and Family Social Work v. 18 no. 3 Aug 2013: 243-252
Children in out-of-home care who demonstrate challenging behaviour are often thought of as 'attachment disordered'. This article investigates this further, by exploring the views of professional personnel and stakeholders in South Australia on how they understood extremely challenging behaviour amongst school-age children in out-of-home care and their conceptualisations of attachment. The article discusses the findings in light of current attachment theory, and consider the implications for practice and policy.

Psychological and behavioural characteristics of females who sexually offend : insights from psychotherapeutic work in New Zealand.

Robson M and Lambie I
Sexual Abuse in Australia and New Zealand v. 5 no. 1 Jun 2013: 33-39
This article provides information on the psychological and behavioural characteristics of female sexual offenders. The article draws on case files from twenty years of practice with child, adolescent and adult female sexual offenders, as well as the current theoretical foundations informing work with female sexual offenders, in particular Bowlby's attachment theory.

The impact of abuse and neglect on children

Palfrey N and Harris A
Australia : Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma Loss & Grief Network, 2013
This resource sheet provides information for professionals on the impact of abuse and neglect on children. It discusses multiple forms of trauma, attachment and relationships, and emotional expression and regulation, and concludes with guidelines for working with a child who has experienced trauma.
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