Behavioural precursors of attachment representations in middle childhood and links with child social adaptation

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Abstract

Concordance between age-6 attachment behaviour and age-8 doll play attachment representations during the school-age period, and associations between these measures and child social adaptation at school were examined. One hundred and twenty-nine 6-year-olds and their mothers participated in a separation/reunion protocol. Two years later, 104 children completed a doll play narrative task. Teachers evaluated child behaviour problems and prosocial behaviour at both ages. Results showed a significant four-way concordance between age-6 attachment behaviour and age-8 doll play classifications. Each of the four attachment classifications was concordant in the absence of major negative life-events, but only the disorganized classifications remained concordant when at least one negative life-event occurred between the two assessment times. Children with a disorganized attachment classification or representation had higher externalizing scores than secure and avoidant children at both timepoints. Finally, the avoidant and disorganized behavioural classifications predicted avoidant and disorganized representations, respectively, even when controlling for age-6 teacher reports of social adaptation.

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