Applying attachment theory to explore the emotion regulation characteristics of a child diagnosed with ADHD

Van Huyssteen, Almarie (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2009-12)

Thesis (MEdPsych (Educational Psychology)--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Bowlby (1969) described infant attachment as the emotional bond that ties the infant to one or a few figures across time and distance. He claimed that internal working models are shaped by early experiences and that attachment behaviour is programmed within these models. According to Bowlby, internal working models are carried forward and have an effect on the development of personality, emotion regulation characteristics and behaviour later in life (Goldberg, 2000). Attachment Theory and emotion regulation are closely linked. The parent-child relationship plays an important role in the development of emotion regulation skills. According to research and subsequent literature, children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have difficulty with emotion regulation. A limited number of studies have focused on the emotion regulation characteristics of children with ADHD, using Attachment Theory as lens. In this study, Attachment Theory was applied to explore the emotion regulation characteristics of a ten-year-old girl with ADHD. A series of observations were central to the process of producing data, as observation plays an eminent role in the history of attachment research. Within the series of observations, together with three semi-structured interviews, the child‟s emotion regulation characteristics were identified. The parent-child relationship and the parents‟ level of reflective functioning played a significant role to identify the characteristics of emotion regulation. A literature review and information from documents (e.g. reports from multi-disciplinary professionals) contributed to the validity of the findings. It was found that the girl with ADHD was significantly insecure in her general functioning. The themes that emerged elicited the interface and interaction between attachment behaviour, emotion regulation and ADHD. Future research should focus on Attachment Theory and ADHD. Parents, teachers and multi-disciplinary professionals who have or work with children diagnosed with ADHD will benefit from Attachment Theory.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Bowlby (1969) het gehegtheid of binding beskou as die emosionele band wat tussen die jong baba aan een of meer versorgers gevorm word. Hy het beweer dat hierdie band mettertyd „n interne model van gehegtheid vorm, en dat latere gedrag volgens hierdie modelle uitgeleef word. Volgens Bowlby word interne werksmodelle oorgedra van die primere versorger na die kind. Hierdie modelle het n uitwerking op spesifieke aspekte van die persoonlikheid, op die regulering van emosies en op gedrag binne verhoudings asook tydens konflik later in die lewe (Goldberg, 2000). 'n Noue verbintenis bestaan tussen gehegtheidsteorie en die regulering van emosie. Die ouer-kind-verhouding speel 'n belangrike rol in die ontwikkeling van vaardighede om emosie te reguleer. Volgens navorsing vind kinders met aandagtekort-hiperatiwiteitversteuring (ATHV) dit moeilik om emosies te reguleer. 'n Beperkte aantal studies gebruik gehegtheidsteorie om die regulering van emosies by kinders met ATHV na te vors. In hierdie studie is gehegtheidsteorie toegepas om die eienskappe van emosie – regulering by 'n tienjarige dogter wie met ATHV gediagnoseer is, te verken. 'n Reeks observasies was sentraal tot die proses van dataversameling, omdat observasie 'n besondere rol in die geskiedenis van gehegtheidsnavorsing speel. Binne „n reeks van waarnemings, tesame met drie semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, is die eienskappe van die kind se regulering van emosies geïdentifiseer. Die ouer-kind-verhouding en die ouers se vlak van reflektiewe funksionering speel 'n belangrike rol in die identifisering van eienskappe om emosie te reguleer. 'n Literatuuroorsig en inligting uit dokumente (bv. verslae van multidissiplinêre professionele persone) het bygedra tot die geldigheid van die bevindings. Dit is gevind dat die dogter met ATHV beduidend onveilig in haar algemene funksionering was. Die temas wat na vore gekom het, het die skakeling en interaksie tussen gehegtheidsgedrag, die regulering van emosie en ATHV aan die lig gebring. Ouers, onderwysers en multidissiplinêre professionele persone wat kinders het of wat werk met kinders wat met ATHV gediagnoseer is, sal baat vind by gehegtheidsteorie.

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